Multicultural Communities Council Gold Coast (MCCGC) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to providing support services to culturally and linguistically diverse communities in the Gold Coast area for over 40 years. Beneath MCCGC’s organisational umbrella, they oversee two distinctive community-focused brands: MCCGC’s Community Programs team and CURA Aged Care Services. 

The MCCGC’s Community Programs team aid individuals in their settlement journey, bolsters their overall wellbeing, tackles mental health challenges, facilitates employment prospects, navigates the intricacies of the NDIS, offers cultural training, empowers them through capacity building, champions their rights, and fosters community connections. CÜRA Aged Care Services is wholeheartedly committed to enhancing the lives of seniors in Southeast Queensland and Northern New South Wales. CÜRA empowers them to age gracefully, maintain their independence in the comfort of their own homes and link with their community. 

The MCCGC team of 190 staff, fluent in over 45 languages, has assisted clients from more than 43 countries, reflecting MCCGC’s commitment to diversity and cultural understanding. 

The Challenge

Stuart McFarlane joined MCCGC as CIO in 2022, finding an organisation without a digital strategy or IT leadership. The incumbent IT provider offered basic operational support and lacked the expertise to guide strategic improvements. IT systems were inefficient and vulnerable, with inadequate identity management, poor cybersecurity practices, and insufficient backup and redundancy. 

Staff struggled with outdated equipment and software, hindering their ability to serve clients effectively. McFarlane’s challenge was to transform MCCGC’s IT into a strategic enabler. Before launching a transformation program, he assessed the organisation’s technology capabilities, staff skills, and digital maturity. 

A Strategic Partnership

McFarlane’s critical insight was the need for a trustworthy IT partnership, not a service provider. Grassroots IT was selected for its proven expertise working with mid-market non-profit organisations, and its proven track record of offering strategic guidance for long-term improvement rather than just reactively solving daily fires.  

Together Grassroots IT and MCCGC formulated a plan to rationalise systems, apply appropriate technologies, and address urgent vulnerabilities. The partnership approach brought strategic dialogue, versatile expertise, and access to specialised resources needed for a successful transformation.  

Following a thorough assessment of the existing IT infrastructure, Grassroots IT and MCCGC prioritised improvements based on strategic goals and potential impact, working to implement several key initiatives such as: 

  • Identity and access management 
  • Remediating cybersecurity gaps 
  • Platform & infrastructure upgrades 
  • Enhancing end-user support 

Importantly, the partnership focused on appropriate, right-sized solutions rather than over-engineering with expensive enterprise-class tools and unnecessary complexity. Optimisation for a mid-market organisation brought big results without unnecessary capabilities and costs. 

We can achieve great things for our business when we let our digital partner join the conversation. Grassroots IT has a contributing and guiding seat at our table.”  – Stuart McFarlane

Identity & Access Management Foundations

MCCGC had already embarked on migrating some of its services to the cloud, but the existing on-premises infrastructure was proving troublesome due to not being integrated with Azure Active Directory. This situation meant users were forced to manage separate identities and credentials for cloud and on-prem systems, causing unnecessary complexity for end users and IT support staff. 

To help consolidate user identities, Grassroots IT worked closely with MCCGC to properly integrate their legacy on-premises Active Directory environment with Azure AD utilising Azure AD Connect synchronisation. This integration allowed user accounts and password credentials to be synced between the cloud and on-prem systems. Users were transitioned to unified cloud identities with matching UPNs, eliminating the frustrations of duplicate accounts and credentials across cloud and on-prem and providing enhanced security and improved user experience.  

This unification of cloud and on-prem Active Directories set the foundation for future initiatives that will fully deploy Microsoft Entra ID and permanently retire all legacy Active Directories.  

Closing Cybersecurity Gaps

The assessment uncovered several security gaps in the existing MCCGC environment, including unchecked backup access, inadequate firewalls, poorly protected VPN, and lack of endpoint encryption. Grassroots IT worked closely with MCCGC to close these gaps, implementing a series of security solutions to protect the organisation better.  

