The NSW Institute of Sport is a leading high performance sport institute that provides world class coaching, services, and flexible innovative training environments.
Located at Sydney Olympic Park, the NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS) provides world class facilities, services and sport programs to foster the talents of elite and emerging athletes across NSW. Every year the Institute awards approximately 700 scholarships to high performance athletes representing more than 20 different sports. These athletes benefit from a wide range of support services including individual skills development programs, the latest in sports science and world class coaches.
Keeping track of the paperwork
Two years ago, Greg Baxter, Manager of Information Communications and Technology at NSWIS became concerned about the state of the organisation's records management practices.
Unsurprisingly, given the number of athletes, peak sporting bodies, coaches, medical scientists, administrators and other involved stakeholders, the Institute was awash in paperwork. And although the organisation used a document management system, the software only offered a very basic level of support. Users could view lists of all the document folders on the system, but there was no way of easily identifying folder contents. As each year passed, and more scholarships, correspondence, medical and athlete records were added, it was becoming increasingly difficult to locate anything.
"We needed a better way of capturing, searching and finding data," Baxter asserts. "If we wanted to remain accountable, we had to be able to find documents when we needed them. We also needed something that all staff could use on a day-to-day basis. Therefore it had to be easy to use."
At the same time, Baxter was looking to revamp the company's intranet. "We had an old Front Page system which was out of date, plain and no-one used it. It was time to move on," he notes.
Research confirmed to Baxter that both requirements - the need for better document management and a more user friendly intranet - could be solved with the help of Microsoft SharePoint. "SharePoint made sense. We're largely a Microsoft shop so we had plenty of resources around to support the software. It was the sensible thing to do. "
To help develop SharePoint as a collaborative intranet and document management solution, Baxter selected Microsoft partner and business solutions specialist, Professional Advantage. "Over the course of around two years we went to a number of expos and forums. We came across Professional Advantage and liked what they had to say. We started talking about the project and it developed from there," he adds.
Start small and bed the software in
Based on Professional Advantage's advice, Baxter decided to begin the SharePoint deployment by concentrating on two major areas of the business: Sports Science and Medicine, followed by Coach Athlete Program Services. "We looked at bedding the software in with these two areas before rolling it out to the whole organisation," Baxter says.
Within the Institute, Sports Science is responsible for managing the medical screening of athletes at the beginning of every program to identify any existing illness, health or musculoskeletal problems. Key documentation for this part of the Institute includes standard forms, medical screening correspondence and reports, plus all test results.
With Professional Advantage's help, Baxter and his team deployed SharePoint, making it the source for all Sports Science documentation. The initial design consolidated close to 54,000 folders from the existing File Share to around 30 document libraries. This approach allowed NSWIS to clean up their document structure while also adding metadata to each document, to facilitate sorting, grouping, filtering and searching of the library.
The introduction of SharePoint also enabled NSWIS to streamline processes by establishing automated workflows and document versioning, providing a major benefit to all users, not only those in IT. Given the personal and confidential nature of the information, permissions were put in place to ensure that only authorised staff have access to sensitive content.
A custom staff calendar was implemented to allow visibility and transparency into Sports Science staff availability, providing a fast and reliable point of reference when allocating resources.
Next, the team turned to Coach Athlete Program Services, an area of the business responsible for liaising with coaches, sports consultants and the myriad national and state sporting bodies to establish the expectations, required outcomes and necessary support services for each sport.
Both divisions were closely involved in the development of the solution in a bid to maximise user engagement. Within just two months Professional Advantage began conducting 'train the trainer' sessions with key Institute employees who were then tasked with preparing the remaining staff.
When the intranet went live in February 2012, everyone was ready and the changeover went without a hitch.
A mobile future The look and feel implemented by Professional Advantage gave a fresh and modern appeal to the intranet which staff took to in numbers. Site structure and navigation closely suited their organisation and as such, all content was in a logical place making it easier for staff to find what they were after.
Baxter notes, "The file structure we had before was quite unwieldy. People would sometimes move file structures by mistake. All of that has stopped now because everything is in one place. We all know where to look and how to search to find documents. From an administrative perspective, it has made life much easier in IT."
Today, Baxter estimates that 70 per cent of the Institute's documentation is held within SharePoint, with only the Applied Research Centre and business services such as ICT, Finance and Marketing yet to move onto the intranet.
Further down the track, Baxter is keen to introduce internet access to the intranet - in other words, create an extranet. "Some of our staff travel extensively so it would be good to make our intranet and documentation accessible from wherever they are. If we can make SharePoint available as an extranet, it will make life a lot easier."
He also hopes to integrate SharePoint and the athlete CRM system, creating an extranet for partners so that Institute staff can more easily share information and conduct online meetings with peak sports bodies. There is also a plan to deliver more information and functionality for coaches. With the current four year funding cycle coming to a close, Baxter is keenly awaiting 2013 when the Institute will announce its priorities for the funding period. With some support from Professional Advantage, his team is ready and waiting to ensure that any focus areas or organisational restructures are quickly reflected in the intranet.