CAFOD Case Study

IT strategy

About the organisation

CAFOD are an international development charity and the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, working with more than 500 partner organisations worldwide. They reach out to people living in poverty with practical help, whatever their religion or culture. Through their global church network, one of the largest in the world, they have the potential to reach everyone. They campaign for global justice, so that every woman, man and child can live a full and dignified life.

The challenge

In 2012, CAFOD asked Adapta to carry out a strategic review of supporter information systems as part of their Supporter Partnership Programme – an element in CAFOD’s Sustainably Future Strategy. At the time, CAFOD’s community and supporter teams relied on a bespoke supporter database. In combination with third-party software, that system had met CAFOD’s essential needs for some time. However, the database had a number of short-comings, for example website integration, and those prompted a review in 2011 of the organisation’s supporter business process and data requirements. The subsequent investigation into possible database systems identified two package-based alternatives to developing the in-house database. Adapta was asked to help decide on selecting the most appropriate database path.

Adapta support

Starting with the systems analysis that CAFOD had already carried out we ran a short workshop with the leadership team, talking to them about their vision for supporter relationships and about the improvements they wanted to see. Further workshops and meetings were held with a wide range of teams both in London and in the regions, where we discussed their more detailed requirements, the options for achieving them, and the likely impact of change on the organisation and on staff. From those meetings, we were able to develop a “high-level benefits map” showing how key changes to the processes, people and technology at CAFOD would produce the benefits the organisation wanted to see. The benefits map was a very tangible strategy document but our approach delivered it in a way that also secured the informed engagement of managers and staff for the later changes. Throughout the project, we held several progress meetings with the steering group and with the leadership team, at which we fed back and discussed the feasibility of the different emerging options. We highlighted critical decisions that the leadership team would need to make about the systems being considered, and we facilitated discussion about the risks to CAFOD and about the organisation’s overall readiness for large-scale change. Our final report was a clear recommendation about the best way forward, including an analysis of the technical options, the risks, and the practical next steps. Our approach helped CAFOD to develop organisational awareness through providing an objective perspective, whilst nevertheless keeping people on board and focused on CAFOD’s strategic goals. By the end of the project, our consultants had secured the trust of managers and staff at all levels, providing CAFOD with reassurance that the next step was going to be the right one for the organisation.

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