How the ERT helped Cadena digitally transform its entire disaster response Emergency Response Team

Collaboration in Disaster Response

This is the story of how CADENA, a humanitarian NGO dedicated to providing aid to affected communities, and's ERT, are together transforming the way that disaster response is managed. These two organizations collaborated to revamp CADENA's field operations through the power of digital tools. This is the first of two case studies that explore the digital transformation collaboration.

The Beginning

CADENA and mondayERT first met in 2022 in the aftermath of devastating floods in Uganda. A few months later, after category 4 Hurricane Ian hit the coast of Florida, the partnership between the ERT and CADENA took root.

The Fort Myers area situated on the west coast of Florida suffered a direct hit, with winds of up to 150 miles per hour, torrential rains, and a storm surge of 10 feet. This caused massive damage and flooding to numerous communities, cutting off electricity, water, main roads and bridges for days.

The ERT arrived 2 days after the hurricane hit and joined CADENA's emergency team on the ground. The two teams tailored relevant digital tools to conduct on-the-ground needs assessments within affected communities, manage the distribution of relief items, and provide real time reports to donors in order to secure additional funding, and in kind support.

In the first few days after the hurricane, over 20 CADENA volunteers were visiting hundreds of households, using mobile phones to collect information through forms. Assessments were instantly captured in real time digital dashboards, with which CADENA response managers could gain access and adjust their response accordingly.

The partnership between the ERT and CADENA during Hurricane Ian laid the foundation for a transformative collaboration that set the stage for significant and long-lasting changes for CADENA and its emergency operations around the world.

CADENA is a Mexican NGO, with international offices in twelve countries, whose mission is to alleviate human suffering by reducing the vulnerability of populations living in constant risk of disasters and crises. It strives to foster a culture of prevention and inclusion, aiming to be the link between vulnerable communities and concerned citizens to generate autonomous and resilient communities. With its focus on humanitarian response, CADENA is constantly working towards this goal by responding to several disaster in Mexico and internationally each month. Through their tireless efforts, CADENA has made significant contributions towards strengthening and empowering communities to become more self-sufficient and resilient in the face of adversity.

The Partnership

In an effort to streamline CADENA's entire operations and enhance its disaster response capabilities, the ERT traveled to CADENA’s headquarters in Mexico for a week-long digital transformation process. During this collaboration, the ERT worked closely with different CADENA teams, including the Mexico National Disaster team, the International Response Team, the Medical and PSS teams, Volunteers Management, and the Inventory and Logistics teams.

The ERT and CADENA generated digital workflows based on the varying needs in the field and in the country offices including:

  • National and international disaster management workflows, supporting cross team and cross organizational collaboration
  • Medical assessments and inventory automated management
  • Logistical and operational disaster response management
  • Strategic alliances and reporting workflows
  • Integration with KoBo Toolbox, which is another invaluable tool for offline data collection, that complements the monday suite of solutions
KoBo Toolbox is a free and open-source software tool with offline capabilities that enables mobile data collection in challenging environments. It offers an intuitive suite of tools for collecting, analyzing, and managing data for surveys, monitoring, evaluation, and research, and used by numerous disaster response organizations.

Creating the digital tools and workflows for CADENA ahead of the disaster proved to be advantageous. The adoption rate among the CADENA teams was high, and three out of the four teams were already using the platform instead of their previous tools immediately following the digital transformation. The teams reported that workflows involving multiple teams saved them over 30% of their time on mundane communication and repetitive tasks, and the workflows created were duplicated in several country offices.

As Mexico has numerous extreme weather events every month, during the implementation process the ERT and CADENA teams also deployed to the state of Puebla to support communities affected by severe flooding in the region, utilizing the disaster management workflows.

Lessons learned

The digital transformation partnership between CADENA and‘s ERT has yielded valuable lessons that can be applied to similar organizations looking to digitally transform their emergency response operations.

First, arriving before a disaster and digitally preparing the organization for a more efficient response promotes high adoption rates within the team. The digital workflows were used in two disaster response deployments immediately following the digital transformation, and several teams were able to collaborate effectively.

Additionally, eagerness and commitment to digital transformation, and assigning designated champions, facilitated even higher adoption rates. Four committed CADENA champions took a very active role in the design and implementation process and were then able to support their respective teams.

Transforming every system and process after the team departed was not without its challenges. Acquainting team members with new digital tools and obtaining their technological buy-in takes leadership commitment, support and encouragement.

As in every organization, there was some resistance at first and change management had to be handled delicately and holistically. Encouraging team members to embrace the new tools and processes instead of relying on prior habits and methods, required effort and diligence from leadership, and was done through continued support and dedication.

Moreover, managing the transformation implementation while handling ongoing work demands added some complexity, but having experienced and dedicated team members to lead this process was invaluable. The champions were in charge of balancing the needs of different departments, ensuring that all information was up to date and accurate across.

The Solutions

Digital transformation may seem like a complex process at first, but with the ERT's continued commitment to the process, and CADENA's resourceful the joint effort was a success.

Amongst the strategies that CADENA utilized was slower and gradual implementation process and introduction of new tools, focusing on one area and use case at a time. CADENA also took the time to understand the personal situations and needs of each team and department, being flexible and supportive of employees' hesitancies.

CADENA encouraged the use of the digital tools by proactively demonstrating its benefits and showcasing how it improves workflow and efficiency. The organization also prioritized essential information and gradually expanded the use of new tools and processes as needed. Further, they provided support and methodological capacity building with the ERT training kits, and created tailored and ad hoc sessions to other country offices that were ready to transform their operations as well.

Thanks to these strategies, CADENA was able to successfully implement a complete digital transformation and substantially improve their day-to-day operations, making their emergency response management more efficient and effective with far less resources.

Continuous Development

Following the initial implementation and transformation process, CADENA has set a goal to have all of their country offices around the world digitally transformed by the end of 2023. Its leadership formed a designated team of platform champions, who designed a detailed plan to travel across all country offices throughout the year. The process includes an implementation plan, training and change management support

To date, CADENA is well on track, with humanitarian aid, emergency and medical teams from several countries already managing their core operations on's platform, including Venezuela, Argentina, Chile, Panama, Honduras and Costa Rica.

The digital transformation partnership with has brought CADENA numerous positive impacts in their field and in-office operations. With the improved efficiency in time and financial resources, the tools have become an essential part of CADENA's day-to-day operations, increasing the well-being and safety of the emergency teams, and the positive impact on the communities they support.

The success of this partnership serves as a model for organizations looking to implement digital transformation in their operations.

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