Integrating Data to Build Emotional Health: How SU Queensland Uses Talend to Enrich Service Delivery

By Laura Ventura

SU Queensland logo

The mission statement is so direct and uncomplicated. SU Queensland, a non-profit organization based in Australia, is all about “bringing hope to a young generation.”

The realities of delivering on this charter, of course, are multi-dimensional and complex. SU Queensland provides a wide range of services to schools, churches, and community groups across Australia, including youth camps, school chaplains, community engagement programs, and training and support for youth workers.

Keeping it all running smoothly involves managing large and diverse volumes of data—and that can be a complex challenge in itself. “We needed to integrate our data and make it vastly more accessible to more people in more places,” said James Angus, Service Evolution Manager for SU Queensland.

Two core challenges, one focal point

More specifically, James and his team were focused on solving two immediate challenges. “A couple of years ago, our Field Development Managers began taking on new responsibilities for managing multiple services, and we needed a better picture of who was doing what within each of our territories,” he said.

“Also, our marketing and fundraising teams were hitting limits on what our CRM system could do for them,” he said. “We needed better ways to email our prospective donors, do digital advertising, and track our communications and results over time.”

James defined three phases for solving the issues: CRM replacement; marketing automation using Salesforce Marketing Cloud; and integration & rollout. The key to success was finding a data integration solution that was cost-effective, non-disruptive to implement, and flexible enough to handle changes in requirements.

After considerable study and analysis, SU Queensland selected Talend in the cloud.

Why Talend? “It did it all.”

James and his team examined multiple options to solve their data integration needs, including custom middleware, custom code from the endpoint side, custom code from the Salesforce side, and commercial middleware.

“Now that the capabilities of Talend have proven themselves, it’s less about ‘can we do it?’ and more about ‘what all can we do to streamline our workflows?’”

–James Angus

“The other options we considered were either too expensive, too complex, or too insecure,” James recounted. “In the end, we chose Talend because it combined all of the characteristics we were looking for. It did it all.”

According to James, Talend in the cloud was by far the most cost-effective option, but it was also the most capable of meeting core requirements. For example:

  • Talend made it possible to integrate all of the data sources from various functions—from finance systems such as invoicing and payroll, to business service management, to event registration and more—in a short timeframe.
  • Using Talend did not require development expertise or highly specialized skills. The product’s drag-and-drop editor was easy to learn and use, and the use of GitLab for version control simplified life for the Operations team.
  • Talend runs on the organization’s own infrastructure, simplifying compliance with privacy and other security requirements.
  • Talend adapts quickly and easily to accommodate changes in data sources, endpoints, and other resources.
  • The product is based on open source software, so it can continuously take advantage of refinements, new innovations, and support from many sources.

Early successes point to future potential

For James and his team, the results of using Talend over the past year have exceeded expectations. The implementation was carried out by a third-party consulting firm on time and without a hitch, and the product is delivering on its promise. “It just speaks to the stability of this platform that we can now just run massive jobs and keep running and not fail.” As an example, James provided the report below.

Other successes highlighted by James include:

  • Onboarding: The initial training session was only eight hours, and it was enough to get James and his team up and running quickly. “The training was very thorough and the documentation was golden,” he said. “We’re still using it regularly.”
  • Talend Community: While the third-party consultants did the initial build, the Talend Community was instrumental in answering questions and providing helpful insights as James and his team began using Talend in the cloud.
  • Ability to Terraform the VM (remote engines): “With Google, we can run up the infrastructure really quickly; we can break it down; we can rebuild it if we need to. That’s really handy,” said James.
  • Reduced VM size and cost: With Talend, SU Queensland was able to dramatically reduce its VM size and cost requirements.

What’s next? In a nutshell, bringing more flow to workflows, according to James. “Now that the capabilities of Talend have proven themselves, it’s less about ‘can we do it?’ and more about ‘what can we do to streamline our workflows?’” he said.