Northcott is one of Australia’s largest not-for-profit disability service organisations. With over 90 years of experience in the disability industry, today it offers a diverse range of service offerings and community partnerships to support its customers to live the life they choose.
The registered NDIS provider employs over 2,500 staff in NSW and the ACT to deliver these personalised specialist services for over 13,500 people with disability and their families each year.
Northcott’s vision is to become the provider of choice for its customers and grow its services to meet increasing demand. Dr. Paul Herbert, Chief Information Officer, outlined why technology is vital for the organisation, its staff and its customers.
“Our customers are some of the most vulnerable people in the community. The role of technology here is to reach and support our staff and customers alike. It should not be a barrier in any way. Technology is an enabler, and when used well can be transformative for our customers.. If we aren’t doing our job, then nothing changes for our customers, if we do our job well, then they can follow their aspirations and live the life that they choose.”
Empowering employees to deliver a premium experience
With 184 work sites not fitting the traditional office model (or set up), Northcott needed to build a digital network which would deliver the same experience across any device. Whether employees logged in via laptops or mobile devices, it had to be secure, easy to deploy and use, as well as be easy to administer. Staff access and record a wide range of information within the Northcott system. Access is needed to record customer achievements, customer goals and outcomes – and then those records need to be regularly updated. Additionally, records document the delivery of customer service for each customer.
"We have a comprehensive age range and skillset user group, including university students to experienced hands in their 70s. Any one of our 2,500 staff want to go to our office or a customer’s location, access our network with an instant connection and document the details for each customer service delivery on-site, no matter where they are,” he said.
Since 2013 the Northcott team has continued to invest in Citrix Virtual Apps & Desktops to support its move to a digital workflow environment. It has continuously transformed its zero-touch deployment of devices, seamless user experience and streamlined remote administration.
Dr. Herbert explained that Northcott also has a roadmap for digital business agility and has rolled out a hybrid-cloud approach to support the organisation.
This benefit recently paid off as the NDIS provider transformed virtually overnight to meet the onset of COVID-19 work-from-home requirements.
Doubling its digital workspace overnight
“By increasing our investment in Citrix Virtual Apps & Desktops over the past few years we have been able to build fast connections, better resiliency and scalability throughout the network,” says Dr. Herbert. Northcott’s hybrid-cloud environment was easily able to meet the increased load and support fast connections everywhere. “We smoothly brought forward our implementation of Skype for Business for web conferencing, putting us in a strong position to respond immediately to the demands COVID-19 placed on our staff and customers.”
Deploying work-from-home measures and replacing face-to-face supports with online options, saw Northcott double its digital workspace environment virtually overnight. This enabled, hundreds of staff to work from home, while maintaining provisions for staff that had to continue to deliver front line support to customers amid the crisis. It delivered over 500 Skype for Business video call sessions in the first week alone.
For Dr. Herbert, it was as much about improving communication between sites as it was improving customer engagement. “We have been able to continue to deliver front line services throughout COVID-19 – they literally could not stop. However instead of face-to-face onsite interactions we moved as much as we could to either work from home and video conferencing facilities. This was made so easy due to our investment with Citrix Virtual Apps & Desktops.”
When privacy is paramount
Northcott now has a highly mobile workforce that wants to work across desktop, or a mobile device – whether that’s Android or iPhone - and it can be sensibly supported according to Dr. Herbert. Citrix ADC supports how Northcott staff work and deliver their service and level of care efficiently in a digital setting – no more paper that can be lost or stolen. It also gives them the confidence they can meet regulatory data security requirements which is an essential condition in our industry. "The privacy of our customers and staff is paramount. We need to make sure data is protected no matter where the team works."
The future is cloud optimisation
The move to cloud-based applications is on the horizon for Northcott. Dr. Herbert is confident that over the next 18 – 24 months it will be moving across to the Microsoft Office 365 productivity suite, with a planned consideration of Microsoft Teams and other video conferencing platforms to meet customer and community engagement.
"Continuing to transform into a cloud-based subscription service will further lower IT administration costs and improve the user experience. Citrix and Microsoft solutions work well together; it's in our interests to consider," Dr. Herbert said.
The direct close relationship Northcott has with Citrix has been essential to building a productive business environment, according to Dr. Herbert "The direct relationship we have built with Citrix has helped us to find the flexible solutions we need to offer an amazing operating environment. Because of Citrix, we can ensure our focus remains on our customers and the positive impact we bring to their lives."