OBS CUSTOMER CASE STUDY | NON FOR PROFIT
Marine Rescue Queensland
NON FOR PROFIT
“The SharePoint portal has
allowed MRQ to gather and share
the type of information that makes
a real difference to people’s lives.”
Office 365 Intranet
About Marine Rescue Queensland
Founded in 1965, Marine Rescue Queensland (MRQ) is a State-wide
volunteer organisation that provides search and rescue services to
the boating public. 1,500 volunteers are spread across 25
individually-managed, autonomous squadrons located throughout
the State and operating in tropical and sub-tropical waters. MRQ
covers a 2,700-kilometre stretch of water from Pt Danger on the
southern QLD border to the remote Gulf of Carpentaria, Thursday
Island and Torres Strait region.
The squadrons are overseen by a State body that employs three full-
time employees and one part-time staff member to manage admin
and training functions.
Document management and information sharing
The geographically-dispersed nature of MRQ made it difficult to
effectively share, modify and maintain version control across
documents such as training and policy documents.
Dave Paylor, who is a rescue skipper for MRQ as well as a consultant
with OBS, suggested the organisation overcome these issues by
implementing a SharePoint solution.
Dave said, “Each squadron typically has a couple of computers at its
disposal and on those computers locally they have saved training
files and other documents.
Nothing was updated in sync, so version control was an issue and
there were no backups of files.
It was also impossible to access the files unless you were physically at
the base, which was inconvenient.
“In a rescue environment, having access to the most up-to-date policies
and procedures can literally be the difference between life and death.
We therefore decided to find a solution for better document sharing
MRQ also intended to replace its old email system with a newer, more
feature-rich and cost-effective solution.
Based on MRQ’s needs, OBS implemented Office 365 thanks to its
strong email solution and SharePoint offering.
The SharePoint solution follows a satellite-hub concept. The State body
is a hub. It shares content that is relevant to all squadrons. Each
squadron then has a satellite that it controls so that it can share
information that is only relevant to that squadron. This satisfies the
necessity for squadron autonomy while meeting the overall aim of
being able to share content across the whole state.
Dave said, “Each squadron has a SharePoint account, which allows it to
upload content. The squadron then appoints people, usually the
executive committee members, who can control squadron-level
“At the same time we also created a generic account that every user can
access, which is just read only. They can’t change any documents but
they can look at anything they like.
“So now when the State body does something like changing a form
that needs to be filled in, it automatically updates for every single
squadron as they access it through the SharePoint portal, so there is
no risk of a volunteer filling in an old form or missing out on sharing
vital information. This is a huge benefit in terms of efficiency.
“It also lets us easily share knowledge amongst the squadrons. For
example, everything we do within the organisation is tied to
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and these must be followed.
Some squadrons have different SOPs. The ease of sharing and
reviewing documents through SharePoint has meant that we can see
what other squadrons are doing and implement best practice
procedures. This type of knowledge-sharing can literally save lives.”
One of the most important purposes of sharing documents, and
therefore knowledge, at MRQ is the learnings that can be gained.
Keith Williams, President of Marine Rescue Queensland, said, “We
had an incident recently where a rescue vessel in Moreton Bay
overturned and the teams had to work very hard to get that situation
resolved. At the same time the State executive was in North
Queensland to attend a zone meeting, so we weren’t physically
present for this incident.
“The team used the SharePoint portal to upload photos and details
of the incident less than 24 hours afterwards. We could then access
all of that information while at our zone meeting to discuss the
incident and share learnings about what had happened.
“Historically we would have felt isolated because we were remote
from that event but the portal gave us immediate access to a flow of
information and visuals so we could see what was happening, discuss
it and provide input and feedback. For us that was a complete
revelation and an indication of the value of this project. It provided
an opportunity to use the information in a constructive way.
“This process will make it much faster and easier to investigate the
event and to develop and share new procedures and policies based
on what we learned from this event. The result could save lives.”
As well as
lives of marine
animals can also
be at risk as a result
of boating incidents.
Dave said, “Whales are a
concern for rescue vessels,
particularly at certain times of the year. When we are proceeding to a
rescue with all haste, we also have to be extremely careful to avoid hitting
any whales both for their sake and for ours.
“The SharePoint solution will eventually let us share information about
where whales usually congregate so that we can track their movement
around the state. This will also help us make decisions about the routes we
take and the speeds we travel to get to the rescue location while keeping
the whales and ourselves safe.”
Knowledge sharing for efficiency
The SharePoint portal has started to make it easier for the State body to
understand and manage the different types of environments and
conditions faced by the various rescue crews.
Dave said, “We have to fill in an activation report every time a vessel is
launched. This is a paper form that lists things like the skipper and crew on
board, how long the vessel was out, where the rescue occurred, how many
people were rescued, how much fuel was used and so on. This can be very
different depending on where you are located. A trip in Moreton Bay
might take two hours, while the average trip in North Queensland is more
like eight hours. The logistics in these scenarios are very different so it’s
important for the organisation as a whole to have visibility into this.”
The SharePoint portal has allowed MRQ to gather and share the type of
information that makes a real difference to people’s lives. The organisation
plans to continue and extend its use of SharePoint into the future.
“Historically we would have felt isolated because
we were remote from that event but the portal
gave us immediate access to a flow of information
and visuals so we could see what was happening,
discuss it and provide input and feedback.”
Keith Williams | President | Marine Rescue Queensland