Marine Rescue Queensland Case Study

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Queensland Marine Rescue chose OBS to implement a Microsoft Office 365 intranet which allowed them to effectively share, modify and maintain version control across documents in real time.

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Marine Rescue Queensland Case Study

  1. 1. OBS CUSTOMER CASE STUDY | NON FOR PROFIT Marine Rescue Queensland QUEENSLAND NON FOR PROFIT 1,500 VOLUNTEERS “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 and management.” MRQ also intended to replace its old email system with a newer, more feature-rich and cost-effective solution. Satellite-hub concept 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 content. “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.
  2. 2. “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.” Saving 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 people’s lives, the 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

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