Direct Relief Wins Computerworld Honor

SAP StreamWork helps Direct Relief International better coordinate projects and teams. (Source: DRI)

At an awards ceremony hosted by Computerworld in Washington D.C. on June 4, Direct Relief International was publicly recognized for its success in effectively using technology to achieve humanitarian benefits. The aid organization was named a 2012 Computerworld Honors Laureate in the category of “Innovation” based on a case study of its use of SAP software.

“The nature of Direct Relief’s work – helping people who live in deep poverty or find themselves in an emergency get the medical resources they need – provides tremendous incentive to work smarter, faster, more efficiently, and with greater transparency,” says Thomas Tighe, Direct Relief’s CEO. “That’s why it is so energizing for us to work with strong partners like SAP, whose people, like yours, tackle big, similar problems all the time – although, for obvious business reasons, far more often in the commercial realm where customers actually have money. We know that some things just are not compelling business cases, but they are compelling nonetheless. In Direct Relief’s case, success results in more life-saving medicines to people in need, with accuracy, speed, and transparency and at lower cost.”

“Information drives action, so incomplete or bad information drives either inaction or misdirected action,” continues Tighe. That’s why Direct Relief is embarking on an ambitious “big data” project, so they can serve their customers better through more insight. “We plan to connect our rich, historical data from more than 60 years of humanitarian aid with the vast repositories of publically-available global health data to create a clear and precise picture of where people are suffering from health conditions caused by poverty, disaster, or civil unrest.”

Organizing, analyzing, and visualizing the enormous amount of information that exist will help Direct Relief define the issues far more precisely than is possible now. “That means we can target and make better use of the resources to help people obtain the care they need so they can overcome health problems and live fuller, more productive, lives,” says Tighe. “And that’s cool.”

Direct Relief International is a nonprofit medical assistance and disaster relief agency whose goal is to provide humanitarian assistance and medical supplies to people in need. Established in 1948 in Santa Barbara, California, the organization coordinates a global network of volunteers and partners who distribute needed medicines and medical supplies in crises-stricken locations.

Among the agency’s top priorities are its requirements for transparency and the responsible handling of donations. Since deploying SAP software in 2008, Direct Relief International has achieved a level of operational efficiency that is equal to if not better than its for-profit peers. The accuracy of its financial audits as well as its fundraising efficiency has earned it special recognition in its sector.

Direct Relief International uses SAP Business All-in-One ERP, SAP CRM, SAP NetWeaver Portal, and SAP BusinessObjects solutions to provide transparency, support shipping processes, and promote the creation of a global partner network. As a result, the aid organization is now able to access information in real time and respond faster to crises such as the earthquake in Haiti or the floods in Pakistan.  To learn more about how Direct Relief International uses SAP software to fulfill its humanitarian mission, read “SAP Streamwork Drives Relief Efforts” and “Keep the Goodwill Flowing.”

For the Computerworld Honors Program, Direct Relief International’s case study was reviewed by a panel of 22 distinguished judges and selected from more than 500 nominations to become one of the 200 Laureates, representing 25 countries. Computerworld has called this an “especially competitive year” for its prestigious awards program. At this year’s awards event, each Laureate was publicly recognized for its achievements and given a medallion inscribed with the program’s mission: A Search for New Heroes.