Connecting Up’s ‘IT Strategy on a Plate’ Program Delivers for MS Auckland
28 August 2018 at 7:30 am
Multiple Sclerosis Auckland business manager Mark Blackie highlights the key takeaways from Connecting Up and TechSoup New Zealand’s new IT Strategy on a Plate program.
“I would highly recommend any charity doing an IT strategy to get in touch with Connecting Up and TechSoup New Zealand. We had been looking at band aids and were struggling to find a long-term solution to our IT problems, but in a year’s time we will be in a totally different position.”
Multiple Sclerosis Auckland business manager Mark Blackie doesn’t mince his words when asked how useful he found Connecting Up and TechSoup New Zealand’s new IT Strategy on a Plate program.
“The facilitator, Sandra, was amazing and went above and beyond what we could ever have expected from a private consultant,” he adds.
“The big difference now is that we actually have a plan and are moving forward with it. Long term this will mean greater efficiencies and services and overall better support for people with Multiple Sclerosis.”
Mr Blackie is far from unusual in describing IT issues within his not-for-profit organisation. In fact, recent research by Connecting Up, TechSoup New Zealand and Infoxchange shows that the majority of New Zealand and Australian not for profits suffer a number of inefficiencies because they lack an IT strategy.
That’s not the case any more for his organisation thanks to the innovative, low cost program developed, which has saved MS Auckland thousands of dollars – and which Mr Blackie became aware of at just the right time.
“The timing of the IT Strategy on a Plate program was perfect for us,” Mr Blackie says.
“At MS Auckland we have two databases – one for clients and one for donors and events – that don’t always work particularly well together and that is one of the issues I wanted to solve.
“We’d been looking at possible fixes and investigating solutions but hadn’t come up with one until the IT Strategy on a Plate framework began to give us some ideas. It’s a vehicle for moving forward for us.
“Before the group consulting program, we didn’t know the way to proceed. We can do the research in house, of course, but presenting it in a way that works for a board or committee and which shows the process so they can understand and approve is difficult without expert guidance.”
So what were the key takeaways for Mr Blackie, and what made taking the group consulting program with Connecting Up and TechSoup New Zealand so special?
“Identifying our IT structure and applications and creating heat maps of our IT infrastructure gave a really good vehicle to see where the organisation is at,” he says.
“I would never have done those heat maps on my own and they were fantastic.”
One of the other advantages of working with Connecting Up and TechSoup New Zealand, according to Mr Blackie, is the unique position they hold as IT specialists that are also not for profits.
“This makes a huge difference for other not for profits,” he says.
“Connecting Up and TechSoup New Zealand fill a key gap in the market and being a not for profit they understand the sector.
“It’s great to be able to purchase software and hardware through them because we get the benefit of Connecting Up and TechSoup expertise as well as the donated and discounted products they offer.”
That impact is only possible because of the donations and discounts provided by major technology companies like Microsoft, Adobe, Cisco, BitDefender and more.
MS Auckland receives a number of these donated and discounted products, and Mr Blackie acknowledges the difference those organisations make to the sector.
“This is really important, and I think all big corporations should help charities as part of their corporate responsibility,” he says.
“Technology is vital for us to connect with the people we support but also to get work done in the office. If there is a power cut people end up going home. It’s that simple.
“Having a database that our staff can access remotely is critical, for example. We’ve been using Microsoft Office and Exchange. And when we had our terminal server installed we also came to TechSoup New Zealand.
“I’m really impressed with how we receive expert, impartial advice from people who also understand the not-for-profit sector. It makes a big difference.”