Interview: Salvation Army Trading Company, UK IT Industry Awards finalist

'SATCoL actively encourages the reuse and recycling of donated clothing and other household items through its 240 charity shops and donation centres, and a nationwide network of clothing banks'

clock • 4 min read
Nick Harris, CIO, SATCoL
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Nick Harris, CIO, SATCoL

Information Technology has grown in prominence over the last decade. No longer seen as a cost centre, it's now widely accepted that people can use IT to improve their creativity, productivity and knowledge.

The UK IT Industry Awards are the largest and most well-known event in the technology industry calendar. Owned and operated by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT and Computing, the awards enjoy a level of professionalism and industry knowledge not seen at other shows.

This year's winners will be announced at a live awards ceremony on Wednesday 8th November in London.

Salvation Army Trading Company (SATCoL) has reached the shortlist for two categories: Charity (Third Sector) Project of the Year and Apprentice of the Year.

We caught up with Nick Harris, CIO at SATCoL, to ask him more about the company's priorities for the next 12 months.

According to Nick, SATCoL has delivered, with the help of Claranet - SATCoL's transformation partner - a "modern and secure workplace digital transformation" project across the entire organisation of 240 shops and donation centres, clothing collection and e-commerce (clothing, music & publishing).

SATCoL has also successfully improved "the digital experience for our 1,000 colleagues and 4,500 volunteers," has achieved "significant technical, collaboration, communication and service improvements" and passed "IASME Cyber Essentials Accreditation".

Nick says they have delivered significant improvements in gift aid online sign up, "delivering higher gift aid income" and "enabling SATCoL's growth and sustainability plans".

Computing: Please provide some background on your company for our readers.

Nick Harris: Salvation Army Trading Company Ltd (SATCoL) is the trading arm of The Salvation Army. SATCoL actively encourages the reuse and recycling of donated clothing and other household items through its 240 charity shops and donation centres, and a nationwide network of clothing banks. With the support of the British public, SATCoL has donated millions of pounds to The Salvation Army to help its work with vulnerable people in the UK (over £80 million has been donated in the last ten years).

What makes you different from other companies?

SATCoL is the largest charity-owned textiles collector in the UK, with over 8,500 clothing banks and an extensive logistics network. Each year, SATCoL diverts over 250 million items to good uses, including 62,000 tonnes of textiles. Sustainability and reuse is extremely important.

What one company achievement in the last 12 months are you most proud of?

The greatest achievement over the last 12 months is our digital transformation; working with Claranet to deliver to our Colleagues a new digital platform that allows our internal colleagues to have the tools to securely collaborate, communicate, and access data from anywhere. SATCoL has significant new ways of working which has been possible using the new MS 365, Teams, One Drive and Azure Cloud Platform. Along with a new digital strategy and a significant investment in security, the project team has laid the foundations for further innovation - allowing the organisation to have a working environment to move the business forward. During the project we carried out hands on training to hundreds of internal Colleagues, built a transformation hub, and developed comprehensive new training courses.

What are you working on this year?

We are in the process of changing all our shops to fibre in preparation for the BT copper switch off 2025. In addition, ensuring our new website (which is in development), has high quality links to shop finders, donation centres and clothing bins to make the process much easier for our customers to use and find our services. We are also rolling out brand new integrated electronic payment devices across all our shops and donations centres. These devices have a higher PCI rating which provides additional security for our millions of retail customers.

Why are events like the UK IT Awards important to the IT industry?

Events like the UK IT Awards are important, as they allow project teams and individuals to celebrate success and celebrate their achievements. In our case, one of our fantastic apprentices being nominated as a finalist under the Personal Excellence category which is a remarkable achievement and something they can be extremely proud of. In addition, with SATCoL being nominated as a finalist in the Charity Project of the Year category, helps with recognition of our organisation, promotes the excellent help from our transformation partner Claranet and evidences the project team's success!

The UK IT Industry Awards will take place on 8th November in London. Click here to view the shortlist and here to book your table

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