Looking to automate key processes? SharePoint and the Microsoft Power Platform can transform the way you digitise your business processes.

In our recent webinar, Leveraging SharePoint for intranets, digital forms and business processes automation, we spoke with Perth Aged Care and community services organisation Southcare, about their journey with SharePoint and business process automation.

Here are the four key talking points from the discussion:

1. Involve your team in the journey and identify a champion user

Adjusting to new digital workflows can be a tricky task. It requires a collaborative approach that’s underpinned by the right support and tools.

This is where champion users become vital.

Bremmar Managing Director, Brenton Harris, explains how this has helped their clients.

‘When we look at these changes that organisations want to make – there’s a lot of knowledge required to implement them. You need to understand the tools, the processes revolving around them, change management factors, communication and training. We’ve found our greatest success hasn’t come through simply engaging technical support and deploying new workflows, it requires the inclusion of some champion users in the process.’

Finding collaborative users who understand your organisational systems, are interested in improving workflows, and can communicate with others will help you build solid foundations.

As champion users, they should be involved in areas such as the following:

  • Demonstrations
  • New ideas
  • Implementing iterations
  • Training other staff
  • Progressing the solution after implementation

By slowing the process down and identifying the ideal champion user, any organisation can see a vast improvement in adoption rates. With these users working alongside a Microsoft 365 specialist from day one, it’s easier to gather more robust input upfront that aids ongoing workflow improvement and overall success.

2. Streamline your digital workflows with Microsoft 365

Automating your business processes and boosting your productivity and efficiency doesn’t need to be complex. Often, a simple workflow yields a significant uptick in organisational collaboration and satisfaction.

The Microsoft 365 apps, SharePoint, Forms and Power Automate enable you to streamline workflows with only minimal training required. Staff are able to consistently stay up-to-date with processes, evolving business goals, and governance requirements – key factors in maintaining a modern NFP or Aged Care organisation.

Brenton explains how this may assist after an employee incident.

‘Incidents that happen on-site or at head office need to be recorded as soon as possible to avoid any errors. Microsoft Forms allows the staff member to input information on the spot and using any device.  When the information is collected, Microsoft Power Automate then triggers a set workflow. Depending on the conditions set, this workflow could be a notification to a line manager, a preventive action, or a summary of the incident sent to stakeholders. SharePoint then stores all of this information in the intranet for tracking and reporting’

Here’s a deeper look at the Microsoft 365 tools.

MS Forms

A simple yet powerful way to collect information using an online form on almost any web browser or mobile device. View real-time results as they’re submitted and use built-in analytics to evaluate responses. Intuitive and accessible, forms data can be stored in SharePoint and used in workflows, allowing care staff to collect incident information and immediately begin any workflow processes.

Power Automate

Power Automate expands your automation capabilities across desktop, web, and mobile by streamlining repetitive tasks and paperless processes. By automatically triggering any required workflow, it allows you to shorten response times and eases system congestion. Regardless of who needs to be notified, Power Automate collates all your data collected via Forms to set up the exact workflows, automations and notifications you need.

SharePoint

The database underpinning the whole solution is SharePoint. Southcare uses the platform as an Intranet to provide a central information hub for all employees and as a document management system to store, organise, share, and access information – both current and historical. This flexibility offers a powerful analytical perspective that can shape future automations and workflow processes.

3. Strengthen communication using a centralised SharePoint intranet

Most NFPs and Aged Care providers have too many systems for users to get across. With a disparate collection of logins and data hubs, staying on top of core information – including policies and procedures – can be an arduous experience.

In the case of Southcare, this decentralised information combined with the need to reduce systems reliance on the head office to make processes more streamlined for front line workers became a key service delivery challenge and they teamed up with Bremmar to find the right solution.

Deploying SharePoint as a central cloud data repository, Southcare has been able to streamline its intranet into a cost effective tool that allows all staff, whether on-site or in the field, to access the systems and key information they require from any device. This SharePoint intranet is now used to:

  • Provide all staff access to a central communications hub from computers or tablets
  • Store controlled documents including policies, procedures & forms with version control functionality
  • Store training and guide documents
  • Consolidate access to HR hub and department site gateway
  • Streamline access to commonly used apps via a single sign-on
  • Post Southcare snippets celebrating their community and culture

Enda Fahy, Southcare’s Chief Finance Officer, notes that the new intranet has been a success for the business.

“We chose SharePoint as the platform to host all of our control documents and our document management system. The intranet hub was designed to be a holistic and all encompassing framework so that staff had access to all of the links, tools, documents and systems they required. Over time, we continuously improved and expanded it to become a one stop shop for content and communication” Enda explains.

4. Implement best practices for data input, collection and automation

Overcoming the inefficiencies of a multi-step process is an essential component in implementing best practices for data input, collection and automation.

But how does this look when considering front-line workers?

Southcare CFO, Enda Fahy explains, “We were using SurveyMonkey for our forms, but ran into severe limitations. We needed something that was flexible and user-friendly. That’s when we made the decision to try Microsoft Forms that we had available in our Microsoft 365 licensing.”

Here’s how Southcare used MS Forms, SharePoint and Power Automate to solve their data collection and workflow problems.

Incident reporting

Southcare currently uses Microsoft Forms to assist with a broad spectrum of employee incidents and reports. This new streamlined process allows incidents to be recorded by all staff on any device. Once a report has been logged, the safety committee is automatically notified, allowing the Line Manager to immediately complete the investigation via a link.

Contact tracing

With the unprecedented requirements of nationwide contact tracing thrust upon Aged Care providers, keeping up with all visitors and staff during the COVID pandemic became near impossible. Microsoft Forms and SharePoint solves this by providing a centralised location for tracing and response. This new process allows users to identify any declarations and follow up instantly, giving facilities a greater ability to track contact details and locations visited, while also providing central visibility to the live visitor list via the cloud.

