Coffs Harbour Neighbourhood Centre (CHNC) is a community organisation on the north coast of New South Wales.
The centre’s vision is to build an inclusive community where all people are valued and connected. The team at CHNC believes a connected community is a healthy community. They provide a range of services to connect and support people and the community.
CHNC’s team consists of 3 full-time staff and more than 60 volunteers. Providing a family-inclusive and supportive environment for volunteers – the main assets and key contributors to the organisation – is a goal the management team in the centre aims to achieve.
Recently, the centre faced a challenge with network connectivity. Internet connection would drop out regularly, making it difficult for the team to work.
Coffs Harbour secured funding to update its server through the NSW Social Sector Transformation Fund (SSTF). The centre’s former manager and a local IT provider made arrangements to renew the server.
When Dianne Woods came on board as the centre’s manager, she was not sure renewing the server would be the most efficient and sustainable option for the organisation.
Dianne organised a few meetings with the IT provider to get information about the server upgrade project. However, the provider could not provide enough information in simple and easy-to-understand language and could not justify why updating the server is the best option for CHNC.
The centre’s management team and board were not convinced that updating the server was the most efficient and cost-effective option. That is when Dianne sought independent advice and approached the Digital Transformation Hub.
Building trust by understanding community organisations and providing advice that best meets their needs
Digital Transformation Hub consultant Julia understood CHNC’s needs as a community not-for-profit organisation, given that Infoxchange – the organisation that powers the Digital Transformation Hub – is also a not-for-profit. Julia provided CHNC with a different approach: moving to the Cloud instead of upgrading their server, a more efficient and sustainable option. This strategy was more aligned with Dianne’s vision of providing an opportunity for her team and the volunteers to be able to work remotely.
“Julia and Marcus were amazing at understanding our needs as a community service organisation. They shared our values and respected our volunteers as equitable team members. It instilled so much trust knowing that somebody understood us. That was the start of our journey with Infoxchange,” Dianne said.
The Digital Transformation Hub’s team supported CHNC’s manager in negotiating with the IT provider to change from a server upgrade project to an Office 365 deployment. This initial change saved the centre more than $20,000.
Julia supported CHNC’s management team in navigating the costs and guided them with the right questions to ask and the type of information to seek from the IT provider. Julia’s advice helped the centre benefit from not-for-profit discounts, saving them hundreds of dollars.
Clear communication and easy-to-understand language made the rollout process smooth for CHNC
A smooth and well-communicated plan to implement these changes for the organisation and volunteers was a priority for Dianne.
Julia took the CHNC management team through a step-by-step approach to implementing Office 365 for the staff and volunteers. She also guided the change champions in the organisation and spent time with them until they understood the new platform and the upcoming changes. These sessions helped to build the volunteers’ confidence. Now, when any staff or volunteers face an issue with the system, they call their IT provider instead of assuming it is their fault the system is not working.
“Without Julia’s support, the move to Office 365 would have taken us twice the amount of time, and it would have been so inefficient,” Dianne said.
Adopting user-friendly, empowering language and setting clear timelines with manageable steps made the rollout a smooth process.
“Flexibility and understanding our team’s dynamics were of key importance to us, and it’s something we value. Julia and the Digital Transformation Hub team showed these qualities in abundance,” Dianne said.
Changing platforms and moving to the Cloud allowed CHNC to expand its volunteer base and diversify its team by onboarding people who can work from any geographical location. This flexibility is of great value for Dianne and the management team. Their goal has been to provide a family-inclusive and caring environment for volunteers so they can work from home if they need to care for a family member or are affected by floods. Moving to Office 365 has enabled them to achieve this goal.
“That’s what community services are all about, and our new platform enabled us to practice what we preach,” Dianne said.
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