Reseller News

Stranded on SharePoint: Whangarei District Council forced to find new web platform

Rolling deletion deadlines from Microsoft force change at northern council
  • Rob O'Neill (New Zealand Reseller News)
  • 21 June, 2019 11:00
Whangarei Town Basin

Whangarei Town Basin

Whangarei District Council is looking for a new web platform after Microsoft removed support for public facing websites from SharePoint Online.

The council website is the council’s primary online customer service tool, supporting residents and ratepayers complete tasks, source information and engage with council on community and district issues.

But it must now be replaced after Microsoft ended SharePoint Online support for external websites in 2015.

Microsoft made changes to the SharePoint Online public websites feature by removing the ability to create a public website after 9 March, 2015. Customers who used this feature before 9 March 2015, however, were provided continued access to the feature for a minimum of two years. 

Before the 2017 deadline ticked over, Microsoft enabled a postponement for existing customers to block the removal of their SharePoint Online public website.

However, it also posted a further deadline, 31 March 2018, after which it said it would will delete all public sites that had been postponed. Users could recover these from their recycle bin for 30 days.

Whangarei District Council is searching for a configurable platform will be able to respond to the common requirements of a New Zealand local government website without need for bespoke development.

"Providing an excellent customer experience is central to this project," the council explained in a tender. 

"Our customers need to find information, complete tasks and engage with us in the way that suits them, and using the device that they choose. The design interface will be task driven with a strong search capability."

Council is seeking a cloud-based managed solution that can scale and deliver customers an "amazing user experience".

SharePoint 2010 currently supports three out of 12 to 15 council websites, but they are the most vital ones: wdc.govt.nz, the library and venues and events.

Among the required outcomes is resolving "at least 50 per cent" of staff pain points in maintaining the current website.