Archive deletion and automation

Data sprawl can cause a lot of headaches for any organisation. Without an automated archive and deletion process, unwanted files or documents can prove to be a drag on your processes and resources. Using SharePoint and Power Automate, you can bring all of your metadata into one site, providing control of the archive date, retention of archived files and the ability to only view current and relevant files.

Power virtual agents

Supporting staff whenever they encounter a problem is essential for any community minded organisation. Unfortunately, easy access to help with daily problems isn’t always available. Making the most of SharePoint as a data hub, Southcare staff have access to a 24×7 chatbot that can help solve simple issues. The chatbot points the users to information on the intranet to help with common problems, while those questions that are not answered online are redirected to a human with a prompt on the next step to take, further enhancing the use of SharePoint and Teams for care workers.

Bremmar, your M365 partner

Interested in learning more about how your organisation can leverage SharePoint, Forms and Power Automate to overcome productivity loss, escalating operational costs, inefficient data collection and cumbersome processes?

Here at Bremmar, we’re experts in assisting Not-For-Profits and Aged Care providers with customised solutions using the Microsoft platform. So, if you’d like some support anywhere on your Microsoft 365 journey, we’d love to help.

Unsure about the next steps on your Microsoft 365 journey? For a limited time, Bremmar is offering our Microsoft Roadmap Workshop or Business Process Consultation at no cost for Not-For-Profit and Aged Care organisations. These consultations help to provide your organisation with:

  • Better understanding of your business systems requirements
  • Scope and consulting approach to address these requirements
  • A fully tailored demonstration and clearer vision for your future processes

How to protect your Not-for-Profit from cyber threats

By the time you’ve finished reading this article, one business will have been the victim of a cyberattack. That’s the findings from the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s (ACSC) latest report which received over 67,500 cybercrime reports in the last financial year, an increase of nearly 13 per cent from the previous financial year. That equates to one cyber attack every eight minutes.

And if you think it’s just the big players these cybercriminals are targeting, you’d be surprised to hear just how widespread this problem is. No sector of the Australian economy was immune to these attacks, and small and medium-sized businesses are just as vulnerable, sometimes more exposed due to low levels of understanding, less resourcing, or underestimation of risk. According to the Microsoft Digital Defence Report, released in 2021, NFPs are the second most targeted industry for attacks, just after Government. 

Top 3 most common cyber security threats for SMEs

  1. Ransomware involves encrypting company data so that it cannot be used or accessed, and then forcing the company to pay a ransom to unlock the data. According to ACSC, ransomware attacks have increased by nearly 15 per cent compared with the previous year.
  2. Malware is a malicious code that hackers use to access an organisations’ network, then steal or destroy data. Malware usually comes from malicious website downloads, spam emails or from connecting to other infected machines or devices.
  3. Scam emails or phishing attacks (pronounced “fishing”) are designed to trick individuals out of their money and information. These emails often look like they were sent from individuals or organisations you know or should trust.

Prevention and proactivity are key when it comes to cybersecurity

Failure to prepare for a cyberattack is costing small and medium-sized organisations big. From financial losses and downtime to reputational damage and even legal action as a result of a data breach, there are a number of ways that cybercrime can impact your organisation.

Having incident response, business continuity and disaster recovery plans in place is an important strategy to prepare for a cyber security incident. Just as important is testing these plans to ensure they’re robust enough to stand up to an attack.

5 simple ways to prevent cyber threats

Build a multi-layered approach to security

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to security. A good security strategy should be built with a multi-layered approach using different solutions. This can become challenging and complex to navigate internally, especially because products available are constantly changing.

If your business operates through the Microsoft 365 platform, you’ll already have a baseline level of security. Our recommendation is to solidify that baseline by leveraging existing software, configuring settings like MFA and conditional access, and then slowly build up your business maturity level with targeted initiatives that are not included in Microsoft 365, such as extra backups.

If you think you’re not leveraging Microsoft 365 or would like to discuss your Security Strategy, Microsoft Tech for Social impact is offering a free Security Assessment for NFPs. Register your interest here until the end of April.

Update your devices and systems

Turn on automatic updates for your operating systems and applications. If automatic updates are unavailable, regularly check for updates from vendors and install them as soon as possible.

Use Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) requires the user to provide two or more verification factors to gain access (e.g. a one-time password sent to your phone). Make sure you have MFA enabled by default on any corporate networks, devices or systems.

Train staff in good cyber security habits

Are your end-users the weakest link in your cyber defences? 41% of IT professionals report phishing attacks at least daily. You can have the best technology in place, however, if your staff are not well trained, that investment goes to waste.

Your staff and policies play a crucial role in the success or failure of your IT protection efforts. Build a workforce of trained, phishing-aware employees that provide your business with a human firewall against cyber threats. A good place to start is by doing staff security awareness training and simulations. This has been a popular service for Bremmar clients and you can find more information here. 

Back up your cloud against accidental loss or deletion of files

With more and more businesses depending on Microsoft 365 and G-Suite for business operations, the risk of potential data loss is impossible to ignore. Although Microsoft and Google store data on their servers, they don’t take responsibility for human errors such as accidental loss or deletion of files. With people working from home and increasingly relying on collaboration tools like Teams and SharePoint, protecting data in the cloud is more important than ever.

Where to go from here?

Bremmar, in collaboration with Microsoft Tech for Social Impact (TSI), is currently offering a free security assessment and roadmap for Not-for-Profits to help you quantify how Microsoft 365 can help your organisation save costs and improve digital security.

This offer uses a tool that is usually valued at $1400 dollars, and it provides a snapshot of your current security, reviews your environment for vulnerabilities, and finds gaps to address those vulnerabilities. The findings are presented in a workshop with Bremmar where, together, we’ll help you define your 3 security priority initiatives.

Nominate my organisation for the assessment now!

If you’re not ready for the assessment, please check our Security Packages for NFPs or email help@bremmar.com.au to request a copy of our Security for NFP Leadership webinar recording!

