The Global Fund, an international partnership organization connecting governments, NGOs and civic communities through funding and investment to eradicate HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis was struggling with the way they processed and managed documents. These problems were largely a result of poor infrastructure within the countries where these diseases are most prevalent, along with the difficulties of managing the overall projects and meeting strict governance and compliance requirements of different governments and NGOs in each destination.
In early 2016, The Global Fund had migrated from SharePoint 2013 to Office 365/SharePoint Online, yet continued to struggle with these same problems.
The goals prior to the migration included:
--Increase user adoption of SharePoint
The reality just months later was disappointing:
--Moving to the cloud did not fix the problem of user-adoption
--SharePoint was still not being used
The Global Fund now uses harmon.ie to make the processing of funding applications a smooth experience for everyone. Internally, the shift from exchanging documents via email to using SharePoint to its full collaboration potential, has brought a clarity and ease to the process and user-adoption has increased massively. This, in turn, has helped revolutionize the way people actually work at the organization and ultimately helps ensure that the organization gets finance to the people who need it most.
The Global Fund is a Geneva-based partnership organization whose mission is to eradicate HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. Originally founded in 2002 as part of the World Health Organization, the fund partners with government, private sector, NGOs and any group of people that have been affected by, or are working to combat, these preventable diseases.
The Global Fund works as a financing institution that raises and invests approximately $4 billion a year to support worldwide programs which are run locally by in-country experts within the communities most in need. The Global Fund strives to assist these local communities to find the most effective method to use their funding; ways that will make the biggest impact on people’s lives and general health.
The grant-requesting process: an administrative challenge
The Global Fund employs around 1,000 people who use SharePoint as part of their funding request and approval process. When benefactors ask for support, The Global Fund requests a considerable amount of documentation relating to the project’s intended goals and motivations, to ensure their donors’ money is used judiciously.
Employees therefore spend much of their time assessing applications for funding, and with each request comes a multitude of documents. What’s more, assessments continue throughout the application period, all the way to the actual distribution of funds, and as the project itself is implemented. Employees must assess the performance of the programs that the money is supporting in addition to the overall impact of the operation in a community, on a case by case basis, so that they can ensure the funds are well spent.
For a single grant, The Global Fund typically produces several hundred documents. Over their worldwide portfolio, this adds up—at present there are over 1.4 million documents in The Global Fund’s SharePoint environment.
Another big challenge The Global Fund faces is that many benefactor countries suffer from poor internet connectivity, and so web-based systems for fund-applications have proven problematic. Therefore, email is still the primary method of receiving requests and providing information.
Finally, since The Global Fund works in close collaboration with numerous national governments and local NGOs, they must be able to comply with a range of strict governance and compliance regulations around the world.
At the beginning of 2016, The Global Fund migrated from SharePoint 2013 to Office 365/SharePoint Online. It was hoped that the move would increase user adoption of SharePoint among other productivity-related issues. Unfortunately, the move to the cloud did not fix the problem of user-adoption—SharePoint, in both its online and on-premises forms, was not any easier to use, hence documents were still being passed around the organization as email attachments, with important information ending up locked away within individuals’ inboxes, or left to another team member to file the document in SharePoint.
The result was multiple copies of a document without one version of the truth, which led to poor governance, a lack of compliance, and a broader impact to the business. Projects were not being managed according to the organization’s standards, and this had an effect on The Global Fund being able to meet its goals.
A human solution
In the summer of 2015, The Global Fund began working with harmon.ie. By the end of that year, they completed an evaluation with a focus group of company employees who used harmon.ie in their Grant Management division. Within that division, feedback was fantastic.
As Phillip Worrell, The Global Fund’s ICT Engineer and Business Analyst points out:
“When the evaluation period ran out, we had employees saying, ‘Give me this product now.’ Because it was such a great product for them, and it made their lives there easier.”
Feedback from users was similarly positive. For some employees, using harmon.ie completely changed their experience at work by humanizing the use of SharePoint, making their entire internal process more intuitive.
“It will revolutionize the way that I work,” one focus group participant explained. “This makes things so easy,” summarized another: “we all love it.”
Employees also found they could now work collaboratively with their colleagues, in a way they had never been able to before. A member of The Global Fund management division who has gone through all the iterations of SharePoint and other systems, said it was the most valuable tool they had ever used.
Putting the human in the center
At harmon.ie, our vision is to make the user experience central to all our solutions. This is what we mean when we talk about putting people at the heart of technology. Humanizing IT means making technology integrate as seamlessly as possible into our natural way of thinking and working.
For document management, this means making the process of doing the ‘right’ thing, the easy and most natural thing. Instead of sending documents back and forth via email attachments or uploading them manually to SharePoint as an afterthought, harmon.ie users can simply drag and drop documents from their email client into their SharePoint and it updates automatically. Again, by using harmon.ie, The Global Fund could replace document attachments with links to the file in SharePoint. This eliminated document chaos and ensured everyone was on the same page with grant documents.
The next step is mobile
Moving forward, The Global Fund is looking to roll out harmon.ie’s mobile application. Employees travel frequently and they often must work on documents on the move. Using mobile apps, they can edit and review documents and send them back to SharePoint no matter where they are in the world. This is the next step for the Global Fund in supporting their employees to work on documents and grant funding applications wherever they are, in a way that is most natural to them.
We’re excited about helping Global Fund keep on improving their critical business processes, improve the funding application process, most importantly, keep providing the tools that lets the user work in a way that is most natural to them.