We’ve spent the past month gathering key information to decipher the most useful tools for our registered charities.
This time, we’ve looked specifically at how and why health and health-related service organisations have made use of some of the software available on tt-exchange and how it benefited them.
The charities we spoke to range in size from under 10 employees to over 400. Some were looking to make minor improvements while others aimed for full-scale digital transformation.
The charities involved in the study are:
- Norwich And Central Norfolk Mental Health Resources
- St Clare West Essex Hospice Care Trust
- CKUK Common Knowledge
- N-Vision, Blackpool Fylde and Wyre Society for the Blind
- Diverse Abilities Plus Ltd
Norwich and Central Norfolk Mental Health Resources are typical of many health-related charities in that they deal with extensive amounts of sensitive data. As a result, a high-level of security is essential.
Mental Health Resources offer outreach, rehabilitation and carer support services for the surrounding area. Their database contains extensive information about individuals and their mental health history. This information demands a high level of protection, which Symantec software is able to offer.
Through tt-exchange, they were able to purchase 70 copies of Symantec’s Small Business Endpoint Protection, saving themselves almost £1,500 against fair market value.
Symantec Endpoint Protection is an important data protection tool for any endpoint. For charities like this that handle sensitive data across numerous devices, security software like this becomes essential.
Symantec use a ‘reputation-based’ security technology. This basically means the software discovers and classifies software files, good and bad by looking at reputation ratings. There are 35 million Symantec users, which allows Symantec to develop precise reputation ratings.
They track users’ experiences on various sites behind the scenes to assess if they seem safe or not. It goes beyond the conventional methods that rely on finding virus signatures on files. It’s for this reason that Symantec is so popular among businesses and charities alike.
Symantec Endpoint Protection allows Norwich and Central Norfolk Mental Health Resources to manage protection across the network from one, central device. The software offers multiple layers of defence – an initial desktop firewall, intrusion prevention and proactive threat scanning. This means threats are removed before the organisation are ever aware they exist. Removing this stress means the organisation can feel secure that their data is in safe hands.
For charities handling sensitive data like those we talked to, using security software is not optional but is essential. This meant there wasn’t a problem of making a business case for the software or gaining buy-in from trustees. Still, securing devices in a cost-effective way is really important.
By taking donations through tt-exchange rather than paying commercial prices, Norwich and Central Norfolk Mental Health Resources have been able to allocate more funds towards the direct services they offer. The residential rehabilitation centre and community development programme they run can be costly; having extra budget for areas like this means services can improve with no compromise on software.
St Clare Hospice Care Trust provide care and support to adults with life-limiting illnesses as well as their family and carers. As with other hospices, the broad range of services they offer are time-demanding, making efficient and user-friendly software crucial to free up time elsewhere.
The organisation took two copies of Acrobat Pro XI through tt-exchange in 2016, paying £82 – an affordable price point for a charity with a minimal IT budget.
Acrobat allows organisations to easily create and edit PDFs for various marketing and administrative purposes. The software also supports the use of digital signatures, which provides ID certification for verifying who the PDF came from. This is useful for organisations that work with the NHS that need to be able to securely trace the paper trail for documents.
St Clare Hospice Trust have been using the software to scan, send and convert documents for their website. As a larger charity of over 40 employees, it’s important that software is simple and quick for staff members to understand and use.
By saving time on training staff, it frees them up to focus on direct services. Moreover, since the charity acquired the software last year, they have been able to produce PDF documents to attach to their website, including their annual report.
For many hospices, being able to share and send documents with NHS colleagues easily is vital. For organisations running older versions of Acrobat, compatibility can sometimes be a problem, which is a problem solved by the latest version through tt-exchange. It allows St Clare Hospice Care Trust to exchange materials knowing everyone can access them, while also ensuring they handle documents sent from elsewhere.
One issue people often have with Adobe Acrobat is the cost, coming in at around £200 per licence. Thankfully, Adobe donations through tt-exchange remove this cost. In fact, since the programme launched in the UK, charities have saved over £1.6 million on Adobe Acrobat software alone.
Photoshop allows for the creation, enhancement and editing of imagery for marketing, fundraising or internal purposes.
CKUK Common Knowledge is an example of a charity making the most of Photoshop. They’re a small charity with under 10 employees, offering education and social networking for those with learning difficulties. They purchased three copies in order to enhance the look of their website and marketing materials.
