Family Planning Tasmania

Transforming access to information with SharePoint Online

Family Planning Tasmania (FPT) is an incorporated, not-for-profit charity organisation dedicated to providing people with non-judgemental reproductive and sexual health advice, conducting sex education programs in schools and performing important clinical services. FPT also performs essential advocacy to government and community on a range of topics, as well as outreach work.


Intranet Build


SharePoint Online, Microsoft Teams, Viva Connections

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Transforming access to information with SharePoint Online

THE PROBLEM – accessing highly sensitive information remotely without compromising security

Family Planning Tasmania is not your average workplace. Their team are highly qualified health professionals working at the organisation on a casual basis. The limitations of their existing IT infrastructure had been identified prior to COVID but the Tasmanian Government’s lockdown guidelines forced FPT to confront these limitations much sooner than they had planned.

“A lot of our staff are doctors and nurses but we’re not necessarily their primary employer; they'll usually be contractors at GP clinics as well,” explains Wendy Bateman, Business Services Manager at Family Planning Tasmania. “They might only work with us for one or two sessions a week on a casual basis and they aren’t necessarily going to have a FPT laptop to access files.”

“To keep our services going, we turned to telehealth for the most part,” Wendy elaborates. “We had to, firstly, get remote desktops set up for all of our doctors and nurses to operate, because some of them still needed to run telehealth sessions when they were either COVID-positive or COVID close contacts.”

“We were existing in place with all our files on our own server, where only people who had a company laptop could access it offsite via a clunky VPN that slowed your computer down when you ran it.”

The server for FPT’s software had to be held securely on-premises because of difficulties around the protection and handling of highly sensitive data. It also highlighted the reason behind the lack of medical practice software being offered through cloud computing.

“As a not-for-profit, we get access to discounted software, so that tends to shape what kind of products we use,” Wendy explains. “At the start of COVID, we were predominantly using Zoom but we saw that, with Microsoft Teams, there's a lot of functionality but none of us had really had training in it and weren’t that confident that we were using it to its potential — and the same for SharePoint.”

“We saw that an intranet run on SharePoint would be the way for us to move forward and to access our files, but we didn't feel we had the skills necessary to do it all the time.”

That’s when FPT’s search to find the right partner to design the intranet of their workplace dreams commenced.

THE SOLUTION: A powerful, always evolving Intranet that grows with them

As well as addressing the issues that required the most attention, FPT needed a cost-effective and easily maintained intranet that could, given the composition of their workforce, host online training and professional development seminars. After a thorough selection process, the decision to engage Sope was made.

“We were essentially looking for a partner that had experience in similar sorts of organisations and in managing the process, given that, you know, we don't have some big team to manage it for us ongoing,” says Wendy.

Experience wasn’t just the key factor in choosing Sope. Part of it was around Sope's add-on product, Sproket: “We liked the look of Sproket in that it quickly did a lot of the things we wanted instead of us having to program it, and it was less likely to break on us.”

The structured approach of Sope has been something that’s truly impressed FPT.  The thoroughness of the Design Phase and comprehensive SharePoint training has also given FPT an immense level of confidence that they’ve made the right decision to work with Sope.

“I think that's where Sope's experience really helped us,” reflects Wendy. “We had an idea of what we wanted, but we also wanted to know what others do as a solution for those things. A lot of the functionality that comes from Sproket really helps us.”

“Super user training was key for us,” Wendy elaborates. “Staff that are going to be tasked with maintaining the intranet feel confident in going in and changing things themselves.”

Sope’s project with FPT is purposely an evolving solution, with the intention to develop a product that grows with the business as Wendy and her team learn more about managing its use and user feedback to find the functionality sweet-spot.

“While we've set it up at the moment to how we think we want it, we anticipate that, as staff use it, we'll get more feedback from them on what works for them, what doesn't work and so we've got something that's constantly able to build on what's there, and that it's able to change and evolve with us.”

Wendy admits that the doctors are enthusiastic about being able to access FPT files from anywhere, as well as the training for using MS teams, which Wendy says will have the added advantage of helping them with their responsibilities at other hospitals and medical clinics.

Access to more information, though, is the biggest win that the product delivers. Wendy is confident that it will be a driver of positive cultural change at FPT. Given the composition of their workforce, the new intranet provides them with access to information at a time that suits users and not just the organisation.

THE RESULT: Something for an exhausted workforce to celebrate

Given the workloads in the health sector and the extreme fatigue that medical professionals have experienced since early 2020, FPT’s evolving intranet has enjoyed a very positive reception.  

People are already seeing the benefits of things like chat in Teams, and how you can corral them into channels ”, says Wendy.

SharePoint’s search functionality is far superior to on-premises shared drive search functions. “It's so much easier to find our files on SharePoint, and with a remote, casual workforce, it's really helpful having videos and documents available to people on how we do things. It’s also great being able to publish policies as a page instead of them having to open a document. That's been really helpful.”

Equality is one of FPT's core values. And the new Intranet will play a major role in driving better equity of access to information. "Working in this space, we do a lot of social justice work, but we also carry that pursuit of equity across to our staff," concludes Wendy.

"That's where Sope's experience really helped us: we had an idea of what we wanted, but we also wanted to know what others do as a solution. We have a really solid base for our Intranet, the staff feel included by being able to access greater a mounts of information, and in a faster time frame. And that was really important to us."

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