SignHealth is a charity that exists to improve Deaf people’s health and wellbeing. Their work is varied and aims to promote easier access to healthcare and information. They partner with the NHS and other services and take on projects, carry out research, and raise awareness. They also deliver their own services to reach Deaf people in their shared language in their moment of need, through crisis textlines, domestic abuse support, therapy, advocacy and residential services. The UK’s largest employer of Deaf people, SignHealth works across multiple locations throughout the UK with a range of offices, centres and residential homes.
IT a barrier to growth
Having started an organisation-wide transformation, SignHealth identified that IT was a barrier to successful growth. Over 30 years it had grown from a small local charity to a larger, multi-site organisation, and IT wasn’t joined up between sites. SignHealth set out a tender to appoint a new IT partner, that could both set and deliver strategic change, as well as providing reliable ongoing support and management services.
Mahua Nandi, SignHealth’s Director of Finance and Resources, explained:
“We are not an enormous organisation, but we are spread thin across the country because we are so specialist. We couldn’t afford an Enterprise-grade solution but we needed something that would allow us to work effectively and securely, across all our different locations and on the road.”
SignHealth interviewed several potential suppliers as part of their tender process. Mahua explained “When conducting the tender interviews, ramsac were very approachable, and this has continued throughout our work with them.”
ramsac recognised that the Microsoft 365 suite was a great match for SignHealth. As ramsac’s Dan May explains “We quickly established that SignHealth needed a platform to bring data together into one place, that could be securely accessed by staff in all locations. Bandwidth in the various locations was variable, it was important to be able to provide access to the right documents for the right people, and we were interested in how we included not just staff, but also key stakeholders such as trustees and service users. Security and data protection was a key concern – as a health charity working with very sensitive information about some of the people they support, SignHealth needed to be assured that whilst accessible, documents remained protected. There was also the added dimension of a significant number of users who use British Sign Language as a primary means of communication, and we knew that the video calling features in Microsoft Teams would lend itself perfectly to a community where both Deaf and hearing staff needed to communicate effectively.”
“ramsac actually take time to answer questions and communicate and that was a very important factor for us. You get to speak to somebody who has a hinterland of knowledge, and it feels like the people in Support actually know what is going on across our organisation – you don’t have to repeat yourself.”Mahua Nandi, SignHealth’s Director of Finance and Resources
Auditing the entire IT estate
ramsac initially audited the entire IT estate to establish what hardware was in use across the various locations. This enabled us to produce an asset report which we could work through with Mahua, to identify older machines that needed to be upgraded. We also audited the internet connectivity at each location and started work on a detailed project plan, which set out step by step plans for rolling out Microsoft 365. This included upgrading machines to Windows 10 laptops and mobile devices, rolling out the latest version of Microsoft Office, migrating data to Sharepoint and Microsoft Teams, and enhancing the security of the overall system.
As a busy senior leader in the organisation, Mahua describes how ramsac have enabled her to keep moving with a progressive IT agenda, “Working with ramsac has forced us to keep sticking with the new technology. When you start, it is easy to feel like it is too difficult and want to give up, but having an external push from ramsac has really helped. IT doesn’t have to be at the fore of my mind all the time, because I know ramsac will keep things on the agenda and prompt me when the time is right to move something forward.”
ramsac was also able to make adjustments to SignHealth’s own services to ensure they could meet the needs of a predominantly Deaf user base, rolling out chat assistance windows for support, “The helpfulness of first line support has been really important to us , as that is where most of my colleagues interact with ramsac. We are grateful that the live chat function was pushed out for us. The fact that you were prepared to do that just for one client is huge for us and makes all the difference.”
“ramsac is very good at problem solving, colleagues are always willing to help and are imaginative. IT is not my speciality as a Director of Finance, but I always have that confidence that everything’s under control. It is great that I can rely on someone to proactively tell me there may be a problem I need to think about in terms of IT, and they are always happy to discuss it with me.”