Charity Serves India’s Elderly With Help Of Cloud Tools

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HelpAge India is launching new programs designed to help millions of senior citizens across the country combat degenerative illnesses, get out of poverty, and lead dignified, independent lives. A big challenge, however, is getting the right resources and supplies to them efficiently—and in time to make an impact.

Established in 1978, HelpAge India is one of the founding members of HelpAge International, a philanthropic body that now consists of 119 national organizations serving the elderly. The charity has supplied millions of destitute seniors in India with everything from cataract surgeries and cancer therapies to milking goats and small farming equipment. Based in Delhi, HelpAge India raised about $13.75 million in 2015 through donations from individuals (57%), corporations (28%), educational institutions (6%), and other sources (9%).

The number of elderly in need has entered crisis mode in India, as millions of young adults leave their parents and grandparents behind in small towns and villages in order to start new lives in more economically promising urban centers. With increasing longevity in India, there are now 103 million elderly people in the country, 30 million of whom live alone, mostly in rural areas, where an estimated 25 million of them now live in poverty, according to a report from the United Nations Population Fund and HelpAge India.

“Lack of access to primary healthcare is a key factor that’s pushing thousands of elderly people into a spiral of declining productivity and diminished income and poverty,” says Matthew Cherian, CEO of HelpAge India.

Logistical Difficulties

In response, HelpAge India recently launched a mobile healthcare delivery service, which aims to provide 5 million seniors (age 60 and older) by 2020 with medicines, medical care, and supplies. But the logistical difficulties of delivering those goods and services have put the program at risk.

HelpAge India employs hundreds of call center agents, relationship managers, and field personnel. And it can take them weeks to transfer details on donations, patients, and supplies from their mobile devices and paper notes into the charity’s on-premises enterprise resource planning applications. That manual work can cause serious delays in planning and scheduling resources.

“Without knowing exactly what our inventory and consumption levels are, we can’t get all of the medicines and supplies delivered in time to the people who desperately need them,” says Cherian.

However, by migrating its procurement and inventory data to Oracle Self-Service Procurement Cloud and Oracle Inventory Management Cloud, accessible from any internet-connected device, “we’ll be able to use dashboards that give us real-time insight into how much inventory we have on hand, what we need to purchase, which vendors are giving us the best credit and what the status of the project is,” says Puneet Bali, HelpAge India chief operating officer. He estimates that the cloud migration will reduce the charity’s operating expenses by 14% and ultimately cut its inventory to near zero.

“We can’t justify administrative overhead when we need to account for every rupee we receive,” he says. “Donors want to see our efforts going to the elderly, not into our operations.”

Calculus of Care

And its not just donors who want to see where their investments are going. Government agencies and third-party auditors are also putting pressure on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to disclose how they’re using donations. “There’s a growing trend for more financial transparency in the sector,” Cherian says.

While HelpAge India has been publishing annual financial reports on its website since 2005, it has struggled to account for all of its project activities, reconcile expenses, and build accurate performance reports for auditors and donors. Before moving to the Oracle cloud applications, HelpAge India had few controls built into its on-premises financials apps, so staffers filing their expenses or ordering supplies could accidentally misallocate charges to any one of the 800 to 900 projects in the chart of accounts.

Using a standard feature in the Oracle applications, HelpAge India can now set up access controls that allow only those individuals in certain roles to view and enter payments, expenses, and purchase order requests for their assigned projects. “This gives us confidence that our reports reflect exactly where the donor money is going and how it is impacting the project,” Bali says.

Also, because the Oracle Financials Cloud application connects with HelpAge’s bank, all of the donation receipts are automatically reconciled and tracked to their respective projects. “We have a separate portal that is integrated with Oracle CRM On Demand and Oracle Project Portfolio Management Cloud, so that donors can track their investments against specific programs—and ensure their investments are going to their intended use, says HelpAge India CIO Partha Bardhan.

In contrast to many NGOs, HelpAge India, with the help of cloud tools, is starting to act more like a financial institution: It takes clients’ money as a trusted adviser, makes calculated investments, and anticipates a return for every rupee it receives.

“I need to know where the money is coming from, where it is going, and how that money is improving the life of an indigent elderly person,” Bali says.

As the number of elderly people in India climbs from about 100 million today to an estimated 323 million by 2050, HelpAge India is on a mission to make that population a healthier one. By using cloud ERP applications to automate and account for all of its project functions, that’s a mission it’s better equipped to fulfill.

Sasha Banks-Louie is a brand journalist for Oracle.



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