Order from Chaos

Order from Chaos

How Office 365 simplifies life in a non-profit organization

New stages in life bring new challenges: I have recently been elected a member of the board of directors of our kindergarten. It sounds funny and exciting at first, but relatively soon it becomes clear that this is some serious matter. If you add up all the employees and stakeholders involved, the board is responsible for more than 30 people and manages a budget in the mid-six-figure range. Wow.

The kindergarten like most non-profit organizations (NPOs) is in fact a small, independent company that has to work pretty hard and economical. Uff. Um…okay!

On premise solutions for NPOs?

The first board meeting then made it clear relatively quickly that the everyday life of a day care centre board is quite hard work. What began as brainstorming about external hard disks, backups and data conformity ended relatively quickly in a discussion about the cloud, the associated costs, risks, benefits, work processes, structures and processes in general. And at least when it comes to the “on premise” solution of data backups, my opinion is probably well known! 😁

Together with the management I’ve come up with a list of challenges, we have to tackle:

The challenges of NPOs

– Most of what happens in the day care centre is voluntary, so there is naturally little time and budget available.

– A lot of work is done with personal data, so everything has to be DSGVO (General Data Protection Regulation GDPR) compatible.

– There is a high fluctuation rate. The board of directors changes regularly and thus also a significant part of the people who take care of finances, personnel and budget. Change and transformation are the rule rather than the exception.

– Many of the processes are therefore handled only marginally and most of what happens in the Backoffice is done by hand. There is a high potential for errors, and it is an incredible effort to prepare the information in such a way that it can be forwarded to external service providers afterwards. Of course, this is at the expense of the support time of the children.

So to sum this up: old structures and processes, high fluctuation, personal data and all that with few resources? That’s a huge challenge, but hey…the kids are our future, right?! 😎

The measures for a modern workplace in NPOs

Together with the management, I have therefore drawn up a list of measures that we want to address:

  • Processes and structures that are appropriate to the situation
    Ideally, the nursery should have resilient structures that guarantee a smooth process despite frequent change (Peter Senge’s learning organisation almost imposes itself on this).
  • Early adoption of the employees
    Employees, temporary staff and the parents are all part of the workforce and must be involved as early as possible so that user acceptance is as high as possible. So the board can benefit from a broad spectrum of ideas and possible solutions. As in every area, there are different people here who have completely different prerequisites when it comes to new technical solutions. #Diversity
  • Digital time recording
    Employees, temporary staff and volunteers who have different tasks and target working hours. It would be nice to have a structured list, where I can filter according to different criteria. All different groups of people need individualized access, where they can only see their own timesheets.
  • A digital Kanban Board
    To coordinate and clearly present the work of the board and management.
  • An information platform for parents
    Parents’ services, closing times, special actions and projects can be communicated here. This eliminates the need for many e-mails, and everyone can always see for which service they are assigned, what this service contains and what is going on in the nursery.
  • Parent Evaluation
    Since the parents are part of the volunteer staff, whose opinion and voice are extremely important, there should be a digital possibility to send a questionnaire to the parents to collect important feedback.
  • A digital, uniform registration procedure.
    If you are looking for a childcare place for your child, you can register centrally via the city, but also at the daycare centre itself. There are currently many different ways of doing this. A personal conversation, letters, emails, faxes, etc. a digitized registration form asks for the most important data and collects all information at a central location.
  • A personnel directory.
    A list of all employees including all relevant information, such as address, contact data, educational level, current certificate of good conduct, have all relevant trainings been attended and are still up to date? Preferably with automatic reminder if not all documents are available or training courses need to be renewed (first aid training, hygiene instruction, etc.).
  • Simplify cooperation with external service providers.
    The main thing here is to automate things with flow. Sending emails, sending notifications, uploading files. There is a lot of potential to automate annoying stuff like paperwork, documentation and so on.

The solution for NPOs? Office 365

Since Office 365 is my professional focus, I have started researching what opportunities there are for non-profit organizations, and I must say I am excited about the offer that Microsoft has here for educational and similar institutions. It soon became clear that OneDrive for Business was the best way to comply with the DSGVO (General Data Protection Regulation GDPR) and the personal data in the kindergarten.

And if you are already thinking about OneDrive, why should you stop there?

I will gradually publish and present my solutions for the individual measures here. They are not always the most elegant, elaborate and professional solutions, but this is probably due to the lack of resources.

So despite being on parental leave, I somehow still managed to work with organizations and trying to empower the employees and simplify their daily job by introducing Office 365 in our kindergarten 🤷‍♂️

I would really like to know what you think of the implementations, what are your ideas and suggestions for improvement? I’m eager to learn new things and exchange ideas with you.

So, get on the keyboards and let me hear your opinion. Don’t do it for me, do it for the kids, aka our future 😁

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