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Northcott is one of Australia’s largest not-for-profit disability service organisations, providing services from 160 metropolitan and regional locations throughout NSW and the ACT. We have 90 years of experience delivering a diverse range of services to people with disabilities of all ages. A registered NDIS provider, we employ 2,500 staff and provide empowering, personalised services to over 13,500 people with disability, their families and carers each year.

The Challenge

We were using an intranet called NIGEL based in Adobe Dreamweaver. We had one part-time staff member who was able to update it, so content couldn’t be edited or added in a timely manner. Duplicate and out-of-date documents, forms and templates were an issue, and staff couldn’t access NIGEL unless they were on domain.

We hire new staff frequently. However, the information architecture (IA) made it hard for anyone unfamiliar with the organisation’s structure to find what they needed. For instance, staff would need to know which department owned a certain policy in order to be able to (potentially) find it.

The main driver for a new intranet came when our staff doubled overnight after we acquired over 100 specialist disability accommodation services from the NSW Department of Family and Community Services. These frontline staff members work remotely with customers and couldn’t find critical information. This was realistically affecting their ability to efficiently and safely support their customers.

Nula has enabled staff to search for information, policies and people, and find them easily. These basic needs are difficult to meet in an organisation of our size and geographical dispersion. Elcom were attentive, friendly, helpful and responsive along the Nula journey, thank you! Madeleine Donkin, Digital Business Development Mgr

The Solution

We went through a rigorous vendor assessment process. We engaged Vikki Hsieh from BeyondIT Consulting to assist us with the project. Vikki interviewed 38 people from different roles and areas throughout Northcott to identify common pain points and opportunities where the intranet could provide value. From there, a formal project was formed.

Vendors presented to quite a large team here including IT and the project sponsor. Each vendor was ranked with an internal score card based on a list of critical requirements. Elcom came out as the chosen vendor. Elcom’s responsiveness to all our inquiries and willingness to deliver a number of presentations for the team was also noteworthy.

Elcom’s project management team was really attentive and they delivered the project on time. Vikki designed the information architecture (IA) and wireframes. Elcom provided visual design and built templates for different page types identified. The Northcott team and Vikki then built out the site, populating about 800 pages prior to launch.

We named the new intranet Nula. It is heavily driven by Elcom’s flexible taxonomy feature. We can upload content once and add metadata. This content is then dynamically displayed on relevant pages. For instance, as we are a high compliance organisation, policies and forms have been given their own area on the site. If you work in a centre, you will see policies related to that location. Relevant policies can also be found in other areas, such as the Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) workspace.

The ECEI team works in centres away from head office and workspaces gives them a dedicated area to collaborate. It features relevant policies and procedures, a calendar, key contacts, tools, related resources and a forum to share and request information from each other. Key metrics such as the number of children seen and plans completed, are also prominently displayed on the page to highlight the positive work the team have done.

The corporate directory is really useful for our large and geographically dispersed workforce. The organisation chart lets you search by department or location and see who reports to who and who manages who. Search is a key feature for us. You can perform a global search or filter by several search categories. The ‘best bets’ tool allows us to tag content to ensure the most relevant content continually appears for common search terms.

The Supported Independent Living (SIL) form and workflow automates the quoting process for requesting funds from NDIA. Once a form is submitted, it triggers workflow paths depending on the criteria supplied, with different staff members being notified to action an item such as supplying or checking information. They can then approve it to move it along the workflow or reject it, which either moves it back to the previous person or on a different path. For instance, touchpoints could include the assigned contact who is responsible for overseeing the process, house lead, financial reviewer, senior manager and the claiming and compliance team.

The Benefits

  • The new intranet delivers an intuitive IA for staff, with Nula attracting over 15,000 sessions and 800 document downloads every week. The IA is based on internal departments or products and services that we deliver.

  • There are a number of different ways to find what you’re looking for. Staff either navigate to it or search for it. From having the significant use of taxonomy in the background, to being able to search within documents and not just for document names, means people can quickly find what they’re looking for even if they don’t know exactly what they’re looking for or what it’s called.

  • The customer service team (CST) frequently handles calls from staff requesting information such as who reports into who. Now, many of these queries can be handled by our well-structured self-service corporate directory. Active Directory integration means details are always up-to-date and you can search through departments or centres people work in. The service locator tool also makes it easy to find our locations by name, post code and refine by service type.

  • As a result of the acquisition of over 100 accommodation services, we needed to efficiently manage the quoting process to request funds from NDIA for our SIL customers. Elcom’s online form and workflow tool enables us to automate this complex process. This workflow has numerous paths and touch points of approval through it, before it goes to the NDIA. Administrators can easily monitor all forms submitted and see where each form is in the workflow. It provides governance that the right people are approving it at different points along the way.

  • All these tools solve real problems within Northcott. We wanted something out of the box that could be set up fairly quickly and we’re really pleased with the progress so far. We’re now looking at versioning, richer content, more social tools and integrations to turn it into a collaborative digital workplace hub.


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