Founded in 1844 as “Young Men’s Christian Association” in London, YMCA is a not-for-profit organisation now operating with close to 1 million volunteers and 100,000 employees worldwide. The charity works in five key areas – Housing & Support, Family & Relationships, Youth Work, Training & Education, and Health & Wellbeing – and is still inspired by Christian values to this day.
Each branch of YMCA operates independently yet with the same shared values and dedication to helping those in need. YMCA Bournemouth operates within the town and surrounding areas, supporting close to 2000 local families in Children’s Centres, offering counselling and supported housing for vulnerable individuals, delivering youth programmes and much more.
YMCA Bournemouth had taken the strategic decision to modernise their IT systems and migrate their on-premises and legacy systems across to Microsoft Cloud. This would allow them to consolidate licences, streamline processes and offer an overall lower total cost of ownership; important for a not-for-profit organisation. The charity was therefore looking for a local technology provider who could assist with their digital transformation strategy and become a trusted partner going forward.
Following a competitive tender process, YMCA Bournemouth selected Transparity to undertake a full review of their existing IT estate and make a series of suggestions and recommendations on the best approach going forward. The Microsoft Gold Partner was chosen due to their wealth of experience, business ethos of mutual trust and respect, and their ability to provide clear, concise, and best-in-class service. The ongoing support available to YMCA Bournemouth’s IT and end users across their Azure and Office 365 environments was also a key factor.
Due to the size of the project and to ensure limited downtime, it was decided that there should be a phased approach to YMCA Bournemouth’s digital transformation.
Firstly, Transparity assumed responsibility of YMCA Bournemouth’s IT support contract, which would ensure that the charity could be easily assisted by Transparity’s technical experts throughout the different phases of the project. This covered end user, infrastructure, and Cloud support and would help them fully understand and manage their IT estate. It would also represent a significant cost saving going forwards, as well as enabling them to derive maximum value from Transparity’s expertise.
Transparity also recommended that YMCA Bournemouth transition to their Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) platform, which would offer monthly payment by consumption rather than in advance. This would help the organisation better monitor their spend, predict costs and only pay for the services they use – important for a charity where every penny counts – whilst allowing them to flex their licences up and down as required.
The second phase of the project was a complimentary discovery session, whereby Transparity conducted an in-depth exploration of YMCA Bournemouth’s existing IT estate. The existing investment in Microsoft 365 was considered, with Transparity looking at which parts could be decommissioned and what could be leveraged to maximise the investment already made in Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS). YMCA Bournemouth’s existing technical and business needs were also reviewed, with this understanding enabling Transparity to give recommendations that would be best suited to the charity’s needs and forming the basis for the full digital transformation project.
The third and final phase involved implementing new Microsoft technologies across the YMCA Bournemouth’s IT estate. Transparity upgraded the charity’s Office 365 licensing to Microsoft 365 Business, which offered savings compared to the existing licence versions being used. The full suite of Office applications was rolled out for users, as well as Microsoft Teams being implemented. This gives users access to instant messaging, advanced collaboration services, and online meetings with video chat and conferencing. It became apparent that this would be of particular use when the Covid-19 lockdown was announced, with YMCA Bournemouth able to continue to do much of their good work whilst staff worked remotely.
Staff also benefitted from the Security and Device Management features of Microsoft 365, especially during the Coronavirus crisis. They were able to access the latest version of Windows 10 Pro as well as use their own iOS, Android, Windows and macOS devices securely, making remote working more straightforward. Furthermore, with YMCA Bournemouth holding a large amount of confidential, personal data on service users and their families, it was imperative to keep it secure and compliant. Information Protection policies in Microsoft 365 allow the charity to control and manage how information is accessed and by whom, ensuring that only the correct people could see or edit sensitive data. Additional security features included protection from unsafe attachments, suspicious links and other unseen malware through attachment scanning and link checking.
Transparity also enhanced the infrastructure reliability by migrating services to SharePoint, reducing the number of on-premises servers and therefore the associated costs. This also offered the added benefit of file and document storage viewing and editing used in conjunction with OneDrive.
Following the initial three migration phases, YMCA Bournemouth decided to move away from their remaining Azure and AWS remote desktop solutions completely. This would not only save money but allow a new remote desktop to work seamlessly with their Microsoft 365 environment. Transparity therefore implemented a flexible Windows Virtual Desktop solution, which is fully optimised to work with Microsoft 365 apps and services to provide an easy-to-use, enhanced remote working experience.
YMCA Bournemouth have realised significant cost savings by moving to the Microsoft Cloud. In particular, their monthly Azure fees have dropped from £3800 per month to £950 per month – an enormous 120% reduction. Overall, YMCA Bournemouth estimate that their annual costs have dropped by 32%, or approximately £30,000. This represents an enhanced solution which is better value for money, and these are funds that can now be used towards the life-changing work they do. Since migrating to Transparity, YMCA Bournemouth have also seen a vast improvement to support response times across the business.
Additionally, an unexpected benefit of their Modern Workplace transformation was seen during the Covid-19 lockdown. The core team were able to shift to primarily remote working whilst maintaining their productivity levels; something which wouldn’t have been achievable before the migration.
“Transparity’s expertise – coupled with collaborative and innovative IT solutions – are paving the way for transforming our IT infrastructure. We will benefit immensely from a more coherent platform on which to build our most significant IT projects, which will enable us to make better, more intelligent use of our data. Transparity’s staff are approachable and very knowledgeable; their support framework enables them to rapidly escalate issues as necessary. Transparity have played a vital role in Transforming our IT infrastructure.”
Jonathan Chadd, Building & Services Development Manager at YMCA Bournemouth