The Foundling Museum story

London in the eighteenth century was a city of extremes with hedonistic, gin-swilling Londoners rubbing shoulders with the charitable wealthy who were keen to assist the poor. Social conditions were dire and poverty was rife, resulting in vast numbers of children being abandoned or thrown on to the mercies of the parish to be dealt with. London lagged behind its European neighbours in creating welfare provisions for children known as foundlings, a term used to describe a deserted or abandoned child of unknown parentage.

On his frequent walks through the City on winter mornings, Captain Thomas Coram was appalled at the sight of babies abandoned on the streets. This tragedy spurred him into action. His idea was to petition the king for a charter to create a non-profit-making organisation, which would be supported by donations but at first this met with no success. 

When George II took over the throne in 1727, Coram found a supporter in his wife, Queen Caroline, who was sympathetic to the rescue of foundlings. Coram decided to enlist the support of the wives of wealthy noblemen after discovering the important role of women in encouraging their husbands to be benefactors. And so the Foundling Hospital was born.

The story of the Foundling Museum explores the history of the Foundling Hospital, which continues today as the children’s charity Coram. Instrumental in helping Captain Thomas Coram realise his vision were the artist William Hogarth and the composer George Frideric Handel. Their creative generosity set the template for how the arts can support philanthropy.

Through a dynamic programme of exhibitions and events, The Foundling Museum, celebrates the ways in which artists of all disciplines have helped improve children’s lives for over 275 years.

They dug us out of a hole...

Business requirements

When Finance Director Nigel Cudlipp joined the Foundling Museum in 2013 he was presented with systems and processes almost as dated as some of the exhibits!

The existing systems were cumbersome and time consuming, Nigel wanted to find a new solution that could reduce the manual processes, enabling staff to spend more time focusing on the museum’s visitors.  An injection of modernity was needed to bring the museum’s systems up to date!

The solution

As a registered charity, Foundling Museum wanted a system capable of handling restricted funds accounting.  After combing the market place they selected Microsoft Dynamics NAV integrated with LS One, a retail point of sale (POS) solution.

The interface to combine the two solutions already existed which should have resulted in a seamless integration. Unfortunately, after several weeks of problems and a lack of support from their original IT partner, Foundling Museum decided to part ways and seek a new technology partner that had knowledge and expertise in both solutions. After meeting with several companies they selected The NAV People. 

Nigel takes up the story: ‘The NAV People listened to our issues with the system, offered to fix the immediate problems we were having and said we could decide at a later date if we wanted to award them with a support contract. They carried out some work and completed a full solution assessment free of charge. We were incredibly impressed with their approach and it is a decision we have never regretted.’

We were incredibly impressed with their approach and it is a decision we have never regretted.

Discovering new ways of working

Today, the internal mechanisms at the Foundling Museum run harmoniously. The LS One solution is used for the front-end retail transactions at the admissions desk and gift shop whilst Dynamics NAV is the back-end accounting and stock management powerhouse.

The combined solution has driven significant efficiencies across the organisation. Previously the admissions desk and the gift shop used a basic till that produced paper receipts and had to be tallied manually at the end of each day.

Today the combined solution supports the business operations from front to back. All activities ranging from admissions and ticketing, membership and renewals, sales at the shops and cafes are automatically processed and recorded in Dynamics NAV.  This improved efficiency allows the Foundling Museum to understand which ticketed events are more popular, which products sell best and determine the optimum levels of stock held.

...After seeing the solution in action I was quite amazed.

Achieving the impressive with Jet Reports

The reporting functionality in the previous solution at the Foundling Museum was both complex and cumbersome. Since deploying Jet Reports, Nigel has been able to produce the monthly company report pack for 2 companies in less than 5 minutes, a task that previously would have taken 2-3 days each month.

Nigel comments: ‘Another museum recommended Jet Reports and after seeing the solution in action I was quite amazed. It’s brilliant, so simple to use and yet the results are impressive. I was taught how to create reports during a 5-minute phone call, it is that easy.’

Today the combined solution supports the business operations from front to back.

Business Benefits

Improved productivity: The automation of manual processes has increased efficiency within the finance team, resulting in the existing team being able to manage the workload with a smaller team

Business clarity: Dynamics NAV has aided better decision-making through improved visibility of the business.  Previously stock levels were manually amended and were always 2 weeks out of date. Real-time stock management and forecasting has enabled accurate and efficient inventory processing, reducing wastage and ensuring the right products are available at the right time.

Every penny we have spent on system development has yielded an even greater return.

Operational efficiency: Process improvement has enabled key personnel to focus on more complex and strategic undertakings across the museum, resulting in more profitable activities.

Nigel concludes: ‘The NAV People took on the challenge to address the issues we had with the solution.  They dug us out of a hole, delivered on the projects that had been half completed by the previous reseller and have delivered a first class service. Every penny we have spent on system development has yielded an even greater return.’

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