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Marist College unifies admin, moves to SharePoint

Siloed environment consolidated, deployed in months

The need to move from a siloed environment to a unified administrative system drove Michael Plenty, ICT manager at Marist College in Canberra, to deploy SharePoint in a matter of months.

Plenty spoke to CIO Australia about the move, and said the previous system at the school made administrative duties difficult to carry out.

"Teachers were finding it hard to find resources and administrative information,” he said. “Like a lot of places, we had a bunch of related but discrete systems that were dealing with their own layers and silos."

Rather than combining the complex number of systems, Plenty said an intranet deployment was more suitable to the school.

"We did have an intranet of sorts before but it really wasn't meeting our needs, so we looked around for something better,” he said.

“Being a school we started to look for learning management systems as a first port of call, but a couple of us had some knowledge of SharePoint...and we realised a lot of [what we wanted to do] would be covered off by SharePoint.”

Plenty said he and his IT team evaluated a variety of options internally, but decided to use SharePoint because of its integration and flexibility.

"SharePoint is very different to what you might look for in a fully fledged learning management system - it's more of a platform,” he said. “So we had a lot more flexibility with how it looked and played with the other systems.”

Other organisations have primarily deployed SharePoint for its use of social technologies, but Plenty said using these elements were part of a longer term goal.

"The unified communications side of things is on a long term project for us,” he said. “...Although its not a fully fledged Twitter or Facebook arrangement, there are a lot of those kinds of Web 2.0 features available to us through third parties.”

Plenty, who only chose to deploy SharePoint in September 2010, said the deployment went relatively smoothly due to the fact that it was taken one step at a time.

"Next on the agenda is using it as a platform for development and using it for enrollment,” he said.

Marist College's deployment comes as John Holland streamlined its projects with SharePoint last year.

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