Elevating a charity to the cloud
60, including volunteers
The Norfolk Deaf Association (NDA) provides high quality information, support, awareness and communication services to young people and adults with all degrees of hearing loss in Norfolk.
Services, including hearing aid maintenance, advice on assistive listening technology and communication methods, befriending, support with tinnitus and other related conditions are all delivered by a team of dedicated staff and volunteers. Support is delivered through fixed location community clinics, mobile clinics and home visits – the NDA endeavours to reach as many people with hearing loss as possible, including those in nursing homes and sheltered complexes.
The NDA exists for the purpose of improving the life of people with hearing loss and they consistently reach out and support individuals – despite an upwards trend of service users (57% since 2015, with numbers still rising).
With a growing number of service users, the NDA found itself with an increasingly large record of individuals requiring assistance.
It was a priority to ensure the appropriate professional resources were in place to underpin the high level of support the NDA provides.
Continued fund-raising, triggered by a resolve to offer services to all those requiring them across Norfolk, provided the opportunity to review the administrative tools that facilitated the NDA’s support process. It was decided that investment was required to create a well-organised database that would assist the volunteers, employees and ultimately service users across the NDA.
The existing NDA database ranged across a multitude of different spreadsheets, each accessed and maintained by separate personnel. With a commitment to delivering the most efficient service to its users, the NDA recognised it required a new, unified database that all employees would be able to utilise in the same way.
Subscription to the online Office 365TM subscription provided the NDA with access to the collaborative and organisational capabilities of SharePoint®.
Breakwater’s SharePoint® Developer advised the NDA on the best ways of employing SharePoint® to create a new database for their service users. The NDA’s data requirements and current processes were discussed to enable the design of a system that would work seamlessly with existing applications.
A new database was proposed to the NDA, including features that would enable the simple and customisable capture of information; including history, proposed support and any accompanying notes. Database users would no longer have to integrate edits or interpret unique ways of recording information as SharePoint® is cohesive and encourages the creation of single files which a specified number of users can contribute to.
Forming part of the Office 365TM suite, SharePoint® is hosted in the cloud and is inherently collaborative – an ideal solution for drawing different data locations into a central file. The cloud ensures SharePoint® is naturally secure, meaning the NDA can store, organise and share information with confidence that it is backed up and recoverable.
In addition to a central database, a new reporting engine was delivered – again harnessing the simple sharing and reporting tools that can be found within SharePoint®. The new reporting function provided the NDA with such statistics as the total service users, the number of new referrals, the number of service users seen in a particular period, clinic type and location; enabling easy review of data and processes to allow the most effectual service.
The NDA now have a new database in which they can store service user details, hosted within the SharePoint® platform.
Authorised personnel can easily add or edit information within the database – helping each other to monitor the service they provide and encouraging an efficient process.
The database and accompanying reporting system can be easily reviewed or edited from almost any device or location, and as the files are hosted in the cloud they are both cost-effective and secure.
With the right technical groundwork in place, the NDA can now introduce Add-Ins to extend the capabilities of their SharePoint® files. The new database is custom-made for the NDA and as a result reflects their requirements exactly, delivering real results to help with the productivity of their service.
Aliona Derrett, Chief Executive of the Norfolk Deaf Association commented that:
“The new system has made a substantial difference to the way we manage our service users’ data. We are now able to easily capture the details of all the work we undertook with each one of our current 10,500 service users, as well as what supplies we used and from which provider of audiology services. The system enables us to identify at a press of a button when a particular service user was seen, by which member of staff or volunteer, the type of work carried out and at which location.
As a charity we report to many funders on how many people we are supporting and what kind of support we delivered. The new reporting system has saved us days of ‘counting numbers from various spreadsheets’. Now it takes 5 minutes to produce the required data.”
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