Key takeaways: Security for Not-for-Profits – A briefing for leadership

 On 23/03/22, Bremmar and Microsoft Tech for Social Impact (TSI) collaborated on a webinar about Security for Not-for-Profit leaders.

During an information-packed presentation, NFPs from around Australia received practical steps on how to increase the security of their organisation by leveraging existing Microsoft 365 licensing.

Brenton Harris, Bremmar’s Managing Director and key presenter, ran attendees through the Essential 8 mitigation strategies recommended by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) and explained key Microsoft 365 Business Premium products that cater for the baseline security recommended by the ACSC.

The content was easy to follow and non-technical, leaving attendees with lots to consider when implementing or improving their organisation’s security efforts. Here are the key takeaways of the event.

  1. Clarity on the security situation that NFPs are faced with at the moment.
  2. Tangible steps you can take to protect your organisation in line with Government Essential 8 framework
  3. How to leverage Microsoft 365 (and discounted NFP licensing) to deliver on the essential 8 framework
  4. Learn about a zero cost Security Assessment / Roadmap from Bremmar in collaboration with Microsoft TSI

The threat landscape for not-for-profits

The impact of security breaches for NFPs can be extremely severe as many non-profits collect and store data of vulnerable customers which are protected by law as confidential. When there is a data breach, that poses a risk for the individuals whose data was disclosed and for the nonprofit that will now potentially be subject to liability for the breach. 

Key data breach impacts to NFPs:

  • Reputation and trust
  • Resources spent on crisis management
  • Information breach
  • Information loss
  • Business interruption
  • Costs to recover
  • Legal costs
  • Fines and penalties (if applied)

Main NFP security statistics

The Digital Technology in the Not-for-Profit Sector report, released in November 2021 by InfoExchange, which interviewed of 650 NFPs in AU / NZ highlights:

  • 50% of NFPs haven’t MFA implemented
  • 50% of NFPs don’t have effective organisational info security plans

At the same time, the Microsoft Digital Defence Report, released in 2021, also states:

  • 70% no vulnerability assessment to understand risk exposure
  • NFPs are the second most cyber targeted industry
  • NFPs are a prime target, with access to sensitive data

Considering the importance of security for NFPs, the numbers above are alarming.

What are the highest security priorities for your organisation?

 Attendees were asked the question and shared their experiences:

The Essential 8 mitigation strategies recommended by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC)


What do they mean?

  • App Control: Restricting what apps can be opened by users.
  • Patching Apps: Making sure apps are up to date and any known security holes are patched.
  • Macros: Limiting impact that could be caused by a malicious macro.
  • App Hardening: Selecting the optimal web browser for your organisation and ensuring only secure versions of apps can be run (i.e., PDF readers and email clients). 
  • Patch OS: Having a supported OS with the latest updates.
  • MFA: Don’t be only reliant on passwords. Add an extra step of identification when logging in – particularly when using a different device/location.
  • Restrict Admin Privileges: Avoid providing more access to users than needed.
  • Daily Backups: If all else fails, make sure you can at least get critical data and operating settings back.

Download the essential 8 action checklist now!

How can Microsoft 365 help with the Essential 8 baseline security?

Microsoft 365 has become a strong, comprehensive, and viable security option for NFPs, especially since Microsoft Defender for Endpoint and Microsoft Defender for O365 were added to the stack at no extra cost.

Not-for-profits can now cover all their basic security requirements through an integrated platform that is constantly updated and delivers centralised reporting.

Microsoft 365 provides a single pane of glass for security, and it is a cost-effective solution for NFPs as it makes some third-party tools, such as antivirus, redundant.

Where to go from here?

Bremmar, in collaboration with Microsoft TSI, is currently offering a free security assessment and roadmap for Not-for-Profits to help you quantify how Microsoft 365 can help your organisation save costs and improve digital security.

This offer uses a tool that is usually valued at $1400 dollars, and it provides a snapshot of your current security, reviews your environment for vulnerabilities, and finds gaps to address those vulnerabilities. The findings are presented in a workshop with Bremmar where, together, we’ll help you define your 3 security priority initiatives.

Nominate my organisation for the assessment now!

 

If you’re not ready for the assessment, please check our Security Packages for NFPs or email help@bremmar.com.au to request your copy of this event’s recording!

How we helped the Y WA (formerly YMCA WA) continue their great work throughout COVID-19.

the Y WA is a not-for-profit organisation involved in youth services, childcare, wellness and community services. the Y WA has over 600 staff members around the State. The organisation provides opportunities for children and young people to help them grow in body, mind and spirit.

Business Challenge

the Y WA previously conducted video meetings via Skype For Business, which was sufficient for small meetings, but was outdated, not suitable for large groups, and no longer supported with upgrades. Critically, the Skype platform had limitations for sharing documents in a live meeting, and follow-up emails were often required to attach relevant documents from local servers.

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing staff to work from home, the organisation needed a robust solution to allow everyone to collaborate and continue their important work.

The solution

The Bremmar team had been working with the Y WA for around 3 years, and understood how the organisation worked.

The solution was to unleash the power of the software the organisation already owned. Microsoft Teams is part of the Microsoft 365 suite, so it meant this not-for-profit organisation didn’t need to invest in expensive video conferencing systems.

Teams allows video meetings over any device (mobile, tablet, laptop or desktop computers) for groups from 2 people to 10,000. Importantly, it lets everyone in the meeting access, share, and edit Word docs, PowerPoint, and Excel files in real time. This makes meetings very productive.

The Teams solution meant that the organisation could leverage the Microsoft Cloud they already had. The Microsoft Cloud allows staff in remote areas and all over the State to easily access the documents they needed from one central location.

Teams was initially set up for the Senior Leadership Team to facilitate monthly meetings and track monthly objectives.

Bremmar set up the Microsoft Teams group and added tabs to make it easy to integrate other useful programs including Planner and OneNote. Bremmar also provided training for the initial group, to get them started.

