Staff Spotlight – Jude Goonewardane

21 September 2021

Jude Goonewardane, IT Service Delivery Manager, explains what he does here at Norwood.

I trained as an electronic design engineer, with an emphasis on software development, and have worked in IT since 1996. After working as a field service engineer I moved to Pharmaceuticals where I worked for 14 years, providing systems to support the development of products as diverse as SMA baby milk and the meningococcal vaccine, as well as managing a safety surveillance database which recorded adverse reactions to drugs that was used by GPs nationwide, helping them to make informed decisions when prescribing drugs to patients. I felt an enormous pressure to succeed, as we were looking to make a positive change to people’s lives who had no other options, but that also brought me a lot of personal satisfaction.

After moving to work in retail IT for supermarkets including Tesco.com, Morrison’s, I wanted to return to my background supporting organisations, helping people, and making a difference in their lives. After researching Norwood, its work, and its history (and its location, which was a big plus point considering how close I live to the office!), I joined Norwood four years ago. 

I see my job as providing the best tools for Norwood staff to provide the best service they can in support of vulnerable people. In my time at Norwood, I’ve been lucky enough to achieve so much in such a short space of time, but the transformation really began in the last 18 months.

With our external support partners, we’ve deployed Office 365, so that every user can access Office apps outside of Citrix, wherever they are. We’ve migrated apps to the Microsoft cloud, including iTrent, which has been so key for Norwood.  We also upgraded the wide area network, providing stable network bandwidth and resilience to all care homes and admin facilities. 

Covid posed a huge challenge for us as we had to provide remote tools for our staff to be able to work from home. At the start of the pandemic, we provided everyone with instructions on how to access Citrix remotely and procured several laptops for staff to allow them to work remotely. We also fast-tracked deployment of Zoom to the leadership team, so that they were able to have video and audio conferences with the trustees and business partners. Another challenge was for our residential homes, who had to liaise with their NHS counterparts. Pre-Covid this was achieved over phone and email, but this was no longer possible, and the NHS opened access to their systems over collaborative tools. For our purposes, that meant I had to urgently provide a viable platform for our services so that they could continue regular liaison with their NHS counterparts through Microsoft Teams.

For the rest of the organisation, everyone with a PC had remote access to Citrix and was able to get on with their jobs. For all the challenges Citrix can present, it does have its plus points and it became a lifeline when it enabled everyone to access systems remotely and – for many for the first time adapt to performing their jobs outside of the office space.

We’re currently in the process of upgrading the age-old desktop systems to new desktops and laptops to allow staff to work more efficiently, which we aim to complete by late October/early November.

By migrating all apps from Citrix to the Microsoft cloud, we aim to eliminate the bottleneck in Citrix, which is slowing things down for everyone. Ultimately, we’re aiming for a Citrix-free world by the end of this year, where everyone can work efficiently from a desktop. We’re looking to replace our age-old telephone systems with collaborative tools such as Microsoft Teams, which will connect different teams in different locations with phone, chat, instant messaging, and video conferencing for everyone. Ultimately, we’re targeting more collaborative work platforms for all Norwood staff, so we can get on with our work effectively without being held back by existing technology.

Next year, we also plan to upgrade the Wi-Fi system to provide better coverage in all locations for staff and the people we support. When Wi-Fi was first commissioned at Norwood seven or eight years ago, smart devices didn’t exist. As technology has developed, we’ve outgrown the old systems which are no longer fit for purpose and we’re looking to replace them with new future-proof systems. 

Investing in the backbone of the business is investing in the business’s future. As a charity, we have a duty to spend money wisely, but by making the right choices, we have been able to consolidate technology, save money and ultimately upgrade our existing infrastructure at minimal cost. The investments we’ve made in the IT infrastructure have ensured we don’t need to worry about those foundations for another 5 to 10 years.

Ultimately, I believe IT is a tool for business. I would never dictate how people should work, as they know their roles best – my job is to provide the best tools where possible to help them to succeed. I am always on the user’s side – by giving staff the right tools we increase their productivity and motivation and help them to deliver the best service they can to the vulnerable people of the society that we care for.

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