“G Suite and pdfFiller are the only two software tools we use”: pdfFiller for AZ Families Co-op
AZ Families Co-op is an agency managing and financing developmental homes for adults with cognitive and developmental disabilities. As of 2021-2022, they have around 50 families in their care.
Managerially speaking, families fostering people serve as subcontractors to AZ Families.
AZ Families Co-op has all the features of a social enterprise. In this sector, the profit margin is extremely low, and many similar organizations, in Arizona and other states, do not manage to survive over the long term, no matter how noble and socially valuable their mission is.
The AZ Families’ case clearly demonstrates how digitizing paperwork and transiting to an overall virtual mode of operations proves to be efficient when someone is trying to keep the right balance over the breakeven point.
Rex Matthews is one of three co-founders and partners at AZ Families Co-op:
“We started this company with the philosophy of not having an office and doing everything virtually. I was preaching this idea for several years as the director at another, similar, agency. The amount of money we were spending on copiers and paper there made no sense to me personally, so when I was walking out — I was walking out with the idea of doing all things virtually and keeping everything in the cloud.”
In less than one year, AZ Families Co-op went from zero to about $3.5M in revenue. Today, they are paying their foster families more than any other agency in the state of Arizona. Moreover, public authorities in Arizona have adopted some of the online workflows, following the best practices of AZ Families.
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How does AZ Families Co-op use pdfFiller?
AZ Families only uses two online tools — G Suite and pdfFiller.
G Suite is used for correspondence and partially as a cloud storage, with Google Meets being used for teleconferencing during the COVID lockdown.
pdfFiller is used for document preparation, page management, form-building, document delivery, and eSigning.
This current degree of simplicity comes with its own history though:
From that moment on, foster families working with AZ Families Co-op could fill in and sign forms electronically.
Results achieved with pdfFiller
Tremendous time-saving effect:
“Things that used to take 30 minutes now take 5 minutes. Those that used to take a whole hour — now take 10 minutes only.”
Part of this time-saving is achieved thanks to reusable templates in pdfFiller:
“We have document renewals that have to be done every year. This is normally a six-page document each family has to fill out year after year, with very few changes being made in it. Now I can pull it up, duplicate it, change the year and send it further. Previously, this renewal would take at least one hour. Now families just update a few things and eSign the document, they don’t have to do everything from scratch and by hand, over and over again.”
Convenience of cross-device synchronization:
Rex uses his Mac computer at home and a Chromebook while on the road. And there is also a mobile phone to check messages from the families, of course.
If at the time of software selection, Rex would have gone for Adobe or any other software that needs to be installed on a computer, as opposed to working in a browser — syncing documents in real time would have been impossible.
With pdfFiller, Rex can make a pause in document preparation at any point in time and all changes will be synced across devices. Besides, there is no conflict between different operating systems as all work is browser-based. Moreover, all edits and updates are synced in the pdfFiler mobile app as well.
Personal data security and zero document loss
Traditional paperwork is always subject to data loss. In the case of medical data for people with disabilities as well as data for foster care financing, losing even one page of a document is not just an inconvenience, it could pose a real threat to someone’s safety or damage their reputation.
This is one of the major reasons why AZ Families Co-op was so motivated, from the very beginning, to keep the documentation for every family in the cloud.
Documents created and sent through pdfFiller can come with an additional layer of security such as a document password (on the top of the account password), while document tracking provides a full report on the history of all changes in the document.
Reasonable pricing for organizations with a social mission
Rex conducted his own thorough market research — testing several software solutions, including DocuSign and Adobe:
“All of them are just way too pricey. They want to nickel-and-dime you, even for a basic package. pdfFiller has exactly all the features that we need, and the price is right for us.”
Digital skills development in the community
AZ Families Co-op is rightly proud of how they have become the digital pioneers for so many foster families in Arizona, even for those that used to be tech-resistant at first:
“When the pandemic hit, we couldn’t visit families, so we were doing online meetings instead. We’ve shown families how to do Google Meets and how to sign documents electronically. And you know what? Our revenues continued to rise during the pandemic! I am amazed how even our older families, where providers’ couples are in their 70s and 80s, get over their computer-related fears to become pretty confident users.”
Flexible work-life balance for agency partners
Due to not being attached to a particular geographical location or even a computer (since everything is in the cloud), AZ Families Co-op partners are now able to combine work and travel, and this fact alone has greatly improved their quality of life.
What’s important to note here is that performance quality was never sacrificed to a flexible work schedule. In fact, with the introduction of pdfFiller, the financial results for families improved, as direct payments to families increased by over 35%.
According to popular opinion, foster care for people with disabilities can never really afford to spend extra on innovations and tech. But Rex and AZ Families Co-op played their digital cards right and managed to prove the opposite. With the proper market analysis, investment in new software always comes with impressive savings on other items — paper, fax, printer, scanner, office rental, employee working hours, you name it.