The results

the Y WA found Teams invaluable for conducting crisis meetings and working from home during the pandemic. The ability for multiple people to edit the same document in real-time meant that the organisation could work rapidly to solve issues.

the Y WA Finance Manager, Frances Steen, reported there was some initial nervousness about change, but once managers started using Teams, there was no going back. “People started enjoying meetings, and the ability to change background images made it all a bit more fun during challenging times.”

As the entire organisation changes over to MS Teams, the Y WA will take more advantage of the collaboration tools and will reduce the expense and inconvenience of travel around the State for face-to-face meetings.

How can we help you?

Bremmar are experts in remote working initiatives and digital collaboration processes. As accredited Microsoft Gold Productivity Partners, we can help you and your team leverage the power of the Microsoft 365 Stack to work smarter.

We manage IT services for a number of NFP, Aged Care, Engineering, Mining and Construction organisations and understand the unique needs of these sectors. Why not set up an initial meeting to learn more? Call us on 1300 991 351 or email help@bremmar.com.au

To find out more about the Y WA, visit https://www.ymcawa.org.au/

Book a Microsoft 365 Productivity consultation with Bremmar! ???

New call-to-action

5 Reasons why your Not-For-Profit should move to the cloud (Infographic)

This infographic showcases the top 5 reasons why your nonprofit needs to move to an always-updated experience powered by the cloud.

The benefits of adopting the cloud through Microsoft cloud services are presented; these include secure data, streamlined scalability, and cost savings. Various approaches to cloud migration enable nonprofit groups to move at their own pace, making the process easier to manage.

(Click on the image to open)

Does your organisation need to:

  • Have a central hub for all collaboration needs?
  • Access files from anywhere, on any device + edit documents with other people simultaneously?
  • Provide front-line workers with forms and apps that can be accessed and filled on the go?
  • Integrate systems so they can talk to each other and deliver a connected business process?
  • Have everything in one platform that is secure and standardised across the business?
  • Report on your data centrally and conveniently to help make informed decisions?

If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of the above, a cloud system can help!

We’re here to help NFPs!

Bremmar is a Microsoft Gold Cloud Productivity partner with 15 years’ experience in a range of Microsoft solutions. We help our NFP clients work smarter by making sure everyone is empowered with useful, intuitive technology solutions.

Whether it’s simply making it easier for team members to find files fast, or enabling collaboration across locations and multiple devices, we help organisations adopt the latest technologies to work smarter and enable a more connected and mobile workforce.

Get a Free Microsoft 365 Productivity consultation with Bremmar here! ???

New call-to-action

NFP TechFest: Key takeaways! SharePoint, Microsoft 365 security and Business analytics for NFPs.

On Tuesday 08/10/19, we hosted the NFP TechFest: How to manage and use data for good.

We had a full house with many different organisations getting together to explore how to get the most out of their Office 365 subscription and how to use IT to achieve more.

The goal of the event was to present the main features within the Intranet and Document Management components of SharePoint by using real NFP examples in a demo, to deep dive into Microsoft 365 security and to cover business intelligence and data analytics by running a demo of Power BI and SSRS.

If you missed out or it was a lot to take in, it’s OK! We’ll dig into the main points covered today.

SHAREPOINT

SharePoint is not a single application that performs a primary function, like Outlook or Word. It is a powerful platform, providing many different and complex functions in a similar way that Google does. Some organisations use it for their website, for intranet, for their document management system, for their business knowledge base and so on.

At its heart, SharePoint is a website, or portal. It could be a single site with a homepage that links to different areas for documents, news or communications. It may be a site collection with several child sites underneath a parent site for separating the different areas of an organisation. In our experience, SharePoint works best when it reflects how your NFP works now or intends to work in their planned future.

NFP demo site presented at the event. 

What can I store in SharePoint?

SharePoint can store many different and complex types of information, such as office documents, images, audio, videos and links that are stored elsewhere on the web.

Another kind of information you can store in SharePoint is lists, so pieces of information that are not attached to a document file.

Different ways of storing information

Folders

Folders are a familiar and traditional way to group and organise documents and they can be replicated in SharePoint libraries.

For business users, this makes it easy to look down into the deeper levels and find what they are looking for. However, it can also present a challenge for people from other teams, or new starters. They may not know the common paths or understand the meaning of the folder names that they are searching, and Windows Explorer can be slow and not produce the expected result.

Metadata

A more powerful way to use SharePoint is through metadata. By taking your files out of folders, you can label each document with extra information (metadata) to classify them instead of only having folder and file names. This approach gives you a lot of flexibility in seeing your information, whereas folders is a set configuration.

Besides making documents easier to find, the real value of metadata comes from combining different data to improve the overall experience for users and making document search a more intuitive task.

 

Governance

SharePoint can help your business with governance and document compliance.

Permissions

SharePoint permissions can be set up so that the staff are able to view all public information, while any sensitive data can be organised and locked to specific groups of people. For example, you might want to provide access only to members of your team, or you might want to provide access to everyone, but restrict editing for some.

Version control

SharePoint will by default keep versions of your files. This allows you to track the history of a version knowing when a file has been changed and by whom; restore a previous version if you made a mistake or prefer what you had before; or simply view a previous version without overwriting your current version.

Automation

This is done in SharePoint through Microsoft Flow which automates workflows across different apps, such as automatically copy folders added to Dropbox to OneDrive, Save your Tweets with specific hashtags to a SharePoint list, approve a document with your manager and so on.

Co-authoring

In SharePoint, co-authoring enables multiple users to work on a document, at any time, without interfering with each other’s changes.

With co-authoring, you speed up that process, minimise room for errors and the risk of duplication.

Security

In the past, the firewall was the security perimeter. That’s because most of the data was kept in-house, or on premise. Nowadays, there’re fewer boundaries, much more data and more complexity.

Microsoft security pillars

Microsoft determines four main pillars for security:

  • Identity & access management
  • Threat protection
  • Information protection
  • Security management

What is Microsoft 365 Business

Microsoft 365 is the next step after Office 365 as it includes everything in Office 365 plus Microsoft’s productivity apps and advanced security – external threat protection and internal data leak prevention.

