07/10/2010 - 00:00

SMP makes decision to just ‘do’ IT

07/10/2010 - 00:00

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CONSIDERED vital to the effective operations of most businesses, IT infrastructure would probably be way down on the shopping list for many in the not-for-profit sector.

CONSIDERED vital to the effective operations of most businesses, IT infrastructure would probably be way down on the shopping list for many in the not-for-profit sector.

South Metropolitan Personnel chief executive John Green was among those for whom the IT spend was a low priority and, until recently, he was reluctant to spend on IT infrastructure over other much-needed resources of the disability employment organisation.

That all changed when SMP moved into its new Lotterywest-funded home in the old Swan Brewery site in Fremantle two years ago.

At the time, SMP had been using the services of an IT provider, which had cut some corners and been light-on in service provision in order to save the organisation money.

For the migration of the system from SMP’s old headquarters to its new location Mr Green changed IT providers to Trusttech, a Perth-based technology management business that inherited the old IT system.

In the effort to save money, the functionality of the infrastructure had been compromised and, at the end of the financial year not long after Mr Green and his team of 52 staff moved into their new home, the accounts and payroll hard drive collapsed.

Mr Green said it was at this point he realised how integral IT was to the organisation in terms of administration, while Trusttech’s technical director and part owner Lyndon Beck said he recognised just how much work was required to bring the system up to speed.

Mr Beck convinced Mr Green to invest $17,000 in new IT equipment and software for the organisation to protect its operations.

While parting with the cash was a necessity, Mr Green and SMP reaped rewards for their investment – as well as new protection from the software, SMP won $30,000 in a competition the software vendor was running.

Recognising how important IT is to SMP’s administration and its operations, the not for profit reinvested the winnings back into developing its IT.

“It was great; in our business there isn’t a whole lot of money. It makes a difference. It makes you more effective, when they say you need five or six laptops, you say ‘where is that money coming from’? Just to be able to say, ‘yes, get them’,” Mr Green said.

Many of SMP’s contracts are with government departments, and Mr Green said the compliance burden that came with that was significant. So having more laptops available to his staff has made meeting these requirements easier.

“The accountability these days for state and federal government is enormous and you can’t turn around to them and say, ‘the $3.5 million you gave us, we can’t account for’,” he said.

“It helps with your end-of-year profitability, it makes people more cost effective than people coming back to use land-based computers.”

Earlier this year SMP won a new contract to supply ongoing support assessments for other disability employment services, a contract that required a greater capacity of IT infrastructure than SMP had at the time.

“We tendered even though we didn’t have the infrastructure, but I am a bit like that. We will worry about getting the IT equipment afterwards. We were fortunate in both areas, we got the equipment, we got the tender and now we have the winnings,” Mr Green said.

Mr Beck said the increased capacity of the organisation’s IT system had allowed him to work proactively on the business’ IT rather than reactively.

 

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