Case Study: Centre for Sexuality

CASE STUDY

Centre for Sexuality
Calgary, Alberta

“My job is always to make sure that people have the tools to do their job. But I needed an intermediate because I knew nothing about it.”

“That’s the role Technology Helps plays—working in partnership to ensure my staff and I have the tools to create maximum impact in the community.”

– Pam Krause, CEO, Centre for Sexuality

Growing Pains

“When I started in this organization almost 20 years ago, we were super tiny—probably about nine or ten people,” says Pam Krause, CEO for the Centre for Sexuality.

Pam recalls that long-term IT needs weren’t top of mind and, at first, having the phone number of a lone troubleshooter seemed to suffice.

“When something broke, they’d fix it and we’d pay them,” says Krause. “But there was no monthly retainer or anything, no real preparedness for unexpected problems.”

Based in Calgary, AB, the Centre for Sexuality delivers nationally recognized programs and services to help normalize sexuality and sexual health for people through the entirety of their lives. Operating as teachers, trainers and advocates, they’ve helped the Calgary community in the areas of sexuality, healthy relationships, human rights, gender identity, sexual orientation, equality and consent for almost 50 years.

As the organization’s size, responsibilities and impact grew, so did its IT and security needs. But like many non-profits with tight, carefully managed budgets, a full-time IT professional wasn’t in the cards. “

Back then, it was all on me,” Krause recalls. “One of the things I really struggled with is that we’re not-for-profit but we can’t be using scotch tape and band-aids. We need to run a business the same way other people need to run a business. And that was one of the many frustrations I had.”

“Non-profit” doesn’t mean “needs less”

Plenty of companies were available and willing to offer some sort of non-profit rate. But that wasn’t enough. “They said ‘yes, we have a non-profit rate.’ But it turns out, what that meant was that we weren’t as high on the priority list as the people who payed full rate.”

Unfamiliar with the non-profit sector, early IT contractors couldn’t provide the ROI tightly managed non-profit budgets require. “Coming from the non-profit sector, there are things we can take advantage of that other businesses can’t. But it requires people having that level of knowledge, and an interest in working with you to get the benefits from those things.”

“We didn’t feel like clients, we didn’t feel like partners. But then we had a really great experience with Alister [Daniel, Senior Technology Advisor]. He kind of felt like part of our team and he worked really closely with our admin staff. I’d say ‘this isn’t working, can you fix it?’ He would go away, do some research and come back with the answer.”

Wanted: people who “get” the non-profit sector

Values mean everything. “When people come in you don’t want to have to say ‘you know what? People don’t say that around here’ or ‘sometimes we think things are offensive that you think are funny.’ Technology Helps hires people based on values so when they come into the space, they’re automatically respectful. It’s been a wonderful experience.”

“The perils of email”

“Almost everyone was afraid to open an email anymore. Around then our Board of Directors suggested buying cyber-fraud insurance. Technology Helps said ‘you can be a lot more proactive than that.’”

Creating an organization-wide cyber-security culture: following through can be difficult. “The way they took us through the Ever Secure program, the reminders that people hadn’t completed their courses in a respectful, encouraging way, the manageable cost of the program, the policy documents that we’re now integrating into our policy manual, everything went so smoothly.”

“Now, people are super-discerning about how they look at email and it’s one of the best investments our organization could have made. It was at the beginning of the pandemic, which was coincidental, but I think it’s been even more valuable because of that.”

Upward into the cloud

Thinking proactively, The Centre for Sexuality asked Technology Helps to examine and streamline almost every imageable business practice. Most notably, they chose to upgrade their computer and information backup systems and move to safer, more secure cloud-based storage.

Then they set their sights on improving office efficiency through the use of SharePoint and a suite of Microsoft office products. “Nathan [Metzler, Solutions Team Lead] is such a gift, because he’s used to helping people easily understand things like MS Teams, OneDrive and SharePoint. I thought ‘Oh my God,” that explains it exactly.’”

Efficiency and savings: every day now

Cost-savings have made a difference. “Sometimes it was simple suggestions, like learning when to get new laptops and when we could use other options. We probably saved $15,000 and all our people are happy.”

Cyber-insurance became cheaper. “I was able to say ‘we’ve already been through a cyber-security program’. It will change the amount we pay for insurance because we’re actually being proactive.”

Operating costs, better focused. “These are normal monthly expenses for an organization, and mine are now about half. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I can hire someone, but it does mean that I can now do more work with our clients.”

Mission-focused, more than ever

“Now, when the staff needs something, they call Technology Helps. There’s never any extra crisis because no one called us back. Problems are solved and I know capacity is coming.”

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