A Caring Organization with Complex Needs
Since 1965, Christ Church of Oak Brook has served the Chicago community and beyond. The vision of its founder, the Rev. Arthur H. DeKruyter, created an immediate impact on the community and Christ Church grew quickly from the beginning. In 1997, the founding pastor was succeeded by the Rev. Daniel D. Meyer. Today, with over 5,000 members, dozens of ministries, and a significant television and radio media outreach, Christ Church of Oak Brook touches the lives of thousands every week.
Naturally, as one of the most progressive and innovative churches in the Chicago area, Christ Church started using technology early to support its programs, staff, and ministries. In 1997, Syscon began helping Christ Church with their technology needs. With a mixed environment of Microsoft and Apple platforms, Christ Church needed expert help from time-to-time to supplement their own staff. Syscon’s depth of expertise, willingness to train and support existing IT staff, and prior experience with non-profit organizations made them an ideal technology partner for Christ Church.
Organization leadership had a vision of reaching out even further – using volunteers, e-mail, the internet, and technology as a way to reach more people with the resources available. In 2005, David L. Melvin, Executive Director of Ministry Services for Christ Church, looked to Syscon to substantially increase its role as a key partner by fully outsourcing all IT support and management to Syscon. It was important that the use of technology was not the focus, but a tool that empowered more people to serve through the church’s resources.
“It was impossible to hire the full depth needed to support a full and quickly evolving network. Furthermore, we needed support which we could depend upon for quick and successful response and, above all, a support team which we could trust with extremely confidential information.” said Melvin. “Our core talent is serving people, not managing IT. So when the opportunity arose to hand the responsibility over to a capable partner that we trusted, it was an easy decision.”
The culture shift from an internal staff to an outsource model had its challenges as Syscon stepped in to immediately plug some security holes. The message from Melvin to Syscon in May of 2005 was clear and concise with regard to Information Technology:
1. Make it work
2. Make it work better and more reliably
3. Answer our questions quicker
4. Do it on budget
In response, Syscon quickly established standardized procedures for maintenance, documentation, and handling user requests. Over the next year, the significant IT assets of Christ Church were cataloged and evaluated. Aging technology – both hardware and software – was identified and scheduled for replacement as budget allowed. To facilitate the use of volunteers and part-time staff, remote access systems were strengthened and made available on a broader basis.
As Syscon’s efforts impacted the organization, the staff and volunteers began to trust the reliability of the technology and subsequently began to use it more – a typical culture response to improved systems. Christ Church has an IT system that now measures 291 on Syscon’s Network Complexity Index – up 47% from 5 years ago.
The system spans multiple servers and hundreds of IT assets; four mission critical databases (e-mail, donor, financial, and intranet); many minor databases and applications; and hundreds of thousands of user files.
A Model That Works
Christ Church now has a technology infrastructure that is appropriate for their needs, highly reliable, and maintained within a pre-determined budget. Several Syscon technicians of varying levels are always available to provide support. Strategic IT planning is done with the help of a senior Syscon consultant in cooperation with the Christ Church staff and Board of Trustees. An annual budget is set based on balancing the needs and resources of the church and Syscon accountable to meet that budget.
David Melvin sums up the relationship with this statement: “Syscon is a valued partner for Christ Church. Their expertise allows us to focus on using technology, not creating or maintaining it. ”
Highlights of Syscon IT Support at Christ Church
• Christ Church IT supported for over 10 years by Syscon
• A relationship that changed and evolved to meet the needs of Christ Church
• Syscon provides full-time on-site IT staff plus emergency support 7 days a week.
• Syscon documents and handles dozens of user requests each week
• Syscon responsible to maintain entire network infrastructure
• Syscon provides user support for mission critical applications such as “Shelby Systems”
• Syscon provides IT Equipment Asset Management and Procurement