Cancer Council & Microsoft SharePoint
Cancer Council uses SharePoint 2010 to keep staff informed
Cancer Council NSW is a community funded, community focused charity dedicated to the defeat of cancer. For more than fifty years the organisation has been providing clinical and emotional support to those affected by cancer, developing prevention strategies and conducting research into new treatments and cures.
Cancer Council receives no direct government funding for its programs, relying in the main on donations from the community. It also receives generous support from more than 2,000 volunteers who give their time to provide support services to patients and carers.
Every year Cancer Council's helpline responds to around 20,000 calls for assistance and information. It provides approximately 225,000 information booklets to hospitals, treatment centres, libraries and individuals. And in 2008, Cancer Council's invested more than $13 million in cancer-related research.
A place for everything
From an internal perspective Cancer Council's activities are managed through a number of different business units or divisions including marketing and communications, cancer research, health strategies, information and support services, corporate services, people, learning and culture, and state wide or regional services.
Efficiently managing information across all these groups has long been a focus for Cancer Council management. For some years the organisation used an intranet to assist in internal communications but by 2009 the technology was looking dated. Static web pages were unable to fully engage staff interest and with one manager responsible for all content changes, bottlenecks inevitably occurred. Information on the site was becoming out of date and it was clearly time for a revamp.
John Davies, Cancer Council's Chief Information Officer explains, "We decided to replace our existing intranet with one that would better help the organisation to create and share knowledge, and to communicate more effectively. We wanted something that could support operational efficiency and help us work together."
In particular, Cancer Council was looking for a solution capable of supporting the needs of each business division while at the same time providing a single, central library for commonly used administrative information such as forms, policies and procedures.
After considering the options management decided to deploy Microsoft SharePoint 2007, a collaboration software suite that helps simplify business intelligence, content management, search and sharing for intranet sites. Technically, the choice fit well with Cancer Council's predominantly Microsoft environment but as Davies notes, "It obviously satisfied our business requirements as well. It was seen as being a platform we could use not just for the intranet, but also for other requirements that we could see coming up in the future. It was software that gave us room to grow."
A bump in the road
With the software decision made, Cancer Council appointed a deployment partner and prepared for the implementation. An external consultant was brought in to manage the project and a tight - but achievable - three month timeline was set.
Within weeks however, when the build was just under way, the project stalled. Davies explains, "Our original services partner had to drop out due to unforeseen circumstances. At their recommendation we met with and engaged Professional Advantage to take on the remainder of the deployment."
With just eight weeks remaining before the original target deadline and some of the budget already spent, Professional Advantage quickly re-scoped the project, included an upgrade to SharePoint 2010 due to the additional benefits it offered, confirmed that the deadline could still be achieved and set to work. A timetable of milestones was established covering analysis and design, build, training of content editors, content migration, user acceptance testing, and roll-out and launch.
Davies monitored progress on Professional Advantage's client project portal. The Customer Portal is an extranet offered by Professional Advantage to their clients to give them a complete view of the projects progress in detail. "We could check on how the budget was tracking and see the status of change requests. It's always good when you get access to that kind of thing."
"It all occurred very quickly and subsequently, delivery happened in a timely fashion," Davies adds. "The processes and management of the project from Professional Advantage's end were very well organised. And the consultant that did the bulk of the work for us made a huge difference to what we were able to achieve in the project. He was very skilful technically and also had a great attitude. He pulled out all stops to get it done. He got on very well not just with our project manager but also with the business people. We felt lucky that we had him working with us."
Technology with personality
To prepare staff for the intranet's upcoming relaunch, Cancer Council IT staff, the project manager and marketing all contributed to a change management program. A series of launch events and training were scheduled and a competition was held to find a name for the new Intranet.
"The competition gave us a chance to get user interest and involvement in the roll out of the system," Davies says. The winning entry nominated "Dougal", a name already used for the bear appearing in Cancer Council's Daffodil Day fund-raising activities. It was an inspired choice that immediately conferred a friendly, approachable personality upon the intranet.
When Cancer Council's SharePoint deployment went live, it did so on time, to scope and under budget. User take up was swift with few post-launch issues. Calls to the service desk remained low.
The intranet instantly became the home page whenever any of the organisation's 350 staff or numerous volunteers log on to the corporate systems. An organisational calendar, corporate news, policies, procedures and forms are published on the site. Weekly news summaries keep staff informed of the latest happenings at Cancer Council. In addition, the intranet enables project groups and divisions to communicate and share information more freely. Every division has space for its own tailored library, calendar, news and group communications.
Davies says, "The improved intranet search facility alone is delivering approximately $130,000 per annum in productivity gains. We are also seeing a dramatic cut in email traffic and we expect that this will bring further productivity improvements."
Decentralised content management ensures that the entire organisation now owns the intranet, rather than just a single person. The way information is stored has also brought benefits: the new structure has done away with also the silos of the past, further facilitating collaboration.
With the SharePoint intranet well and truly entrenched at Cancer Council, Davies is now looking to develop a roadmap for future development. He's engaged Professional Advantage to conduct a review of activity to date and to help identify some short and long term goals.
"SharePoint has provided us with significant productivity, information sharing and usability improvements and it has created a strategic platform for sustainable, incremental growth in the future. The next high priority projects for us will be document management and workflow. We're also interested in the potential to use SharePoint for collaboration with people outside the organisation, such as regional networks and advisory committees," Davies concludes.