Data loss prevention

Workplaces are much more complex than a few years ago. BYOD and the use of many devices for work are now the norm. This means that people are constantly shifting from personal to corporate-owned information.

If your employees are bringing their own device and accessing many different types of information, how do you make sure that corporate data is protected? Microsoft tackles that issue by applying security measurements on an app level, not device or user. This means that your employee can have their own device and access personal information, however, your organisation still keeps control over apps and systems that are corporate.

Even if your employee loses the laptop, for example, the company can fully wipe an app remotely!

Business Intelligence and Data Analytics

Business Intelligence (or BI), sounds fancy, but in simple terms means just intelligence collected about your NFP which you gain from data, such as financial information, donor demographics, event participation, or staff information.

Data analytics is a catch-all term for a variety of different BI and even though it can include BI, it could also include other sources of contemporary or modern ways of analysing data due to new data types, and the ability to leverage new data volumes.

Unfortunately, data analytics is not widespread in the non-profit sector and the main factors preventing organisations from utilising data are:

  • Organisations aren’t collecting enough of it
  • Lack of tools to help analyse it
  • It isn’t kept in one place
  • Personnel don’t have enough experience using data
  • Not enough time, or personnel to focus on it

No matter your organisation’s mission, providing indispensable services to the underserved requires effective, efficient, responsive, and accountable organisations composed of people that make grounded decisions. Data analytics and BI are a strong tool your organisation should be using to achieve that.

The difference between dashboards and reports

Some of the main differences between dashboards and reports are:

  • Dashboards tend to be concise and summary-like. Reports are usually longer and more detailed, although they may have summary components.
  • Dashboards tend to focus on Key Performance Indicators. Reports tend to focus on underlying data.
  • Dashboards also allow users to manipulate and interact with data dynamically, whereas reports show a static picture of the existing data.

So how do you determine which one you need?

The first major area where each offers a different advantage is in scope.

Dashboards are best employed when they focus on specific aspects of an organisation, such as tracking customer satisfaction or number of incidents. Reports have the benefit of a broader scope, offering a better-detailed view of an organisation.

The second key difference in each is data timeliness. Reports tend to be broader and feature historic data. Dashboards, on the other hand, are built to visualise and organise data in real-time.

Microsoft Power BI

Microsoft PowerBI is a great tool for creating rich personalised dashboards. There is a desktop version which is free, a professional version which has a monthly cost, and a premium version for large enterprise organisations.

Microsoft Power BI is used to find insights within an organization’s data. It can help connect disparate data sets, transform and clean the data into a data model and create charts or graphs to provide visuals of the data. It integrates seamlessly into existing applications such as SharePoint and is viewable on mobile devices. It is a simple, user-friendly tool which has been developed for a range of BI users, from novice to professionals.

Here’s an image of the demo Power BI dashboard we presented at the event which shows expiring certifications for staff based on date and location.

SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)

SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is a server-based report generating software system made by Microsoft and used as a solution for companies who need to build custom reports from a variety of data sources.

Here’s an image of our demo showing a report with the underlying data from the Power BI dashboard (mentioned above).

Wrapping up…

If you are on Office 365, you probably already have access to some of the features mentioned above. Everything covered in the event was only the foundation for future cloud opportunities, as we haven’t yet touched on, PowerApps, Dynamics 365 or even the many other features in the SharePoint space itself.

Remember, if you are an eligible NFP ( https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/nonprofits/eligibility ), you have access to heavily discounted  O365 pricing and certain Microsoft Cloud products, so make sure you make the most of your subscription!

If you would like a more personalised introduction to SharePoint, Security, Power BI or any of the Office 365 suite, here some of the areas we can help with:

  • Demos: Personalised demos & intro workshops related to your industry and business reality – Click here to read more
  • Small consultation sessions: Together, we’ll prepare a feasibility/business case to help you get started
  • Guided start – have your own expert: Bremmar can provide an on-site resource to assist and work with you between 1-4 days a month
  • Managed services support to apps: Full user support on the Office 365 stack and productivity apps like SharePoint, OneDrive, Teams, etc.
  • User training: We can teach your staff on how to use newer technology to perform daily tasks and help with overall business adoption
  • The whole lot: From consultation to planning, implementation and support, we can help with your entire project requirements.

If you would like to discuss any of the topics above, please call us in for a chat on 1300 991 351 or fill in the form below and our consultants will get in touch with you!

Get an initial consultation with Bremmar!

[gravityform id=”1″ title=”false” description=”false”]

Responsible digital leadership – Skills that every charity leader needs

Do you have what it takes to lead your charity into the future – a future where digital reigns king? It’s not just about promoting your cause on social media or getting volunteers to sign up on digital channels. It’s about overhauling processes and systems within your organisation for streamlining, ongoing success, and intelligent insights into your operations.

Being a responsible digital leader in a field where fund spend always needs to be justified requires careful consideration. Today we take you through some skills that you’ll need to be the most successful digital leader you can within your organisation.

Don’t just educate yourself – educate your team

It’s not enough to create an IT strategy and start convincing your stakeholders about the benefits of digital transformation within your charity. As much as you educate yourself about the digital changes necessary to stay relevant in the future, you need to instil this education within both your employed team as well as in your volunteer force.

Creating educational packages, meetings, emails, etc., about both the benefits and changes necessary in the digital space within your organisation should be a top priority.

This needs to be approached with careful consideration as to your audience as well as have a persuasive voice. Utilise the same approach that you do when convincing others of your charity’s mission to convince others of the power of a digital-first approach.

Remember your audience and design accordingly

As a charity, you are different from a commercial enterprise, which means that your audience and messaging will be different. This acknowledges that a different approach is necessary when introducing digital marketing efforts – one that may vary considerably from a lot of the information you might find online.

