Case Study

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT

How the Cloud helped a not-for-profit focus on its community goals.

The Situation

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT provides a series of invaluable services to the vision impaired, and operates throughout the state and territory in both metropolitan and regional locations. Most famously, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT trains dogs to help the blind or those with impaired vision function in society with greater safety.

In 2012 Guide Dogs NSW/ACT suffered a major outage that took far too long to resolve, which acted as a wakeup call for the organisation. According to the organisation’s CFO, Nick Shaw, the event proved to be the catalyst to look for an alternative to managing the charity’s infrastructure internally. Their previous service provider suggested a solution, but not without a big capital outlay on new technologies which, as a not for profit, could not be justified. “It was then that we started to evaluate the value that Cloud technology could bring us,” Shaw explained.

In terms of improving communication, marketing and the mobility of its people, Shaw saw an opportunity to use the outage as a the catalyst to modernise Guide Dogs NSW/ ACT’s approach to technology, and to give its people the ability to work more efficiently and achieve the not-for-profit’s goals more effectively.

The Solution

After the evaluation process, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT decided that it could successfully outsource its entire IT infrastructure to the cloud. Where some organisations would limit its Cloud investments to relative non-technical applications such as Exchange, Shaw said that the team made the decision that a complete outsourcing model made more sense to the business.

“I could have employed all the resources in the world in order to maintain my own infrastructure, but that would have cost a lot of money and I would have been buying a lot of expensive hardware that I wouldn’t really understand,” Shaw said. “Guide Dogs is a relatively small organisation and we didn’t have many in-house IT resources; I’m the CFO, not the IT guy. I have a fairly good understanding of IT but I don’t have the technical background in it. I wanted someone else to look after all those things.”

Given the scale of the project, Shaw decided to put the Cloud outsourcing project to competitive tender. With limited experience in working with cloud providers in the past, the not-for-profit was looking for deep technical expertise and a partner that would go out of its way to understand its client’s needs. The plan to outsource all of the critical functions to the cloud also meant that Guide Dogs NSW/ ACT needed a partner with rich capabilities across a diverse range of technology fields. Shaw needed a partner with proven expertise in mobility, security and communication, as the solution also needed to benefit the not-for-profit’s many remote offices.

At the conclusion of the tender process, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT selected Brennan IT, based on its proven track record for intense partnership and technical expertise.

The Benefits

The move to the Cloud has succeeded in taking the strain in managing the IT infrastructure out of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT’s internal business, Shaw said. The organisation immediately found the cloud environment a real benefit to the organisation.

In addition to gaining a partner to manage infrastructure and reduce the need for Guide Dogs NSW/ ACT to buy and manage its own hardware, one of the greatest benefits from the partnership was the Managed IT Services and the additional technical capabilities that the partnership with Brennan IT has brought into the charity, Shaw said.

With Cloud hosting, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT was able to roll out a Citrix-based environment to these remote offices, and now the environment operates with far greater stability.

“It was one of the best things that we’ve ever done,” Shaw said. Now Guide Dogs NSW/ACT is able to focus its investment and energy on the part of its business that counts most to its clients; its dogs and training courses.

“I’m the CFO, not the IT guy. I have a fairly good understanding of IT but I don’t have the technical background in it. I wanted someone else to look after all those things”

Nick Shaw, CFO
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT

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