Deaf Aotearoa

Now, in just the few weeks since changing to Office 365, costs are known, and downtime is unknown – or at least a faint memory. Previously unreliable IT is now reliable. Office 365 has made Microsoft’s collaboration technology affordable and it’s quickly become ubiquitous. DANZ is:

Doing more real-time collaboration capabilities than they could previously, (Lync communications) and more business insight allowing better decisions (using SharePoint shared procedures, and workflows)

•Incurring less cost and creating tangible savings, (workflows delivering operational savings of $90k per year already)
•Enjoying enterprise-level reliability through proactive service and best-in-class technologies. (Uptime has jumped 75% and problems dropped over 80%)
The project has already paid for itself and from here, every dollar saved means more services for deaf people, rather than paying for unnecessary IT. Microsoft Office 365 and Kinetics are delivering for the deaf community of NZ.

Jill Dean states “already we’re experiencing real costs savings from the new system – by using SharePoint workflows, we have found duplicate work orders and surplus assets – in just two months obvious savings total up to $15,000, but the effect of time resources and overall expenditure will become more evident as the systems are embedded.”

​Prior to meeting Kinetics, poor IT was threatening the services Deaf Aotearoa provides to the community. Despite a huge investment in on-premise IT, system reliability and performance was so poor as to be causing a huge burden on staff morale, let alone unnecessary cost and lost productivity. Even setting up a simple Skype call took time as network connectivity was poor, hardware substandard and tools out of date. The incumbent IT partner was discouraging the adoption of modern Microsoft technology like SharePoint or Lync, or moving to the cloud. Deaf Aotearoa knew they needed to make changes, to innovate and to embrace new opportunities. Costs were hitting $160,000 per annum and downtime was a daily occurrence. Staff were so frustrated that whenever they hit an IT snag, they’d be paralysed – unable to keep working.

Jill says “having come from an environment where we had successfully deployed Office 365, to go back to a server based environment seemed very limited. It was evident that business processes needed to be improved using technology, as much work was being double or triple handled and mistakes were common with staff using multiple versions of documents that were not always updated.” The impact was “inefficient systems were common place and staff had no real accountability for their work. In addition management oversight of many things, including purchasing and expensive projects, was poor.”


Success: Key wins already include:

Exchange – Reliable and Quick: Moving email from an in-house Exchange server to the cloud has reduced server workload and improved reliability. With ultra-fast internet unavailable at the location where the servers were housed, system performance was limited and restricted the experience at the branch offices. By moving to Office 365, that bottleneck has been removed and the hardware previously used is being re-purposed for system redundancy. Remote access had been limited to Remote Desktop services (Terminal Server) and was slow and inflexible as a result. Now, it’s straightforward, saving time for the bulk of remote users.

SharePoint drives Direct Bottom Line Savings: Using SharePoint, DANZ have now developed standard operating procedures to ensure quality of service delivery across the whole organisation, any time in any location. Deaf Aotearoa management are now able to monitor work practices and are measurably achieving uniformity of service while leveraging best practices across the organisation. SharePoint is delivering better information, providing deeper business insight, resulting in more intelligent business decisions and directly helping DANZ make operational savings. It is particularly exciting that this is just the first phase, with more comprehensive BI tools (Excel and Power BI) planned for 2015.
Jill Dean (Client Services Manager at DANZ) has led the drive to SharePoint. She says “measuring the processes over just the two months we have had these tools is more than paying for the project already.” Lachlan Keating (CEO) adds “SharePoint gives us better visibility of our workflows and ensures we can work more effectively from one office to another and share documents and watch our work evolve. It ensures our staff can work more effectively and collaborate better”

Jill explains that prior to Office 365 there were multiple processes for the same situations, often in conflict with each other. There were a multiplicity of forms and processes creating unnecessary complexity and cost. It’s challenging to manage any business when the processes and work expectations are vague, unclear or in conflict, but DANZ has additional stresses trying to manage staff with a range of communication needs. Jill says “While processes always required approval, it wasn’t easily enforced. Now with SharePoint, it’s really easy and practical to mandate and enforce the policies.”

Lync Communication and Collaboration – In November 2014, Deaf Aotearoa rolled out Lync to improve and foster online collaboration between all staff, at all branches, including deaf and able-hearing users. While DANZ has used Skype for a long time, Lync adds screen and content sharing functionality that cuts down travel costs, improving teamwork across branches and enabling enhanced and increased staff development. For example, now that team leaders and managers have oversight of the work being done, they can use desktop control to show staff how tasks need to be done (rather than doing it for them) resulting in greater staff empowerment and engagement. Quality of service has increased beyond measure, and DANZ see productivity gains as team leaders and management are able to delegate tasks.

