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Client story

American Dental Association drives growth with IT transformation      

Client: American Dental Association
Region: North America
Industry: Manufacturing

Capgemini supports the move to greater transparency, better processes, and more innovation

Client challenge: The American Dental Association needed to respond to changing demographics and the demands of a more dynamic dentistry industry.
Solution: The ADA moved away from legacy systems and processes to develop into a much more modern entity to support members.

  • Dentists can sign up for a membership in seven seconds rather than waiting  up to a month
  • Addressed technical debt to maintain the IT spend while supporting growth
  • Automated manual processes using UiPath and re-allocated resources to value-adding business analysts

The American Dental Association (ADA) has been driving dentistry forward for more than 160 years. The ADA’s mission is to help its 160,000 members succeed and to advance public health. It is guided by core values which include integrity, excellence, and a dedication to bring evidence-based insights that empower dentists to provide quality oral care for all patients.

The association also advocates for public health by focusing on crucial issues such as access to care, the rules and regulations that surround the practice of dentistry, and much more. The ADA is the source for the latest research on oral health, along with helpful practice guidelines, data on industry trends, and a host of practical programs that support personal health and success.

Changing demographics

“Our member needs are changing and it is happening more quickly than in the past,” says Jordan Baugh, Chief Technology Officer, American Dental Association. The organization typically supported solo dentists in the past but, increasingly, it is working with groups of practitioners. It is now “a very dynamic and diverse industry, [and] the needs of a single dentist are much different than the needs of a dental group.”

Many young dentists followed their parents into dentistry but are prioritizing family and work/life balance over the 60 to 80 hours a week required with a solo practice. When combined with the expenses, going into business with a group of dentists makes more sense.

“Member growth is important to the ADA, because it is the largest source of our revenue,” he says. “But to focus on member growth, we had to also focus on prospects and how we can deliver value to both. We are really focused on what we can do for dentistry and, hopefully, add new members to the ADA.”

Moving past legacy systems

“Most of the challenges facing the ADA in technology were related to legacy systems and processes,” he says. “When I came into my role, the critical thing was discovering how we can change and develop the ADA into a much more modern entity to support our members.”

This included newer approaches to development, moving away from antiquated waterfall processes to be more agile, and finding better technology platforms. To begin this journey, the ADA chose to work with Capgemini as its transformation partner.

“We are still moving our data center to the cloud but what we are trying to do is right-place our hardware and our systems to be the best we can,” he says. “You have to be careful when you move to the cloud because you might disrupt other configurations. What we have found is that we are able to free up resources who used to focus on racked and stacked machines. Now they can use that time to be business analysts, because they have the knowledge of how the systems functions across the ADA.”

By adopting Capgemini’s ADMnext framework, leveraging a global delivery model, and right-sourcing resources, the ADA reduced the cost of operating the standard IT systems and used the budget to invest in other technologies.

“I was impressed by how the Capgemini team really embraced the ADA culture,” he says. “Coming into a legacy organization with 160 years of history is difficult, especially when you are looking at strategic sourcing and changing processes. They have been very patient because they listen well. And while they are changing processes, they are changing it with us as opposed to mandating it upon us. I think that has been a key to the success we have had.”

Adding value to the business

The ADA needed to address its technical debt and the review conducted by the partners exposed more issues than expected. For example, cleaning up the technical debt also required investments in new products. Collecting and analyzing automation metrics with the business groups increased transparency and identified additional options to address the situation.

“IT transparency came about in two ways. First, we had the largest budget in ADA and we needed to find ways to maintain the spend while supporting growth. Second, we got better line of sight into the IT work happening, and that helped us identify the processes we could change. Having metrics helped us realize there are other things we can explore beyond processes and take a more holistic view.”

These changes freed resources that could then work with the business and identify challenges that needed to be solved, and to meet with members, prospective members, and dental students to determine their expectations. It was these kinds of conversations that led to the realization that the older web interface was not enough and mobile was a must.

Technology as a game changer

The changing dentistry demographics drove some of the initial technology changes. For example, dentists had typically waited up to a month to become a member, once they submitted their paperwork. Digital natives, however, expected to sign up on their smartphones and have the membership activated immediately. They also wanted mobile access to all the ADA materials.

“The mobile ADA membership dashboard and mobile app are game changers for us,” he says. “Our website has always been a source for great content for dental professionals but the ability to have that information at your fingertips is critical for new members. And frankly, they demand it; it is no longer an option. If the ADA cannot provide it, they will go somewhere else.”

The ADA leveraged the power of robotics process automation (RPA) to remove legacy processes in several areas, including finance and memberships. Before RPA, employees were processing emails and faxes to create memberships and working with banks to process payments. Implementing RPA automated these mundane tasks.

UiPath RPA software was chosen for its cost efficiency and its easy-to-learn interface. It allowed the ADA to train people easily and learn from the process, as most information is provided though a flow-chart-type interface.

“Our member’s expect to be able to sign up in seven seconds,” he says. “In the past, when the process was very manual, it could take a week or up to a month before you had your membership. By automating the membership tasks, we can deliver what our members are demanding.”

Managing transformation

“Change is always difficult with an established organization but once employees realize that change is happening so we can make better use of the resources we have and bring more value to members, they come around very quickly,” he says. “The start was always going to be tough but you have to stick with it, because the benefits for everyone are worth it.”

More transparency also means more ways to measure success. For example, the ADA can now source a help desk as a new service to members and look at how many calls are coming in and how quickly the issues are being resolved. The help desk can also assist in identifying and resolving issues in particular business areas by aligning IT operations with outcomes. And RPA means the ADA knows how many transactions it has processed.

“I think it is important to maintain a great relationship with your people because they are going to be critical to the success of any project,” he says. “And that is on both sides. Understand your employee needs and understand what Capgemini can deliver and make sure everyone is working together towards the common goal.”

Driving growth

“We are helping the ADA drive growth through everything we do,” he says. “When you put together everything – right-sourcing, RPA, cloud, and new systems – it is all…adding more value to members and the communities we serve. Can we deliver all the information to dentists, members, prospects, and people in the dental industry to make people healthier?”

With the mobile app success, Capgemini continues to help ADA with future plans. For example, the team is starting to look at artificial intelligence, different types of chat bots, and more services based on the wealth of knowledge the ADA has built. “Capgemini comes to us with ideas so I think we feel like we are leading it together to get us to the next step – whatever it is,” he says. “It is important that we get ahead of our members and Capgemini is really delivering that for us.”