225,000 people will develop dementia this year; that’s one every three minutes. Dementia costs the UK economy more than £26 billion a year. This is the equivalent of more than £30,000 for each person with dementia. We sit down with colleagues of Group IT, Lloyds Banking Group, and its 2014 charity of the year, Alzheimer’s Society, to find out how the organisations are including a new technical twist to a more traditional fundraising target.
When you think about big businesses partnering a charity, you could be mistaken for concentrating solely on mass fundraising, but at Lloyds Banking Group, they have an innovative approach.
"There are many ways to be a responsible business and help our communities prosper," says David Oldfield, group director of operations at the company. "We have a key role in supporting our customers and communities - and this is much broader than just offering competitive products.
"To be the best bank for customers, it is all about relationships and guidance. Charities like Alzheimer's Society and Alzheimer Scotland (our current Charities of the Year), are the same and by offering time from our experts, we can make a real difference that helps them be more effective for their patrons too. After all, there is no substitute in business for learning from the experience and the insight of others."
A new initiative has been built upon to add a strong technical twist to the charity partnership led by Vanessa Tufnell, Oldfield's executive assistant.
"I have personally been involved in lots of fundraising events before and also managed a range of IT projects, but never combined the two," she says. "This type of initiative wasn't something that had been done before, so it was exciting to be starting from a blank page, and to work with Alzheimer's Society and volunteers to shape it into something fabulous. It has been an incredible learning experience for everyone and I would like to think that we have helped provide real value to such a worthy charity."
Since the start of 2014, Group IT has supported a number of ongoing work streams covering enterprise architecture and design, project management, business analysis and service delivery. This is focused on a skills-based volunteering approach focused on sharing best practice, transferring subject matter expert knowledge, running technical workshops, and general computing advice/guidance clinics to Alzheimer's Society.
Delivering the promise
The first Group IT workshop took place with the directors from Alzheimer's Society and Ray Cross, head of IT/IS, to discuss the issues, topics and timetable, and to review how to deliver IT changes and recognise gaps.
"It was a very collaborative open session and I was humbled to see the small size of the IT resource that supported and helped so many people," says Wandreson Brandino, enterprise architect, Group IT.
The next step was held internally in Group IT, Lloyds Banking Group with the Enterprise Architecture and Design (EAD) leadership team to agree a plan, select the best IT professional to deliver it and then schedule six half-day workshop sessions. "While a very different size to Group IT at Lloyds Banking Group, it was interesting to see that the Alzheimer's IT team had many of the same challenges, so it was great to be able to provide some external perspective to such a worthwhile group," says Mark Powell, head of enterprise architecture, Group IT. The most valued sessions included:
- how to articulate an IT issue; enabling the Alzheimer's Society team to step change and how to approach problems
- how to manage change
- how to engage with the rest of the business.
"From the project management work stream, we had wide terms of reference, but we worked with the Alzheimer's Society IT team to determine where time should be spent that would add best value," says Steve Webb, head of programme delivery, Group IT.
"A team of six project managers were selected to deliver the programme, and areas that we agreed to focus on were project management, good governance and prioritisation, including managing multiprojects; at the same time, both dependent on the same resource (also best use of a limited resource); stakeholder management; a technical strategy that underpins a business strategy; project initiation; mobilisation," says Webb.
"The initial involvement in the business analysis (BA) work stream involved lots of useful input from both organisations, each pooling information on project methodology, BA approach tools and techniques."
"I was impressed with the calibre of a much stretched IT team at Alzheimer's Society," says Sue Fry, senior lead business analyst, Group IT.
"We decided that our role would be to enable the Alzheimer's Society IT team to tap in to us as technical specialists, thereby responding to the needs of individual projects. This was overlain with consulting, document and peer-review services."
"One pair of business analysts aligned to each project and support was given through consultancy, bespoke in-house training, mentoring/coaching and templates for an agreed number of hours a month. I was pleased to be doing something so valuable where no precedent had been set before," says Fry.
"The service delivery team embraced the opportunity to share their experience and expertise through advice; in particular, dealing with the challenge of managing all the various IT components together that support Alzheimer's Society and helping to maintain a great day-to-day service," says Nick Calver, enterprise director, Group IT. "Also, the opportunity to network and extend strong relationships with key stakeholders has been enabled to support and widen technical thinking."
The support has been so well received from the charity and from colleagues in Group IT at Lloyds Banking Group that the areas of expertise have been broadened to include functions such as group security and fraud (including information management and business continuity), customer services, risk and group digital (including an innovation workshop and how to plan a digital strategy).
"We are a medium-sized charity," adds Kathryn Young, corporate account manager, Alzheimer's Society. "We have small IT teams and having access to such technical experts has given us training from great IT professionals. It has also given us a view on how other sectors manage and deliver projects that have helped with our strategic planning."
Charity of the year
"Fundraising for a Charity of the Year partnership is hugely important, but does not always appeal to everyone. By offering skills-based volunteering, colleagues will be able to provide a different type of support that is equally important to a charity. No skill is too small to be shared, and will most likely be extremely valuable. The Lloyds Banking Group partnership has been a great example of how charities can work together with big businesses to look beyond just fundraising," says Young.
"The generosity and enthusiasm shown by Lloyds Banking Group with this initiative has been phenomenal," adds Cross. "The expertise being provided by Group IT will enable us to work more effectively as an organisation and will leave an invaluable legacy."
"It makes me proud that this has happened while all colleagues from across Lloyds Banking Group have raised more than a staggering £5 million, which goes beyond doubling the original two-year target just 17 months into the group's charity partnership with Alzheimer's Society and Alzheimer Scotland," says Oldfield.
If you are affected by dementia and would like some confidential advice and information, please call the Alzheimer's Society National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 1122.