CLOUD SERVICES

How a homelessness charity helped people more efficiently with GoogleCloud

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The Winter Night Shelter in Milton Keynes, a charity that has been working with the homeless since 2011.

Problem:

The Winter Night Shelter Milton Keynes (WNSMK) currently has more than 800 volunteers and helps more than 100 homeless and vulnerable people every week through its work. However, the shelter’s staff is limited to 10 part-time members who are responsible for fundraising. This means that the number of documents regarding users, including images, collateral, newsletters, case studies for fundraising and communications can be overwhelming for those that need access. This can also mean a considerable amount of admin for those who need to upload documents to a server or share with colleagues, for example, uploading photos remotely from a skydiving fundraising event, CVs, or official documents such as benefit claims for homeless guests.

Aside from the amount of documentation that needs to be managed, users are for the most part not trained, specifically in the case of volunteers or homeless users. Furthermore, traditional solutions such as Dropbox or enterprise-level packages, including the likes of Thirdlight, require payment for additional admins and users. This means that hundreds of pounds are being spent on software costs, as opposed to providing a service to those that need it most. The amount of money, time, and effort wasted is a hindrance to the charity’s performance, to say the least. 

WNSMK says: “One of the major problems that we need to overcome is the fact that we are lightly staffed, and different people are in at different times. Users, including volunteers, service users and staff may even need to access or upload their documents from the side of the road, event, or even a tent, making the process of sharing documents a nightmare – especially on a small phone screen and all files are text-based directories.”

Solution:

We created GoodCloud with the main intention of helping people and organisations like WNSMK, whose income and donations are mainly generated through marketing content. It is important to note that in order to store, share, and manage those documents, images, videos, and audio files, usability and affordability are paramount.

GoodCloud presents a solution by offering unlimited users and administrators for one price, and therefore saves the subscriber time and money. The solution also provides secure and trackable logins for everyone that the subscriber collaborates with. Regardless of how much storage they sign up for now or in the future. Having unlimited users within a storage platform, with military-encrypted protection, therefore gives WNSMK time-controlled access to documents and images, file rewind if any mistakes are made, and a highly intuitive interface, which saves trawling through collections to find a single file. 

Specifically, GoodCloud’s Collections feature allows WNSMK to organise its assets, and share files and track downloads safely, while tagging files specific to a Collection, which prevents online library clutter.

The charity has found that there are many benefits to the GoodCloud platform – it requires no training, users can share as little or as much as they want, and there are zero hidden costs. The platform can also be accessed from anywhere, on any device, and at any time – without ever compromising security.

Challenges involved and how these were overcome:

Getting people to convert from Dropbox and the cloud storage platforms that have long been popular is always a challenge. A challenge we experienced with WNSMK was a reluctance to move away from one of the legacy systems that, despite its difficulties, was nonetheless familiar. 

Whether we are dealing with technical, communication, or implementation issues, transparency has always been our go-to for problem solving. By working collaboratively with WNSMK, we made sure that they felt they were not going into GoodCloud blind, and that they could feel confident about using a new platform that requires no download and no training. 

We ensured WNSMK understood our clear reasoning not just for leaving their current platform, but for joining us, with the following easy-to-remember points: 

  1. The sole thing they would be paying for is storage. (Regarding cost, what you see is what you get. WNSMK, as with all other users, were given the benefit of a free, no-credit-card-details first month. Regardless of how little or how much storage they would be using, which they are indeed at a liberty to upgrade or downgrade at any time, the benefits remain exactly the same across all storage levels. 
  2. We allow unlimited admins. This means that, unlike Dropbox and other platforms, there is no extra cost per user – they can have as many users on one account as they wish, and better yet, they can monitor what different people have access to. 
  3. This is the first platform where the user is in full control. They can be certain that they can access files from any device, any place and time, and that they are in charge of the right people getting to the right files. No matter how they choose to use the platform – be it for documents, videos, photos, or audio files – our military-strength encryption keeps everything safe, meaning there is a rare balance between incredibly easy access to communication and uncompromised security. 

We made sure with WNSMK, as we do with all users, that we gave them a clear understanding of the service and the benefits, that they could then easily reiterate across their team. 

Result:

When it comes to results, WNSMK says: “We can now search, upload, and store thousands of files in minutes – and not hours – which is important when you have to deal with so many different scenarios each day, often with people that have limited literacy or computer skills.

“We now have an easy-to-use, cloud file storage system with a non-wordy interface for just a few pounds per month that can be used by our 800 volunteers and service users and overseen by a few staff, whilst remaining secure and totally scaleable. We will certainly be recommending it to other charities in the area!”

The unique way in which files can be restricted to certain people, either via email or time-controlled access, means that we fully comply with GDPR requirements. We are also able to provide our subscribers with unlimited users for one low monthly ‘all inclusive’ cost of £29.99, as we pay solely for storage – not users, functionality or add-ons. We are able to personalise the storage so that it is easily recognisable, in this case as WNSMK, which is an all-important part of the service we offer.

Tags: charity, documents, google cloud

Originally Appeared Here

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