Launch Housing is part of the vanguard of Australia’s response to ending homelessness, and working to affect genuine, positive change in the lives of thousands of vulnerable people every day. With such responsibility comes numerous challenges. Overhauling Launch’s existing intranet and transforming it into a fit-for-purpose and engaging tool for the organisation was a project that would help draw their people together.
Intranet, Digital Workplace, Design
SharePoint, Sproket, Microsoft 365, Power Automate
An intranet that looked like the bottom of a kitchen drawer.
Time is a critical resource in any industry but particularly when you’re dealing with people in crisis. With all of Australia already experiencing a dire shortage of housing, the impact of COVID-19 added yet another layer of complexity to the valuable work the people at Launch Housing perform each day. It also demonstrated they needed a solution to their existing intranet that could help them work faster and more efficiently. As Howard Ralley, General Manager of Campaigns and Engagement, explains, “We had an existing intranet that had been built about five years prior, and it wasn’t fit for purpose. I described it as ‘the bottom drawer in the kitchen’ with loads of stuff in it. It was disorganised and it was no longer used by any of our 400-plus-staff.”
Making 'Frankenstein' repairs to Launch's intranet was not an option; they needed a new product and a partner capable of providing insight into what a more purposeful intranet could offer, rather than just a wiki or an alternative to a filing system.
A huge leap forward that didn't bleed a tight budget.
There were a number of factors behind Launch Housing’s decision to partner with Sope, admits Howard, but the important ones were the technology and people insights.
In terms of the technological aspects, Launch placed considerable weight on Sope's ability to keep things within the Office 365 environment, respecting existing points of integration and, ultimately, offering a solution that would work comfortably with their existing IT.
“I also liked that Sope didn’t try to over-sell us with a solution that was beyond our means or too grand for our purposes,” continues Howard. “They understood our brief and the size of our organisation, and they could come up with a solution that matched.”
As a result, Launch Housing now has a more contemporary intranet which, among many things, has enabled greater communication across their 14 sites, and extra functionality that has enabled a much-welcome focus on methodology as well.
“We have a knowledge hub,” says Howard. “There’s an updated one-stop-shop for staff to find key documentation, and Sope also created a nice app launcher for all our main tools. We also worked collaboratively to create and develop forms that help us manage specific things, like access to funds that staff need.”
“There’s a little bit of functionality that’s bespoke to us, but not massively so. It’s a nice, clean design. There was a little bit of training for us but there's nothing we can't manage on our own. It’s a really nice solution.”
Sope’s project management team excelled in the listening department, really taking note of what Launch said and making sure they didn't talk themselves into circles.
As Howard admits, "Sope were very good at pragmatically pushing us forward, having a solution that we would then tweak. I was impressed by their pragmatism and stoicism to keep us pushing towards the deadline that we had set for ourselves.”
New technology that has been embraced by literally everyone.
It's a big call to say that everyone at Launch Housing is using the new intranet but Howard has the numbers to prove it.
“I’ve looked at some data very quickly, and every staff member has used it at some point. Compare that to where we were – the week before we shutdown the old site, we had nine users across 450 staff, and I think four of them was probably me! – so we’ve gone from almost zero to 100 percent engagement very quickly.”
Having merged in recent years with HomeGround Housing, there’s also been a noticeable improvement in workflows and document integrity.
“We had multiple versions of different key documents dotted around the place after the merger five years ago," remarks Howard. "And we’ve been able to clean that all up under one solution. People can also find material a lot quicker, and I think workflows have improved generally because people can put their finger on a document a lot faster."
"I’m very happy to give our endorsement to Sope.”
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