Faster software equals more reliable book checkouts for students.

DIBS for Kids is a student-centric non-profit based in North Downtown Omaha, NE led by Angie Miller and Marie Kovar. “DIBS for Kids is on a Mission to help schools provide every child with access to powerful in-home reading experiences, every school night.” They are not a technology company; however, they rely heavily on a web-based book inventory system that allows students to check out books in the classroom. Because the software was out of date, they sought the team at Volano Software to rebuild their custom application.

The Problem

Checking out books for an entire classroom previously wasn’t efficient. Students needed to be overly accurate when holding up a book to the QR code book scanner. Because of this, teachers would spend an excessive amount of time troubleshooting issues.

For admin staff, the previous DIBS technology was taking up a lot of time and energy to use and maintain. With so many issues, it was becoming a full-time position to support the aging software. For DIBS, the software platform was their extra staff, so it needed to perform as well or better than another person.

“This [DIBS] should really be the easiest part of our teachers’ day.” – Marie Kovar, Director of School Support.

In the earlier system design, basic reporting consisted of Angie taking screenshots of data to send to teachers, parents, and donors. It was time out of her day she didn’t have. Angie and Marie wanted to continue to grow and support more schools but couldn’t see a clear pathway with their current software tool.

The Solution

Volano Software held several meetings with Marie and Angie to discuss their requirements and discuss future ideas. This process gave Volano a clear picture of what we needed to tackle and in what order.

As we built the application, we would showcase progress through our iteration meetings. Angie, Marie, and the staff would provide valuable feedback and direction during the process.

With the new system, students no longer need to be as accurate holding up a book to the camera, which meant all students could be faster. The new QR code reader lessens the time it takes for the book checkout process because the student can quickly hold up the book and move on. The teachers enjoy it more as well—less time troubleshooting and more time spent with their students.

By leveraging a modern technology stack—.NET, JavaScript, and CSS—we built an elegant and customized solution that allowed the admin staff to get their time back. As we built the new application, we considered the various user personas (admins, teachers, and young students) so that the user experience (UX) was familiar but drastically improved. On-boarding new schools and teachers is simpler now too—they don’t have to teach the “lovable quirks” of the old system—teachers and students understand it right away.

Volano Software built in many of the necessary data reports so that their team can now spend a few minutes doing what used to take days. This helps them measure success and impact on all levels of their organization.

The Outcome

Since the launch of their new system, DIBS has experienced remarkable growth—33% in just 6 months. They have also established additional local business connections and celebrated the incredible milestone of 1,000,000 books read. Thanks to a platform with less stress, they now have more time to focus on high-level strategy and long-term organizational planning. The new DIBS for Kids software is a great foundation to continue to build upon. Volano Software continues to help them grow through added robust features—including an upgrade to their inventory lifecycle management process. The improved DIBS application helps them further their mission, vision, and future goals.
When we saw the new DIBS for Kids Application it was clear that you had listened to us.

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