UNICEF is the United Nations Children Fund; they are the leading aid agency dedicated to children. By early 2012, UNICEF New Zealand, based in Wellington, had become frustrated with their ongoing IT challenges, and had daily concerns about the safety of their data systems. Being a not for profit organisation, any expenditure is carefully controlled and scrutinised to receive the best value.
Reasons for IT Update
UNICEF’s IT system essentially consisted of one work station that was being updated by an independent contractor and was being manually backed up by UNICEF employees, onto disks, a time consuming and unreliable solution. Providing additional maintenance and support resulted in daily workflow being interrupted, which was not an efficient use of staff time.
Frustrated employees were looking for change because innovative ideas were being held back by inadequacies with the existing IT. It was not flexible and was unable to change to meet the way UNICEF needed to do business.
Additionally, UNICEF required a secure IT solution. Given that the organisation held donor bank account and credit card data, it was vital that UNICEF complied with PCI standards. It was also important that UNICEF “future proof’ any expenditure on their IT. Obviously, they were also concerned about the need to ensure their capability to recover from any major disaster.
UNICEF booked an initial IT evaluation with IT Engine to clarify what they had, determine their existing IT capacity and identify what they needed to have in place moving forward. They had also really outgrown their base infrastructure which had not been designed to meet the demands of up to 40 users nationwide, who were also travelling internationally. And, the existing system was resulting in time and cost inefficiencies.
To address their concerns of security, collaboration and workflow, UNICEF initially approached IT Engine to find out if a cloud solution was the answer.
Solutions and Benefits
“After an initial consultation with UNICEF, one of our engineers undertook a complete audit to take stock of hardware, configurations and other assessment criteria, then we developed a solution similar to that of other not for profit clients, but also customised to the unique user environment,” explains Roland Tuck of IT Engine. Due to the size of the files UNICEF deals with and their existing database, IT Engine recommended Windows Small Business Server 2011 instead of a cloud solution.
The installation has improved UNICEF’s remote access and given the organisation peace of mind when it comes to security, reliability and disaster recovery. UNICEF Executive Director, Dennis McKinlay explains, “The new system greatly improves our risk management because less work is required of Wellington based staff and there is remote access outside of Wellington that is backed up each day.” Windows Small Business Server 2011 is a seamless solution, particularly where users are working on different equipment.
Office based and remote staff can now access email and share their calendars with full collaboration, using an industry recognised package. And, the recently opened Auckland office has a platform to access and store files without having to resort to their own backup system. All employees have access worldwide to a consistent platform that they back up daily in house and can be easily recovered in the event of a disaster.
UNICEF also utilise EngineCare for around the clock support and technical assistance. IT Engine provides a complete outsourced IT team that deals directly with the employees who need assistance, which is welcome relief for UNICEF management, and eliminates the interruptions to daily workflow.
Getting IT Engine on Board
When Yasanthi Nugawela, Database Coordinator at UNICEF, was looking for an IT provider that had experience with ‘not for profit’ organisations, she approached Microsoft, who then recommended IT Engine. Another company known to UNICEF was also considered.
“We knew that IT Engine was a company with a track record for good customer service and client relationships, also, they had proven experience with our type of organisation. In the end we chose IT Engine because they offered the ‘right match’, communicated every thing really well, and also we felt like we’d already built a relationship with them before the work had even begun!” explained Yasanthi.
“When deciding which company to use, what really stood out was that IT Engine was easy to get in touch with and always willing to help.”
That help included IT Engine Managing Director, Delia Gill, completing an extensive review of UNICEF’s PCI documentation during the proposal stage for inclusion in the final solution.
“IT Engine understood us as a charitable organisation. And, we got just what we needed from them. They were flexible when our brief had to change to incorporate iPads and when we had to move our dates around, but their promises and budget didn’t change” said Sue Chisnall, UNICEF Accountant. Yasanthi adds, “we were also impressed when Kelvin, from IT Engine, suggested TechSoup as a source for software priced for non-profits.”
Dennis McKinlay Executive Director of UNICEF summarises by saying, “UNICEF chose IT Engine after investigating several suppliers and we settled on them because of the size of the business, longevity in the market and referee checks. We were looking for a reliable partner with a strong track record of delivering on their promises.”
The Installation & Ongoing Support
UNICEF’s new solution was operational within a month, and most of the work was done offsite.
“Installation day was a complete anticlimax, IT Engine exceeded all our expectations, the transition was seamless and Phil Leigh, our on site support, didn’t have much to do because everything went so smoothly,” says Yasanthi. “We were really impressed when he attended a staff meeting to brief us on better security practices and how to get the most out of our new IT solution.”
Sue added, “We signed up for EngineCare, as we really needed that peace of mind that any problems we had, could be dealt with quickly and at an agreed cost. One of the benefits again, is savings in time as we do not have to get involved with any questions; we just log our service request and the end user deals direct with IT Engine.
Yasanthi is excited that “now our staff are starting to get really creative with tweaks to their individual user experience that are a breeze for IT Engine, which wouldn’t have even been possible before. Also, they are not encountering frustrations with our IT system, which makes everyone happier. We can also relax as all our data is safe.”
“We definitely would not hesitate in recommending IT Engine to anyone-you can trust them to deliver what they promise. Their long serving team of people are a real asset to their organisation, and now to ours as well. We can be reassured that we have a reliable, collaborative and future proof IT solution that matches our organisation’s size and goals. And plenty more time and resources to put towards what we do best.”