Our VP of Partnerships Zak Pines sat down with Dustin Swayne, cofounder of SATRDÉ, as part of our ongoing Partner Interview Series. Zak and Dustin discussed Dustin’s experience bringing paper-based forms processes online for the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, as well as why he and his cofounders have the full support of their wives. Here’s an abridged transcript of the conversation.
Background on SATRDÉ
Zak: SATRDÉ has just completed your official Formstack partner certification. Congratulations! It’s a great time for you to join the program as we’re adding a lot of partner resources and investment to our team.
Dustin: Sounds great. We’re pretty excited about it, and the training went really well. I liked the process and getting an understanding of the product. I think it’s a good process for anyone to go through.
Zak: I appreciate the feedback. We’re process people, and we’re trying to make the partner process scalable and effective.
Am I saying it correctly, Sat-ur-day? Where did the name come from?
Dustin: So, interestingly enough, the name built itself out. We were building this company and were wondering what to call it. We wanted something short and memorable. We formed the name SATRDÉ out of the first two initials of our wives’ names, from our three cofounders.
Zak: No way! That is great.
Dustin: What’s funny is we tried to use our own names first, but it didn’t work. When we told our wives that we landed on SATRDÉ, they thought it was weird at first and weren’t sure if people would know how to pronounce it.
We explained it was their initials, and then they loved it!
Zak: Hey, there’s probably a lesson there for cofounders, right? How to get buy-in from your spouses for your new business venture?
Dustin: [Laughs] Yes, that’s right. We also tied the name to how we help customers. We say we build solutions that help people get their Saturdays back. We want to help people go fishing, hang out with their families, do whatever they want to do instead of getting drowned in things that can be automated.
Zak: Wow. That is an amazing story, and I love how you tie it back to getting your Saturdays back.
Automating Paper-Based Processes for the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development
Zak: How did you come to learn about Formstack in the first place?
Dustin: This was all born out of a project while I worked for the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. I had been in the department for almost 14 years, and we had around 1,300 employees, a $200 million budget, and a $1 billion trust fund for unemployment insurance.
Zak: Wow, those are big numbers. Can you tell me more about this project that you embarked on?
Dustin: We were drowning in paperwork and processes. Like most government agencies, we were burdened with paper.
We had half a million paper documents flowing in per month, and you know how we were sorting those? We had a conference room with a table stacked full of documents, and we used post-it notes on top to let us know what date they came in.
Zak: That is a pretty amazing visual. I could envision that as a cartoon signifying just how much paper you were drowning in.
Dustin: Exactly. So when we were asked why we were doing it this way, we’d say, “It’s because we’ve always done it that way.”
We couldn’t accept that answer anymore. I educated myself as much as I could. I got lean certified—a Six Sigma program to build out better processes, identify bottlenecks, and manage day-to-day operations. We started asking ourselves, “How can we automate this and be more proactive versus reactive?”
When we looked at how we could make changes and build better processes, we found Formstack. Formstack allowed us to collect information easily and efficiently. It became integrated as part of our omni-channel communication system.
Zak: You mentioned you had half a million forms coming in per month with the paper-based process. How much of that got digitized?
Dustin: All of it, eventually. Our goal was to get everything that we needed coming in through a digital form and feed that into a Zendesk ticket that could be traced and connected back to the customer.
Zak: What sort of forms are we talking about moving into Formstack?
Dustin: For external purposes, it was processes like insurance claims for unemployment. We used forms for data intake for businesses that interfaced with anything process related, such as unemployment, insurance, workforce development, worker’s compensation, etc.
Another example was using a form to reduce the length of our onboarding process. We were able to take a six-to-eight month onboarding process and reduce it down to less than a week.
Zak: It sounds like there were many different aspects to this project—bringing in a new process for the department and how data came in to the department and was put to work. How essential was Formstack to this initiative?
Dustin: It was absolutely essential. You can go out there and buy all the tools in the world, but it’s not going to fix anything if you’re still collecting your data on paper. You have to get things in digital form, and the quickest way to do that is through Formstack. Between the ease of operation and the ability to change things rapidly, we found a product compatible with our needs.
Zak: And what would you say was the impact of these changes to the state of Tennessee?
Dustin: We looked at how much time was being spent on resources, and through Formstack, we were able to quantify that impact through cost savings. We were able to shift resources from scanning documents to becoming agents who talked to people on the phone.
We saw a big impact in the resulting customer satisfaction. This program boosted CSAT scores by 35% because it was a far more efficient, customer-friendly process.
Optimizing Customer Experience, Automating Business Process, or Both?
Zak: So how did you evolve from driving this impact with the Tennessee government to founding SATRDÉ?
