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National Breast Cancer Foundation planning cloud-based future with Tecala.

The background

The National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) is leading Australia’s research into a condition that claims the lives of eight women every day. Supported by donations, the organisation also undertakes cancer awareness initiatives and provides support for those who contract the disease.

An ageing infrastructure

Back in 2019, senior management within NBCF realised work was needed on the organisation’s ageing IT infrastructure. For the past six years, little had changed and the servers and software supporting day-to-day activities were struggling to keep up with demands.

NBCF’s IT Solutions Manager Peter Brooks says, rather than being focused on planning and strategy, attention had instead been on “plugging the ever-constant leaks and keeping things running”.

“Not only was this holding the foundation back, it was also making my job a lot harder,” he says. “We realised it was time for us to find a technology partner who could leverage as much value from our budget as possible, drive innovation, and help us transform our patient experiences and outcomes.”

Brooks says the organisation also had a goal of ridding itself of its existing on-premise servers and becoming totally cloud based. A search was mounted for a partner who could help in this process.

The IT team had just days to equip staff to work from home offices and ensure they had full access to required applications and data stores.

Partnership with Tecala

After evaluating a number of prospective technology partners, a decision was made in December 2019 to take advantages of the services offered by Tecala.

The company undertook an initial in-depth audit session and used the information gathered to develop an outcome-focused digital transformation strategy designed to guide activity for the next 18 months.

The methodology for transformation began with what Peter describes as, “Digging deep into the current systems and teasing out what could be improved one case at a time”. Tecala also made recommendations on new monitoring software and more efficient ways of operating and managing IT. Brooks says the initial timeline was changed when the COVID-19 pandemic caused shutdowns and required staff to work from home.

A tight COVID deadline

Faced with this tight deadline, Tecala and the NBCF IT team set to work to make the required changes. Brooks says that, despite the fact that Tecala was not yet familiar with the organisation’s systems, they stepped up quickly and transitioned all staff to a home-working environment.

“With our previous provider it could take up to a month just to get a quote, but Tecala successfully managed this transition in just a couple of days,” he says.

Employees can now securely access patient, donor, and corporate data from their homes, the office and everywhere in between. With IT now working for NBCF, the team can focus on driving better outcomes for patients and improving the success of research programs. Support tickets, response and resolution times have all significantly decreased.

“More broadly, the systems and platforms Tecala have put in place will help us focus on our new patient-facing application and pursue more innovative ideas and projects,” Brooks says. “It’s always a challenge matching the right patient with the right research project, so this new application will allow us to link patients to relevant research projects.”

The systems and platforms Tecala have put in place will help us focus on our new patient-facing application and pursue more innovative ideas and projects,

Moving to the cloud

Since the COVID lockdowns occurred, Tecala has also been working closely with NBCF on other aspects of its technology refresh strategy. An existing fleet of 13 servers has been reduced to just two with key applications being migrated to the Microsoft Azure cloud platform.

“Eventually, our goal is to be 100 per cent in the cloud,” says Brooks. “We think we can reach that point within the next 12 months.”

Having applications such as SharePoint has allowed staff to become much more efficient in the way files are accessed and used. Multiple people can also work on a file simultaneously which was not previously possible. Tecala is also working with NBCF to deploy Microsoft Teams as a replacement for its existing PABX phone system.

“Once our journey to the cloud has been completed, I estimate we will be enjoying savings in overall IT spending of more than $100,000 per year,” says Brooks. “That is valuable money from our supporters that can be diverted into other areas.

Brooks says NBCF will continue to work closely with Tecala to ensure its IT infrastructure remains as up-to-date and efficient as possible. “Tecala has become a valuable and strategic partner for us and I look forward to working with them in the future,” he says.

It was a straight-forward, honest and transparent partnership from day one. It’s been an excellent experience.
Peter Brooks
IT Manager at NBCF

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