Blog Helps the Portland Hotel Society Upgrade its IT System

July 27, 2017

Keeping pace with technological change is challenging for any organization, particularly one undergoing rapid growth.

This was the case of the PHS Community Services Society, commonly referred to as the Portland Hotel Society, which provides advocacy, housing, services, and opportunities for the marginalized citizens of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and beyond.  Since its inception in 1993, the Society has seen its staff grow to over 500 support personnel responsible for managing 22 buildings with approximately 1,200 rooms, North America’s first legal supervised-injection site, known as Insite, a Downtown Eastside credit union branch (Pigeon Park Savings), a food service that feeds people in Single-Room Occupancy residences (Downtown Eastside Central Kitchen) and a pest control service (Bugs Be Gone), among other ventures.

“Our IT system is fairly old,” stated Devinder Sekhon, Senior Director of Finance, Social Enterprise and Administration for the PHS.  “We really needed a thorough review of our IT system to ensure it would meet the current and future needs of our organization.”

“We wanted an objective opinion from a professional that didn’t have a vested interest,” he said.  “We also needed someone who was quite senior and experienced who could conduct the IT review.  Devinder realized that retaining a senior professional with the right experience, either as an employee or paid consultant, could be an expensive proposition.

He heard about from a colleague.  Looking for an outside perspective on their IT requirements, Devinder reached out to for project management and technical assistance to audit its IT system and provide recommendations on what upgrades were needed to help manage their growing service roster.

After first meeting with a project facilitator, the PHS interviewed candidates and selected Anthony Labistour as Volunteer Project Manager in October 2015 to review and analyze the organization’s IT systems, define the key business uses for the system, develop a project plan and requirement specifications, and provide options for system upgrades that would meet future business needs.

“Anthony was an experienced IT professional, who worked well with our staff to determine what their needs were, as well as senior management and Board members, ensuring a consistent flow of information about the project throughout the organization,” said Devinder

“He provided a broad perspective on the project,” he added.  “Anthony looked at the business needs of our organization and provided practical IT solutions, rather than just looking at it strictly from an IT perspective.”

The project spanned over one-year divided into two phases.  The first phase involved the migration of the existing IT infrastructure into a cloud environment.  The second phase encompassed identifying and evaluating all the IT applications the PHS needed to meet its evolving business requirements.

Within a year, the PHS had a comprehensive project plan in hand for a strategic update of their IT systems.  The organization is currently working with Anthony Labistour on contract to review proposals from vendors for the HR, finance and building management components of the IT system.

“Our experience in working with was extremely positive.  They were able to provide us with the help we needed for this project.  If your not-for-profit needs high-calibre assistance, then is a good source to rely on.”