4-page Case Study
Posted: 3/4/2013
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Florence Zorg Care Provider Uses Office 365 to Launch a Collaboration Platform for 4,000 Employees

To improve the collaboration and communication facilities for inpatient and outpatient staff, care provider Florence deployed a modern platform based on Office 365. Its employees now have access to the intranet portal and also have their own personal mailbox. With this development, Florence has taken the first step toward the “New World of Work” within the care sector. The portal and the integrated search functionalities are now being used intensively. It is expected that the new Office 365 portal will be developed into a hub where people can communicate, share knowledge, and manage collaborative projects.

The intranet that care provider Florence had been using had stopped meeting the needs of its employees a long time ago. Miranda de Gouw, Informatisation and Automation Manager at Florence, says, “The intranet primarily contained work instructions for our employees and vision documents from the board and management. But it was difficult to access that information, mainly because you could only search for titles and not for keywords in the text. In addition, a lot of the information was out-of-date, the underlying organizational structure was no longer appropriate and the ‘content’ was difficult to maintain. All in all, our intranet had become a static site where nothing much happened. It was primarily used to look for colleagues’ telephone numbers.”

* The greatest benefit is that our employees can now collaborate and communicate independent of time or place and can access the documents that they need in order to do their jobs from anywhere and at any time. *

Miranda de Gouw
Manager Informatisation and Automation, Florence

What Florence really needed was a new easy-to-maintain intranet platform. “It was a requirement that was growing day by day,” says de Gouw. “We wanted to be able to share news, search for information, and collaborate easily. In short, we wanted to significantly improve the quality of our operations by improving the way everyone communicated with each other.” That was just one of the strategic objectives that Florence set.

As a result of collaboration with IT partner Rapid Circle, a business plan was drawn up for the new intranet. Harold Punter, Director at Rapid Circle, says, “In the plan, we described the key principles that Florence’s new platform had to satisfy. Thus, it was important for it to be a platform on which all the information present at Florence would be available. This is because in the old situation, a great deal of information was being mailed back and forth but there was no fixed location where people could find the information.”

Secondly, it had to be possible for any employee to access information from any workplace. Says de Gouw, “In the old situation, not every employee had access to the intranet. In particular, the staff providing home care missed out on a lot of information. That had to change. That’s also why we wanted to give everyone a personal mailbox.”

Says Punter, “In order to centralize all our information, all our existing applications and other platforms in the future had to be integrally linked to the new intranet so that other operational information as well as other types of information could be consulted and edited.”

“It was also important for us to be able to make adjustments to the new intranet ourselves quite easily,” continues de Gouw. “Florence has quite a dynamic setup and for that reason it must be possible for us to add a new team, a new department, or a new care product to the intranet easily without needing the expertise of an external party.”

So the business plan contained a number of important points to persuade the management, all with the objective of significantly improving quality within the organization.

Because Florence had already been using various Microsoft programs and licenses in-house for a number of years, a platform based on Microsoft SharePoint Online seemed to be the best solution. “After consulting with our ICT partner and Microsoft, we decided on Office 365, a cloud-hosted solution,” says de Gouw. “Office 365 consists of SharePoint Online, Lync Online, and Exchange Online, thus giving Florence all the ‘tools’ it needs for sharing knowledge, communicating, and collaborating in-house and enabling us to realize the objectives of our business plan.”

Microsoft and Rapid Circle have both been closely involved in the realization of the solution. Rapid Circle is a member of the Microsoft Partner Network and a specialist in social collaboration platforms. “The reason we chose Rapid Circle was due to the pragmatic and short cyclic approach of the specialists from this ICT company,” says de Gouw. “They really immersed themselves in our business case and that meant a lot to us.”

* The migration to Office 365 was a huge operation and had to be carried out very carefully. With 4,000 users, this Office 365 implementation has been the largest within the Dutch care sector. *

Harold Punter
Director, Rapid Circle

Continues Punter, “The migration to Office 365 was a huge operation and had to be carried out very carefully. With 4,000 users, this Office 365 implementation has been the largest within the Dutch care sector.”