Dustin: It started when I went to a conference in San Francisco in the fall of 2018. I started sharing our story about how we were able to transform operations in less than six months, and many of the people I was talking to were shocked. I would then explain how we’re in government, and they were quick to tell me that this problem lives with for-profit businesses too. They have the same struggle, which was very interesting to me. So the lightbulb went off in our minds that this could be taken across both public and private sectors, just hearing about all of these companies and how they’re drowning in paper processes.
Zak: How would you describe the impact you’re looking to make for your customers?
Dustin: We’re focused on improving and optimizing customer experience. We’re packaging our products and solutions around creating a better customer experience.
Zak: How much is business process automation or business process effectiveness at the center of that?
Dustin: It is very much so. Business process engineering is one of our three pillars behind everything we do. One of our differentiators is that we’re focused on sustainability. If you have a problem, there are two ways to go about it. Either find a solution that will treat the symptoms or find a solution that will treat the root cause.
We’re treating the root cause. And then we’re always helping organizations to adopt the new processes that bring the necessary change.
Zak: Are there any patterns around the type of person who brings you into an organization to help?
Dustin: We talk to both C-Suite as well as those who are in the trenches. From an operational point of view, we’re talking to the CEO or CFO. The big reason for these relationships is because of the savings we’re bringing to their organization. But we’re also talking to people handling customer service, the managers who own the process.
Zak: Another phrase that comes to mind for me, hearing you talk, is you’re helping organizations with their digital transformation.
Dustin: Exactly. That’s the biggest overall term that encompasses what we do. There’s a lot more to digital transformation that we’ll see, but start with the basic elements and then bigger things happen. A huge step in digital transformation is changing how you collect data and information, so that it’s being brought into one place.
Top Industries for Digitizing Paper-Based Processes
Zak: Now taking your experience with the Tennessee Government across other industries, what industries have you seen with those same needs and opportunity to digitize paper-based processes?
Dustin: Education and government are pretty similar there. They’re still taking a lot of information from either students or constituents, and all that business is done on paper. From there, they’re having to pay someone to input data into their system. Through the use of digital forms, we can fix that.
Healthcare is a big one as well. How many doctors do you still go visit who make you fill out paperwork for 15 minutes before your appointment? Think about what can be done before you get there to streamline the process. Not to mention HIPAA compliance, which is a really attractive area as part of the Formstack platform.
Zak: HIPAA compliant data collection is a very fast-growing part of our business.
Dustin: Makes sense. Formstack meets all regulations and compliance for HIPAA, for personal identifiable information collection. That’s important in both government and education because you’re collecting things like the last four digits of a social security number and birth dates.
Zak: So government, education, healthcare. Are you seeing opportunity to help in any other verticals?
Dustin: Banking and financial services as well. You’d be surprised that the people working with mid-sized and regional banks are still doing a lot on paper.
What we’re trying to do is focus on those areas because it’s low hanging fruit for us. We know the benefit that comes out of that, and it gives these businesses options. Either save on your bottom line for the automation of that process or move people around. We recommend taking people who have already worked for you and move them into positions that will be more proactive and get them on the front lines. They’re on the data collection side, so move them into a position where they can interact with customers proactively.
Zak: That’s very smart. And since you have the experience with using Formstack as a user, and now you’re a certified partner, you’ll be able to help companies in these verticals roll-out Formstack to digitize their paper processes.
Dustin: Correct. Formstack gives us ease of implementation and flexibility.
Plus the security of Formstack for data collection is government grade security. You cannot underestimate security these days. The ability to collect sensitive information is key, and that’s where we have some fear or hesitancy towards changing processes. But I always like to say that when you fill out a piece of paper that ends up in the trash, it can be found by someone else in the organization. The antiquated paper-based processes have more security risk than people realize.
Zak: That brings me to the conference room full of papers you described earlier.
Zak: OK, Dustin. This has been super interesting. We’ll wrap up with our lightning round. What are some of your personal hobbies?
Dustin: I grew up loving boating. I also play several sports, so anything sports related. I like being outside and I’m a hunter, so I’ll do that in the fall months. I’m also a licensed attorney.
Zak: No way!
Dustin: Yeah, I did that for a while. You know, I just never stop learning, and I’m all about continuing education. So anything I can learn, I’ll keep doing that. I also build websites. I taught myself HTML when I was 12.
Zak: Incredible. Do you have a favorite productivity tip you can share?
Dustin: I recommend saving time by using Calendly to schedule meetings. It’s a great product and saves me a lot of time.
Zak: What’s your favorite TV show?
Dustin: I actually don’t have one! I’m not a big TV watcher.
Zak: Do you watch sports on TV?
Dustin: Yes, I’m a college and NFL football watcher.
Zak: Who are your teams?
Dustin: The Volunteers and the Titans.
Zak: What’s your go-to lunch during the work day?
Dustin: I love seafood.
Zak: Last question, a debate within Formstack: Is a hot dog a sandwich?
Dustin: Oh, that’s interesting. Does it have meat and bread? Then yes, it’s a sandwich.
Zak: Very logical.