- that was formed in 1976
- whose business went live in 1989
- who got their web presence online in 1996
- who provides services via phone and online services
- who is working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year
- that has offices across Canada
- whose clients are Canadian children between 5 and 20 years old
- that had 400,000 customers in 2004
- that grew to 1,000,000 customers in 2005
- and grew to 1,500,000 customers in 2006
Sounds like a pretty typical business doesn't it?
This is the Kid's Help Phone, a national, toll-free, bilingual, phone and web counseling and information service for kids that is completely anonymous and confidential. Now imagine being part of the IT team that has had to deal with 400% growth over the last 3 years, with limited resources, and not only on the financial side. The core IT staff at Kid's Help Phone is two, yes two (2) individuals. Two IT professionals, Ted Kaiser and Neil Egan, are tasked with managing the entire infrastructure for this national organization and not only having to deal with the day to day challenges but the challenges around scaling out, scaling up and keeping this crucial service running 24/7/365. Two people! Imagine the challenge.
Over the past few months myself, Damir, Jean-Luc from the dev team, along with Gavin Thompson from the community affairs team at Microsoft Canada and iMason have been working with the Kid's Help Phone to help them implement some of the latest technologies to make dealing with this growth easier. You might have read my posts here about the first part of the Exchange 2007 implementation and there is more to come on that, their SharePoint 2007 implementation that is currently going on and future projects that will give them the ability to deal with this growth and continue to provide this valuable service.
Last night Jean-Luc and I were invited to attend the annual fund raising dinner last night and learn more about the Kid's Help Phone, the work they do and help them raise funds to continue operating and expanding their offerings. Did you know that Kid's Help Phone is almost entirely funded by corporate and private donations? It was a great evening out and the first time I ever saw a member of our team in a suit (Jean-Luc looked very James Bond like 🙂 ) Dinner was served, Seamus O'Regan from Canada AM (a show I've never seen as it is on WAY to early) was the host, Jann Arden performed, and there were auctions and prize draws going on. It was a great night out, especially after Jean-Luc being out on the RealDevelopment tour and me on the My TechNet tour to unwind and help out a good cause. The evening raised over 1 million dollars, which sounds like a lot, well it is a lot, but really only enough to keep the Kid's Help Phone running for one month!
So imagine you and a colleague, managing a national network of offices and call centers, with a few hundred employees and even more volunteers. Imagine doing this with all the common constraints (budget, time, technology) that any business faces. Imagine a child that you've seen or know, or met, or an experience you faced as a child and think of how much help it would have been if they could contact someone for help. When I think of all that I am amazed at the work that the Kid's Help Phone does, amazed at the work that Ted and Neil do to keep the infrastructure running and proud of the involvement of iMason and Microsoft Canada.