IT–keeping the Army up to date

Recent IT achievements and developments

by Richard Frreeman

Information Technology employees (left to right) Richard Freeman, Manny Ramirez and Alex Noda [Photo by Christin Davis]

While the Salvation Army’s Information Technology (IT) Department keeps the Western Territory current with computer hardware and software, its work does not stop there. The department also provides training to users in the field, and Clarence White, its CIO, is recognized nationwide as an expert in the field.

Professional staff
This quarter, IT specialists have taught more than 45 classes—with over 450 students—and presented over five hours of software application training to cadets at the training college.

Recognized as one of the “Computer World Premier 100” (IT leaders), White was invited to lead three workshops at the Information Technology Track of the Christian Leadership Alliance Conference held in Atlanta, Ga., with topics of “What’s Hot and What’s Not?” “Project Management and Systems Conversion,” and “Basic IT Management.”

Busy schedule
Currently, the IT department is managing over 100 active projects for the territory. Most relate to software development/deployment or infrastructure needs at commands or individual field locations.

In addition, the department retains 90 “ideas.” Although not actively addressed, these ideas are reviewed quarterly, each receiving a numerical score based on various criteria including cost, risk, time required, and impact on the organization. The highest scorers are most likely to be active projects as resources become available.

Streamlining efforts
Backup assistance is the focus of the IT Department. The new web-based support portal, “Service Desk,” enables users to view open or closed help tickets, edit or close them, or email the assigned technician.

To simplify the officer moves process, IT arranged for officers to take their notebook computers with them when they move. In the future, IT will issue notebooks to the officer rather than to the appointment, allowing for easier position acclimation and promoting better computer care.

The Kroc Membership system—adopted in all U.S. territories—recently met a challenge when the Coeur d’Alene Corps Community Kroc Center opened. Despite the unexpected crush of member signups, the software prevailed. By learning from Kroc Center openings, the department is better prepared for future events.

Service in commands
The Alaska Division server was upgraded with a conversion to a new remotely operated virtual platform.

Currently, the Northwest Division’s technology platform is being updated. Once configured differently than the rest of the territory, it will become a model for other commands. As part of that project, we streamlined the shipment of computers from suppliers to the corps with plug-and-play capability and very little on-site configuration required.

The ARC Thrift Stores are currently undergoing infrastructure modernization, with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2009.

Other strides
One achievement of the procurement team was the negotiation of anti-virus solution. By buying a solution for the next three years, we received a substantially reduced price. The Southern and Central territories followed suit and received the same price, with combined savings of over $100,000. Worldwide territories are using this agreement for their own negotiations.

While IT advancement continues at a dizzying speed, the department still runs well with the same operating budget as in 2006.

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