Providing humanitarian relief to a country at war is heroic work. It’s also incredibly complex. For Germany-based non-governmental organization (NGO) Blau-Gelbes Kreuz e.V. (BGK), delivering life-saving medical kits to Ukraine is an obstacle course of bureaucracy.
Complying with local customs, adhering to medical distribution practices, and dodging security risks are just a few of the many detours between supply warehouses and desperate Ukrainian hospitals. That’s why three ServiceNow employees decided to step up and help simplify.
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Stephanie B., a Berlin-based solution consulting manager at ServiceNow, has been horrified by the escalation of violence in Ukraine, especially the atrocities against women.
When a former colleague asked if Stephanie wanted to help strengthen BGK’s volunteer operations, she jumped at the chance. “I was so amazed by all the work these people [at BGK] are doing…It just felt good to be supportive,” she says.
Using the Now Platform®, she helped establish a contact-and-demand system for BGK’s communication with Ukrainian hospitals.
“I never imagined how complex and difficult volunteer work is,” Stephanie says. “It’s chaos. It’s changing dynamics every day, and they are communicating with thousands of communication channels.”
The ServiceNow management system provided the transparency BGK’s stakeholders desperately needed. “It helps volunteers actually focus on the work,” Stephanie explains.
Turning pain into action
As demands on the system grew, the solution needed additional functionality. That’s when Sascha W. and Hendrik O., two senior technical consultants at ServiceNow, joined the team of volunteers.
For Hendrik, the war in Ukraine hits close to home. “When I first heard about the conflict breaking out, I was in utter shock,” he says. “My sister-in-law is Ukrainian. Her family at that time was still in Ukraine...You were feeling, ‘What can I do?’” he adds.
Sascha, too, felt the need to channel his anguish. “Probably like many others, [my reaction] was a mixture of being surprised and shocked,” he recalls. “I felt like I needed to do something.”
The ServiceNow team helped BGK provide shipping labels and delivery documentation to track shipments from the warehouse in Cologne, Germany, to different destinations in the Ukrainian war zone.
“Usually, you’d have a nice couple of weeks to do a workshop and stuff,” Hendrik says. “In our current situation, it’s completely different. Time is of such essence.”
The time crunch required the team to be more agile, developing a mobile app within a couple of days. “You can think in terms of DHL or Schenker or UPS—what they built over the years to track parcels,” Sascha says. “We did the same thing in a week.”
Air rescue initiative
After locking down ground transportation, BGK needed to coordinate 250 private pilots to fly these medical kits to the Ukrainian border.
“These guys, they’re practically building an airline out of nothing…We’re now helping them with the Now Platform® to get a full allied operations up to speed with flight planning, parcel planning, passenger planning, and all of the logistics and bureaucracy required to announce flights to a commercial airport,” Sascha explains.
One of the most rewarding moments for the team was seeing their hard work pay off. At the airfield for one of the first flight departures, Sascha joined the dedicated volunteers in loading medical supplies.
“For the first moment in time, it was really tangible,” he says, “seeing that we are making an impact and able to do what we do best for a good cause.”
When Stephanie and Hendrik saw the local news coverage documenting the medical kits arriving successfully, they felt humbled. It’s “like you’ve been sitting there working… and now you see the medicine actually getting to Ukraine,” Hendrik says. “It was a really touching moment.”
“It felt like, ‘OK, we’re really contributing,’ Stephanie adds. “It felt more real.”
Two dozen flights, 20 tons of cargo, and 30 passengers (and counting) later, BGK has provided more than 100 medical kits to Ukraine—enough to save 10,000 lives.
Supported by our employees’ solutions, BGK volunteers can concentrate more on their essential, life-saving work, without getting bogged down by the tedium and confusion of logistics coordination.
As the war drags into its fourth month, the team has noticed a dip in support. “We already see that media coverage is not necessarily focused on the conflict anymore. And we see the same effect on donations coming in,” Hendrik says.
Without the financial support of readers like you, BGK cannot continue to do its incredible work for the people of Ukraine. Please consider donating.
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