The Greater Chicago Food Depository - Heller Consulting

The Greater Chicago Food Depository

The Food Depository is part of a united community effort working to bring food, dignity, and hope to Cook County. The organization acts as the hub for a network of more than 700 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and other programs.

CHALLENGE: Rethinking and reinvesting in technology

The Food Depository recognized it was time to invest in new technology. The organization had historically used individual software products to support each departmental function, without much integration between them. They now wanted a technology strategy and roadmap that would provide a more holistic view of their data, help them increase engagement with their constituents, and take them well into the next 10 years and beyond.

SOLUTION: Long-term technology strategy

The Food Depository turned to the Heller Consulting team for help in developing a technology strategy and roadmap. After assessing the organization’s requirements and technology situation, the Heller team worked with the organization to build a strategic plan. The strategy included:

Redefining technology goals

The organization’s constituents include donors, volunteers, advocates, and the partners that help deliver food and programs — and many constituents serve in more than one role. So, instead of focusing on technology needs for each department, the teams redirected the focus toward technology that supports their constituents’ entire experience with the organization.

Identifying the right approach to building a technology stack

The Heller team guided the organization through a variety of approaches to building a technology stack, ultimately selecting a platform approach — which will allow the organization to connect data and processes from their various functional areas through pre-built applications, API connections, and custom configurations. As part of this effort, the Heller team provided information to help the organization’s entire staff understand the value of a platform-based approach and the opportunities it would present for departments to work more closely together to engage with constituents more effectively.  

Selecting Microsoft as the technology backbone

The Heller team worked with The Food Depository to assess various platforms, ultimately determining that Microsoft would be the best backbone for the organization’s technology stack. The two teams considered multiple aspects of each platform, including:
  • Available solutions — Which solutions are available and best meet The Food Depository’s technology and constituent requirements?
  • Data model — How does each platform specify how information, such as account and contact records, are treated in the system?
  • App and integration options — What third-party applications integrate with each platform? What API integrations does each platform support?
  • User experience — What is the look and feel of each system, and which user experience will work best for the organization’s staff?
  • Adoption — How long will it take the organization to learn and begin using each platform?
  • Maintenance and administration — What does it take to maintain each system and manage things like user profiles, roles, permissions, and access?

RESULTS: A well-defined technology plan

The Food Depository now has strong technology strategy that will give them greater insights into their data, help them engage more effectively with their constituents, and move their technology into the future.