July 26th 2018
A letter from Mike Mansfield, Jigsaw’s Head of Communications and Fundraising.
I’ve known Deirdre Kennedy (IBM’s CSR lead here in Ireland) for some time. Small sector and all that. Deirdre always impressed me with her attitude to CSR and that it was less around euros on a cheque and more about making an impact at an organisational level.
So, back in 2016, when I started here in Jigsaw, Deirdre was first on my list for a call and a chat. I wanted advice. How could we start to reshape Jigsaw as an attractive charity for organisations to support? Where was CSR? Where was it heading? And where did IBM see their role? It was an eye opener.
On wrapping up the call, Deirdre mentioned two words... Impact Grant. My ears pricked up.
Deirdre expanded – 'IBM’s Impact Grant deliver strategically designed consulting and software solutions that leverage the breadth of IBM's capabilities and technologies to empower organisations as they work in our communities to overcome society’s toughest challenges.' Deirdre's approach was to take a more holistic approach and rather than have the technology be the starting point to start with looking at the needs of our organisation and our objectives based on our users… the young people using our services. The technology needs would be informed by this.
Fast forward three months and we presented our problem to IBM for consideration – we were a rapidly growing organisation with an IT infrastructure that was not fit for purpose and that was not up to challenges at hand. We need to respond to the rapid growth and expansion and future proof the organisation to meet the technical demands of the future. We needed a more secure network. We needed to reduce costs; to strengthen IT security and to improve application reliability and productivity right across the organisation. There followed a short application process and we were delighted when we were approved for a Technology Roadmap Impact Grant.
Enter James Scott.
James, a Senior IBM Systems Architect (I don’t know either), was effectively seconded to Jigsaw for four months, during which time he completed a huge piece of work. He travelled the length and breadth of the country visiting Jigsaw services, meetings with our teams, sniffing around comms rooms and poking at servers. The result was a clear path to follow. A technology roadmap to support our vision and future proof our IT infrastructure. James highlighted the need to upgrade our IT estate and prepare for future growth by upgrading the overall network infrastructure.
And we got to work immediately.
The last six months has seen the IT infrastructure in Jigsaw transform. A new server has been purchased and installed; our Active Directory has been totally rebuilt and secured; we have put in place effective data back-ups for all locations, established secure VPN remote access for all remote workers, improved security on our mobile devices and locked down all hardware across our physical network with encryption, secure PIN printing and are entering the final stages of a large EU tender aiming to select a new IT and telecoms provider aimed at further enhancing our IT and telecoms infrastructure, reducing costs and ensuring we are fit for purpose to support the achievement of our organisational vision.
Jigsaw is indebted to IBM and in particular to the wonderful guidance and advice given by James Scott. CSR is less about euros on a cheque, and more around the ability of corporates to offer their teams the opportunity to add real value. Gone are the days of painting of sunflowers on wall in XL charity t-shirts.
I commend IBM on their vision and leadership in CSR. I thank IBM for what they have done, not just for our organisation, but for our people, enabling them to work better, to be more connected and more productive and affording them the opportunity to support more young people in need of our supports. As demand for our services increases on a daily basis, we need to respond, to be agile and a strong IT backbone enables us to do this with impact.
Two words rarely meant so much ... Impact Grant.
* IBM Impact Grant guidelines prevent IBM technology solutions/products being recommended to grantees ensuring a clear separation between the philanthropic and commercial parts of the business.