The best way to guide your digital marketing efforts is to create personas for each of your contributor classes, both in terms of donors as well as for volunteers, too. These may be large enterprises, with corporate programs, socially enterprising 20-somethings, through to retirees looking to give back to a good cause.

Be smart about your data handling and gathering

Just because you are a charity leader, doesn’t mean that you’re exempt from rules and regulations surrounding data handling and use in your organisation.

Data security is more important than ever, with steep penalties in place in the case of data breaches if not handled correctly.

You can read all about the relevant rules and legislation surrounding Australia’s Data Protection here. Keep in mind Australia’s Notifiable Data Breaches Scheme about your obligations in the event of a data breach, as well as the GDPR rules if you have any interactions in the EU.

Beyond rules and regulations, you should also think about how you’re processing and dealing with data within your organisation. Read our article about Analytics for Not-For-Profit Organisations to learn how you could be doing more with your internal data.

Utilise new digital channels and apps to forward your NFP mission

What digital channels and apps are you currently using to forward your mission?

Just a website, email system? Do you have a (monitored and managed) Facebook page? Instagram, Twitter, perhaps? A presence on Google Maps? Are you listed on Go Volunteer?

What apps are you using to streamline these operations? Social media and newsletter scheduling software? Volunteer scheduling software? Workflows like Microsoft Flow?

Are you able to access all this from anywhere, or just within your building?

There are more promotional avenues and helpful apps for charities than ever before, and the advent of cloud computing means that you can have access to these systems from anywhere.

As a responsible digital leader, it’s your duty to realise which of these are particularly useful for your charity, as well as keep an eye on new technologies in the space which can help out.       

And more…

Other skills you need to keep in mind as a responsible leader include:

  • An understanding of the current state of cybersecurity and which of your systems may be at risk (including risk mitigation plans)
  • Collaborate with others in the space. These days, it feels more and more like we’re all in this together. Network and collaborate with others in the space for mutual benefits.
  • Be prepared to show stakeholders the business benefits of digital initiatives!

Know when to partner with the right company

We all need a little help sometimes. Implementing completely new digital systems without the relevant expertise can involve hundreds of hours of (unpaid) self-education, and a considerable amount of trial and error.

Knowing when to partner with the right company to help in your digital journey is just as important as realising the power of digital transformation itself.

If you are at the stage when it’s come time for a helping hand, then get in contact with us at Bremmar. We are leaders in the not for profit space when it comes to helping organisations with their digitisation. Call today on 1300 991 351 or fill in the form below to start the conversation!

Get an initial consultation with Bremmar!

[gravityform id=”1″ title=”false” description=”false”]

Organise, find, and collaborate: Cloud Document Management with SharePoint for Not-For-Profits

Regular old file systems might be how you’ve done things for years, and you might have a pretty good set of processes going for how to store things and where, but technology has come a long way since File Explorer was created.

As an NFP, you want to be able to do tasks more efficiently with a limited budget for tech.

The good news is there’s an inexpensive way to organise, find, and collaborate on your files with 2019 technology that means performing tasks is a breeze.

Introducing Microsoft SharePoint’s Cloud Document Management. Once implemented, you’ll wonder how you ever survived without it.

What is Cloud Document Management?

Cloud Document Management isn’t just your OneDrive/Google Drive/DropBox folder system full of documents.

Eventually, these sorts of systems get messy in an organisation. It’s all well and good for a small, new team, but once you get past a certain point, it can be hard to find documents, work collaboratively, and organise properly for effective document management.

That’s when a Cloud Document Management system comes in.

What is SharePoint?

SharePoint is a Microsoft product that has a number of functions; one of them being Cloud Document Management. You can also build custom internal websites for your NFP, create social feeds, and create applications with SharePoint; but these are beyond the scope of this article.

SharePoint is a platform built to be unique for each business and unique for your requirements, so in between document management, intranet, website development, amongst others, SharePoint will be what your NFP wants it to be.

How does SharePoint Cloud Document Management work?

Using SharePoint for Cloud Document Management, you can organise your files into grouped areas, such as by departments, programs or campaigns. Each file has a version history, so older versions of files are never lost. Because it’s in the cloud, it also means you can access it by a web browser or app, so files are available from anywhere, on any device. The collaboration features, such as co-authoring (having two or more people working in the same document simultaneously and saving changes) mean you can work on files with outside organisations and other NFPs without friction. Security is guaranteed, and you can select that your data only be stored in Australian cloud servers.

You can also organise by user access, too. User access management is a crucial and often overlooked function within NFPs. Too often we see NFPs who either have volunteers given access to all their file systems, or the painful process of asking manually whenever they require document access. Utilising SharePoint (correctly) provides a neat solution to this issue.

SharePoint allows you to add metadata to your files for effective and easy organisation.

SharePoint’s metadata capabilities allow you to assign many types of data and properties to your documents. Metadata is data about data and can include rich-text long-form descriptions, auto generated reference numbers, and multiple-choice selections chosen from drop-down lists. With the appropriate metadata, documents are easier to search, navigate and identify.

Instead of storing your files in folders, SharePoint enables your business to define a range of specific categories to file and lookup against. Let me explain…

You could add metadata fields like Year, Target Audience, Project Name, Contributors, For Press Release, etc. These can be selectable from lists, a checkbox, a date, a number, or an answer written in. For example:

The old way

When locating a file relating to a specific activity within a NFP program in a traditional folder based filing system, staff would browse to the relevant program folder, then look through all the other files in that folder to hopefully find the specific document (assuming it will be saved under the right name and will be the last updated version, or that staff know where to look in the first place).

Through SharePoint metadata

Under a SharePoint categorised file system, files can be located by simply selecting the relevant document categories: ‘Program Name’, ‘Activity Name’, ‘Activity Type or ‘File Type’. The files that match those categories are then displayed. Click below to see an example:

The categorised file system also allows you to search specific documents by category filtering, making the platform intuitive to use and files easy to find by everyone in the organisation. Click below to see an example of file search by filter:

Content Types allow you to have common metadata based on filetype

This means you can create Content Types (e.g. Invoice, Whitepaper, Presentation, etc.) and assign these types to files (making files searchable and/or organised by type). Your Invoice type could have metadata fields of Year, Donor Name, Invoice Number, etc. Your Whitepaper type could have metadata for Project Name, Contributors, and Distributed To metadata fields.

