Centacare IT plan beats Victorian flooding

Organisation now replacing accounting software

A decision to replace its IT network 18 months ago proved fortuitous for Victorian-based Catholic social services organisation, Centacare, when the heavens opened over the state in January.

The upgrade to a wide are network (WAN) meant IT services could be switched from one office to another which proved useful when two branches were threatened.

“Our drought relief office in Mildura had a roof cave in during the flooding and another office in Ballarat was damaged but none of our IT infrastructure was affected,” ICT head of department, Geoff Wallace, told Computerworld Australia.

“The advantage we have using the WAN is the replication of essential services across different sites. In the event that we lose an entire office everything will switch over to another office,” he said.

The organisation, which also looks after offices in Tasmania, provides services including mental health, drug rehabilitation programs and marriage counselling.

The network replacement was part of a wider strategy to improve business processes. For example, Centacare’s Ballarat office had used a MYOB (Mind Your Own Business) accounting software for 10 years but had to look for a replacement that could handle its increased requirements such as costing for different community programs. The organisation has an annual budget of $16 million.

Finance manager, Antony Rucco, said the MYOB software caused a number of problems.

“We had sessions running over remote desktop where the MYOB session would freeze or drop out," he said. "This was happening twice a week and we had to force everyone to log out of the system."

This also meant the office lost between two and six hours a week in productivity.

A decision was made to replace MYOB with enterprise resource planning system (ERP) Microsoft Dynamics NAV in August 2010.

"It’s very easy to export the Dynamics data to Excel or PDF spreadsheets. This also means our month end reporting which used to take 10 days was cut down to five days,” he said.

"The improvement means we can distribute reports to our finance committee before their meeting so they have time to look at the reports and provide advice to the board."

Following a bedding down period, other Centacare offices in Victoria and Tasmania are tipped for a replacement.

“Currently they are running a mix of software packages including Quickbooks, MYOB and Green Tree so we want to get them all using our NAV servers.

"It (NAV) sits on our Microsoft network seamlessly and also allows other Centacare branches to use the service so we’re all on a level playing field,” Rucco said.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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