Spread across locations in Rijswijk, Delft, the Hague, Leidschendam, Voorburg, Voorschoten, and Wassenaar, Florence has approximately 1,200 fixed workplaces. There are also several hundred laptops, 900 PDAs, more than 80 iPads, and more than a hundred smartphones, which are used by employees who often need to be mobile. “The aim was to provide all our employees with access to the new environment, so not just the inpatient staff who work at the care facilities but also the outpatient staff who provide home care for clients. Office 365 has succeeded in providing that. The greatest benefit is that our employees can now collaborate and communicate independent of time or place and can access the documents that they need in order to do their jobs from anywhere and at any time,” says de Gouw.

Florence has called its new portal ‘Floris.’ It has collaborated with Rapid Circle with the objective of making Floris as user-friendly and as accessible as possible. “In the process, one of the aims we hoped to achieve was to get those of our employees who are less familiar with IT more enthusiastic and to start using the new intranet,” says de Gouw. “There were clear signs of that after just a few weeks when the search function went down unexpectedly and the help desk was bombarded with calls. Oddly enough, that was a very good sign for us as—and we are still going through a period of familiarization—Floris was obviously being used far more intensively than we had thought!”

Via the portal, employees have access to a range of practical applications, such as the work roster, all the care protocols, registration for courses, and more. “In the cloud, they also have all their documents available at all times,” says de Gouw. “They also have their own home page in the form of a My Site where they can record details about themselves, for example. We promote the correct use of My Site as it can provide us with a clear insight into the knowledge and specialties of each individual employee.”

de Gouw talks about the management of the application: “Office 365 operates ‘in the cloud’ and Florence pays a fixed amount per employee per month for that. That amount includes a whole range of management services so that Microsoft looks after continuity, updates, backups, etc. We take care of the connection to the Florence back office ourselves—something that is still taking up a lot of time during this migration phase—and also the content, application management, and accounts. There are around 4,000 accounts, and because we have a staff turnover of around 25 percent, we have to create around 1,000 new accounts every year.”

Continues Punter, “The Kiosk options offered by Microsoft are a useful tool when it comes to maintaining so many accounts and giving everyone their own email address. By providing all 4,000 employees with an Office 365 Kiosk license and a link, they only have to log on once to automatically gain access to the SharePoint portal, as well as their own @florence email accounts.”

The Future
As soon as employees become more familiar with the tools, Florence expects them to start making more use of shared workspaces in SharePoint Online where they can store and exchange any information on ongoing projects. Rapid Circle has already been discretely involved in this, by promoting the opportunities for collaboration in a light-hearted manner. “For example, we have developed a social media-type portal under the name ‘Florence café’ where the employees can see how easy it is to exchange information in a virtual environment.”

Microsoft Office 365
The new Office provides anywhere access to your familiar Office applications—plus email, calendar, videoconferencing, and your most current documents—on almost any device, from PCs to smartphones to tablets.

For more information about Microsoft Office 365, go to:


For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:

For more information about Rapid Circle products and services, call +31 (0)20-7776613 or visit the website at:

For more information about Florence, call +31 (0)70-7544139 or visit the website at:

Solution Overview

Organization Size: 4000 employees

Organization Profile
Florence provides care for residents in the Hague. It has more than 4,000 employees and 1,500 volunteers who work at a number of residential care homes or provide home care for clients.

Business Situation
To improve collaboration with its inpatient and outpatient staff, Florence wanted to replace its existing intranet with a new user-friendly social knowledge and communication platform.

With Microsoft Office 365 cloud-based services, Florence employees are able to access their documents and business email from anywhere and at any time.

  • Easily accessible collaboration platform
  • Easy-to-maintain intranet
  • Cloud environment requires minimal management
  • Business information can be accessed online from anywhere and at any time
  • Fixed license fee per user
  • No IT investment required

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Office 365
  • SharePoint Online
  • Exchange Online
  • Lync Online

Vertical Industries
Public Health & Social Services



Rapid Circle