SharePoint built on Office 365 for Educational Charity

TSG deploys a SharePoint Enterprise 2013 solution built on an Office 365 platform for The Outward Bound Trust

The customer

The Outward Bound Trust is an educational charity and the UK's leading provider of bursary-assisted outdoor learning. 

Headquartered in Penrith, the charity has centres across Scotland, Cumbria and Wales. Fundamentally, the educational charity develops young people’s social and emotional skills in adventurous wilderness locations. In  supportive and challenging environments they learn key life skills such as resilience, personal responsibility and independence, which will help them throughout their lives, whether in education or work.

The Trust relies on the generosity and support of its key network of donors to enable underprivileged young people to access these life changing experiences.

"In our initial stages of dealing with TSG we were impressed with their approach to the project and the references they provided to show their knowledge and skillset in SharePoint"

The customer objectives

In order to apply for and meet the document management requirements of ISO 9001, The Trust approached TSG after discovering that SharePoint would best meet their needs and provide The Trust with a solid platform for further development in the future to support various departmental/functional requirements.

The Trust had prior knowledge of TSG’s services. Faye Cowley, Head of Business Support added, “It was important for us to identify a business partner who could effectively relate SharePoint to our business needs. In our initial stages of dealing with TSG we were impressed with their approach to the project and the references they provided to show their knowledge and skillset in SharePoint.”

After discussing the project at length and running a comprehensive demonstration of SharePoint’s compatibility and version control features,  TSG experts had clear-cut objectives to ensure the project scoping document covered all essential elements, including;

Document Management
All documents required for ISO 9001 accreditation to be maintained and published via SharePoint, enabling strict version control.

Process Automation
Workflows to be used for automation of approval, review and publication of documents. SharePoint Lists and Workflows to support functions within The Trust such as Improvements Log, Complaints Log, and Non-Conformances Log.

Navigation, Search and Interface
Produce a logical, familiar and easy to understand interface. Enable users to easily navigate the system and find documents specific to their role and responsibilities.

The TSG solution

TSG recommended a SharePoint Enterprise 2013 solution for The Trust’s ISO 9001 project, built on an Office 365 platform.

Microsoft SharePoint is a flexible and powerful solution with exceptional integration capabilities, allowing everyone within The Trust to work better together and easily share information across departments.

Essentially the SharePoint site will help The Trust manage all documents that are deemed to be ‘controlled documents’. The use of Document Libraries will manage the split of documents by document type, activity and department, with added security measures in place through the use of permissions – access rights created for specific users aligned to their specific areas of the business.

Talking through the essential specifications The Trust required from SharePoint, Faye says, “The main aspect for us was to get the version control for documents throughout the organisation to help gain our ISO accreditation. From the demo we were shown by TSG’s specialist we could see the comprehensive capabilities of SharePoint and the value it would deliver to the organisation.”  

TSG created a workflow solution for SharePoint to enable The Trust to control the review of documents between departments with the facility to approve, revise and automate.

The development of a workflow system for SharePoint makes the creation and maintenance of business documents simpler and easier to maintain.

As well as departmental documentation, The Trust also required a central area on the SharePoint site to store various logs such as improvements, complaints and non-conformances.

To reinforce this structure, the TSG team created workflows within the centralised area of the SharePoint site. The automated system works seamlessly to help The Trust notify relevant users when a log is submitted; thus creating a workflow. Due to the volume of the documentation stored on The Trust’s SharePoint site staff can use the standard search functionality to quickly find documents and data.

The benefits of SharePoint to The Outward Bound Trust

Since the implementation of SharePoint, The Trust has become ISO 9001 accredited, enjoying many benefits including:

  • Compliance with ISO 9001 - The SharePoint implementation meets all Document Management requirements of ISO 9001.
  • Data centralisation - All controlled documents are now stored in a single secure location.
  • Formalised processes - Document Management processes follow the same consistent path within the SharePoint.
  • Empowerment - Users can now find documentation easily .
  • Auditing and accountability - All data is logged and tracked so any changes can be monitored ensuring procedures are followed.
  • Alerts and notifications - Users are automatically notified when a process requires their involvement.
  • Access anytime – Users can sign in to SharePoint virtually anywhere with Office 365

“Introducing a document control system is a fantastic achievement and has been instrumental in The Trust becoming ISO 9001 compliant.”

Faye goes on to say, “SharePoint has opened up all sorts of future potential usage outside of just document control, so we’re keen to enlist the help of TSG to unlock its full potential.”

When asked about the service the organisation received from TSG throughout the project Faye responds with, “Overall the team we have worked with at TSG have been excellent. Their knowledge of the system has really shown over the course of the project and their support since implementation has been second to none. The few issues we encountered in the beginning were resolved quickly.”

The Future for TSG and The Outward Bound Trust

The Trust is already engaged with TSG for future projects which will expand their SharePoint platform.

Faye concludes, “Having seen the results of using SharePoint first hand, we’re already looking at expanding out the SharePoint functionality further to automate some of our paper-based processes. I’m sure along the way we’ll identify tweaks to the current system as we develop as an organisation for which we’ll be seeking advice from TSG.”