The charity only has 2 staff members handling their communications, neither of which were trained specifically on design work. The software can take a little bit of upskilling to use, but Adobe provide an extensive range of step-by-step tutorials for various versions of Photoshop, which are easy to follow and enough to get underway. These make it easier for charities that don’t have an allocated design team to still be able to produce professional-looking content but also don’t want to spend excessive amounts to designers and agencies.
Since taking the software, CKUK use the software to ensure the images they use online all benefit the user-experience by incorporating them with the relevant text, sized and edited correctly. Take a look throughout their website to see how a charity with no allocated design team can still make good use of images:
While there are alternatives available for photo editing software, Adobe Photoshop is seen as the world leader in terms of the number and variety of useful tools it contains. The fact that it’s available to health-based charities (and numerous other charity types) in the UK as a donation through tt-exchange means that for most, it should be the obvious option.
We spoke to several health-based charities that are using servers to power core functions due to their security needs, or due to the specific platforms they run.
Diverse Abilities are an example of such a charity. They operate 24/7 across multiple regions, providing care and support for people with learning disabilities. It’s therefore crucial that their server can function effectively with multiple demands. They use SQL Server for their fundraising CRM and HR systems alongside Exchange Server and two databases.
As they grew, they found that their previous server, running Windows Server Essentials, kept breaking down under the pressure of running everything on a single machine. They took the decision to move to Windows Server Datacenter to remedy this problem.
Previously, the different programs running on their server were competing for resources, which meant they were all underperforming.
Windows Server Datacenter, however, allows for numerous virtual machines to run different server operating systems on a single machine. This means that separate servers can run on different virtual machines. Its virtualisation rights allow users to send fixed resources to each system. The more resources they can allocate to their SQL Server, the faster it can retrieve information.
Also, this new setup means that if a restart is ever needed, it can be done to just a single server as the different systems don’t interfere with each other.
The charity had been concerned about the purchase cost vs the benefits of upgrading, but fortunately had prior knowledge of tt-exchange and so referred to the catalogue. IT administrator Mike Meaden expressed his relief that Windows Server Datacenter edition was available on tt-exchange, stating that Diverse Abilities “could never afford a redundant and reliable IT system running standardized software without Tech Trust”.
A full range of Microsoft’s server software is available through the tt-exchange donation programme, which can save charities thousands of pounds at a time on the cost of upgrading.
Office Professional Plus:
Microsoft Office is the most commonly accessed donation on the tt-exchange programme.
Both the Standard and Professional Plus versions are available, the difference being that Professional Plus contains a database management program (Access) and an information gathering program (InfoPath).
One of the many charities that have purchased Office Professional Plus is the Blackpool Flyde and Wyre Society for the blind. They provide multiple services to support and improve the quality of life for those who are visually impaired. This ranges from care homes to talking newspapers.
As all charities do, they have a great amount of administrative and internal word-processing demands that make Professional Plus a good fit for them.
Blackpool Flyde and Wyre Society for the blind have used tt-exchange for their Microsoft purchases since 2013. They’ve accessed 8 copies of the software over the past year through tt-exchange, saving themselves over £4,800. Doing so has meant that almost all their fulltime employees have access to the full Office suite of tools.
Accessing Microsoft Office through tt-exchange provides the latest version of the software, and comes with the benefits of Software Assurance. This gives charities support, deployment planning services, training, updated software releases and unique technologies.
For charities like Blackpool Flyde and Wyre Society, it helps them to “keep the function of the business highly professional”. Microsoft Office is the most-used productivity suite in the world by some distance, and its availability to charities is always warmly received. To date, charities have saved £140 million on Microsoft Office alone.
Beyond the charities named, we spoke to several others within the healthcare space and several trends emerged.
One of the main challenges to overcome was often the difficulty of convincing higher management and trustees that new software was a worthwhile investment.
The key is to be able to provide a solid business case, weighing up the benefits (and the costs of not upgrading) vs the cost and pain of upgrading. The tt-exchange donation programme makes this much easier to do, but even still, it can be difficult when there isn’t an understanding of the benefits of new IT amongst trustees.
Over the years, we’ve seen tens of thousands of charities take donated software through tt-exchange, which have gone on to make efficiency gains and work more effectively. All the health-based charities we spoke to have seen a range of benefits from the IT projects they undertook.
The study has made clear how stretched charities can be for ICT budget. At the same time, it’s vital that charities can maintain a high level of professionalism. Thankfully, the discounted and donated products on tt-exchange have made this battle a lot easier. The programme has enabled charities to acquire products they may otherwise have to go without.
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