Chelmer Housing Partnership

Delivering rapid transformation with SharePoint

the challenge

The business context for CHP’s SharePoint upgrade really begins back in 2008 when, with the help of bluesource, they decided to implement SharePoint 2007 to modernise their existing intranet technology.

James Dickman, Service Development Manager for CHP, explains that although fulfilling all their needs to begin with, SharePoint 2007 struggled to keep up with CHP’s business growth. “As the organisation has grown, with staff numbers increasing from 200 to 300, so content and site traffic has just gone up and up” says James. “We were approaching Microsoft’s recommended limits, and our older SharePoint version just started to grind to a halt.” Having already become crucial to the way CHP operates, there was no question that something had to be done to reinstate SharePoint’s speed, ease of use and reliability for staff

the solution

Fortunately the new release of SharePoint presented a potential solution to CHP’s growing problems. Having just recently upgraded their office environment and successfully navigated the task of training staff to use the new Microsoft office, CHP saw an opportunity to also upgrade their SharePoint Intranet. Although CHP’s IT team would have ordinarily earmarked 3 months for such an upgrade, due to other staff and project commitments they had only a brief month-long window to do all the preparation and implementation for the new system

As well as the upgrade, CHP also wanted to make significant changes to the way they used the software. “Previously we had a system where the content for our 20 SharePoint team sites only went into a handful of databases” says James, “but the new system would ensure that each team site had its own database”. Combined with a rework of the IT infrastructure, upping the number of servers from two physical servers to four virtual servers, the hope was that these measures would help to “future proof” the system and ensure no more resource bottlenecks. Having used bluesource for the original rollout of SharePoint, CHP knew they wanted to draft them in again to help with the design and implementation of this new SharePoint environment. Despite the tight timescales, the implementation went ahead smoothly and bluesource delivered everything agreed on time and to budget. “When we needed to talk to Microsoft, as one of their strategic partners bluesource made that happen – without them we doubt we would have been able to get that access” says James. After three and half weeks of preparation, Our new SharePoint environment was successfully rolled out over a single weekend with no impact on staff – “they went home on Friday and when they came back on Monday it was all ready to go” says James

“SharePoint is a mission critical system for us now, It’s embedded into the way we work, or the way we work is embedded into SharePoint, one or the other!”

James Dickinson, Service Development Manager

the results

Since the upgrade CHP have had 100% up time on SharePoint, transforming the reliability of their intranet, team sites and document management SharePoint functions as a key communication tool for CHP, acting as a central hub for company news, corporate information and resources as well as project documents and staff information. It has revolutionised the way staff can collaborate and work together. Up from 20 team sites before, the new SharePoint environment now hosts 25 team sites split across 3 directorates and over 50 project sites.

SharePoint has been the catalyst that has changed the way CHP work. It’s digitally transformed them, by facilitating new, more efficient and environmentally friendly business models,  SharePoint has provided a platform for paperless mobile working with iPads.

“I would definitely recommend bluesource – in fact, I already have! They’ve been involved all the way along, and our lead consultant was excellent. He worked as part of the team, whether on site or remotely, and as a PRINCE2 certified project manager I knew he understood the way I wanted to work. We were just on the same wavelength, and I think it made a big difference to the success of the project.”

James Dickman, Service Development Manager

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