Lachlan Keating (CEO of Deaf Aoteoroa) says since moving to Lync, it’s really improved our productivity and our communication and our staff performance, and I also note our staff motivation and culture levels have improved since the introduction.”

Key benefits of choosing Kinetics have been the attention to outcomes, generating real business benefits to DANZ, and the Kinetics price-promise: every project on-time and on-budget. Using Office 365 and SharePoint, we created a project dashboard so that all steps were identified, costed, approved and tracked visibly both to Kinetics and DANZ

Lachlan Keating, DANZ CEO, talks about the transition as “seamless”.

James Bichan at iSign (a business unit of DANZ) says Since changing to Kinetics, we’ve noticed the open, honest communication. It’s proactive. The old IT partner did communicate, but it was always the ambulance at bottom of the cliff.”



It’s all about people : We used our Productivity Computer Coaching service (

Kinetics delivered several learning events consisting of coaching, demonstration, simulation and floor walking support. Interpreters attended the coaching sessions, to ensure the new skills were transferred to both Deaf and able-hearing users, and users practiced using Lync and SharePoint tools hands-on following exercises and instruction.

DANZ users were keen to practice new skills learnt during the hands-on part of the coaching session. The end users demonstrated positivity and enthusiasm about using Lync, as they could see the immediate value in Lync’s video calling and collaboration features, and the various SharePoint solutions. Users were quick to realise that tools like OneDrive will enable them to share documents, collaborate more easily and have a stronger reach in the community, with the ability to reach outside the walls of DANZ to engage with partners.

Jill saysPeople are amazed how simple things are and how easy it is to get what they need – one example was the accountant can now share the monthly accounts rather than emailing huge attachments – that people always used to save many copies of as well!”

Office 365 is changing how DANZ works, reducing their time required to complete tasks, improving their capabilities and productivity – staff are now motivated to use the tools and are seeing immediate benefits from doing so. Kinetics Computer Coaching is empowering staff to use these revolutionary tools to drive success.

Technology Used

  • ​Office 365
    • SharePoint Online
    • Exchange Online
    • Lync Online
    • OneDrive for Business
    • Office 2013
  • Directory and Password Synchronisation (DirSync) and Azure AD: This was used to synchronise on premise user accounts from Active Directory into the Office 365 tenant. It also provides the ability for users to authenticate with their domain credentials and only have to remember a single username and password. Accounts are stored in Azure Active Directory which also gives us the flexibility to utilise other Azure services in the future such as 3rd party application integration;
  • Exchange 2013 Hybrid Configuration Migration: We utilised Exchange 2013’s Hybrid configuration to migrate mailboxes into Office 365. This provided us with the ability to migrate mailboxes into the cloud in a staged approach and to integrate with the on premise exchange organisation during the migration. Impact to staff was minimal and costs reduced due to removing the need to visit PCs and the automated nature of the migration. Excessive data transfer was also removed due to offline copies of email (OST) not needing to be re-downloaded. Utilising native Microsoft tools also saved costs associated with 3rd party migration tools; and
  • Deployed Microsoft Surface Pro3 devices across senior roles within the organisation, and using these as a bridgehead to roll Windows 8.1 into DANZ.
  • Kinetics KARE Advanced Managed Services to setup a proactive service plan and structured management regime.

Organisation Profile

​Deaf Aotearoa (DANZ) is the National Service Provider for Deaf People in New Zealand.

With 14 offices and 80 full and part time staff across New Zealand, DANZ provides a range of services to 14,500 people (2014) as well as handling 24,000 advice and information requests.

Deaf Aotearoa is a registered charity and grateful for the support of Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Social Development, ASB Community Trust, NZ Lotteries and Te Pou amongst others.

Services include:

  • Employment services : Provision of supported employment for Deaf people. Help with work readiness, interview support and training for potential and actual employers of Deaf people.
  • Youth services : Leadership opportunities for Deaf Youth, including leadership training; transition from school to training or employment.
  • First Signs : Early intervention for children (aged 0-5) and their families, teaching families (with a newly diagnosed Deaf child) communication strategies to ensure there is no difference in child development for Deaf children.
  • iSign: New Zealand’s only national interpretation service, providing sign language interpretation services face-to-face for deaf people who interact in a variety of settings, e.g. medical, legal, Government, education etc. During 2014, iSign provided 19,000 hours of face-to-face interpreting for Deaf people.