Action for Children has a large, dispersed team of committed employees - from social carers out in the field to core business services based in the head office. A programme of digital transformation within this workforce, helping to achieve life-changing outcomes for the people they support, has been at the core of the charity’s mission for the last two years.
During 2015, Action for Children made life better for 300,000 children, young people, parents and carers. This encompasses their emotional well-being, support for education and personal development, health requirements and a reduction in the experience of abuse. Dealing with such important issues, across such a wide number of cases, makes Action for Children reliant on the technology which underpins it.
Action for Children has an incredibly strong and committed team who are doing exceptional work at the frontline of child welfare. However the technology upon which they relied was, whilst still mostly functioning, close to passing its sell by date. A significant hurdle for Action for Children was its desktop-based IT estate, which didn't match the working habits of many of its staff. It also lacked connectivity between employees, suffering from remote offices with low bandwidth, or sites with no connectivity at all, both of which were left isolated from the core of the organisation.
Given the importance of working out in the field with young people and their parents, and the need for interactions between colleagues at different sites, a more mobile approach was identified as a critical next step for the charity.
Working with CDW
Action for Children engaged CDW to help develop a digital roadmap for the future. With a huge enthusiasm for making positive change, the charity immediately highlighted a series of problems they were experiencing in day-to-day operations. By closely observing how the charity worked, the CDW team identified numerous opportunities to make Action for Children's efforts and resources go much further. For example simple actions such as data collection from a site visit relied on cumbersome paper-based processes, instead of a streamlined and efficient digital alternative.
"Working with CDW has been a true partnership. We would simply pose problems to them, and they would come up with solutions that matched our culture," comments Alan Crawford, CTO at Action for Children. "I was also highly impressed by the scale and capability of CDW's solution architect team, and by the answers they provided to our challenges. In fact the whole journey was a really collaborative, positive one for us. From the commercial side, through the build and then to deployment - they were with us for the whole lifecycle."
"Action for Children can now proudly show that we're a highly mobile, digitally-savvy charity," states Alan Crawford, Action for Children. "This is better for our employees, and much better for the young people and the families we support. All of our mobile users now have a Dell Windows-based tablet, which benefits from 3G connectivity. Wherever they are, these users can work as if they’re at the head office, gaining access to essential systems through Microsoft Direct Access. And where sites did not benefit from connectivity, CDW has implemented it using Cisco Meraki. We’re a truly digital operation today."
CDW rolled out devices to over 5,000 users across 400 sites. By combining the expertise of the solution architects team with CDW's long-standing logistics and supply chain experience, this digital transformation could proceed rapidly and cost effectively. This meant that in accordance with its roadmap, Action for Children had a new infrastructure, a new fleet of devices and a network of offices that could interact in a way not previously possible.
What it means for Action for Children
The new approach to technology has supported improved ways of working across the organisation. For the charity's employees, this has been realised in numerous ways - big and small. Daily requirements such as logon times have been reduced to a significant degree. On a larger scale, the very way in which dispersed teams can work together has entirely changed for the better. Most importantly, interactions with young people and their families have been vastly enhanced.
"The outcomes for our employees have been exceptionally positive. People not only save time on a daily basis; they're far better equipped to do their jobs. This is critical at the frontline of this type of care, and results in a vastly improved experience for the people we support," Alan Crawford, Action for Children, says. "When our social carers have more time to spend with young people who need support, and our office-based teams can get key processes completed more efficiently, the whole organisation sees the benefit."
The Future for Action for Children
The two organisations have formed a close working relationship across two years of consulting, planning, build and deployment. As Action for Children continues on its digital journey, the CDW team are on hand to keep delivering solutions to any challenges that might arise.