An ‘army’ of tech experts, formed in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, has stepped up to solve a pressing supply issue for an Aberdeen social care charity.
The distribution of PPE has always been an important issue for Voluntary Services Aberdeen (VSA), but keeping track of supplies became more vital and difficult than ever when the pandemic struck.
John Booth, VSA’s deputy chief executive, realised they would need a serious technological upgrade to meet the increased demand for PPE across their 22 locations in the north-east.
He said: “Our existing process is very labour intensive and takes up a lot of time.
“Although the details of the products and the stock levels on each site are manually updated on a spreadsheet there’s always the worry that a simple miscalculation could lead to a shortage of PPE.
“So we asked the Scottish Tech Army if they could come up with a simpler and more reliable inventory system for us to use.”
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The Scottish Tech Army (STA) is a community of 850 volunteers set up to help charities and other organisations with the digital challenges that have arisen due to the coronavirus pandemic, free of charge.
It was founded on April 28 by Edinburgh-based entrepreneurs Alistair Forbes and Peter Jaco, who recruited tech experts, many of whom are furloughed, between contracts or unemployed, to form a rapid reaction force.
Andrew Rendle, volunteer project manager at the STA, said: “We decided to go with a cloud-hosted off the shelf application that would not only meet VSA’s short-term needs but could be expanded and integrated into some of their other systems in future phases.
“This meant we could configure and test an existing package for VSA that was flexible and future proof.
“We were also keen to come up with a digital inventory management system that other charities could adopt to help save them time and money.”
Mr Booth said the new system could come in useful for other charities with similar problems across the country.
He said: “Looking after the PPE across our different sites is a big task, especially as we don’t know how long the after-effects of this crisis will go on for.
“What’s great about the system the Scottish Tech Army has set up is that it could be used by care providers up and down the country so that other charities and care companies might also benefit from this project.”
STA co-founder Mr Jaco said: “If we can offer a similar solution to other organisations around Scotland, this expands the value of the projects we deliver.
“Whatever the project size, all of them make a meaningful difference to the organisations we support as well as the people who benefit from their services.”