Richard Parry of Stand Children\u2019s Services at a CIO roundtable discussion in WellingtonRichard Parry, CIO of Wellington-based Stand Children\u2019s Services Tu Maia Whanau, shares the nuances of leading ICT in a not-for-profit.\n\u201cWe are very much hampered by cost, we always have to bring down overheads,\u201d he says.\n\u201cYou have always got to be looking for the next thing, what is coming down the pipeline that will benefit the organisation, and how I can get it, and to move to it as soon as it becomes mature.\n\u201cWe probably will take more risk if we see the benefit while others may be happy to sit where they are. We are more likely to move because of our cost drivers,\u201d he adds.\nThe charity provides specialist home and school social services including therapeutic care and education to children aged 5 to 12. It also provides respite services for caregivers, including grandparents and foster parents.\nThe organisation is mainly funded by government.\n\u201cWe do not have extra money so we are always looking for ways we can enable the money that we do have to go towards our mission, not to overhead," Parry says.\nParry, who rose from position of national IT manager, runs a very lean IT team \u2013 he only has one other staff member.\nHe says the organisation has been working with Microsoft on some software upgrades. But when he heard that Microsoft is piloting the Office 365 program for not-for-profits, he talked to his industry contacts and Microsoft about his interest in signing up for the program once it is implemented in New Zealand.\nThat was how Stand Children\u2019s Services became one of the the first not-for-profit in New Zealand to avail of the program. The scheme waived $60,000 per year in Office 365 licence fees, so the charity was able to upgrade to the latest platform and software.\n\u201cAnnually, we support hundreds of organisations,\u201d says Belinda Gorman, community affairs manager, Microsoft New Zealand.\n\u201cBut a couple of years ago, with the advent of cloud technology, we saw many new opportunities to help the not for profit sector.\u201d\nShe says Stand Children\u2019s Services reached out to Microsoft and provided it more insight into the critical work the charity is doing.\n\u201cStand Children\u2019s Services has a really significant reputation for the work they do,\u201d she says. \u201cImmediately it became obvious to us the organisation was very astutely managed.\u201d\nToday, around 360 staff across the country are using the cloud based system, says Parry, which includes access to OneDrive, Yammer and Lync.\n Every dollar that gets spent on ICT - or any overhead - is a dollar that can\u2019t go towards helping vulnerable children and their families. Richard Parry, Stand Children's Services Tu Maia Whanau\n'Every dollar makes a difference'\nStand Children\u2019s Services also got additional access to software upgrades from TechSoup at reduced cost, and a donation of $750,000 worth of software and infrastructure tools from Microsoft.\nThe impact to each user was minimal, he states. The staff spent a couple of minutes recreating their mail profile.\nFor the IT team, however, there were huge benefits, says Parry.\n\u201cWe now know we have a very highly resilient communications platform available to all of our staff.\u201d\nHe says the main driver for the move was cost. Before, they were spending up to $3000 a year for back-ups and around $5000 for anti-spam. There were also additional costs for licensing, disk and server space.\nWhile these are not high costs for corporates, he says, for the charity, "Every dollar that gets spent on ICT - or any overhead - is a dollar that can\u2019t go towards helping vulnerable children and their families\u2026 Every dollar makes a difference.\u201d\nHe says the organisation also gained \u201cextra capability by through repurposing the mail server into a virtual host\u201d.\nMoreover, staff are able to use systems that are at par with their enterprise counterparts.\nEmail was the first step to its move to the cloud, he says, \u201cthat was dipping our toes in it\u201d.\nThey have since moved the Intranet to the cloud, and all their file shares are also replicated to the system.\nHe is now looking to Azure Active Directory, as it could mean the necessity to maintain internal domain services is going to start disappearing.\n\u201cI would see our data centre dropping down to maybe a server over the next few years," says Parry. "We have servers all over the country. I see the need to maintain those just disappearing.\u201d\nAs to organisations contemplating on using cloud services, he says, \u201cmy general feeling is you are better off to argue, 'why wouldn\u2019t you use cloud services?'\n\u201cOn a cost and risk management point of view I would find it very hard to argue against cloud," he states.\nEspecially, he says, when you take into account all the other ancillary things around the overhead of maintaining an internal IT infrastructure.\n\u201cYou would need a large internal IT team to get the kind of service and resilience you get with our current [cloud-based] system.''\n With the advent of cloud technology, we saw many new opportunities to help the not for profit sector. Belinda Gorman, Microsoft\nRelated: IT director lends a helping hand\nThe 2011 Christchurch earthquakes highlighted another risk \u2013 business continuity.\nStand\u2019s Christchurch server was down for nearly four weeks following the quakes. The staff could also not get into the building, and retrieve the phones or laptops, says Parry.\nThe staff asked, what if the earthquake was in their head office in Wellington?\n\u201cThat really brought home the risk we were carrying having this single mail server running out of Wellington,\u201d says Parry. \u201cWe need to have resilience around our own infrastructure.\u201d\nSo what are some insights he can share for other CIOs taking on similar migrations?\n\u201cDon\u2019t let the fear of change, the reaction to change, stop you from doing what you know to be right,\u201d says Parry.\nFor instance, when moving the email over to the new system, some staff were asking what was happening, and if their email is going to disappear during the transition.\n\u201cBut I know it would be fine,\u201d he says.\n\u201cPeople don\u2019t like change and they will make a fuss about change, but they will adapt to change a lot faster than you think.\u201d\nRelated:Keeping the faith: An interview with Mark Bennett of Salvation Army\nSend news tips and comments to email@example.com\nFollow Divina Paredes on Twitter: @divinap\nFollow CIO New Zealand on Twitter:@cio_nz\nSign up for CIO newsletters for regular updates on CIO news, views and events.\nJoin us on Facebook.