In 2015, with 25 locations across NSW, six in Victoria, three in Queensland – and with imminent sector changes upon them – breakthru knew it had to address the problems created by the rapid and ad hoc expansion of its ICT environment. The first step was to commit to an expert review of its existing systems.
This also included the identification of how and where technology could drive rather than hamper its business, employee workflow requirements and, critically, the delivery of highly personalised customer services.
A national not-for-profit organisation, breakthru is committed to empowering people to create their own futures. Its individualised services enable thousands of people every year to address mental health, disability or physical health issues, long-term unemployment, education goals and homelessness. breakthru’s core values of respect, collaboration, excellence and integrity also reflect in its selection of business partners.
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breakthru had expanded rapidly from 2009 but the advent of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in 2015 completely changed service delivery for the sector, from government funded allocations to the marketplace being driven by consumers. The NDIS opened the way for organisations with vision to capture new opportunities in the now wide open market. However, it also had an immediate impact on suppliers whose business models had to shift from long term contracts to fee for service.
The organisation could no longer afford its expensive back office operation that was labouring under layers of restrictions, clunky 1980s software applications, multiple hardware and software vendors and five network providers. Heather Hollingworth, breakthru’s Executive Leader, Business Performance, describes the ICT environment as “never having had a creative or future focused strategy. It was driven by compliance and conflicting demands, so it appeared in structure like a shanty town, with shacks built on top of each other”.
To regain control, Heather engaged an expert adviser to review the ageing technology platforms: “The philosophy guiding us was the need for plug and play. Our teams were to have all the customer information and operations help they needed.”
It was identified where new ICT investments would be a business enabler. Standardised operating systems and strict change processes were put in place. Reliance on servers was stripped back and, where feasible, apps moved to the cloud. As part of this process, CompNow was introduced as a key partner.
CompNow’s first project with breakthru was to solve its printer and associated connectivity problems, and to negotiate the breaking of existing long term licensing contracts. The introduction of the Epson WorkForce Pro RIPS printers to each office was game changing: they are vastly cheaper to run than laser, offer wireless connectivity, are super fast, and print up to 75,000 pages per ink consumable.
From that initial engagement, the relationship between breakthru and CompNow has flourished to encompass broad technology recommendations, supply, install and maintenance.
The existing laptops were to be replaced by Surface Pros. Prior to rollout, CompNow created a system image so devices are fully provisioned and bound to breakthru’s network before being sent to employees.
Importantly for the organisation’s bottom line, “every bit of value is being squeezed out of our fleet,” Heather says. CompNow also reprovisions the previous PCs for redeployment to new staff members.
“Our break/fix contract has revolutionised how our employees get help. When “ctr-alt-del” doesn’t work, it’s straight to CompNow and, with them, nothing is ever a problem,” Heather says. If breakthru’s IT person can’t resolve the issue, having gone through the Tier 1 standard questions, the software or hardware fault is escalated to CompNow. Devices are swapped out within 24 hours, where ever they are in Australia, and replaced from the pool of breakthru equipment warehoused by CompNow.
She also cites how the partnership made the relocation of three NSW offices so much easier as CompNow undertook the entire technology move.
breakthru takes pride in being a social visionary – and is also pushing the IT boundaries. Heather says: “We’re committed to finding opportunities for our customers and our business.
“Three years ago the business would approach IT with a problem and it felt like there was always something to have to jump over to get it to happen. Today, with CompNow’s backing, we have fewer positions in IT and considerably reduced overheads but with a more efficient service.”
Heather says “Our IT team are freed to come to us with ideas – ‘I’ve seen this, I think it’ll help’. From extending how we use Google or hangouts, apps, interfaces and devices, they’re also looking to the future and have the directive to think outside the box, to test and learn in a simple yet powerfully connected environment.”
She believes “we now have the infrastructure right; a foundation to springboard into better service to customers.” breakthru is working with CompNow to provide new technology and remote support components for innovative service delivery. “People living with a disability, and particularly younger people, are increasingly tech savvy. ICT’s communication powers are a liberating force and our customers expect to have technology enabling the services they’re paying for.”