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Children’s Non-Profit Organization Sees Advantages of Digital Transformation Realized

July 13, 2022
6 min read
Children’s Non-Profit Organization Sees Advantages of Digital Transformation Realized

Non-profit community organization funded by the Government, legally mandated to protect children and youth from abuse and neglect.

When the organization was looking to transform how they communicate and collaborate with staff and social workers, they partnered with 2toLead to ensure success. Their team used a legacy Intranet platform for sharing essential links and day-to-day relevant information. Another integral repository was the file server, which also needed to migrate to SharePoint Online. After an initial step in the right direction, moving from a Lotus Notes environment to Microsoft 365, they stayed committed to supporting their workforce during the transition.  

As a non-profit organization, agility and efficiency are paramount to empower their team to reach as many people who need them as possible. The organization had the vision to provide the right tools, proper training and communication to support its staff. 2toLead was there to make it happen by leveraging their team of Microsoft 365 champions.

Establishing what the advantages of digital transformation mean for them

Our journey began in October 2019 by meeting with their IT and Administrative Services team. We focused on creating the foundational pieces and a new tool or channel that compelled users to visit, interact, and get information. Their staff looks at the Intranet as the source of critical information, raising the stakes of its importance.

At the time, Microsoft Teams was being piloted by their IT department to evaluate its capabilities and to identify how both Teams and SharePoint would complement each other. A question that’s on the minds of many organizations today.

The building blocks of their Intranet

Our first release focused on providing the foundation for an Intranet that supported the central communication and collaboration functions of their team. As the organization had recently embraced the Microsoft 365 platform for email, leveraging SharePoint Online to build the foundation for their Intranet was a natural choice due to the strengths of a connected digital workplace.  

With an agile set of workshops to cover our information architecture, navigation, and search capabilities, we confirmed our requirements for the new Intranet.  

As part of our discussions, we reviewed the governance and life cycle planning aspects relevant to creating new communities using the platform. The use of wireframes and mockups were essential to iterate and confirm our requirements for visual impact faster.

Planning and executing the migration

With the foundation in place and the Intranet platform built, we rolled up our sleeves and dug into the file shares.  

The team assessed the various file shares provided to staff for individual use (home drives), department level, and global use. The team used the gathered information to ensure the right documents were migrated.  

Personal files: the team documented clear instructions for employees to move their data to OneDrive for Business.  

More extensive data repositories: our migration consultants supported the team and migrated their information from their shared drives to SharePoint Online.

Adapting to the new normal with targeted training

During our journey, the Coronavirus pandemic brought additional challenges that compelled the non-profit to act fast and accelerate their plans for adoption, particularly for Microsoft Teams. Rolling out Microsoft Teams was vital to uphold their principles of service excellence and collaboration in the face of an unprecedented change to how work happens.

The Microsoft Teams rollout took priority, and from a technical perspective, it was simple to deploy. However, employees struggled to adapt to the new environment and needed additional support to remain productive. Internally, the staff received initial training and supporting resources, but they wanted to take it a step further.  

Their team decided to provide more targeted training. With the help and information provided by them, 2toLead delivered a tailored training program focused on best practices and collaboration boosters. This empowered employees to use Microsoft 365 and Teams to their fullest potential. Additionally, given their recent transition to a new email and calendaring system, we emphasized tips and best practices for managing email, scheduling meetings, and organizing calendar events.

Taking the first steps towards business process automation

Accelerated by the new normal, and to facilitate critical business processes, we identified areas that needed automation. The Power Platform was a solid choice as the technology to underpin the efforts. The team had just begun their business transformation journey and needed a partner to walk the path and not only implement the critical business processes, but also acquire the knowledge internally by being part of the process.

To meet this goal, they partnered with 2toLead to automate a process for distributing vouchers to families in need.

The voucher administration process is a critical process that involved various departments, automation, and data sources within and outside the realm of Microsoft 365 and Power Platform.  

With the actors, their actions, and the flow of the system documented, the team joined forces and proceeded to build three Power Apps to meet the needs of the various actors, ranging from social workers, supervisors, administrators, and delivery drivers.  

Along the way, our 2toLead consultants and their Administrative Services Team participated in the design and development sessions to create each app. This approach allowed for training the team as we developed the Power Apps and Power Automate Flows needed for each step of the process.  

Leveraging data from on-premises data sources

A critical business need derived from the analysis was to read client data and present it using Power Apps. This data resided on-premises. Given the nature of its sensitivity, we needed a secure and efficient solution that allowed this data to be exposed to our Power App users while ensuring it would remain available at any time.

To meet this need, our architect team proposed a Hybrid Data Architecture model. This model leverages Common Data Service to store client information and update it regularly. The scenario called for using an on-premises data access gateway to connect to the SQL Server Instance on-premises. With the information now stored in a cloud entity, it was ready to be leveraged by Power Apps, or Power Automate flows that required it.  

To complement the architecture, we also considered the use of Power BI to report on data from cloud sources such as our data entities and on-premises data residing in SQL Server.

What’s next for the organization?

With a solid foundation in place to communicate and collaborate with modern tools, and the resources to train new and existing employees, their team is well-positioned to invest further in making the operation more secure, efficient and adaptable to the needs of the organization.  

The knowledge gained from building their first apps in the Power Platform will boost their confidence in the platform to continue optimizing and automating business processes and simplifying their reporting solutions to bring data and actions to the front lines. This experience, in turn, will contribute to supporting the organization in continuing to fulfill its mission to protect children and youth from abuse and neglect.

The power of a partner on your journey

For many organizations, the world of Microsoft 365 is uncharted territory. Experiencing business transformation takes an intentional partnership with the business’s knowledge and the expertise to optimize and implement technology in a way that meets your business outcomes. Our team is passionate and strives to work together to make the journey much more comfortable to walk along. Let us join your organization’s journey towards digital transformation and business process optimization together.

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