Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust (ARHT) has over 110,000 community and corporate supporters and made in excess of half a million transactions over the last ten years. With the help of a Microsoft donation ARHT has been able to rely on efficient database solutions that are easy and reliable to use.
By the latter part of the 1990’s ARHT’s systems were insufficient and the company needed to make some significant investments. Microsoft, through its software donation programme, came to the rescue and donated Microsoft Windows® XP and Office™ XP in 2001. It made a further donation of Windows Server™ 2003, and Microsoft Office™ 2003 in 2005. This has allowed crucial funds to remain focused where they are needed most - rescue operations.
ARHT staff can now store and retrieve information when they need it, thanks to the database systems created with Microsoft Access. The software makes its donation and mission processes simple and straightforward.
With over 110,000 supporters and over half a million transactions, the main challenge faced by ARHT, was to have a donation system that was accurate and easy to use.
With a combination of new hardware, and Microsoft donated software, ARHT was able to spread PCs throughout the entire organisation and upgrade its out of date software. .
Out-of-date systems pose risk to funding
Over the past ten years the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust has seen the amount of data stored and managed on its fundraising system increase significantly. Donations are crucial for funding the organisation so ARHT needs to be able to manage records of funds received, generate reports, store data, and collate information accurately.
In 1997 the organisation faced several challenges. It needed to upgrade its hardware and required new software technology to provide accurate management reporting on information spanning everything from donations to rescue missions. With the organisation playing such an important role in the air rescue of New Zealanders, it was awarded a series of Microsoft donations to upgrade its software.
Jeff Nother, IT Manager, ARHT, says that the organisation’s systems at that time were dated, unproductive and simply did not meet the needs of the organisation.
“Our previous systems were very inefficient; we had many processes in the donation cycle that had to be performed manually and were therefore time consuming, sometimes resulting in unacceptable delays in acknowledging the donation or delivering fundraising products, such as toys and gifts, to our supporters. They were also very one-dimensional and didn’t provide us with the statistical information that is so fundamentally important to grow our supporter base.”
“Our role is helping others, prolonging and saving lives. This time we needed help. We had very limited funds but needed to make some crucial changes to ensure the survival of the service. The donation from Microsoft gave us a technology lifeline,” says Nother.
The organisation initially upgraded its old technology to Microsoft Office XP before adding Microsoft Server 2003 and Microsoft Office 2003.
Increased productivity and efficiency
Nother explains how the ARHT relies on donations from the public to keep afloat.
“The donation system is critical to our organisation and being able to create our own customised application using Microsoft Access has boosted both our productivity and efficiency. We now have a system that is able to grow and change with our needs and that greatly simplifies what were previously demanding and laborious administrative tasks.”
Nother adds how Microsoft Access also gives ARHT some level of protection for the future.
“Unlike some other lesser known or proprietary systems, there is a large pool of Microsoft Access developers available to administer and/or maintain our systems should the need ever arise – it’s comforting to know that the organisation won’t be left in the lurch.”
The system manages most aspects of the fundraising process from initial contact via mail or telephone, through fulfilment, collection and/or delivery, banking, acknowledgement and receipting.
“Add to that the ability to analyse and extract useful statistical data with which to help formulate marketing and fundraising strategies and the benefit that Microsoft’s technologies have provided us with becomes obvious,” says Nother.
Simple implementation, intuitive to use
The implementation process started with the upgrade of computers which allowed a spread of technology usage throughout the entire organisation.
“We had some very old PCs so our priority was firstly to spread the budget wide enough to buy new, faster machines for more critical and resource-hungry purposes, whilst keeping the best of what we had for the users whose roles required less processing power. Then, as funding allowed, we’d add new machines at the top and shift the near-new machines on to those people with the older ones. It worked well and we ended up with a spread of capable, modern PCs,” says Nother.
The next step in the IT upgrade was to implement the new network server solution to complement the Microsoft Windows XP operating systems installed on the individual PCs.
Nother says the change-over process for end user staff was made easy due to the intuitive nature of Microsoft products.
“Our people are very positive about the new technologies and were quick to learn how to use them. They didn’t find it a huge leap because Microsoft software has a similar look and feel throughout the range. It was all pretty familiar ground for them,” says Nother.
There is still more in-depth training required at ARHT, but with many of its staff being operational (pilots, paramedics and crew), catching the staff ‘off-shift’ for PC training can be challenging,” adds Nother.
“I’m putting together some in-house training sessions for the staff so they can utilise the technology to its full potential with fewer frustrations. The team are under a lot of pressure in their jobs, so if I can help make things a bit easier and interesting when they’re at their desks that’s great,” says Nother.
Freedom to be anywhere
Rea Wikaira, CEO, ARHT says, “the Microsoft donation has enabled ARHT to keep up with new technologies, to connect to our systems remotely, which have opened more possibilities.
“With Windows Server we now have the freedom to enable people to work anywhere. The remote desktop feature is superb; I can jump online from home if there is an urgent situation. The new system has made the organisation much more flexible because of Windows XP’s remote access and security features,” says Wikaira.
“It has made life easier and allows me more time to focus on where the organisation is heading.”
Future Donations to Add new Technology Opportunities
With rescuing New Zealanders being the main priority for ARHT, Nother has high hopes for the future as the organisation seeks to continually improve the services it provides.
“We are looking at implementing things like a video link between the helicopter and destination hospital so that the hospital clinician can discuss and observe the patient’s condition with the paramedic whilst they are en-route,” says Nother.
“Another possibility is real-time helicopter location via GPS that will allow other services such as police and ambulance to see exactly where we are and know our expected arrival time. We’ll always strive to gain any advantage that will improve a patient’s health,” says Nother.
ARHT is pleased with the generosity of the Microsoft donation as it has allowed them to completely upgrade its software to enable better processes for the future.
“We are now fully equipped for future developments and are confident of being able to continue to provide rescue services to New Zealanders,” concludes Nother.
For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234 in the United States or (905) 568-9641 in Canada. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:
For more information about ARHT products and services, call (64) (9) 309 6893 or visit the Web site at: www.rescuehelicopter.org.nz
This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
All rights reserved.© 2008 Microsoft Corporation.