Digital transformation prepares WCIG for COVID-normal

In 2018, the team at WCIG identified that their technology environment was holding their 170 staff members back from efficiently and collaboratively supporting their community. Clunky manual processes and obsolete hardware were limiting how and from where WCIG’s workforce could help vulnerable people, and staff were unhappy with how much the technology was slowing them down.

For more than 30 years, WCIG has delivered community-centred employment, disability, youth and training programs to assist thousands of vulnerable and marginalised people across Melbourne, Geelong and Corio to make positive changes in their lives. They’re also a registered NDIS provider and have two social enterprises.

After undergoing an initial internal analysis of how effective their systems and processes were in helping staff to support their communities, WCIG discovered two things: they needed to create a mobile workforce and offer more ways for their people to collaborate.

What began three years ago as a project to improve their ways of working, turned into a digital transformation journey that allowed WCIG to survive and thrive during a global pandemic.

Woman alone with computer smiling

Pre-digital transformation

Like many long-standing organisations in the not-for-profit sector, WCIG had too many legacy processes that were hindering their ability to work in a modern and collaborative way.

Tristan Ellery, Group Manager of Corporate and Culture at WCIG, says that before working with the Infoxchange Group, his team had a basic idea of the role they wanted technology to play in the future of the organisation, but needed help to figure out what steps to take.

“We reached out to a couple of organisations to do a full IT audit of our environment and we found that Infoxchange was the best fit for us. During that process, we discovered the current ways of working were a lot more prohibitive than we initially thought,” says Tristan.

After auditing WCIG’s technology environment, The Infoxchange Group found that WCIG was using an extraordinary 54 physical servers and staff were restricted to working at terminals using soft clients like Citrix. Because of this, it wasn’t unusual for a 15-minute task to take up to an hour, costing the not-for-profit valuable time and money.

This presented a unique opportunity to completely reinvent the way WCIG worked internally and with their broader communities.

The solutions

Implementing a new IT environment is a daunting task for any not-for-profit, particularly for the end-users who need to learn how to use new software and processes to support their clients and collaborate.

The first step on the journey for WCIG was to create a detailed project plan in collaboration with the Infoxchange Group, which formed the base of the entire digital transformation project. It clearly outlined each step the organisation would need to take to modernise their IT environment, and most importantly, communicate to staff what was changing.

Because WCIG’s main priority was to create a mobile workforce to better service their large catchment area, they implemented cloud products which staff could access from portable devices. Platforms included Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Teams, a new client case management system and multi-factor authentication.

Tristan says the initial project plan was crucial to managing these significant changes in a positive way. When it came time to roll out the new platforms and ways of working, giving staff time to learn and regular communications were integral to making sure everyone felt supported and informed each step of the way.

“We had received a lot of negative feedback about the previous environment in staff satisfaction surveys, so we knew there’d be trepidation when we did introduce these new products. Most people grabbed it and ran with it. Now I see people chatting on Teams and Yammer, and their excitement to use these products to support our clients is so different compared to the old environment,” he says.

Digital transformation impact

Tristan explained that the timing of WCIG’s digital transformation rollout at the end of 2019 could not have put the organisation in a better position to deliver on its mission through the many disruptions presented by COVID-19.

Because WCIG already had the right infrastructure in place when the pandemic hit Australia in March 2020, they were able to quickly and easily set-up staff to work remotely. Everyone in the organisation was ready to connect with each other and their clients via video meetings on Microsoft Teams, and applications like Sharepoint provided the flexibility to share important documents securely from their homes.

For a not-for-profit like WCIG, this can’t be understated. It meant they could continue helping vulnerable people while meeting their targets and delivering on their mission.

“We’ve joked about the timing of the changes and how the decisions that we made back in 2018 and 2019 almost had COVID in mind without us even realising it,” says Tristan.

Advice for other not-for-profits

Tristan left us with three golden rules for other not-for-profits who are considering embarking on their digital transformation journey:

1.    Have a REALLY good project plan. 
2.    Regularly communicate with everyone involved.
3.    Don’t fear the cloud!

Read next

See our guide to delivering technology change projects, which includes sample templates like project plans.