The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health is the largest brain research group in the Southern Hemisphere. Located in the world-renowned Parkville medical research precinct and at Austin Health 15 kilometres away, it employs more than 500 staff and educates in excess of 100 post-graduate students every year. Staff and students work in teams, researching serious diseases including stroke, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain and spinal injury, schizophrenia and many more.
In 2007, Florey was formed through the amalgamation of three leading medical research institutes. At the time, the organisation’s ICT team deployed an on-site serverbased intranet using the open-source Drupal content management system. Their aim was to encourage information sharing and enable teams to work effectively within the newly formed organisation. However, the result was a poorly laid out document repository that failed to gain buy-in from the majority of users. By 2015, it was clear the intranet had failed to achieve its purpose and a new approach would have to be found.
The solution arrived when Microsoft began offering heavily discounted Office 365 licenses to educational organisations. The ICT team realised they could use Microsoft SharePoint on Office 365 to create a new intranet that all users could interact with, one that offered a familiar look-and-feel and would be easy to use.
The team was determined to avoid the mistakes of the past. Rather than building everything up front only to see their wasted efforts due to a lack of users, this time ICT wanted to build iteratively, adding functionality as users became more and more engaged with the platform.
The Florey selected a pre-packaged Internet in a Box solution developed by Professional Advantage and based on SharePoint Online. Being cloud-based, the platform is easy to deploy and very affordable. The packaged design coupled with Professional Advantage’s agile methodologies makes the solution ideal for gradual development and evolution, such as that planned at the Florey.
The transition to SharePoint began by replicating the capabilities of the old platform. A new document repository was developed, with more intuitive, easier search functions. To keep users on side and give personality to the intranet, the system was named ‘Nucleus’. Since those first steps, users have responded enthusiastically and teams are now leading the charge to find new ways in which the platform can help them.