The Church of Sweden is the country’s largest religious community. It has more than 3000 churches, 1300+ parishes and 13 dioceses. With over 6 million members, The Church of Sweden has an annual budget of around 1.4 USD billion.
Develop a nationwide IT-solution that cuts IT costs and simplifies local administrative duties, allowing church officials to focus on their core activities. Create a simple and effective, step-wise platform migration process for parishes.
A private-cloud virtual desktop with two layers of services. The first is a shared IT platform running the preferred office/admin suite of each parish. The second offers standardized bookkeeping/HR software. New services can be easily added on the Citrix-based platform.
How we did it
We carried out a pre-study of The Church of Sweden’s processes and requirements, before designing and developing the solution. Once completed, we visited individual parishes, assessed their existing IT, and helped them get connected to their new virtualized desktops.
IT at connected parishes is now up to date and in compliance with regulations. Centralized purchasing units and Help Desks have reduced IT costs. Files can be easily shared between parishes and data is securely stored in a private cloud.
A step-wise IT migration
The Church of Sweden is a vast organization with the mandate to provide church related services for the entire country. This equates to over 1300 parishes, covering an area of approximately 450,000 km², roughly the size of California. Principally, each parish in the country is responsible for its own IT. As a result, local units around the country maintained similar IT solutions and operational procedures. Parish administrative duties also needed to be simplified to enable local church officials to focus on their core activities. Following a pre-study of the organization’s processes, structure, and IT requirements, Data Ductus proposed a step-wise migration path from this fractured, costly and inefficient IT set-up towards a new shared IT infrastructure.
Two-layered IT solution caters for all needs
The IT consolidation solution is a two-layered offering that allows parishes to choose the number of centralized services they wish to use. At layer one, a virtual desktop provides each organization with the office/administrative suite it prefers. Users can access these cloud services from any device. At layer two, centralized HR and book-keeping services simplify salary payments, billing, and the like. The virtual desktop solution runs on the Citrix platform. A private cloud hosts all the data and related services. The solution includes a manned Service Desk for IT support.
To facilitate migration, Data Ductus also provides an “upgrade” service to parishes. This involves assessing the existing IT at the parish office – including everything from network connection to office computer – and producing a simple migration plan to the virtual desktop. Once approved, either the Data Ductus team or the local IT provider can carry out the upgrade.
Lower costs and better collaboration
With more and more parishes adopting the Citrix platform, IT consolidation economies of scale are driving down the OPEX of IT service operations, and the CAPEX for related facilities, hardware and network resources. Furthermore, as all the connected parishes share the same program versions, file sharing has become much easier. As a result, collaboration in administrative procedures has become a lot easier which in turn reduces administrative costs and vulnerabilities and improves overall quality.
Many of the mundane administration tasks are now handled centrally. For instance, the book keeping system includes an automated billing feature, prints invoices centrally and posts them to the recipient, all at the touch of a button.
The private cloud solution meets existing and coming regulations, such as GDPR. Finally, with one common platform, the IT organization can easily deploy and offer new services to parishes across the country.
As a side-effect, the initiative brought some considerable environmental benefits. Going from thousands of distributed servers in local data centers – often with more CPUs than needed – to a consolidated central data center, meant reducing the energy consumption considerably. Furthermore, the information security gains are obvious since risk exposure in the countless distributed data centers was overwhelming.
What the customer says
“When we began this project, it was with the awareness that parishes would have the autonomy to stick with their existing IT setup or onboard to the virtual desktop. This meant designing a solution that would reduce vicars’ administrative duties, giving them more time to do what they really want to do in a parish. However, it still had to give them a degree of control of their own processes.
Developing the two-layered solution solved this perfectly, as parishes can choose the level of service they wish to use. Well over two thirds of Church employees within local organizations are now using the solution. And I believe that once complete, we will have carried out one of Sweden’s largest nationwide IT infrastructure consolidation projects ever”, says Hans Eskemyr, the former CIO of The Church of Sweden’s national level.