Back in 2008, When Bill Lalor stepped through the doors of YWCA of Seattle, King, and Snohomish County to take on the role of IT Director, he quickly saw the amazing work being done to help women of all ages, races, and faiths to improve their lives and the lives of their families.

The YWCA's mission is to advance the quality of life for women and their families. In support of this mission, the YWCA provides services to meet critical needs, promote self-sufficiency, reduce violence, eliminate racism and achieve equal opportunities for all people.

What Bill also saw was an immediate need to implement up to date technologies to help restructure the ways in which YWCA employees accomplished many of their daily tasks.  

Upon Bill's arrival three years ago, the YWCA consisted of 32 locations over two counties in the state of Washington. While there was no lack of commitment or hard work being put in by YWCA employees, there was a distinct lack of information sharing and collaboration between the locations, and opportunities to learn from each other were being missed. Bill blames a severe lack of up-to-date technology for their early woes; "We were using Office XP, some were using Windows 95, which was great, but not in 2008..." Bill explained "a lot of the work was in essence being done manually and sometimes duplicated from lack of coordination abilities."

Bill knew that the set up led to isolation and the lack of collaborative technology resulted in many wasted man-hours and a lot of inefficiency.

Inspired by their mission and the opportunity to improve the lives of more women by increasing efficiency within their own walls, Bill and YWCA crafted a plan to build a collaborative environment facilitated by up to date technology.

"After we brought all the locations into the Active Directory network, we implemented an intranet using Windows SharePoint Services. The ability to bring all our locations into a centralized system for information, document sharing, and collaborative tools has revolutionized this organization. We've converted approximately 50% of our paper forms to InfoPath "smart" forms, and through the use of SharePoint, InfoPath and VBA, we've automated many processes. No longer do we have the disparate "islands" in our agency."

 

YWCA has since updated to SharePoint 2010, and Bill believes that the implementation of SharePoint as a collaboration tool, has made a large impact on the organization. The YWCA fund development department has utilized SharePoint to track their grants, where in the past each location would pursue grants with no coordination of efforts. In many cases this resulted in two YWCA offices going after the same grant, competing against each other. Now this information is shared on the intranet and conflicts are avoided. With SharePoint 2010, they have begun to build dashboards and for the first time YWCA Senior Management is able to get a snapshot-view of the operations of their departments for everything from managing the budgets, to client demographics, to donor information.

As Bill observed: "For us to provide the greatest service to our clients and our community, especially in these tough economic times, our internal practices must be as efficient as possible. Every minute wasted looking for a file, every minute spent recreating a file, document or process which has already been created by another staff member, every time a staff member is unaware of critical information to do their job is all time wasted from the service of our clients."

Using Microsoft technology as a tool, YWCA staff has been able to share, support, and learn from each other in efforts to provide better service to YWCA clients. To change lives, it is critical to be able to collaborate with peers, share good ideas, and standardize approaches.

This is a great example of how Microsoft's nonprofit software donations are helping organizations serve others in the local community.  If you know of a nonprofit that could use a Microsoft software donation, please send them to our donations page to learn more.

For more information on the YWCA of Seattle, King, and Snohomish County please visit their website.

 

For more information on Microsoft's Citizenship effort please visit:

Microsoft.com/Citizenship

To stay up to date on the latest Citizenship Stories:

Twitter.com/msftcitizenship (@msftcitizenship)

Facebook.com/MicrosoftCitizenship