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Making Connections to Make Changes

Posted by calgary

At SVP we say, “It starts with one person. One person joins many people. Together they will help build communities able to solve our most entrenched problems.”

That’s what happened last fall when a few SVP Calgary Partners connected to solve a problem that one of our Investees, CanLearn Society, had been facing.

Before becoming a SVP Partner, Dexter Lam wanted to learn more about the work that SVP does. He started by meeting up with longtime SVP Calgary Partner Thiloma Hofer. Thiloma had been asked to help CanLearn with inefficiencies in their revenue and billing cycle by the SVP Lead Partner, Sue Williams.

They discovered through these meetings that CanLearn was struggling with using multiple systems to process and store information. They were using two different systems that didn’t integrate with each other, which required paper transfer and manual entry. Mistakes were being made, which led to discrepancies and wasted valuable time. After multiple conversations and analysis, Dexter, Thiloma and CanLearn all agreed that a system upgrade was required.

Initially, it looked as though a software patch, which would integrate the two systems, would be a cost-effective solution. Fellow SVP Calgary Partner, Geoff Zakaib, reviewed the work to date and met with CanLearn to discuss their options. Geoff imparted valuable advice and encouraged CanLearn to look for a more robust solution.

Fast forward a few months and Dexter was now working at Deloitte as part of ‘Monitor Deloitte’, the company’s corporate strategy practice, and a partner at SVP. In June 2016, he ran into Thiloma and Krista Poole, CEO of CanLearn, at the annual an SVP Calgary Give Event. While catching up, the discussion turned to the systems integration project they were still working on. Dexter thought Deloitte might be able to help.

Deloitte has a program called ACT (Advising Community Together), through which employees do pro-bono advisory projects with non-profits within Calgary. He thought this project would be a great fit for the Deloitte—so he approached them and had it approved.

Deloitte committed two employees to the project. Over the course of five weeks, they contributed approximately 40 hours total of free consulting work—meeting with CanLearn, conducting research, developing strategy, identifying problems and solutions. Ultimately, they made the recommendation to purchase a new software system that could handle all of CanLearn’s needs. The solution involved a phased transition of current software to the cloud and then introducing a new software system to integrate everything. Not only would this solve their current problems, but also it would help them achieve their longer-term goals.

CanLearn is currently working to implement the new software, with a Calgary-based company that has worked with multiple non-profits. Martha Nystrom, another SVP partner, will be coming on board the project to help CanLearn navigate this change.

All of these people and parts working together is a wonderful example of what SVP does–make connections that unleash potential.

Stay tuned to our next newsletter when we talk to Krista Poole to find out the impact of the project and exciting new changes happening at the CanLearn Society.