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Case Study

Strategic Planning For FareStart


FareStart has been helping people transform their lives through food for 30 years — one person, one job, and one community at a time.

People experiencing poverty struggle to escape this cycle and often face other compounding barriers to getting and keeping a job. FareStart helps people overcome barriers by teaching work and life skills needed to succeed in employment and life. By investing in people, providing meals, and building community, FareStart transforms homelessness, hunger, and poverty into human potential.

The Story

FareStart needed a partner who could help connect and simplify its IT infrastructure, facilitate collaboration between business units, and help develop a technology strategy aligned to its evolving organizational needs and priorities. In late 2019, FareStart decided to work with a technology consulting and managed services provider that had prior experience in partnering with non-profit organizations. Driven by its mission to support and build community, FareStart is not a traditional non-profit and comprises several business units that deliver services to diverse populations throughout Seattle. In choosing a technology consulting partner, FareStart understood that it had complex organizational and Information Technology needs, and reached out to ISOutsource to help modernize its environment.

In 2020 there was an increase in cybersecurity attacks, risk with the pandemic, and ISOutsource immediately implemented a next-generation anti-virus and enabled MFA to increase FareStart’s security posture. As FareStart’s service delivery model evolved in response to the community’s changing needs, ISOutsource put a technology-enabled strategy in place to allow flexible use of FareStart’s facilities for those essential workers who remained onsite. Also, ISOutsource deployed a set of tools that allowed administrative employees to work both remotely and in hybrid contexts. ISOutsource leveraged a team of remote engineers, consultants, and engineers working onsite on a regularly scheduled and as-needed basis, to support FareStart employees. After day-to-day operational work was stabilized, ISOutsource’s vCIO met with stakeholders to understand the needs and priorities of each department and partnered with senior leadership at FareStart to develop an IT strategy that prepared them to continue serving the community. Through this collaborative engagement, ISOutsource and FareStart created alignment between FareStart’s business and organizational priorities and the IT strategies necessary to support them.

ISOutsource worked with FareStart to align business objectives with software and technical solutions, including the optimization of enterprise resource planning software and the analysis of line-of-business functions and applications. The vCIO worked with the consulting team developing strategies for the procurement and integration of applications meeting business needs, facilitating process improvement, ensuring efficient resource allocation, and budget planning. In addition, FareStart and ISOutsource worked with users across the organization to ensure that all employees had the right tools to support the FareStart community. Stakeholders at FareStart and the ISOutsource vCIO worked together on strategic initiatives including the alignment of hardware planning and purchasing to meet organizational needs, the provisioning of department-specific tools and resources.

The Result

Erin, the Director of Outcomes at FareStart, shared “our IT strategy and support has been night and day since partnering with ISOutsource” and said that there is complete trust between FareStart and ISOutsource. This collaborative partnership has helped FareStart to operationalize its technology more effectively in service of its mission and priorities.

Working together, FareStart and ISOutsource ensured staff could navigate and respond to changing conditions. Through this partnership, FareStart evolved its service delivery model and developed a vision for the strategic use of technology.

The Future

Looking forward to 2023, FareStart is continuing to work closely with its vCIO providing strategic consulting leadership to evaluate its evolving organizational needs and develop sustainable technology solutions that align with its core values. As FareStart defines what its service delivery, workforce deployment, and facilities models will look like in the context of a city shaped by a pandemic, they are working closely with ISOutsource to ensure that all members of the community have access to sustainable and proactive technology solutions, resources, and services. This includes the use of cloud-based file management and collaboration tools, hybrid conferencing solutions, robust cybersecurity tools, revitalized and standardized phone and chat communication tools.

As the organization evolves, it’s undertaking a program known as “FareStart Full Access,” which will allow continued access to FareStart resources for all members of the FareStart community, including onsite, hybrid, and remote staff. This will also equip onsite and remote spaces for collaboration and communication. FareStart is working closely with ISOutsource to develop a sustainable technology budget aligned to strategic and tactical priorities, develop, and deploy flexible and collaborative technology solutions, and continue increasing its cybersecurity posture. By working with a cross-functional team comprised of a vCIO leading strategic development and alignment, a Managing Consultant responsible for day-to-day activities, and a robust support team of remote and onsite engineers and consultants, FareStart and ISOutsource have developed a partnership that ensures that business needs are aligned with technology solutions that serve all community members. Together, FareStart and ISOutsource continue working to ensure that all community members are happy, supported, and productive in the spirit of FareStart’s future.