Tropical forests around the world are under pressure from growing populations and their increasing demand for food and land. As a result, deforestation is rife and land degradation causes issues on a global scale.
Partnerships for Forests (P4F) is a programme that’s dedicated to solving this challenge.
By bringing together the private sector, the public sector and local communities, P4F creates ‘Forest Partnerships’ that offer an attractive balance of risks and benefits for everyone involved. The result: shared value from forests and sustainable land use.
P4F is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
P4F is implemented by a consortium of partners including Palladium — a global impact firm, that works to link social progress and commercial growth. It was Palladium that brought Newicon into the picture.
When Palladium first contacted Newicon in 2017, it was dealing with the complex technological challenge of managing P4F’s grant application process.
This application process — which lies at the heart of P4F’s operation — requires a huge amount of data, generated from a variety of sources and locations around the world. Before any grants are offered, this information is then put through a rigorous, multi-stage approval process.
At the time, P4F was managing this data and process using a collection of commercially available cloud solutions. But there were two key issues with this setup.
1) Managing the data flow would be difficult to scale up, which would cause increasing issues as P4F grew.
2) The complexity of managing multiple solutions was creating inefficiencies in the process.
The manual task of making all these systems talk to each other and keeping them all up to date and in sync was becoming a mammoth task. The admin task to keep data updated was increasing as the project grew and was becoming very difficult to manage.
As a publicly funded programme, Palladium knew it had a responsibility to manage P4F as cost-effectively and efficiently as possible. At the same time, it had to do everything in its power to achieve what the programme set out to do — protect forests and deliver benefits to the communities that depend on them. It needed a way to streamline work processes while reducing costs. No simple task.
Information management was the solution. Palladium knew that with the right software development, they could manage their information more efficiently, achieve their goals and reduce costs over time. What they didn’t have, was a partner to help them design and build it.
It was imperative that we create a solution that was robust, secure and user-friendly.
Robust because it had to deal with a large amount of complex data. Secure because a lot of that data was sensitive. And user-friendly because many P4F people would be switching to this from those that they were used to.
To achieve all this, and more, we decided to build the software using Neon, our very own framework.
Using Neon, we built a stable database and flexible form building system that gathered and sorted information from multiple tools (that users filled out on the front end). This allowed us to create a single source of truth — one place where P4F people using the system could go to find the data they needed, rather than navigating multiple cloud solutions.
What’s more, because the framework is so flexible, it allowed us to simultaneously produce that front end, with features including easy-to-use forms and key information on a dashboard, visible at a glance.
In essence, Neon allowed us to bring all the elements of Palladium’s solution under one roof, meaning an efficient, cost-effective build that brings valuable data together for the team to analyse — going beyond what they could do with the data before.
With the platform and website live, P4F now has a website and back-end database that has transformed their grant application process by making it more automated and easy to interrogate.
The new platform is scalable, stable and powerful. It has streamlined the grants application process, including real-time monitoring of grant spend — making it quicker and more robust, with a greatly reduced scope for human error. This means that operational efficiency has increased and grants are processed more quickly.
Importantly, senior team members — who often have next to no time to spare — can now see a dashboard featuring all the key information, relevant to their role.
Last, but not least, the new platform is flexible and simple to scale, so P4F can grow at a rate they’re happy with.
Put simply, technology is no longer holding P4F back. Instead, it’s enabling P4F to achieve their goals and work towards a better future for the world’s forests.