Corporate values are instilled in organisations to help guide employees towards a common goal and encourage them to work together as a team. From loyalty to accountability, respect and ingenuity, these values can run the gamut. More than just buzzwords though, each carefully chosen value does more than inspire – it drives action.
For NDSP Plan Managers, an empowering enabler within the disability sector, those values are compassion, knowledge, trust and even fun. “Our last value can’t be missed. And it probably sets us apart from a lot of companies,” CEO Graham Oades tells The CEO Magazine. “I’m a CEO with a fun budget. Our staff works hard, and we believe that if we can have a bit of fun, release some pressure and make people laugh, then that will do wonders for our culture and flow through to our clients.”
A National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)-accredited provider that specialises in plan management, NDSP Plan Managers acts as a financial intermediary, paying the provider invoices from the participant portal for those with an NDIS plan. It offers great value to both new participants of the NDIS who are unsure of the journey ahead of them as well as experienced participants who appreciate the stress relief its services provide.
However, according to Graham, who signed on in 2019, the organisation does that and so much more. “They call us financial intermediaries, but I see us more as educators in the space, providing client support as much as anything,” he says. “Our role has changed quite significantly, even in the two years I’ve been here. We’ve moved from a process-driven entity to one that’s much more person focused. The modern plan manager is actually shifting quite quickly towards the client.”
“As a people business, every decision we make is a client-centric decision. And everything we do is about enabling a new disability economy.”
It’s the perfect transition for this purpose-driven organisation and one that positions it well for future success. “We have a relentless client focus,” Graham stresses. “As a people business, every decision we make is a client-centric decision. And everything we do is about enabling a new disability economy.”
A powerful force within the disability community, NDSP Plan Managers has grown from a kitchen table startup less than four years ago to a 150-person organisation, boasting nearly 12,000 clients today. And it’s still growing. “We are expanding,” he says. “We see solid growth for at least the next two to three years, and are putting in a lot of resources to be on the ground everywhere. Creating a solid national footprint is one of our major growth strategies.”
Graham explains that a lot of its competitors focus mainly on metro areas, so this growth strategy is a major differentiator. More importantly, however, it’s putting help where it’s most needed. “As a national provider, we are looking at how we can help be part of the solution in regional and remote areas,” he shares.
“We see it as our responsibility to help create a viable NDIS marketplace in thin markets in areas like Northern Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Western Queensland, Northern South Australia and Western New South Wales. We put a person in Tasmania and another in Darwin. It all comes back to taking on that responsibility; if you’re going to be a major provider, then you have to engage in those remote areas with all of the different communities.”
“There’s quite a lot of innovative technology in the disability sector and we’re aiming to stay at the leading edge of that.”
An important part of NDSP Plan Managers’ growth plans is its partnerships. “A lot of our growth comes from our provider relationships. They recommend new clients to us,” he points out. “They continually refer to us because it’s a win–win situation – they have vulnerable clients that they know will get caring service and plan management if they choose us.”
While compassion is the foundation of the entire business, Graham knows that technology is the mechanism for driving it to new heights. “There’s quite a lot of innovative technology in the disability sector and we’re aiming to stay at the leading edge of that. Innovation is critical to enabling us to provide these client services,” he says.
“We’re running artificial intelligence and optical character recognition in our invoice scanning. We’re developing new client-facing, work-on-plan utilisation, which works out how to link up providers more directly to clients and provide them information. We’re also looking at ways to further support clients as they prepare to have their plans reviewed under the NDIS, which is always an incredibly intimidating exercise for people with a disability. The smart systems we’re working on will help provide them with more guidance and information.
“For us, it’s all about reaching out and understanding what we can do to help.”