Staying compliant in the SharePoint cloud

A government organisation in New Zealand has overcome the challenge of moving its SharePoint deployment to the cloud while remaining in step with the tough legislative guidelines of the NZ Public Records Act.

Set up in 2008, the New Zealand Walking Access Commission (the Commission) has deployed a hosted SharePoint solution with  a records management overlay delivered by Information Leadership (NZ) and its  iWorkPlace product.

The Commission is a small Crown Entity that plays an important role enhancing access to public walkways for New Zealanders. With seven staff based at the corporate office in Wellington and eight regional advisors located around the country, the organisation needed a manageable IT solution that would allow better collaboration between team members, improved security and a more organised information management system, while ensuring that it was compliant with the Public Records Act (PRA).

The Commission has outsourced its IT requirements and was using Microsoft SharePoint for managing its data from the regional advisors, but as the organisation developed so too did its need for more specialised tools and greater customisation, particularly for managing public enquiries. 

With its expertise in recordkeeping and experience in supplying solutions that support PRA compliance, Information Leadership was engaged to cater to this unique set of requirements. 

The solution supplied by Information Leadership broke new ground in New Zealand by becoming the first locally-hosted cloud solution to support PRA compliance. 

Working in tandem with Auckland-based IT infrastructure company Appserv, which supplied the infrastructure and hosting capabilities, Information Leadership has provided recordkeeping as well as productivity enhancements on a SharePoint base. The Commission maintained its email and file storage on internal servers

“We’re excited by this development because it shows that Government agencies can operate on the cloud and still meet public records requirements,” says Information Leadership Director Sarah Heal.

As a Microsoft Gold Partner for Content and Collaboration and with over 50 SharePoint implementations under its belt, Information Leadership has developed its own iWorkPlace product, which incorporates the company’s methodology and products for extending SharePoint to fit the New Zealand environment.  This includes PRA compliance as well as productivity enhancements such as streamlining templates, and improving the management of large quantities of case file information. 

Using the iWorkPlace product, Information Leadership added several key additional features and functionality into the Commission’s solution.

“Information Leadership put a whole lot of things together to make life easier in-house and for our regional advisors,” explains New Zealand Walking Access Commission Corporate Services Manager Helen Barker. “We had SharePoint before, but we didn’t have all of the smart features that they applied to it.” 

Some of the features that have greatly improved the Commission’s day to day processing of information include the Colligo email product, which has made filing and searching for emails much easier, and improvements in how filing is displayed, making it easier to navigate information.

Collaboration between the Commission’s team was another issue that needed to be addressed.  Previously, regional advisors could not access relevant files and resources based in the corporate office, which made collaboration difficult and meant that some files were saved in two places.  By applying security access levels to data, based on the user’s profile, Information Leadership was able to facilitate access to appropriate corporate information relevant to their work. 


The immediate benefits of the cloud solution are clear: improved collaboration between corporate staff and regional contractors and better data security. These features have greatly benefited information flow between the Commission’s team, bringing productivity and efficiency improvements.  

“A key focus of ours is to take a pragmatic approach to individual clients’ needs. In this case, we took SharePoint and used our proven extension products to provide a strong fit with what the Commission needed,” says Heal. 

“This solution shows how small organisations can meet high risk or compliance needs quickly and cost-effectively, without having to invest in the purchase, design and maintenance of complex IT systems,” says Heal.

Drawing on its 40-plus PRA compliance-grade implementations, Information Leadership is also ensuring that the Commission remains compliant with its PRA requirements through a retention and disposal module, iWorkplace Records Manager, which saves time and resources in recordkeeping. 

Another key benefit is the record of public enquiries coming from one of the Commission’s main online products: the Walking Access Mapping System, which provides free information on land open to public access. 

“The Commission needed better management of their enquiries,” says Helen Barker, “we now have automated recording of our enquiries and the ability to sort and display them, which has made our management much easier and saved us a lot of time– it’s a great feature.” 

“We’re very happy with the result because it ticks a lot of boxes for us. We now have a smarter system that meets our IT needs,” says Barker.