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Homeless Woman Receiving Help

Digital Transformation

Mission Australia maps out brighter future with cloud-transformed workplace

For the last 155 years Mission Australia has strived to reduce homelessness and strengthen communities.

One of Australia’s leading National not for profits in community services, the organisation has 2,838 staff and 3,790 volunteers, spread across 220 locations, delivering 450 plus services across Australia. 

In a single year the not for profit helps over 130,000 people overcome challenges in the areas of homelessness, domestic and family violence, addiction and substance misuse, mental health, disability, training and employment.

The numbers alone paint a picture of the challenges the organisation tackles each day.

Failure is not an option.

But over the years the legacy computer systems which have been developed to support the organisation have become dated, expensive to operate and update, and impossibly complex.

Mission Australia has embarked on a digital transformation journey to drive mobility, flexibility and agility across the organisation and do it in a way that reduces costs while enabling staff to access technology that supports the services that they deliver to clients.

It’s a tall order as decades of complex legacy systems need to be replaced with streamlined digital platforms built from the Microsoft ecosystem.

Moving to the cloud and leveraging Software as a Service solutions such as Office 365, Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS), will enhance users’ ability to communicate and collaborate. The modern workplace is also freeing them from administration hassles so that they can spend more time with clients to fully focus on what matters most; making a difference to people’s lives.

Complex Challenge

With 450 programmes, thousands of users, clients and supporters, as well as multiple Government-, regulator- and funder stakeholders, Mission Australia has a complex environment and a wide array of needs.

The ever changing market, client and funder requirements in the Community Services sector made Mission Australia rethink its approach to information systems and seek a way to get improved access to data so that it would be able to make faster, better decisions. 

Transitioning to new digital platforms and SaaS solutions such as Dynamics 365 will strip away much of the legacy complexity and open silos of information without any compromise to security or privacy.

Access to the rich functions of Office 365 meanwhile will allow Mission Australia staff  to have the tools and technology to communicate, share insights and information and collaborate on programmes to achieve optimal impact for clients. Using a PowerBI dashboard Mission Australia leaders and program managers can now analyse what support programmes and initiatives have the most impact and benefit, and leverage those insights  to boost outcomes for other Mission Australia programmes.

Having an Azure cloud based solution also will help Mission Australia overcome a series of unique challenges.

Peter Smith, chief information officer for Mission Australia, says “We need to provide connectivity to remote locations across Australia. At the same time many of our sites are located in traditional houses in residential areas that aren’t necessarily well designed for IT.”

With Azure as the cloud foundation, Mission Australia can provide democratised access to information and tools to anyone with internet access. At the same time, the organisation expects the future cost of delivering technology to be lower than if it were to remain with a legacy on-premise solution.

Mission Australia has redesigned its IT governance, rigour and project management to better support its digital transformation, and carefully selected a range of technology partners including Microsoft, and the Cloud Collective, a strategic alliance of Microsoft Gold Partners  – Antares, Modality and Quorum.

In concert they have architected a platform that delivers significant benefits today and positions Mission Australia for strong efficiencies and progress in the future.

Smith says that Microsoft and the Cloud Collective have provided good, honest advice and feedback, expertise and a demonstrated capacity to; “Get things done in the timeframe and within the budget we agreed on” which is critical for a not for profit.

Phased approach

Mission Australia has taken a phased approach to its transformation says Smith. “We are establishing a digital platform to provide a strong base that we can enable, then enhance from. Once we move to Office 365 and install the Dynamics 365 CRM and Operations we will have a strong interconnected platform for our work going forward.

“The next stage is to then enable people with those tools, so that they can communicate faster, collaborate across teams and divisions, and use Skype for Business. I expect people will evolve and find their own use cases,” he adds.

“We will strive to enhance beyond that – potentially bring in more complex pieces such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and advanced analytics to retrieve greater value from the platform.”

– Smith

Today, tomorrow

Mission Australia will deploy Dynamics 365 for CRM, financials, talent and operations. It aims to fully deploy the EMS solution by the end of the financial year, ensuring end users are properly protected and secured.

Supported by its technology partners, Mission Australia has also developed a roadmap, which will leverage Windows 10 and InTune, allowing the organisation in the future to introduce a well-governed and secure Bring Your Own Device programme, injecting flexibility and choice for staff and volunteers while keeping a tight rein on costs.

Says Smith; “If we provide people with the most efficient tools and the most efficient ways to do things, that allows them to spend more time with clients. In the future we want to be able to create smarter applications that help us serve clients better – we can help more by running things efficiently.”