Promoting Corporate Social Responsibility to businesses across Northern Ireland

BITCWho are they?

Where are they?
Across Northern Ireland with main bases in Belfast and Derry.

What do they do?
Encourage businesses and organisations to ‘improve their positive impact on society’.

How big are they?
Serving 250 businesses with a staff of around forty

What did they receive?
SharePoint Server 2007 SE;
SQL Server 2005 SE; Forms Server 2007;
50 x Forms Server User CAL, Office Professional Plus 2007
and Windows Vista Business 32-Bit Upgrade.

The outcome?
Numerous quality improvements and new innovative ways of working with businesses and charity partners.

‘Business in the Community’ (BITC) is a national charity that seeks to help and encourage companies to improve their positive impact on society. “Essentially, we promote the business case for Corporate Social Responsibility,” explains John Heaslip, Chief Executive of BITC Northern Ireland. “That it’s something serious for a company, and not just a ‘nice thing.’”

The Northern Ireland ‘branch’ is, in fact, an independent entity, offering unique programmes to fit in with the province’s particular circumstances. “We’re a small-company economy,” explains John. “We don’t generally have huge blue-chip organisations here, so we’re dealing with many smaller organisations rather than a few large ones.” This brings its own challenges, with tightly-staffed SME’s needing ongoing input from the BITC’s team of experts and consultants. “We can’t just write them a policy,” John says. “We have to go in and help implement it.”

A ‘policy’ might be anything from an environmental audit with recommendations, to helping a company set up a reading scheme in the community. “They might send employees to spend an hour a week reading one-on-one with disadvantaged kids,” John enthuses. “And that might be the only time that that particular kid gets read to, and make a real difference to the child’s life. But it can be immensely rewarding for the employee, too.”

John doesn’t mince his words when it comes to the BITC’s own IT and systems. “Quality. We have to be a high-quality organisation,” he insists. “We are dealing with senior businesspeople. We seek to provide them with recommendations and professional services. To be taken seriously we have to invest in quality and be innovative, and we have always made that a priority.”

The Microsoft/CTX programme has recently given a boost to the charity with a large donation of software that the BITC had identified as being desirable to obtain. Take MS Forms Server, for instance. “We can use that to get feedback following events, etc., and to conduct customer satisfaction surveys. That will help us improve. But it’s expensive software – we’ve wanted it before, but couldn’t justify the cost.” Likewise SQL Server, which the charity will now use to make their extensive database of business intelligence available online to other collaborating charities, including the Prince’s Trust.

“But make no mistake,” emphasises John, “lots of this software we’d have had to purchase anyway, just to keep existing systems efficient. Microsoft is well aware of that. That’s what makes it such a genuinely generous donation – this would have been money that we’d have had to take out of the reading groups, for example. But Microsoft have always been great supporters of the community in Northern Ireland.”

“I think it’s incredibly innovative,” he concludes of the CTX programme itself. “What was great was that it was so easy. There was no bureaucracy and the process was incredibly efficient... the whole BITC NI team would like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to both Microsoft and CTX.”



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