How we gave a homeless charity enterprise grade IT systems.
Simon Community Scotland is a Glasgow-based charity which has been operating for over 50 years. Today it operates from 15 service locations throughout the West of Scotland. The organisation’s mission is to combat the causes and effects of homelessness and work towards a vision that everyone should have a safe place to live and access to the support they need.
Working with Cobry
“Cobry were able to deliver on site training pitched at the learning needs and expectations of the organisation supporting us to make a smooth transition from a Microsoft-dependent setup to G Suite”
“Perhaps one of the biggest challenges and benefits was moving multiple sites onto a shared drive. For us the process was simple but we underestimated the challenges staff would experience in managing the shared drive. That was were Cobry came in, supporting managers and teams to work within a new filing structure and extract the benefits of this in a way that gained their commitment. There are always going to be challenges with a new system but continually heralding the benefits and ‘tricks of the trade’ helped people to buy into the change.”
“We have no in-house IT expertise so we need to trust the advice and support of external experts in determining our digital strategy. Cobry worked with us throughout the process not only in implementation of G Suite but in building a long-term digital inclusion strategy involving staff and people who are homeless”
Due to the physical distance between the services and head office, communication is a key challenge for Simon Community.
Before moving to the cloud, Simon Community were operating from a server based IT system. This was costly to support but such a setup presented many other challenges:
- Difficult to get all stakeholders integrated into using technology
- Flexibility & Scalability – being responsive to changing relief workers, staff members and service users
- Mobile working plays a huge role in the operation of Simon Community as many team members carry out activities on the move – and the previous technology was not geared for working ‘on the go’
- Ageing infrastructure
Simon Community decided to move to using G Suite after evaluating various options. They required a solution that would make remote communication and collaboration between teams effortless, that was intuitive for staff to use and offered new opportunities for improving the way they delivered services. In addition, access to unlimited licences for no cost under the Google for Nonprofits program provided significant cost savings. This also allows the team to scale easily at no direct extra cost. Cobry helped Simon Community make the technical switch from using an on-premise server to G Suite.
Switching to a cloud-based system supports Simon Community’s vision of using the latest technologies to not only support their team but also open up these tools to our service users who are almost always excluded from access to IT.
“Significant cost savings in hardware as we were due to upgrade existing hardware in services. Cost of Chrome was half that of PC, as well as faster, more secure and mobile”.
“Since moving to G Suite we have experienced no business interruptions. On rare occasions we’ve lost local wifi but staff have been able to tether their phones to Chromebooks so it’s been business as usual. Chromebooks are fast, light, immense battery length, simple to use and to date we’ve not had a single issue with their reliability. We are so confident in their reliability and performance we are in the process of replacing all PCs with Chromebooks.”
“The front facing simplicity of G Suite masks the enormous functionality the different apps bring to the whole. The ability to integrate into mobile environments and access anything, anywhere at any time is incredible.”
We’re working to improve our setup further using Google tools – here’s some of our future plans:
- We are converting old laptops to run on Chrome OS and providing free wifi in all our accommodation services to give to service users access to the digital world.
- We will use our YouTube Channel to produce different ways to train and communicate with staff.
- We are going to start using Hangouts to routinely connect staff and to build networks of staff from different geographical locations, in particular nightshift workers.
- We will use the $10,000 adwords credit (part of the Google for Nonprofits programme) to reach an online audience will previously we would not be able to communicate with.