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3Bridges Community empowers people, streamlines processes with cloud

Small, but mighty is the perfect epithet for 3Bridges Community which has a team of 300 employees and 300 volunteers providing a broad range of community services to 28,000 people each year.

Ranging from children’s services to aged services, through disability support and training, 3Bridges Community needs to operate lean and smart – where every action has impact.

The challenge is that the six broad classes of services that 3Bridges provides are quite different, each with their own complexities. There is no one process fits all, and each has different information management and document management practices.

While the organisation used Reckon as its underlying business system in the past, there were many manual and paper-based processes that fed into that, creating information blackspots or delays, and also there were relatively few people able to navigate the on-premises system. If someone wanted information the finance team would have to go looking, diverting them from other work.

In order to streamline operations and support its people, 3Bridges has undertaken a digital modernisation, implementing the cloud-based Dynamics 365 Business Central in just seven weeks with the support of Microsoft partner BCPrise.

Raj Nair, CEO 3Bridges Community says that one of the reasons that the deployment was so successful, even with the tight timeframes, was that the organisation was willing to make changes to its processes rather than clinging to out-dated procedures.

One thing I think not-for-profits probably will learn from this is that subject matter experts like Microsoft and BCPrise, they know the sector well. They know the systems well. They know the best way to capitalise on it. So non-for-profits just need to step back and see, is there a change, a meaningful change?

Paul Sargeant, CEO of BCPrise describes the entire engagement across the seven week, four sprint process as highly collaborative and agile.

“3Bridges were very flexible in terms of not prescribing how something had to be done, but said, ‘This is the outcome that we want.’ We were able to work within that seven-week timeframe to say, ‘Yeah, let’s understand what you want and then show you how it happens in Business Central.’ It was really quick decision making between the whole team, good communication throughout the whole process with executive support from the get-go.”

Nair says that the new digital platform, combined with “significant process improvements, helps the charity in the long term to be efficient and productive.”

Dynamics 365 Business Central empowers 3Bridges people – for example allowing employees to submit expense claims online rather than through paper forms. Instead of the week long wait for the claim to be approved, that can now be automatically managed and reported.

The cloud-based system also allowed people who were working remotely because of pandemic lockdowns to still access and use the system – which would not have been possible using the legacy on premises system.

3Bridges and BCPrise also used Teams, Microsoft Forms, Microsoft Planner and Yammer to facilitate collaboration during the deployment. Teams has also facilitated staff training on the new system.

Nair adds that the new business platform is also evergreen by design – able to integrate with other business systems in use today, or deployed in the future.

“We were very clear with our expectations from the new systems, that it has to be adaptable with the future system.

“Business Central has provided us very quickly, powerful and insightful information because it directly provides the information to the users rather than finance team being the messenger,” says Nair.

It means that the end user can access the data needed to support informed decision making without delay – allowing 3Bridges to serve the community faster and better.