When a nonprofit wanted to upgrade its phone system, it seized the chance to standardize technology processes across their multi-location footprint. POAH, a mission-driven, national non-profit, is an affordable housing developer, owner, and operator. The organization owns and operates about 12,000 affordable homes across more than 120 properties in 11 states and the District of Columbia. Because the organization puts its mission first, IT investments must help the organization drive its mission while supporting staff and residents.
One of the biggest challenges of working in the non-profit space is balancing what needs to be done and what you want to do, and then finding the resources to make it happen. Brad Blake, Vice President of Information Technology for the Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), wears several hats in his daily role. He works closely with the organization’s Development, Design and Construction teams and the Acquisitions team on new construction projects, extensive rehabilitations, and acquisitions of new properties.
That’s in addition to his “day job,” handling traditional technology-focused responsibilities, such as defining and executing the organization’s technology strategy and architecting and installing networks at POAH’s various locations. Systems such as building automation and residential wireless are reliant on Blake’s efforts.
An Opportunity for Standardization
When Blake started at POAH in 2013, the organization lacked formalized systems and processes. As POAH embarked on an expansion, Blake saw an opportunity when updating the phone system at POAH’s corporate office in Boston: Standardize the organization’s technology and processes across the organization.
The corporate office used a UCx phone system TPx previously implemented. Impressed with the services and support TPx provided, Blake knew working with a single provider would help him achieve his goals and simplify the expansion process.
“I approached senior management with a plan to consolidate by implementing TPx’s UCx phone systems at all of our properties,” Blake said. “This consolidation would streamline things like training, education, invoicing and billing.”
With approval, the POAH team set out on a roughly 18-month-long project to migrate and port all of its phones and phone numbers, set up auto attendants and reorganize its call tree structures. “It was an extremely successful project. Not only did we roll it out to all of our corporate offices, but we also rolled it out to all of our property staff, and we were able to create one training video on how to use your phone, how to access your voicemail and how to set up your auto-attendant,” Blake added. “Before that, I was dealing with 60 to 70 different telecom providers depending on the area.”
The Benefits of a Partnership
With the need for affordable housing at an all-time high, standard processes made it possible for POAH to open more properties to support underserved communities quickly. By partnering with TPx, the POAH team created a standard baseline across all its properties and staff on the phone system. The project eased everybody’s comfort level, as most users could use the phones from the start, and those with questions could turn to the training manuals.
With the right partner and solutions, POAH had the flexibility to adapt to unforeseen challenges caused by the pandemic so it could stay focused on its mission. The POAH team quickly adjusted to remote work with the business continuity capabilities of TPx’s UCx solutions. Securely connecting and collaborating from anywhere allowed employees to continue providing stability for their residents during a crisis.
“I’m not just looking for technical solutions,” Blake said. “I’m looking for a partner that’s going to be with me in the good times and the bad. TPx is a good, solid partner that checks all of those boxes.”
“Let’s face it: at the end of the day, IT equipment breaks,” Blake added. “What’s more important is what the response is like when something does break. The response time, the communication, and whether the issue was resolved in a timely manner. TPx is a good, solid partner that checks all of those boxes.”
To learn more about how TPx help POAH achieve its goals, read the full case study.