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Nicky Wilkins: How charities can make the most of the cloud

15 Feb 2017 Expert insight

It's time for charities to think about how to make the most of cloud computing, says Nicky Wilkins of bluQube.

Get to know the cloud

Kodak. Woolworths. Blockbuster. We all know what happens to organisations that fail to adapt. Even the biggest boys and girls on the block soon become history unless they embrace change.

One of the big changes that’s happening nowadays is cloud. In fact, Cisco has stated that cloud traffic had increased by a staggering 600 per cent between 2011 and 2016.

So if you’re not fully embracing cloud for your software and systems, it’s time to wonder when you’re going to make the switch. Cloud systems now are the bedrock to a whole range of change and evolution in lots of organisations across the country.

For instance, you’ve probably heard from a number of other organisations that are already praising the benefits of online ordering, mobile delivery and remote access. So shouldn’t you be offering the same services too?

Start seeing the benefits

By harnessing cloud systems, you can streamline your processes for your customers and your internal staff, and offer a better service too.

So let’s think about how changing to cloud could really help a charity enhance its service. Imagine a typical not-for-profit organisation. Like many charities, it has lots of grass-roots support across the UK, which means multiple locations, plus lots of support staff.

The charity has recently appointed Fiona to help with the money side of things. Fiona has her work cut out. Various support staff up and down the country are entering information onto lots of different systems for the trustees. Fiona then has to run around chasing approval for each invoice she wants to raise.

That’s not just hard work for Fiona, it’s exasperating for the charity’s clients, as they’re waiting for months to receive invoices.

The end result

Now imagine if Fiona introduces a devolved accounting system via the cloud. The trustees can all enter information onto the same system, quickly and easily and wherever they happen to be. This automatically creates invoices that can then be emailed to the relevant parties.

That doesn’t just streamline processes, it saves lots of time and means Fiona no longer has to run around left, right and centre. Instead she can concentrate on tasks that add real value to the charity. The trustees are happy, the customers are happy, and so is Fiona.

Start your journey to the sky

When it’s time to review your processes and make a change, take a look at these steps so you don’t get stuck in the old ways of doing things and start unleashing compelling benefits across your organisation.

1. Analyse and map out your current process – are there areas which can be easily prioritised? Get some post-it notes to help you with this part.

2. Identify and agree any current problems that come about from stage 1. These ‘problem areas’ will need further attention, but only once you have all the facts. ‘What’s the cost?’ ‘What’s the tangible impact?’ – it’s these sorts of facts that will not only help you make decisions, but will also set the benchmarks later on.

3. Target the solutions that best meet your charity’s needs – such as remote access for employees, or devolved accounting to free up your finance team.

4. Engage with suppliers and choose one that’s a good fit for your processes and your organisation. Make sure you’re both on the same page when it comes to your requirements, and ensure steps are in place to meet them. And definitely, ask any burning questions before making decisions.

5. Reward internally and externally and see the benefits instantaneously with huge cost savings, more efficient processes and overall transparency for your charity and customers.

Nicky Wilkins is head of customer engagement at bluQube

Civil Society Media would like to thank bluQube for its support with this article

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