Conservation organization takes working with information to a new level with Office 365 and Information Leadership

Published on April 16, 2020


Forest & Bird is New Zealand’s leading independent conservation organization — protecting wildlife and wild places, on land and in the sea. For nearly a century, they have been the voice for nature in New Zealand communities, cities, councils, central-government, and the courts. They are a registered charity, with a diverse team of staff and large numbers of volunteers.

Together, with Information Leadership, they have deployed a cost-effective Office 365 information and collaboration portal called ‘The Nest.’ This solution is focused on increasing consistency, visibility, and content security, while making information available throughout New Zealand wherever staff are working.


As a registered charity, Forest & Bird prioritizes spending which directly benefits conservation work. This means that they do not have access to a large budget for internal transformation projects.

Forest & Bird did not have a clearly defined approach for storing information, and their staff were using several different platforms and drives to store documents. This disparity caused workers to struggle finding the information they needed, as well as the most up-to-date versions of documents.
Past attempts to change systems utilized for information storage stalled because staff did not perceive an immediate positive impact on their work. This project needed to engage Forest & Bird personnel, in order to get them to buy into the benefits of a consistent approach, which required additional training.

Because Forest & Bird staff work from many remote areas of New Zealand, they need to be able access information from anywhere while ensuring easy and secure ways of offline synchronization due to a lack of service coverage in remote locations.


Forest & Bird worked with Information Leadership to create a defined approach for storing information and develop an Office 365 information and collaboration portal called ‘The Nest.’ By using Office 365, the organization is taking advantage of the discounted licensing Microsoft provides to charitable organizations.

To gain trust and acceptance, Forest & Bird rolled out ‘The Nest’ in several phases with the goal of maximizing staff engagement. The team completed first digital workspaces for the human resources, marketing, and communication teams. They also provided hands-on training and assistance to support staff in the transition from ad-hoc workflows when dealing with information.

The team designed ‘The Nest’ workspaces to be simple, easy to use, and sustainable based on consistent and intuitive information structures. A key benefit of Office 365’s reporting system is that uptake and collaboration trends are measurable. The result is that Forest & Bird can enhance and develop these workspaces further over time based on usage trends and business improvements that they are able to identify.

The use of Azure based workplace apps enables automated classification of metadata. This capability means that, in many circumstances, staff do not need to enter metadata while also gaining the benefit of making it easier to find and access information. Another workplace app, Smart Case Files, simplifies content management and gives administrative staff access to granular security permission functionality, without having system administrator rights. These features are particularly useful for managing the risks associated with a large volunteer base and the wide range of initiatives under way at Forest & Bird.

In addition, the team is using Microsoft streaming technologies to make videos and other large files available.

One of the challenges was that everyone was using different places to store information. We were using a lot of different drives. So, people wouldn't know where to find information, what information is most up to date. It's been great for me because I just send links, no attachments. I'm trying to create a culture of people finding what they need online.

Natalia Kovaleff (HR Administrator, Forest & Bird)


Teams that have already moved to their new ‘Nest’ workplaces are seeing the benefits and are assisting with the roll-out to other teams. These staff are starting to create a culture of being able to find what they need online – confidence and control, and no attachments!

The organization-wide roll out of ‘The Nest’ is still under way, allowing for a flexible program of updates and additions. In an ongoing partnership, Information Leadership reacts to the needs and availability of each team.

Also, for those people who often work in parts of New Zealand that don’t have internet access, Office 365’s offline and synchronization capabilities are a game changer. Remote team members feel more confident that they have the latest files and that their changes will be synchronized whenever they have internet access.

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