About N Street Village
N Street Village is an empowering non-profit organization. For over 40 years, they have been providing help to the homeless and low-income women in Washington D.C. in the form of housing, food, health, and career services. As of this year, they are now the largest provider of housing and social services to women in the D.C. area.
“To empower homeless and low-income women in D.C. to claim their highest quality of life by offering a broad spectrum of services, housing, and advocacy in an atmosphere of dignity and respect.”
“It wasn’t growth for growth’s sake, it was growth because there was a real pressing need for more services.”
With Growth, Comes Challenges
Growth Over Six Years
Originally, N Street Village only had one location and a staff of around 40 people. Today, they have expanded to five locations and a staff of over 130! That’s 3.25x growth in six years.
Women Served Per Year
N Street Village has been able to house 2x the amount of women they could before and serve over 2,000 women per year.
As amazing as that growth is for the community, it comes with its own set of challenges. One such challenge was the opening of the Patricia Handy House in 2016.
The Patricia Handy House Expansion
This expansion alone would double their staff virtually overnight. Tim Fretz, the Director of Operations for N Street Village, thought the answer was simple. To get the Patricia Handy house up and running as quickly as possible, they needed fifteen computers Immediately. So, purchase the fifteen computers.
When Tim called us to fill an order, we wanted to get to the root of why he needed them. We had been working with N Street Village for eight years now, so, were familiar with their system as a whole. When Tim explained that they needed the new computers because they were expanding to a new location with 40-50 new staff members, we realized this wasn’t going to be an easy, “plug it in the wall” solution.
N Street Village needed to rethink their server structure before they added that amount of people to their network. To make this expansion go as smoothly as possible, N Street Village was going to have to change the way they do remote access.
“That was a key partnership moment…Dell Computer would have sold me Dell computers, a box of fifteen no problem…I would have woken up the next morning thinking, I maybe made a big mistake.”
Thin Client to the Rescue
At first, We had N Street Village set up with VPN (virtual private network) workstations. A VPN workstation is an encrypted tunnel between the user and a remote server operated by an IT service provider. VPN has been popular as a security method to keep organizational and individual information private.
Now that N Street was growing and scaling their organization, we felt it was time for them to switch over to a Thin Client system. A thin client is a stateless, fanless desktop terminal that has no hard drive.
A thin client has all the features of a standard desktop PC, but information is stored on the IT service provider’s server. Because of their growth, N Street Village needed a cost-effective way to share software, data, and resources between their locations seamlessly.
Not only did switching over to a Thin Client give them a cost-effective solution for sharing organizational information between locations, it reduced the amount of hardware on site, which means less time Tim has to spend focusing his energy on technical issues.
This attention to detail is what led Tim to emphasize the importance of having us there right from the start. We helped him realize there were other things to consider beyond buying new computers to get the Patricia Handy House ready to serve the community. We still addressed the pressing computer issue, but, that was a short-term fix. By addressing their IT infrastructure as a whole, we came up with a sustainable solution for the long-term growth of N Street Village.
“With in-house IT the changes would be expensive. There would be big upfront capital costs for the hardware, software, server elements, and that’s all before you know if it will be the right fit for you. Whereas working with ITonDemand means we get to try what works for us first.”
What This Means for N Street Village
Efficiency and Scalability
Since N Street Village switched over to the Thin Client management system, they have been able to streamline their onboarding process of locations and staff.
Now when they make a new hire or expand into a new building, their current hardware and software applications, are ready to go over the network.
Switching from the VPN remote server to the Thin Client remote access has given them standardized uniformity in hardware and software across all locations.
They can share the same data, regardless of the location within their organization. This strengthens communication between the staff and the women they serve.
Tim wears multiple hats as the Director of Operations. He is in charge of their IT, phone, and building systems, construction projects and helps with government grants. Not having to worry about IT systems, means he gets to focus on other matters at N Street Village.
It’s not that Tim can’t do it on his own. It’s that he doesn’t have to any longer.
“They make me better at what I do, even though I’m not doing IT particularly.”