HelpAge Network Database

Powered by PowerApps, Flow and SharePoint

HelpAge International is an international non-governmental organization (NGO) which helps older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, so they can lead dignified, secure, active and healthy lives.  HelpAge works for and with older people by lobbying governments to achieve policy change, undertaking research programmes and via community projects on the ground.

The organisation’s focus is on world-wide issues affecting older people such as disaster risk reduction, climate change, rights, health, social protection, HIV and AIDS, and in emergency responses such as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and the Earthquake in Nepal.

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Change is good

The organisation began restructuring in 2017 to decentralise management and delegate decision making; the aim was to empower regional offices. The IT structures needed to reflect this decentralisation and simultaneously provide the cost benefits and overview of a single holistic and collaborative environment.

Mail had already been transferred to Office 365, which meant Office 365 licenses were already in-place, and other technologies like SharePoint, PowerApps and Flow are right at their fingertips.

With a large-scale digital transformation, it can be difficult to know where to start. The value you gain with Intelogy is our well-rounded, strategic approach to every project.  By working closely with stakeholders and key personnel, we devised an approach which would give a quick win to the project owners, show value quickly, and provide a proven model to replace legacy systems (like Access databases and Excel sheets) with modern ways of working by using PowerApps and Flow.

Eliminating shadow IT

Shadow IT (where organisations set up their own disparate internal infrastructure to support their business needs rather than following corporate IT strategies) is born from a problem.  The users of the shadow IT systems are let down by organisational systems and need to find a way to get their jobs done.  Remove this necessity and give them better tools, and you eliminate their need for shadow IT

HelpAge International has a network of well over 100 affiliates and 200 other partners in more than 70 countries.  Their global dispersion and the headaches caused by centralised IT was their primary driver for seeking digital transformation.

HelpAge utilised large Access databases and a series of Excel sheets to manage their network data.  The principal spreadsheets were stored in a central location but because of latency and access issues globally, regional users tended to keep their own version of the truth. This led to data concurrency issues, shared documents with multiple potential sources of record, avenues for potentially insecure transfer of data and inefficient governance on documents. There was also no overview of data, no ability to pinpoint trends, and no way to manipulate data for statistical analysis.

Intelogy has extensive experience in building process-driven, low-code business applications and PowerApps and Flow were the perfect solution for building a bespoke Network database for HelpAge. This was also the ideal solution for a quick-win as it provided a business-critical process which had enormous scope for improvement.

A powerful network database in PowerApps and Flow

The architecture of this application centres around long-term scalability.  We started small, with just a membership database, where HelpAge personnel can track prospect-members, disaffiliated members and current members.  They can manage everything you’d expect in a basic CRM like contact information and interaction details.

SharePoint in Office 365 was chosen as the storage platform, which provides a powerful, secure backend that is globally available and has easy integration points with PowerApps and Flow.  SharePoint also provides reporting functionality and fully integrates with PowerBI.

This initial version of the application has a user-friendly interface where users can easily manage and view information and reports.  We achieved great results by running sprints with the client, with frequent check-ins to get feedback on new functionality, and PowerApps made rapid prototyping that much simpler, eliminating the need for wireframes and lengthy approvals.

An expandable solution

Version 1 of the application was a resounding success, and HelpAge quickly came back with a list of new additions for us to integrate.  Adding new features, is extremely simple due to the architecture and flexibility of PowerApps.

We essentially created a new module, with a new SharePoint list where the additional data will be housed and connect it all up in PowerApps.  This allows HelpAge to track additional information like survey data.

Adding more functionality in the future will be just as easy, flexible and provides the ability to grow with the business.

PowerApps makes the difference

PowerApps, together with SharePoint and Flow is a powerhouse solution, which allows us to rapidly prototype functionality, with a modular and scalable approach.  By working closely with HelpAge, we were able to iteratively build an application with quick feedback and short sprints, ensuring an application they use daily and love.