Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies

Since 1912, Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS) has represented Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario and provided service in the areas of government relations, communications, information management, education, and training to advocate for the protection and well-being of children. OACAS is the voice of child welfare in Ontario. Promoting child welfare issues to influence public commitment and opinion is a critical role for OACAS.

"The combination of our Azure-hosted Extranet User Manager, Office 365’s SharePoint Online, and site customizations proved to be an all-in-one solution for OACAS' extranet needs."

As an important part of OACAS' digital communication and collaboration strategy, OACAS' Member Portal publishes documents (currently about 1200) and other content to a wide variety of stakeholders in child welfare in Ontario. This includes workers directly serving clients, supervisors, service directors, executive directors, and board members from 44 member children's aid societies.

OACAS' Member Portal was an HTML-only site created with DreamWeaver that did not have underlying document management or collaboration features. OACAS had previously attempted to create an On Premises SharePoint 2013 based member extranet, but the technology proved to be challenging to build and maintain at enterprise-level expectations with a not-for-profit budget and IT team.

The Members Portal also needed to support various committees and networking groups (for example, provincial groups working on HR or adoption issues with field-wide relevance) with secure online collaboration facilities including discussion boards and document management.

OACAS also faced a number of other challenges including:

  • End users of the current Members Portal experienced challenges locating suitable content as there was no search functionality
  • Content authors had difficulty maintaining the taxonomy of an ever-growing archive of documents through organizational and related taxonomic change
  • Having to setup, configure, and maintain On Premises SharePoint servers was costly and beyond the capabilities of the in house IT team
  • Static websites required manual modification and updates by web designers; these sites lacked the dynamic functionality and features OACAS was looking for
  • And lastly, provide user access to Desire2Learn to allow end users to complete their required training

The solution for OACAS was to subscribe to Office 365 in order to use SharePoint Online and use Extranet User Manager (EUM) with Office 365 integration to create and manage external user accounts.  Along with these tools, the branding and navigation was customized to provide the desired user experience. This has been populated with content and rolled out internally at OACAS, with full rollout to all 8,000 OACAS members in Spring 2015. Watch our customer case study video below.

While OACAS could have used the free external sharing provided to all Office 365 users, they wanted more governance and control over the external users and their experience.  Rather than requiring the users to sign into the Members Portal with a Microsoft login on a Microsoft branded login page, they wanted to ensure that users registered with an email that matched their member organization's domain, and that they were placed in the appropriate group for that organization. Using a customized version of the EUM registration page made this possible. Branding of the whole experience reflected the OACAS brand, including the login page.

A significant benefit of OACAS being a registered charity subscribing to Office 365 is that they are entitled to an unlimited amount of Office 365 E1 licenses at no cost.  By leveraging this, OACAS was able to obtain 8,000 E1 licenses for the association's members. OACAS subscribed to the Azure-hosted version of EUM with Office 365 integration which provides them with an easy to use tool for creating and managing the external user accounts, including automated provisioning of the corresponding Azure AD accounts and assigning the Office 365 licenses. The solution did not require any additional hardware or the associated maintenance.

Extranet User Manager was implemented to address a number of OACAS's extranet needs including:

  • The ability to have all of their extranet self-service pages (registration, login, forgot password, update profile, change password) branded, externally published, and accessible.
  • The EUM Administrative Interface allowed their internal team to activate external users and manage their SharePoint site access. Once approved, extranet users were given the ability to access the Members Portal, update their profile information, and change their password.
  • The responsive design ensured that all extranet users could interact with the EUM pages regardless of whether they were using a desktop, tablet, or mobile device. All extranet pages conformed to the look and feel of the OACAS corporate branding.
  • EUM enabled single sign-on between Office 365 and Desire2Learn, which allowed users access to both applications with a single account. Upon registering for the OACAS portal, EUM utilizes the Desire2Learn API to create an account for the user. This account is associated with their OACAS profile and grants the user single sign-on.

In addition to the EUM features that were added, other site improvements were made to the extranet including: 

  • Customized top, left, and breadcrumb navigation was developed to render based on the configuration in SharePoint's underlying Term Store
  • Friendly URLs were defined to implement the site structure through a single site and the Term Store

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We are thrilled to announce that our solution used for OACAS has won the Metalogix Best of Breed Award for Best Implementation of a Governance or Security Solution for SharePoint. See the full award page: