Project Planning Schedule

Organization Name
Mission Statement

SeaChar is a grass-roots, non-profit organization that promotes the widespread use of biomass waste to create biochar and generate clean energy for the purpose of mitigating global warming, rebuilding soils, improving household air quality, and building green economies in the U.S. and developing countries. We accomplish our mission through research, education, and the development and distribution of appropriate technologies.

City & State
Question 1
The Before: What was the challenge, issue or problem your organization was facing? Or, what was the opportunity you were not able to take advantage of before you put a technology solution in place?

Answer: SeaChar needed a simple method to plan, monitor and communicate progress on our project to bring safe, clean, efficient stoves to the people of Central America. Part of our team would be in Central America working with several Costa Rican partners to build, install and test stoves in the homes of almost 200 migrant coffee pickers. But our team in Seattle would need to manage the project. Due to the remote location of the project, meetings or telecons would not be practical, so we needed a simple method to communicate our project progress. We developed a schedule on an Excel spreadsheet that could easily be understood and shared with all our team members. Project progress was simple to track on the spreadsheet and it was frequently e-mailed amongst all our stakeholders for review.

Question 2
What Microsoft software have you used/are you using in your organization to more effectively engage your beneficiaries, donors and/or volunteers and/or to make a difference in your community?

Answer: Microsoft Office 2007 or 2010 (Includes any of the following: Access, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, OneNote, Outlook, and Word)

Question 3
The After: How have these Microsoft products allowed you to engage your stakeholders more efficiently or effectively to make a difference in your community?

Answer: Our stakeholders are diverse: a Costa Rican women’s cooperative, a small organic coffee farmer, researchers at Costa Rica’s Universidad Nacional, foundations in the US and abroad and our SeaChar members. Excel was the perfect choice for us: ALL our stakeholders have ready access to Excel so it was easy to communicate our project plan and progress across disciplines, borders and cultures. SeaChar plans to expand over the next few years to bring thousands more stoves to Central America. As a result of managing our project in Excel we have a simple but accurate record of how long the project took and how much the project cost. We’ll be able to use this information to project costs for future projects, improving the environment and the lives of thousands of Central Americans.

Question 4
What about these products (the features or the way you used them) made them particularly helpful in enabling your organization to expand and improve upon its community impact?

Answer: Excel’s easy graphics features made the schedule simple to build; its easy user interface made it simple to update; its flexible page setup and printing options made it simple to print in large and small versions; the resulting plan was easy for all our stakeholders to understand.

Question 5
Please provide any examples, stories or data that illustrate the difference the use of Microsoft software has enabled you to make (i.e., # of new clients reached, new program added, increased dollars raised, increased volunteers, etc.

Answer: Excel has made the implementation of our pilot stove project possible, allowing us to bring clean stoves to 32 families within a two month period. It was used to communicate logistics among partners and stakeholders for the number of stoves, amount of materials that were required each day,workflow and timeline.

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