Solutions implemented included: 

  • Deployed Sophos firewalls for enhanced network protection 
  • Replaced Windows VPN with Sophos VPN, including mandated MFA 
  • Enabled BitLocker encryption via Intune for data at rest security 
  • Ongoing cybersecurity awareness training for all staff 

Executing these strategic security initiatives allowed Grassroots IT to systematically remediate vulnerabilities through integrated solutions protecting the expanded attack surface and providing a proven, right-sized foundation for ongoing cybersecurity improvements. Further ongoing initiatives will expand Microsoft Intune and Azure AD capabilities for strengthened identity, access, and data protection. 

“Our partnership enables us to respond to cyber threats without being hindered by contractual issues. We have prioritised protection over anything else.”  – Stuart McFarlane

Platform & Infrastructure Upgrades

MCCGC’s aging on-premises infrastructure posed significant risks including unstable systems and constrained performance. Outdated core switches and Wi-Fi infrastructure led to poor connectivity and limited adoption of mobile devices and data-dependant cloud services. Endpoints were running outdated operating systems that were unsupported and posed security and compatibility issues. 

To address these infrastructure risks, MCCGC executed several key upgrades:. 

  •  Core network components were replaced to provide higher performance and reliability. 
  •  Outdated endpoints were refreshed to obtain supported and secure machines. 
  • Microsoft Intune implemented mobile device management to enable productivity and improve security. 

These crucial infrastructure improvements helped stabilize unreliable systems, enhanced security protections and boosted end-user productivity. Ongoing initiatives will fully retire remaining on-premises servers by migrating file services and applications into the Microsoft cloud including SharePoint Online and Azure. 

Enhancing the end-user experience

A key objective in the IT transformation was improving the experience for MCCGC staff, who rely on technology every day to serve clients. When Grassroots IT took over support, the end user experience was frustrating for staff, with inefficient, outdated tools hindering productivity. 

Problems frequently encountered included unreliable network connectivity, lack of remote access, forgotten passwords for multiple systems, and severe delays in resolving support tickets. These issues resulted in staff workaround and waste, taking time away from assisting clients. 

MCCGC has empowered staff with improved technology by modernising core infrastructure and platforms. Upgrading network components enhanced connectivity, while cloud identity integration simplified access through single sign-on. Migrating file services and applications to the cloud made content securely available anywhere. 

Ongoing initiatives will further optimise user productivity by consolidating remaining legacy platforms into cloud services and adopting cloud productivity tools like Microsoft 365 to centralise document collaboration and communication. 

Just as importantly, Grassroots IT has focused on improving support experiences by resolving issues rapidly. Quick responses to tickets and outages have rebuilt trust and confidence in IT support. Resolution times have improved from months to hours thanks to effective monitoring tools and support processes. 

Through this user-focused approach, Grassroots IT has transformed technology from a hindrance into an enabler for MCCGC’s mission. Staff are now equipped with the tools, access, and support needed to focus fully on client outcomes. 

Successful Outcomes

Over 15 months leading the digital transformation, Stuart McFarlane and Grassroots IT has overseen tremendous improvements, including: 

  • Systems stabilised after years of instability from aging infrastructure plagued with performance and reliability issues. 
  • Overall security posture is enhanced through solutions systematically addressing gaps such as poor firewalls, unmanaged devices, and lack of multi-factor authentication. 
  • Employee efficiency improved with modern, responsive devices and applications replacing clunky, outdated technology. 
  • Ongoing strategic guidance provided through strong partnerships facilitating long-term success. 
  • 75% reduction in support tickets as network and hardware problems were proactively resolved. 

From a technology perspective, Grassroots IT helped MCCGC establish foundational cyber protections and resiliency, allowing the expansion of cloud services. By collaborating closely, they transformed IT from an Achilles heel into a strategic asset supporting broader digital maturity. Staff are empowered with technology tools to enable their mission rather than hindered by unreliable infrastructure. 

The successful strategic partnership between Grassroots IT and MCCGC serves as a model for how smart organisations turn around problematic technology environments by investing in both infrastructure and expertise. With the guidance of a trusted advisor and the organisation’s leadership, IT can be elevated to support business goals effectively. 

Stuart concludes: “You can’t do that if you don’t have the right partner. By cooperating with each other, MCCGC has managed to transform IT. 

