KCI is Transformed by New IT
KCI Ketchum Canada has been using CITI’s full-stack IT solutions for 22 years including training, server setup, and a knowledge management sharing system
KCI Ketchum Canada Inc is the country’s leading consultancy to the non-profit sector with professionals from coast to coast in fundraising, strategy, research, analytics, and executive search. Their core purpose is to inspire and enable organizations to raise money, and to make the dream of better communities and improved lives a reality. Through their 35 years of experience, they’ve helped thousands of organizations craft their strategies, build their teams, and raise billions of dollars in the education, health, social service, and arts and culture sectors.
KCI has been a CITI client for 22 years since 1997. A core customer, KCI subscribes to our full-stack IT services, including our advisory and implementation services.
As with all our clients, CITI started out by doing an IT meeting with KCI’s senior management. We learned that they were rebuilding their offices and website, and were going to defer their IT infrastructure discussion, as they wanted to transform their network. We suggested that KCI needed to be thinking about what they were going to do next: replace their company-owned equipment or use the public cloud. They wanted to double down on what they already had, so we started hashing out the pros and cons with them. Our CEO, Scott Lepore, noted that what KCI needed to understand was that when they were using Word and PowerPoint and clicked save, they didn’t really care where they were saving to—and they needed to.
This deeper, richer discussion was solution- and partner-oriented. It entailed a deeper understanding of the client and CITI’s desire to serve our customer needs both at the highest and lowest levels.
KCI’s Unique Requirements
KCI’s requirements were different from our typical customers. KCI is a nation-wide operation with a distributed workforce. This geographically-distributed workforce needed access to multiple systems. The problem was that KCI’s IT was siloed. Servers were in Vancouver, Calgary, and Montreal with a central server in Toronto that communicated with the staff across the country. However, it didn’t tie into the core business applications that were centralized outside of Toronto, which meant that those servers outside of Toronto were more isolated and not communicating with each other.
Like many organizations, KCI had two categories of IT. Many companies have organic IT that’s evolved based on operational needs, rather than any kind of attempt to envision an IT infrastructure. Likewise, KCI didn’t have a server for all of the regional offices, but each new branch office would open up a new server because it needed a place to store shared files. Over the years, it was enhanced, refined, and restructured. It also cost extra money to support it. That’s IT 1.0. What CITI envisioned for KCI was forward thinking.
Number of Staff Trained
CITI assessed the networks of KCI’s different offices in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, and Halifax. We crafted a recommendation to federate the networks of all regional offices into a single national IT infrastructure. We effectively rebuilt their infrastructure moving from decentralized to centralized.
One of KCI’s needs was to optimize and streamline the operational processes of their administration. This involved retraining all of KCI’s staff on efficient access to their information resources that were now centralized in their new private cloud.
New Server Setup
We characterized KCI as having distributed IT in networked offices. KCI has embedded staff—a type of worker who is essentially placed for a limited contract term at a client site. Think of them as a consultant with a year-long consulting gig, even though that person is an employee of KCI. KCI’s embedded staff were issued computers with Microsoft Office on it by the companies that they were working at. There are certain lines of operation and certain applications that KCI uses that are central to their business and all of their staff. The embedded staff would have to communicate with KCI, their employer, such as needing to get on its servers to submit timesheets for the client work. The problem was that they couldn’t do this easily because they didn’t have a KCI computer, but a client computer.
CITI has extensive experience in streamlining IT infrastructure. To solve this problem, CITI set up a Microsoft remote server with a private cloud to service branch offices. We also centralized certain parts of KCI’s IT infrastructure to the public cloud so that more conventional resources could be pushed up there. It allowed KCI’s embedded staff to access remote areas of KCI’s networks. They were on a network similar to how they were before, but now they were operating off the same server as everyone in the organization. An example is an employee that might need partial access to critical components like timesheet software. At KCI, there were all kinds of manual processes in place at regional offices by embedded staff. CITI’s solution allowed them to enter that data into software applications.
Knowledge Management Sharing System
In terms of its work product, the body of work that KCI accomplished over the years created an incredible knowledge trust of precedents. If KCI did a planning study with certain well-known characteristics, there was the potential to reuse that planning study in the future. The task that KCI had challenges with was mining the reusability value of the work product over many decades.
CITI helped KCI to structure their work product and make it searchable and retrievable. Previously, the information was siloed on the server in different employees’ folders rather than in a central area. CITI helped KCI format their data so that they could mine the wealth of their internal knowledge. We put in an explicit framework that was designed to retrieve information. This involved organizing the data into a coherent logical structure and configuring a search tool so that KCI staff could search keywords, phrases, authors, date ranges, and languages, among other information. Some of the tools that CITI used to help KCI organize their data include SharePoint with Microsoft Office 365. This allowed users to submit their work product for review within their organization to determine if it had attributes that would make it a precedent. If so, it then became added to KCI’s knowledge management sharing system. This benefited staff from coast to coast because it brought all servers together from Montreal, Halifax, Calgary, and Vancouver. CITI implementing a precedence database added to KCI’s future value.
When you change your IT, you change your company culture.
The Impact of IT on Company Culture
One of the ways that CITI is a thought leader is through our understanding that technological capability transforms organizations. New technology often creates significant operational changes. For KCI, this was central. Changes in IT helped transform the structure of the organization itself.
As mentioned, KCI used to have a series of small branch offices. The loss of the need to house their own network in branch offices shifted the company’s structure. They no longer required offices in those cities because they no longer required servers there. They still had a definitive presence in those territories, but staff could now work out of their homes or client sites. Changes in technology can have implications for organizational culture as a whole. When considering new technology like moving the cloud, which facilitates things like remote working, a mobile-distributed workforce, and office hoteling, we always advise our clients to take that dimension into consideration. In the case of KCI, centralization of their knowledge assets allowed them to shed substantial portions of their overhead costs. That was made possible by changing IT. When you change your IT, you change your company culture.
The Philosophy of IT Management
In the consultative cycle that we go through, the impact of IT on an organization is something that we bring up. When you change your IT, you change your operations and bring the ability to do things differently into the world. KCI was able to effectively eliminate branch offices, which altered their work style.
The transformative powers of technology don’t just enable improved reporting or collaboration, but actually drive change within an organization. That change doesn’t stop with how people go about submitting an expense report. That may mean that the company doesn’t have to pay employees four hours per month to get expense reports and might have freed up half a day’s time. The impact of technological change should at the very least be considered in the abstract by all businesses. At its most basic level, it could impact headcount. Automating processes that are currently manual might lead to less work for staff. They could be retrained and move into an area where they have much more to contribute. Such dismantling of infrastructure happened to KCI and technology drove that.
KCI took the remaining centralized IT infrastructure, moved it out of their offices, and put it into a data centre. All of a sudden KCI no longer needed their offices. Their executives and staff lost their offices and they used an office hoteling space and commercial office suites instead. In this scenario, KCI staff booked time in those locations.
Technology enables some things and drives others. When considering making a change to core technology, consider the positive or negative impact it will have on your organization. KCI is a multi-lifecycle client engagement corporation. Because CITI has worked for KCI for 22 years, we have been central to helping their organization evolve. We’ve seen that evolution and continue to monitor it now and for the future.
If you’re interested in partnering with CITI for your IT, please get in touch with us. We’ll start with an in-depth intake session so we can get to know your organization’s IT history and current IT requirements.
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