One of New South Wales’ largest regional social services providers, CentaCare Wilcannia Forbes, has transformed the way its team members work with a cloud solution by Professional Advantage.


CentaCare Wilcannia Forbes has ten offices in regional and remote towns across NSW, including in Dubbo, Orange, Parkes, Broken Hill and Forbes. As the formal service arm of the Catholic Church in Western NSW, its services include counselling, mental health, programs for Indigenous communities and help with housing.


CEO Phil Lawler said that with multiple offices in regional areas, communication between locations was a challenge. It wasn’t always easy for team members to find the information they needed, or to collaborate across locations.


Though the organisation had a small SharePoint workspace, email was the main form of communication. This made it difficult to share and reuse important knowledge about programs, services and operations.


Senior staff also travelled hundreds of kilometres to provide support to remote offices and the cost of traveling between locations quickly added up. As a not-for-profit, these travel expenses diverted cash away from CentaCare Wilcannia Forbes’ core business: helping others.


In addition to communication difficulties, the distance between CentaCare Wilcannia Forbes regional offices (its Parkes office is over 800km from its Broken Hill office) meant that the organisation relied on a complicated IT system with ageing centralised and decentralised servers. While these got the job done and were installed with the best of intentions, they were often inefficient.


This meant CentaCare Wilcannia Forbes’ IT infrastructure was difficult and costly to manage, maintain and upgrade. Phil said the organisation needed a solution that would reduce IT spending so it could redirect investment to achieving its mission, while also improving the day-to-day experiences of its valued and committed team.


CentaCare Wilcannia Forbes engaged Professional Advantage to identify how to make this happen. Recognising that the organisation could get more work done by leveraging SharePoint Online and Office 365 tools like OneDrive, Exchange, Enterprise Social Newsfeeds and Skype for Business, Professional Advantage delivered a solution that:


  • Allows staff to access desktop, email and other communication tools from anywhere and on any device
  • Provides the same user experience no matter how employees access content
  • Reduces travelling time and costs by swapping face-to-face meetings with real-time messaging and video-based online meetings
  • Makes knowledge more accessible with an organisation-wide, searchable newsfeed, reducing reliance on email and harnessing team member expertise across locations
  • Provides digital workspaces for collaboration and teamwork
  • Ensures access to the latest product versions via the cloud so that operations stay modernised.


Professional Advantage Digital workplace Solutions Advisor Andrew MacKenzie said Office 365 and SharePoint Online were ideal solutions for a regional not-for-profit like CentaCare Wilcannia Forbes.


“Microsoft provides a very generous pricing model for not-for-profit organisations,” he said.


“What’s more, PC costs have dramatically reduced in recent years. Most business applications are web-based, making them more economical than they used to be.


“In addition to providing cost benefits, this new model can also be patched and upgraded by Microsoft. It includes built-in disaster recovery and regular feature updates, so it’s a smart choice for budget conscious organisations.”


CentaCare Wilcannia Forbes’ Phil Lawler said the project has already delivered impressive results in employee engagement and IT performance.


“From new desktops, to mobility solutions, a great new intranet, dramatically improved performance and a guaranteed modern road map, our feedback is all positive,” he said.


“Most importantly, our staff have many ways to reach out to peers, engage in our programs and communicate. They all feel well connected and involved, no matter how far from each other they are located.


“This has been a rewarding and exciting experience and a highly successful project. It will continue to grow and offer our organisations opportunities in the future.”

Latest News