With Grassroots IT by our side, we feel assured that our Cloud First approach will pave the way for our organisation’s expansion and digital sophistication.”  – Stuart McFarlane

About This Case Study

Registered training organisation Churchill Education have relied on Grassroots IT for Managed IT Support and Cybersecurity since 2008. Randall Smith, CEO of Churchill Education, said he appreciates the proactivity shown by the Grassroots IT team. “They fix things that I didn’t even know were broken, so that I don’t have to try and be across every detail,” he said. “I know Grassroots IT will have it sorted ahead of the game.”

“The team at Grassroots IT are great at adapting systems to work with us, rather than forcing us to fit the systems,” he said. “They also conduct regular cybersecurity reviews – in fact, we have one underway at the moment.”

Cybersecurity assessment keeps tabs on the changing environment

Of course, cybersecurity is not a “once and done” proposition. It’s an arms race between IT providers and cyber criminals to stay ahead of the game, continually requiring new tools, techniques and strategies. In March 2022 Grassroots IT are delivering a cybersecurity assessment for Churchill Education to ensure their systems are as secure as needed.

A well planned transition to the cloud

Randall said that Grassroots IT set Churchill Education up with Microsoft Sharepoint, a system that works very well. “We have some specialised software but Grassroots IT has made everything integrate correctly,” Randall said. “We had a hybrid model with some data in the cloud and some in the office but the transition to the cloud went very smoothly.”

“We have remote workers and Grassroots IT have set up their systems so that everything is secure and runs well,” he said.

“We had a server room that cost us money, so we moved into the cloud — including moving historical files so that our business could continue seamlessly. It was a well-planned transition.”

Proactivity and excellent client service

Randall said he appreciates the responsive service he receives. “Everyone wants to feel like the number one client, and Grassroots IT do treat us that way,” he said. “They’ve grown with us but you never feel like you’re stuck in online chat or just a ticket in the system.”
“They have the personal touch and you can always just pick up the phone and talk to someone,” Randall said. “I don’t even buy a laptop without contacting Grassroots IT to get things set up properly.”

“From day one we have had a strong trust in what Grassroots IT are doing, and they’re yet to let me down,” he said.

About This Case Study

Grassroots IT has worked with Northrop since 2017, initially providing Managed IT Support for their Brisbane office before expanding to provide project, digital transformation and support services for all staff nationally. The team provides advice and guidance directly to Northrop COO Justin Davies, which influences their company-wide IT strategies. We also help with ongoing Digital Transformation projects using Microsoft Power Apps & SharePoint.

IT solutions tailored to achieve results

Justin Davies said Northrop values Grassroots IT’s proactivity. “IT is an ever-evolving landscape, and Grassroots identify things on the horizon and draw it to our attention early for due consideration,” he said. “They assist with the decision making process by doing initial research about the value any proposed changes may bring to the business. It helps us to see the whole picture.”

Mr Davies said Grassroots IT take the time to understand Northrop’s business, ensuring they appreciate how different IT solutions may or may not work for the company.

“Grassroots IT have been involved with some project deployments off the back of Office 365,” Justin said. “It’s clear that they know the products well and how to get the best from them.”Mr Davies said that rather than employing an expensive, “best practice” solution in every situation, Grassroots IT instead suggest and implement solutions that are practical and fit for purpose – while never compromising on quality.

“At Northrop we are a consulting firm ourselves, and we work hard to be a trusted partner,” Justin Davies said. “That’s what Grassroots IT are for me.”

“They have a vested interest in helping me in my role, and I have confidence that they genuinely want the best outcomes for us,” he said.

Strategic insight with the personal touch adds value

Natalie Butler, Northrop’s Business Support Manager, echoes Justin Davies’ comments. “In my experience with IT suppliers, Grassroots are the cream of the crop,” she said. “They are our go-to because they have won our confidence as experts who are always ahead of the game.” Again, Natalie emphasised that Grassroots IT conform to their clients’ needs, rather than the other way around. “They have been incredibly adaptable with us,” she said.

“They don’t try and make us fit their IT solution – they listen, understand and make sure their solutions work for us.”

Natalie said Northrop and Grassroots IT share the same ethos on how to look after clients. “We throw a lot of challenges at Grassroots IT but they’re always very flexible. They always look for the best outcome and find ways to make things work,” she said.

