About Directions ACT
Directions ACT, a Canberra-based ATOD (Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs) Counselling and Support service, strives to reduce the harms associated with substance abuse by the provision of information and education, clean injecting equipment, practical health interventions, counselling, referral, support, detoxification and rehabilitation services. Enabling support free of discrimination and prejudice, the organisation is accredited by the Quality Improvement Council, and its programs are client-focused and evidence-based.
A large, community-based organisation funded by ACT Health and the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, Directions ACT employs over 50 full-time, part-time, and casual staff, at four locations across Canberra.
Challenges & Issues
Directions ACT had earned a reputation in Canberra for empathy, care and quality services, but the onsite IT infrastructure it had in place to help deliver on those services was beginning to show its age. With dozens of employees across a number of sites, the ICT needs of Directions ACT had matured.
In 2013, the organisation elected to implement a cloud-based solution with a managed IT provider. The experience was difficult, with
Additionally, system configuration changes resulted in increasingly expensive fees and charges that the organisation felt were not adequately highlighted in advance.
Directions ACT wanted a return to a locally-hosted, onsite network infrastructure, that could be installed and subsequently managed by a reliable company, with support available to staff when required.
Selection Criteria & Issues
Directions ACT, largely reliant on public funding through ACT Health and the Commonwealth Department
Centrered holds a reputation for delivering robust, tailored IT solutions and Directions ACT were attracted by the prospect of a professionally managed onsite ICT solution for a flat, monthly fee.
Additionally, with Centrered providing ongoing technical support, Directions ACT can instead concentrate on their mission of serving their clients, rather than on their technologies.
Directions ACT, in order to overcome the ICT issues that were hampering their organisation’s delivery of services, had already attempted the implementation of an updated network solution. ‘The server we had in place was ancient, says Directions ACT CFO Angela Jeffrey. ‘The nature of how we facilitate care in today’s environment has changed, and our IT requirements had to change with it’.
However, the cloud-based, hosted strategy that they opted for ultimately proved problematic, and expensive. ‘We were persistently encountering drop-outs and slow connection speeds,’ recalls Jeffrey. ‘The benefits we imagined would result from our transition from an ageing, onsite infrastructure to a hosted solution were not being realised’.
Angela further reflects that ‘we became aware, over the course of some months, that this was not the solution we had hoped it would be’. It was determined in 2014 that the ICT infrastructure for the organisation would be best relocated once more to the premises. In consultation with Centrered , a network plan was designed that would accommodate a range of devices including desktop, mobile, and Thin Clients, that would be easily upgradeable when future demand required. To facilitate access for remote staff, a VPN was implemented.
The transition would entail once more migrating Directions ACT’s data assets, this time from the cloud to the local installation. After deployment, Service Desk support would allow staff the ability to log any IT related issues, with additional on-site support available to attend to any hardware or configuration issues. Centrered would subsequently manage and remotely monitor Direction ACT’s ICT infrastructure to ensure a consistently secure and reliable service.
“We left a broken system on the Friday, and when we returned on the Monday everything was set to go”
Directions ACT CFO
Centrered worked closely with Directions ACT to deliver a solution engineered to their requirements, one that has delivered cost-savings and improved operational efficiency within the organisation. ‘Centrered facilitated the migration back to our premises over a weekend,’ recalls Jeffrey.
The implementation was easy, and seamless. ‘We left a broken system on the Friday, and when we returned on the Monday everything was set to go,’ remembers Jeffrey. In light of the organisation’s previous experiences with managed IT services, Centrered ’s deployment was ‘phenomenal’.
Working remotely via the newly implemented VPN has also led to greater productivity across sites, where the unreliability of the previous hosted solution often saw staff dumping essential files onto their desktops, rather than rely on the hosted connection.
Accurately tracking essential information had therefore become problematic. Centrered ’s efforts to address these concerns have had a significant impact, particularly in the provision of Directions ACT’s Needle and Syringe Program, which requires the ongoing collection of data in the tracking of supplies and deliverables.
‘Now,’ observes Jeffrey, ‘Directions ACT can accommodate more enquiries and provide more services, rather than fighting with IT’.
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