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Salvation Army holds first global IT meeting

Salvation Army holds first global IT meeting

Salvation Army holds first global IT meeting

22 August 2019

Participants from every time zone in the world joined the online meetings to help provide a global information technology infrastructure to support the mission of The Salvation Army.

IHQ Communications

“Technology for mission” was the theme of the first in a quarterly series of online meetings for The Salvation Army’s global IT teams.

The interactive event, introduced by Commissioner Merle Heatwole, International Secretary for Business Administration, International Headquarters, included participation from Salvation Army IT practitioners from around the world.

An identical meeting took place 12 hours later, to enable practitioners in every time zone to participate. 

The commissioner began with a clear statement of intent: “We want to work together and make the future of our IT infrastructure something that we can all be very proud of, and something that we can see as providing a real benefit to the mission of The Salvation Army.”

Mark Bennett is the project manager of the significant and technically-demanding process of migrating The Salvation Army – with a presence in more than 130 countries – to using Microsoft’s Office 365 product.

About 32,000 Office 365 mailboxes have been assigned so far, approaching half the number of the legacy Lotus Notes accounts.

“I’m encouraged that the goal is every officer and employee having an official Office 365 account,” said Mark. “In each territory, there are new people getting accounts, which is fantastic – we are connecting more people.”

Lessons learned from the pilot implementations in places such as Italy and Greece, Mozambique, India South Eastern, Taiwan and The Salvation Army’s Latin America North Territory were shared. “[It’s] teaching us a lot about how we can make Office 365 work – [there are] lots of situations with low bandwidth connections,” Mark explained.

Demonstrating the power of connecting every part of The Salvation Army, the next presenter was a remote participant. Clarence White, Head of IT for the USA Southern Territory, gave an overview of his role in liaison with Microsoft and the technical issue of ensuring robust international authentication for safe and secure access to applications. 

Tim Siney, Software Development Manager for IHQ, spoke next on plans to migrate legacy Lotus Domino applications into new platforms, taking participants through an easy-to-understand flow chart. 

Also taking part in the online meeting was Trisha McDonald, from Microsoft’s Tech for Social Impact Team. “We’re delighted to be working with The Salvation Army ... and [to] help achieve mission through technology,” she said. “Microsoft Teams [offers] the hub which facilitates real-time collaboration around the world,” she continued, before offering a glimpse of soon-to-be-introduced enhancements to the product, including live subtitling in numerous languages.

The 45-minute meeting ended with an open question-and-answer session, providing an opportunity for delegates as geographically diverse as Japan and Moldova to seek updates, advice and technical information about the local ramifications of the technological changes ahead. 

“The international Microsoft Office 365 project centrally coordinated from IHQ focuses on the international grant-aided territories,” said Jason Guiffre, General Manager Digital and Applications, Information Technology Services, Australia Territory.

“[However] The Australia Territory is well underway with their independent, territory-specific Microsoft Office 365 deployment, starting with Microsoft Outlook.”

“Once deployed, additional Microsoft Office 365 technologies focusing on mobility, productivity and collaboration will be released bringing a step change to the traditional way of working processes and new opportunities."

 

 

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