Keeping operating costs at a minimum is an important goal for most organizations — but for charities such as Osteoporosis Canada (OC), it’s absolutely critical. If a charity spends too much to keep itself running, donors give it a pass. That’s why the organization was pleased that it could cut a fulltime network administrator — who was paid a salary of $35,000 a year — from its staff as a result of a switch from Novell products to Microsoft.
The not-for-profit organization recently migrated from Novell GroupWise 5.5 and NetWare to Microsoft Windows Server, Exchange Server and Outlook.
The move was prompted by a number of factors, says Karen Ormerod, the president and CEO of the Toronto-based non-profit.
First, there was her personal preference. She came from an organization that had a Windows environment, and preferred it to Novell’s.
“I don’t like Novell GroupWise. I don’t find it terribly effective,” she said.
And beyond her dislike, the system was unfamiliar to new staff, most of whom were familiar with Microsoft.
“It was a challenge to train staff on GroupWise.”
Also, Ormerod wanted to be able to access her e-mail when she was out of the office, and this wasn’t possible with their older system, though she adds that part of the reason for this could have been the age of the system.
Osteoporosis had also outsourced its database a number of years ago and as a result, anytime it needed information, it had to pay the outsourcing company to do a search. It decided to bring its donation data in-house and move to Raiser’s Edge, the industry standard software for tracking donations, as well as Financial Edge. Both applications were optimized to run with Windows. OC would have needed to install a Windows server for the applications — which would have meant contending with a heterogeneous environment.
The Novell system was also clunky, Ormerod says, and needed a fulltime sys admin to look after it. There were many calls to the helpdesk.
Ormerod called LegendCorp, a consulting company with whom she had worked with in the past, and it did an assessment of the organizations needs.
It recommended OC consolidate its systems onto Windows.
“It makes it easier to maintain it moving forward,” says LegendCorp’s president, Andy Papadopoulos in Toronto.
Osteoporosis Canada also set up a virtual private network, giving Ormerod and her staff the ability to work from home and when on the road.
“So more business is being done, and where it’s far more effective,” she says.
The number of help calls dropped off and the IT systems no longer needed constant attention, allowing OC to save $35,000 a year in the salary it was paying its network administrator.
But there are other savings too, Ormerod says.
Setting up a meeting is no longer a time-consuming process in which she has to send out an e-mail, wait for everyone to send back time, find a mutual time and hope that no one has booked it in the meanwhile. Now she can just go into Outlook and see when everyone’s free. “How do I calculate how much time I save when I can schedule a meeting in one minute, and not in an hour or a day,” she says, adding that productivity has increased for all staff.