Just as Northrop’s COO values Grassroots’ proactivity, so too does Natalie. “They aren’t limited just to their internal knowledge. They ‘rub shoulders’ with the outside IT world, so they often bring us opportunities to save money and capitalise on what’s new,” she said. “David is super-proactive and well and truly across things. We feel there are no missed opportunities thanks to Grassroots IT.”

Grassroots IT’s strategic viewpoint is another area that adds significant value for Northrop. “They have an ability to look at the broader horizon, and encourage us to look at things over say the next 5 years before we make a decision, rather than just focussing on what’s important today,” she said. “We find that so, so valuable.”

“In terms of high-level project work, we work closely with Rowan, Tony, and David,” Natalie said. “They are always happy to share their insights and expertise at all levels of our business.”Natalie said that Grassroots IT’s ticketing system works well, but never gets in the way of human interaction. “It’s not a barrier to our relationship at all. We work closely with the support team, and Grassroots have even refined their processes so they work for us – not just for the sake of a system,” she said.

As with any long-term relationship, there are bound to be a few minor hiccups along the way. But it’s the way they are handled that really counts, Natalie said. “If ever things don’t work, Grassroots fix it so it won’t happen again,” she said. “They obviously have very good internal training and a good balance between the tech people and the client-facing account managers.”

About This Case Study

George Blake, the IT Manager at Westside Corporation, has worked with many MSPs over the years. But he says there are few that deliver like Grassroots IT. “Grassroots IT are second to none with their knowledge of systems,” George said. “They have skilled staff – not people learning their way on my time. Their high end employees are very good.”

“They understand that I want a pre-planned approach to get my staff involved, not just leave it to people to figure it out themselves,” he said.

“They are responsive and they help me to keep IT under control.”

“Grassroots IT have an interest in our business, and they take the time to understand our strategy,” he said. “They then implement accordingly with the end goal in mind.”

Expert support on IT solutions

George said that in his experience, IT must be a partnership between the MSP and the client. That’s exactly what he gets from Grassroots IT.

“Grassroots IT are an extension of our team,” George said. “Actually, it’s more like they’re a part of our team.”

“You know IT is working if no one is talking about it,” he said. “With Grassroots everything runs well; they take the time to understand what I need.”

“It’s definitely one of the better engagements I’ve experienced. “

Installing new IT solutions is another area where Grassroots IT have shone. “You can’t just leave it to someone who isn’t engaged and expect a good outcome,” George said. “How the installation is managed is critical — you need people who will engage with the business for implementation and Grassroots IT do that.”

About This Case Study

Commercial & Industrial real estate agency Madsen Property have relied on Grassroots IT for Managed IT Support for many years, also recently working with Grassroots IT to migrate from legacy in-house systems to Microsoft 365. Madsen Property Principal Ken Madsen said Grassroots IT made sure that Madsen Partners’ IT works all the time, when they need it.

“In our business, IT is crucial, since a lost opportunity can be very costly,” he said. “We’ve worked with Grassroots IT since 2009. They handle everything to do with our IT, I don’t have to worry about it.”

“You could say that technology and I are ‘difficult friends’,” Ken laughed. “But Grassroots are serious about making it easy for humans to have seamless reliable IT.”

“Ben has cut through the nonsense and he and his team look at the problem, and tell me ‘This is what you need’. That’s very valuable,” Ken said.

Grassroots IT helps the team migrate to the cloud

With their ageing in-house servers approaching end-of-life, Grassroots IT recommended making the move into the Microsoft 365 cloud platform. Not only would this move save money by not having to replace the ageing servers, but it would enable a whole new way of working.

“We weren’t in the cloud, so we needed to change,” Ken said. “Grassroots IT helped us with a migration to Office 365.”

The move to Microsoft 365 would prove timely, allowing Ken and his team to embrace a remote working model that enabled them to continue working without disruption through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The last two years of the pandemic with Madsen Partners working as a distributed team has reinforced that everything Ben said was correct,” Ken said. “Very rarely are we down. Actually in the last few years, we’ve had no problems whatsoever.”

“Partnerships are important to us, and Grassroots IT have given us absolutely no reason to change,” Ken said. “I’ve met some of the team personally, and they all feel reliable and trustworthy.”

“I’d definitely recommend Grassroots IT. It all just works smoothly.”