At age 15, R.G. was smart but shy—so shy that he often spoke in a whisper that left people asking him to repeat what he said. He seemed to lack the confidence to think seriously about going to college. He certainly lacked the role models, let alone mentors, who could help guide him in fulfilling his potential.
Two years later, R.G. is entering his senior year of high school and is college-bound. He wants to be an engineer—his interests include both aviation and mechanical engineering—and he exudes the confidence he’ll need to succeed both in college and his intended career.
Part of what’s made the difference in R.G.’s life is Sean Ryan, who has mentored him through the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America organization. The two are in touch weekly, with RG posing questions about courses to take and internships to pursue, and Ryan both answering those questions and enabling his “little brother” to build a professional network that will likely be helpful to him for years to come.
Ryan was hooked
As a seasoned technology executive, Ryan is well-positioned to help R.G. But that’s not Ryan’s only position. He’s also vice president of IT for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. He didn’t start his career that way; he worked for years in the private sector. Then, in 2002, a friend invited him to volunteer as a mentor for a local North Texas BBBS organization.
“As I got to know the organization and saw its impact on kids, I was hooked,” says Ryan. “I fell in love with it. And after a year and a half, I came on board to direct its technology initiatives. This wasn’t in my career path, but it became my calling.”
Speeds the vetting process by 400%
It’s a good thing it did, because Ryan has demonstrated a knack for applying technology to help solve the organization’s most pressing concerns. For example, when he was with the North Texas BBBS organization, one of those concerns was bringing on volunteer mentors fast enough to meet the growing demand. A key road block was the time it took to conduct a background check and interview before accepting a volunteer. But Ryan helped to bring about a revolution in the way that Big Brothers Big Sisters handles the vetting process.
Big Brothers Big Sisters’ staff was once limited to processing volunteer applications via paper forms, and often traveled many miles a day to conduct interviews. The organization’s use of Microsoft technologies changed all that by giving staff members the ability to process applications and conduct interviews electronically. Productivity skyrocketed by 400 percent—from five interviews a day to twenty. That means volunteer mentors can be onboarded more quickly, and the organization can do a better job of meeting the demand for its services.
Cuts IT costs by 50%
Now that Ryan works for the national organization, he’s helping the rest of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America achieve similar results. It’s a revolution. His not-so-secret weapon is Microsoft Office 365, which the organization adopted with the help of solution provider Team Venti. Staff members have been quick to embrace the technology.
Every donor to a nonprofit wants to know that his or her money is being spent wisely. Ryan and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America are using Office 365 to reduce costs so even more of every dollar goes directly to the organization’s services.
Operating costs are down, such as the cost of hosting Exchange email. Telecom costs are down too, thanks to Internet telephony with Skype for Business. Ryan says Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is seeing a 50 percent reduction in total IT spend for office automation and telephony from the move to Office 365. And making that move to a cloud-based solution made the organization’s physical move this year, from Dallas to Tampa, “incredibly smooth from an IT standpoint,” according to Ryan.
Provides roadmap to Microsoft cloud
Now that Big Brothers Big Sisters America is on Office 365, Ryan is determined to lead the organization of 300-plus local agencies to Office 365—and beyond. “All of our applications would be better hosted in the Microsoft Cloud,” he says. “For example, our information security would benefit greatly from Azure rights and access management. Local agencies that struggle to select the technologies for their unique needs can look to the Microsoft Cloud foundation for integration, compatibility and cost savings.”
PRODUCTS: Office 365, SharePoint Online, Skype for Business
PARTNER: Team Venti