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Wilf Ward Family Trust
" I was full of fear and dread at being out of my depth.”
Like many organisations the Wilf Ward Family Trust developed its services and systems over time – growing from an original bequest in 1986, to now cover much of Yorkshire, with 80 respite services; any technology the Trust was using had tended to come in piecemeal, rather than to any plan. As the network grew, communications were becoming time-consuming and complex. Change was clearly needed – as was an informed look at what Information and Communications Technologies could do to help.
This daunting task fell to Debs Meade, who, when she signed up for Electroville's net:gain programme, was PA to the Chief Executive. “As the ‘accidental techie’, I needed a plan for roll out of equipment across 80 sites and an IT strategy. I was full of fear and dread at being out of my depth.”
North Yorkshire Forum for Voluntary Organisations recommended net:gain. On joining the programme with Electroville, Debs realised she needed to change the way she thought; and she had to bring the whole organisation with her: “We needed to stop just being re-active when things went wrong, and instead plan ahead for the changes we wanted as an organisation”. This is all too often easier said than done; where to start? However, Debs found that the net:gain planning method, tools and templates soon put the organisation on the right track.
“It focussed the mind on the task and removed red herrings,” says Debs. Once they had a framework to help prioritise and make decisions, Debs felt better equipped to contribute to the executive group, giving her the confidence and ability to take the process forward.
Already it has had a big impact at the Trust: the organisation is avoiding ‘knee-jerk’ reactions to ICT and less time is wasted on fire-fighting. Communications are much quicker, more streamlined and more efficient. Email is now the main medium of communication, and the aspiration is to move closer to a paperless office. Timesheets for staff payments are now collected electronically across the network. The new processes are helping both with business planning and with Investors in People. Lots of training needs had been underestimated and the Trust are now in a much better position to address these.
Whilst the process required an investment of staff time, the Trust saved £1000s on software, taking advantage of offers from Charity Technology Trust, and through the relationship with Electroville which offers a trusted source of technical support. “I am much more confident in every way: planning, contributing and problem solving, and hold a newly created post of IT Officer. We are much more focussed on what we want to achieve using ICT in our organisation, and how we want to do it. I’d recommend others to try the net:gain programme.”
Note: The net:gain programme is now delivered as separate parts: the ICT Strategy Workshop and on-site analysis and advice.