Creating a roadmap for the future at the Smallpeice Trust

Charity  |  Strategic IT Assessment

Challenges

  • Need to modernise from on-premise to cloud technology
  • Gaps within IT systems including cybersecurity
  • Lack of clarity around the challenges and requirements from IT systems
  • Lack of clarity around costings and timeline as well as logical sequence of activities for IT projects

Outcomes

  • A risk-assessment of, and commentary on, the current infrastructure arrangements and support service level
  • Recommendations covering tools and cultural change initiatives to reduce wasted staff time and improve knowledge management, document management, collaboration, and effective communications
  • A technology roadmap for migration from the current infrastructure arrangements to a fully cloud-based architecture
  • Recommendations regarding the mix of in-house and outsourced management of IT, and ongoing resource requirements

Key services

  • Strategic IT Assessment

The Smallpeice Trust provides public benefit by promoting the advancement of education, in particular engineering and technological education. The charity promotes engineering, design, manufacturing, enterprise and technology as a career to young people aged from 8 to 18 by providing a professionally executed subsidised programme of residential courses and associated educational activities.

Need for a robust IT strategy

The Smallpeice Trust identified the need for a robust IT strategy for the charity. Lisa Foster, Smallpeice’s COO, explained to us that, although there was an understanding that there were areas for improvement, it was difficult “as a non-IT expert to actually understand what our priority should be.” Smallpeice were also keen to align this with their new three-year strategy.

Although a CRM system was introduced in 2019, there had been “pretty much no development past that point.” Smallpeice has two legacy systems that do not interact, and high amounts of manual work is required to extract this information. Lisa told us that there were “trustees asking for data we couldn’t give them.” Additionally, there was also a need to increase the robustness of the charity’s data security.

Lisa told us that, although the organisation had identified a gap in information management and identified that digital would be a key component to the success of this in future, “We didn’t know, for a charity of our size, what best practise should look like.”

I think with charities in particular you need to know that the advice you're getting is going to be charity specific, and appropriate for the size and genuine needs. Which is why we came to Hart Square.

Lisa Foster
Chief Operating Officer, Smallpeice Trust

Foundation for a roadmap

Hart Square were invited to support the Smallpeice Trust by using workshops, engagement, and reviews of existing documentation, to produce a Red, Amber, Green rating (RAG) for different IT areas. This provided the foundation to then create a roadmap for the next three years.

Lisa explained that, as well as providing reassurance around some of the assessments already made by Smallpeice staff, Hart Square’s guidance in understanding “what the priority should be and the order we should do things was massively helpful.” Hart Square also identified potential “quick wins” to help get buy-in for the changes across the organisation. Lisa told us, “I had our IT committee meeting 2 weeks ago and they were incredibly pleased about how much progress we’ve made because I’ve been able to use that roadmap.”

Hart Square also provided detail on the resourcing requirements that Smallpeice would need to support this new strategy, which Lisa was not expecting. “This absolutely meant we were able to then articulate exactly what we needed from the role.”

Importance of people

When asked about lessons to organisations in a similar position, Lisa emphasised the importance of getting sufficient number of people involved in the process and making sure that staff from all levels have the capacity to engage and cover everything. Without this “there’s always the chance that there could have been something [missed].”

Lisa also recommended understanding the final output from the project in order to help steer internally. “I did attend one of the webinars at Hart Square about writing an IT strategy. I found that really helpful… that probably helped me going into those conversations.”

When Smallpeice had tried to assess their requirements in previous years, they found the work done had not been tailored to their needs and scale. Lisa told us it was “just at too high a level from what we needed for the size we were. It was too complicated, too expensive… I think with charities in particular you need to know that the advice you’re getting is going to be charity specific, and appropriate for the size and genuine needs. Which is why we came to Hart Square.”

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