Ian Hobbs, director of finance and administration for the newly merged organisation, said that the decision to merge was taken last year, partly in response to the ageing population in the congregations. It also brings together groups in Australia and Papua New Guinea.
But the congregations themselves remain diverse.“The smallest congregation is 18 the largest 250,” said Mr Hobbs.
Information systems which were available to the 15 different congregations also differed wildly. “Some had full networked based systems some were on a PC with MYOB,” said Mr Hobbs.
Once the Catholic Church in Rome agreed to the proposed merger, it has his task to find a pragmatic computing solution to serve the needs of all users. In terms of function the organisation required an accounting system, payroll, email and general office software.
Sydney based OBT was selected as it was the only organisation able to roll out the solution in the allotted time span of five weeks, according to Mr Hobbs. Over five weeks OBT rolled out the networked solution, and installed and populated the Greentree financial management system, which had been used by some of the Sisters of Mercy congregations and which had been selected as the platform for the newly merged entity.
Opting for the cloud has meant that all congregations have access to the same functions and data regardless of the devices they have available to access the internet. Mr Hobbs said that there had been no problems with the PNG connection apart from “internet speed and lack of electricity.”
Unlike many organisations for which cloud represents an opportunity to use operating expenses to fund computing rather than capital expenses, this was less of an issue for the Sisters of Mercy which exists as a charitable institution and hence has no tax deductibility.