All this metadata and Content Types allows you to easily, for instance, find all Whitepapers that are for Press Release containing the words “Environment” that were created in the past 2 years.

You can also assign a document template to the Invoice Content Type so that all invoices are formatted consistently.

See how this can help keep you organised?

You can even add automations to your document management system with Microsoft Flow, enhancing efficiency in file management. One example might be when a file is marked For Press Release in your system, it’s emailed to the manager for approval.

SharePoint Cloud Document Management starts with Libraries

The first task in switching to SharePoint Cloud Document Management is splitting up your current drive and folder structures into libraries. Each library should represent a separate business function. If your file system is quite organised already, this shouldn’t be too tricky.

Your HR folder will be a separate library, your Donors folder will be a separate library, your Projects folder will be one separate library, and so on.

You can then create a central library to manage Policies for each of your separate areas/libraries – instead of having your policies and procedures for each department under their respective areas. This is a better configuration for a holistic approach to organisational management.

Let’s get started

If your NFP already uses the Microsoft’s O365 suite, then you should have SharePoint there waiting to be used!

We can give you a hand setting things up for the best document management experience and structure and walk you through it. We are Microsoft Certified Partners, which means we’re not only able to provide the SharePoint software, but train you in how to use it, and teach others within the organisation.

Get started on a better way to organise all your digital file management as part of your digital transformation with SharePoint and Bremmar. Contact us now on 1800 991 351 to learn more.

Get an initial consultation with Bremmar!

[gravityform id=”1″ title=”false” description=”false”]

Analytics for Not-For-Profit organisations

What sort of analytics are you using in your NFP? Spreadsheet queries? CRM reports? User-friendly, in-depth Business Intelligence or Analytics is no longer a bleeding edge technology, it’s now within reach for non-profits to produce deep insights, without a huge price tag.

Analytics products can produce:

  • Standard Reports
  • Ad Hoc Reports
  • Query Drilldown or On-Line Analytical Processing (OLAP)
  • Alerts or Triggers
  • Statistical Analysis
  • Forecasting
  • Segmentation or Descriptive Data
  • Predictive Modeling
  • Decision Support System (DSS) or Prescriptive Analytics
  • Optimisation
    (via The Definitive Guide to Nonprofit Analytics)

These can all be applied in critical areas of your NFP, such as donor and volunteer insights, strategic partnerships, and goal setting.

Insight into donor and volunteer behaviours

How do you currently track donors and volunteers and their behaviour? Via a self-made spreadsheet or database? Perhaps a lightweight CRM? What are you doing with all that data you have? Simply tracking donations, priming donors when alerts pop up, asking volunteers to reach out to their networks?

There is a lot more that you can do with donor and volunteer data with the power of analytics.

For instance, when Target Analytics, a division of Blackbaud, used analytics to conduct research into the influences on donors surrounding their first $1000 donation. What they found was that 14% made their first $1000 donation after the 7 years of giving mark, and 21% after 8 years.

By used advanced analytics and time series data, you too can discover these sorts of patterns in your donors and volunteers. This will help drive business decisions and set realistic and achievable goals.

Strategic partnerships driven by data

In 2019, collaboration is easier than ever. With the power of the internet, we can easily find strategic partners that can help us along in our journey, connect with similar NFP heads or commercial figures nationally and internationally via the power of LinkedIn, and strategise together across borders and boundaries.

Analytics can help pinpoint the connections and partnerships you should consider by clever market segmentation. For further discussion on this topic, we recommend reading “Community Influences: Implementing Nonprofit Market Analysis to Evaluate Partnerships.

Working together with other agencies and individuals can be facilitated by new technologies making data sharing simple, organised, frictionless, and with instant collaboration.

Not only this, with these systems in place, you can then utilise all the captured communications, updates, movement of data, and quality of the relationship to assess the effectiveness of the partnership itself, as well as guide you in choosing new partners in the future.

Heightened effectiveness and razor focus on NFP goals

The beauty of data-driven decision making is most clear when it comes to your monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc. goals. When you have clear goals in place with associated quantitative measurement factors, business analytics can keep you on track, help focus goals more clearly, guide next period goals, and time-predictive analysis to truly see how effective your efforts are.

“Most nonprofits measure the age-old standard known as RFM — recency, frequency, monetary value. Business intelligence takes this data and turns it into actionable intelligence. This means that the type of information that is analyzed through BI (Business Intelligence aka Analytics) can lead to the steps necessary to not only improve those KPI figures, but develop new metrics for measuring performance success.” – Heather Hawkins, Stratus Live

If you use analytics in only one place in your NFP, it should be for goal tracking and improvement.

Think analytics software is difficult and expensive? Think again

Using commercially available business analytics software such as Microsoft’s Power BI is not only decades ahead in terms detailed, AI-driven analysis rather than personally developed spreadsheets, it’s also relatively easy to use once you get the hang of it. If you already use the Microsoft suite of products – and particularly if you’ve already made the switch to O365 – you’re already in a good position to start taking advantage of their data analytics product, Power BI. It utilises your data from other sources such as spreadsheets, CRMS, and email communications to find key insights from your existing data. Their pricing plans for nonprofits are also very reasonably priced, from $3/user/month at the time of print.

Separate to the latest products like Power BI, there are other options that we use at Bremmar and find effective, such as SSRS (SQL Server Reporting Services). SSRS is effective at delivering highly customised reports and dashboards with built-in calculations.

If you would like to test the waters first, we recommend thinking about one custom report that you think would benefit your organisation or a particular staff member the most. Work out how you would like the report to look and what information you would like in it. Depending on how complex your report is, we usually require between 4 to 16 hours labour to complete a custom report on your behalf and we aim to teach you as we go.

