The business of changing lives
Change Grow Live is the largest provider of drug and alcohol support services in the UK. With more than 4,000 staff and 1,500 volunteers, Change Grow Live has a wide reach that’s expanded rapidly since it began as an offender rehabilitation initiative in 1977. More than 100,000 individuals come to Change Grow Live every year for structured support, covering everything from overcoming opioid addictions to escaping domestic violence.
“We’re in the business of changing people’s lives,” explains Jeff Crouch, Director of Information at Change Grow Live. “It’s about making people healthier and happier. And in some cases, we’re genuinely helping keep people alive.”
Change Grow Live’s programs are supported by a central team of data analysts and scientists, as well as individual teams working with specific services. “We support the organization with good information,” says Crouch. “Our analysis helps people make better decisions, both on the front line and at the executive level.”
As a fast-growing organization, Change Grow Live’s leadership needed a lot of different monthly and quarterly reports to monitor its progress, which the team created and presented using Microsoft Excel. But additional ad hoc analysis requests meant Crouch and his team didn’t have the time or resource to focus on Change Grow Live’s future — or turn their vast stores of data into deeper insight.
“Excel is great for many applications, but it has drawbacks at an enterprise level. Processing and analyzing data in spreadsheets is repetitive, tedious, and potentially error-prone when it’s so manual,” says Crouch. “When you present your findings there are always more questions, and our spreadsheets couldn’t answer them fast enough. After 10 years of huge growth, Excel was creaking.”
With the go-ahead from executives to review Change Grow Live’s data model, Crouch and his team worked with consultancy TrueCue to find the best solution — one that would do justice to the data they had, and help support vital community services.
Switching out Change Grow Live’s engine
Change Grow Live strives to be an agile organization, one that responds to changes quickly. That meant the team needed a data analytics solution that could slot into their infrastructure without disrupting the crucial analytics function Crouch had built.
“We didn’t want a clunky data warehouse,” says Crouch. “And it needed to fit neatly. I liken it to changing the engine while the plane is still flying; it had to be seamless, or it would impact the whole organization.”
Change Grow Live chose Alteryx Designer, implementing analytic process automation alongside Tableau for an end-to-end analytics process that handles everything from ingestion to presentation. It pulls data from health records, referrals, assessment reports, prescription systems, discharge forms, and Change Grow Live’s case management system, to create holistic views of users and services.
Alteryx’s simple user interface has proved popular with the team, especially when Change Grow Live brought new graduates into the team. “The first task we gave them was to optimize our Alteryx workflows and improve efficiency,” says Crouch. “We’re confident enough to say that new recruits don’t need experience with Alteryx — just the enthusiasm to learn.” Because it’s easy to optimize and adapt workflows, Crouch’s team hasn’t had to rip and replace processes as the organization’s needs have evolved. “We’re still using Alteryx workflows from four or five years ago,” explains Crouch. “All we need to do is make small changes to accommodate new requirements.”