Home-Start Hampshire is a voluntary organisation in which volunteers offer regular support and practical help to families under stress to help give their children the best possible start in life.
If you are interested in supporting or donating to Home-Start Hampshire, find out how you can help on their fundraising page.
We have been extremely pleased with the support, advice and guidance received from Craig at Engage IT. The service is tailored for our needs to provide cost effective, operationally efficient support. We also use Engage IT for specific projects and the advice has always taken into account our business priorities, operational pressures and budgetary constraints to provide appropriate, fit for purpose solutions. Engage IT have taken time to understand our business model and our operational needs and we feel very comfortable and confident with the services provided.
I first started working with Home-Start Hampshire in 2017, on a volunteer basis, as a Trustee and IT Consultant. I was a member of a transition board of trustees that worked to merge six local schemes into a new organisation, Home-Start Hampshire. The merger was required to help streamline efficiencies and resources, across the six schemes, and improve their ability to secure funding.
I was responsible for reviewing the existing IT infrastructure and systems and defining a cohesive IT Strategy to enable improved business operations, communications and collaboration between the six locations of the new organisation.
After a detailed review of each scheme, it was obvious that each scheme had a variety of email and storage systems in place, including local network storage, Dropbox and Microsoft (Office) 365, not all fit for purpose. Family data was being managed in both custom databases and excel spreadsheets.
Critical Success Factors
- Standardise IT Systems for the new organisation.
- Move all users to a new email domain.
- Improve IT Security & best practice.
- Pro-actively manage and monitor all PC’s.
- Anti-Virus & Threat Protection.
- Consolidate all family data into one CRM.
- Control, oversight, and backup of all the organisation’s data.
- Staff awareness and acceptance.
As I had previously migrated one of the local schemes to Microsoft 365, this was the obvious choice – to provide a secure and scalable infrastructure to consolidate the new organisation’s IT systems.
For more information on the benefits of Microsoft 365 see my previous post Why Charities should be using Microsoft 365.
The first stage was to setup the new Microsoft 365 environment and email domain. All staff were given new Microsoft 365 accounts with a standard format of email@example.com. Old email domains and accounts were migrated and/or redirected to the new Microsoft 365 environment.
SharePoint & Teams
The new organisation went through a process of staff restructuring and new SharePoint sites and Teams groups were setup to reflect this structure. SharePoint is a shared file storage environment and multiple sites were setup for different team/departmental requirements. This included a central Intranet, accessed by all staff and trustees, for shared resources such as policies and procedures.
Although Microsoft 365 is a very secure and reliable system, a cloud backup solution was implemented to take daily backups of all Microsoft 365 data, including Email, OneDrive and SharePoint files. This ensured longer retention periods and granular restore functionality.
PC Monitoring & Management
Staff PCs were gradually upgraded to Windows 10 Pro, and joined to the Microsoft environment, so that staff could login using their new Microsoft accounts. The PCs were also added to a remote management & monitoring system and an Anti-Virus/Threat protection solution, which enabled Engage IT to pro-actively monitor, and manage updates and issues, on the PCs so they remained protected and secure.
Charity Log CRM
Alongside the Microsoft 365 migration, a separate project was run to consolidate family data from multiple systems into one Customer Relationship Manager (CRM). It was decided to use Home-Start UK’s preferred system Charity Log. I worked with Home-Start Hampshire and Charity Log to help define requirements and roll out the CRM to the organisation. This involved testing, customisation, developing custom reports and staff training.
During this whole process staff were regularly communicated to through meetings, emails, and training sessions, so they understood the changes and how they would be impacted.
Although Home-Start Hampshire initially planned to consolidate across three regional offices, they were forced into a remote-first work mode by the onset of the pandemic. As they were already using SharePoint and Teams, they were well prepared for this change and could fully utilise Teams for group chats, online video meetings and screen sharing.
Other benefits include:
- Home-Start Hampshire are now more agile to adapt to change as required.
- Microsoft 365 provides a secure, robust, and flexible infrastructure to adapt and grow with the organisation’s requirements.
- A secure collaboration environment through SharePoint and Teams for file sharing, video meetings and group chat.
- Staff Intranet for policy management & distribution and knowledge sharing.
- Centralised management and visibility of all PCs.
- Full governance, control, and visibility of all the organisation’s data.
IT Strategy is a process of continual improvement, adapting to the requirements of the organisation, changes in technology and changes to compliance regulations.
I continue to act as a virtual IT Director for Home-Start Hampshire, advising them on new projects, new technology and best practice.
More recently I have utilised the Mobile Device Management (MDM) feature of Microsoft 365 to securely manage and deploy iPads for use by staff when visiting families and managing group support. Currently I am working on improving user security by implementing Multi factor Authentication (MFA) and a Password Manager.