Now that you are armed with all this information, you need to put all the pieces together and start that learning and insights journey – and that’s where we come in. We help with recommendations through to planning, implementation, ongoing support and training.

Contact us on 1300 991 351 to start making your data work harder for you – instead of working harder for your data.

Get an initial consultation with Bremmar!

We can help with software, technology implementation, strategy and staff training.
[gravityform id=”1″ title=”false” description=”false”]

 

How can NFPs justify generating funds to invest in innovative technology, whilst still remaining true to purpose?

Justification of generating wealth is an issue unique to NFPs. In business, this is the end goal, while on the Not For Profit side, wealth generation needs to be justified by carefully considered, true-to-purpose spend. Donors and other sources of funding want to know that you are spending wisely; furthering your mission, becoming better at your purpose.

So how do you explain to funders that their money is going into upgrading your tech? Won’t this look out of place on the balance sheet, an aside from your mission? As technology becomes not merely a necessity business, but rather a competitive tool, NFP’s need to get serious about their tech infrastructure. The issue arises as these technology solutions often come with a significant price tag.

We know, this can sound biased coming from a technology provider, however, we are there, on the ground, seeing and experiencing the benefits of implementing innovative technology solutions.

What we see is many businesses using IT to gain business advantage, racing ahead with automation and AI solutions, while many NFPs are falling behind as they are busy just trying to justify a laptop upgrade.

Investing in technology means more efficiency

You know how easy Netflix made people’s lives? They made a product so efficient that it sent video stores out of business. When you spend money on tech products that can make your work life much more efficient, this means you can spend more time on your core mission.

Let’s take, for instance, setting up task automation within your NFP. Perhaps you have a monthly newsletter that you send out to donors. Spending time writing up pieces, designing, and getting content from people across the organisation can be extremely time consuming. Instead, you could set up software with a monthly recurring project and automatically assign tasks to people. Once they’ve uploaded their content this could be auto-fit to a newsletter, following a design pattern that you’ve set up. Reminders could be sent to people who haven’t uploaded their content the week before the newsletter is released. Once all tasks are completed, you could give the generated newsletter a once-over, before it’s automatically sent out to all your donors.

Just this process can save hours and hours of time – time better spent on other activities.

The solutions and products you choose don’t always need to be expensive or complex. Here’s an example in the education industry where a school leveraged Office 365 and used forms to transform its dining-hall processes.

Broadclyst School – Online dining from Microsoft DMC on Vimeo.

Modernised systems allow you to collaborate and communicate more effectively

How are you collaborating with donors, stakeholders, with others involved in your mission? With modern, cloud systems, collaboration and communication is fluid, easy, and instant. Tasks that would’ve taken hours in the field can be done from anywhere.

An example of this may be if you are in a meeting, where you are asked on the spot to provide documents stored on your work systems. If you don’t have cloud access, you’re left in the lurch, saying you’ll need to send them through when you get back.

Perhaps you want to collaborate with a similar NFP in another state. Using O365 online you can even work on documents together at the same time, share resources, and instant chat.

At Bremmar, we are advocates of Microsoft Teams for internal collaboration and communication. You can either use it within your Office 365 account or it’s now also available for free. This tool has many uses and benefits.

In our office, we use it for specific project discussions, where you can upload all files, meeting notes, conversations and everything you can think of related to that project to one central hub.

Another interesting way we’ve incorporated Teams into our business is through our Marketing department. The Marketing team only collaborates with our Marketing agency (which is based on the East Coast) through Microsoft Teams – meetings, weekly WIPs, conversations, files, approvals, etc. For both companies, back and forth emails and confusing approval processes have become a thing of the past!

By investing in cyber security, you are honouring your donors’ trust

This is another area where spending on technology is crucial for your NFP. As cyber security threats become more complex and pervasive, your cyber security countermeasures need to keep in step.

For instance, having all your systems frozen by ransomware and having to pay to get them back isn’t desirable for any organisation, but for an NFP, having to pay up might be near-on impossible.

Of course, the monetary impact can be huge, however, we can’t ignore that an incident like a data breach or information leak can pretty much ruin your reputation and completely break your donors trust.

Securing your IT infrastructure needs to be a priority to protect your digital assets within your organisation.

The basic solutions that we recommend for any business, for profit or non-profit are reputable anti-virus agents on all your computer and mobile devices along with encryption, a solid well configured firewall to control access to your computer network, a reliable backup system and basic user education to identify scams. If you don’t have those, you could be a real easy target for attacks! You can take more steps and implement other systems to make your environment even safer, however, this must be evaluated case by case and depends on your business needs.

Investing in technology saves money

Strategic investment in technology is designed to save money in the long run. By becoming more efficient and effective in your workplace, this means that you can do more with less resources. Instead of having to hire more people, the team you have can do more for your mission.

Maybe you are not in the right moment to make a big investment in technology, however, it’s good to start thinking about it and putting it as one of the priority items in your business plan. There are also small, incremental changes that you can do over time which won’t be such a big impact on your budget and you can use the opportunity to start getting your staff ready for technology updates.

By taking some steps, such as moving to the cloud, you convert costs from Capex to Opex, so your NFP avoids that initial big investment in IT whilst opening the door to many solutions and apps that can be leveraged in the cloud. In the long run, cloud-based app and solutions can reduce overall costs and you can scale your NFP’s operations according to its needs.

Justifying spend on technology needs to be backed up by a solid strategy in place to help you become more efficient, effective, reduce your risk, and save on resources.

At Bremmar, we’re committed to helping NFPs further their mission by undergoing digital transformation. If you are interested in learning more about how you can achieve this transformation and unlock all the benefits of a tech-first organisation, contact our consultants today!

Get an initial consultation with Bremmar!

We can help with software, technology implementation, strategy and staff training.
[gravityform id=”1″ title=”false” description=”false”]