Better connectivity key to third sector success, says Dynamic Edge expert

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Charities face complex communications challenges in order to meet the needs of their service users, according to technology provider Dynamic Edge.

The Aberdeen-based business specialises in assisting charities and third sector organisations manage their IT and communications requirements effectively – from software discounts to procedures for information security and disaster recovery.

David McCready, technical business manager at Dynamic Edge, is well aware of the IT challenges facing the sector, having previously worked at VSA, formerly Voluntary Service Aberdeen, for nine years.

He said: “The north-east’s charitable sector varies hugely from large, professional organisations to smaller outfits that don’t necessarily have the required infrastructure, processes and procedures in place.

“Often, people don’t necessarily realise the complexities involved in the day-to-day running of a successful charitable organisation. Regardless of budget and available resources, they all share the same need to communicate quickly and effectively with key stakeholders.

“In my previous role as IT manager for VSA, for instance, I was involved in a major programme of modernisation across the organisation. Following a strategic review, a new virtual server and wide area network (WAN) infrastructure were introduced which significantly increased connectivity, performance and productivity for the organisation’s workforce.”

 

David has identified seven key areas which charities need to consider in terms of their IT requirements:

 

  • Absolute uptime – It’s critical to have access to all systems at all times whether that’s by phone or email. This is especially the case for social care charities where the basic needs of other people are being looked after.
  • Remote working – Increasingly people are working from home or in the community, often over a large geographical area; therefore, they need to be able to access all required files and applications via the cloud or another medium.
  • Training – Sometimes the level of IT knowledge can be lacking, particularly for people who aren’t used to working in an office environment. Ongoing training, held at central locations, can be provided to help familiarise all end users with the different processes.
  • Additional support – Providing inclusive and assistive technology for service users as well as staff who may have learning difficulties or additional support needs.
  • Value – Every penny needs to be accounted for as it comes direct from donations. Charities should be aware of significant discounts available to them from software vendors such as Microsoft for operating systems and office software. There are a range of options available to provide charities with a fully-functional desktop service.
  • Information security and data protection – Charities cannot afford to lose any sensitive data so it’s vital to have policies and systems in place that help to safeguard information and, most importantly, support end users to understand best practice and safe-working.
  • Disaster recovery – It is easy for any organisation to overlook disaster planning but it is vital to have robust systems, mechanisms and planning in place should the worst ever happen. If a major incident should occur then the long-term impact and cost could be more than the charity is able to survive. Managed IT services can ensure appropriate plans and systems are provisioned and updated as required.

 

David added: “The ability to be creative is imperative as charities often need to find a way to secure enterprise-level resources on a shoestring budget.

“We take a long term view to the needs of the charity; working closely with service managers to understand what long-term funding is going to be available for the service so that we can provide solutions that are built to last.”

Dynamic Edge chief executive highlights growth at RBS event

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A leading north-east entrepreneur will explain the benefits of alternative models for business funding to more than 200 people in Aberdeen.

Rob Hamilton, chief executive at technology provider Dynamic Edge, will deliver an address as part of the Opportunity Knocks event, organised by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

Dynamic Edge previously raised £100,000 through Funding Circle. The business attracted 350 investors for its proposal through the crowdfunding initiative – which enables online peer-to-peer lending as an alternative to traditional sources of funding for small businesses.

The event takes place on Wednesday, November 19 at the Robert Gordon University’s Riverside East Campus and runs from 9am until 2:30pm. Rob Hamilton will deliver an educational seminar at 1pm outlining his company’s experience of crowdfunding.

Other speakers include Shaf Razul, star of the online version of the BBC’s Dragon’s Den, and Neil Simpson, finance director of north-east company BrewDog.

Rob Hamilton said: “I’m thrilled to have been invited to speak at such a prestigious event for the north-east business community. It will be a wonderful opportunity to share our company’s experience of using an alternative source of funding. Coupled with our traditional banking services this has aided business growth.

“We were delighted to have been backed by 350 investors who all recognised the growth potential of Dynamic Edge. The added capital raised through Funding Circle has allowed us to invest in the business, including hiring additional staff.”

Gordon Merrylees, regional managing director, Business Banking, RBS, said: “RBS is delighted to be supporting Opportunity Knocks to showcase Scotland’s entrepreneurial talent. It’s exciting to see pioneering events like this emerge when Scotland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem partners come together.

“This conference is particularly unique as it gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to showcase their businesses to potential investors as well as providing them with knowledge on the alternative methods of finance available to them. We are committed to encouraging entrepreneurs in Aberdeen through innovative ways and RBS is thrilled to be at the heart of this event.”