The time has come to update our information technology (computer systems) at SVdP Indianapolis. Rather than having transactional interactions with our neighbors in need—where they come to us with a need, and we try to meet it—we want to develop a true relationship with them. And that requires a more robust system that allows us to securely store data and integrate it across our organization. The update we’re implementing now does not radically change what we do or how we do it. Rather it builds on what we do well and integrates our knowledge of a neighbor in need into a single view of what their needs are, and of how we serve them. Knowing more about the spectrum of needs will help us serve more completely.
We call the new system Vinnie’s Way, a nod to our Vincentian focus on helping those in need. We have already made some small changes over the past few years, including:
- Converting our donor tool to a cloud-based system called eTapestry
- Migrating our financial accounting system to a cloud-based system called Sage INTAACT
Issues & Opportunities
While our existing pantry, volunteer and Distribution Center systems do the job adequately, they lack a key component: they do not communicate with each other or the eTapestry and INTACCT systems. This causes one problem and misses one great opportunity.
- Problem: We have to manually pass data between systems to keep records straight, which is an error-prone process at best.
- Missed opportunity: We do not fully understand the needs of our neighbors, making it difficult to develop a relationship with them.
IT Focus Areas
As a result, we are in the process of updating or replacing the following:
- Pantry shopper check-in process
- Volunteer management system
- Distribution Center management system
- Home Visitor process (under consideration)
- Voucher process for the Mission 27 Stores (under consideration)
Plan for Updating IT Systems
We have started with the pantry check-in process development. The new system is largely based on the old process: we will collect the same basic data, capturing who shops, where they live, details about the household, and if there are diaper-eligible individuals and/or veterans in the home. Verification will still be required annually, but no person in need will be turned away.
The core element of the new system is the household. For the pantry check-in system, this means that shoppers and proxy shoppers are tied to a household. One difference with the new system is that the same Pantry record of a household can span the Distribution Center and even the volunteer and donation systems. This means that each household has a single representation in our database, and attached to that household can be shopping visits, home visits, Distribution Center visits, volunteer hours, and even donations, if applicable. This will give us a more detailed historical record and will allow us to see how holistic our relationship is with each household.
Next Steps for Rollout
Assuming most of the bugs can be worked out, we plan to roll over the pantry Check-in process to mid-October. Check-in clerks will be trained, of course, and tech people will be on hand to manage any issues that arise.
We appreciate your patience as we begin the process of updating our systems. We’ll continue to keep you updated on our progress. If you have questions or concerns, contact Paul Ainslie at firstname.lastname@example.org.