How Western Australia’s largest disability support provider fosters independence in a secure, accessible environment
customers’ personal data secured
password to replace 18 with Single Sign-On
applications deployed with Okta Integration Network
- Embracing an organisation-wide digital transformation
- Implementing a zero-trust migration to the cloud
- Access to the Activ platform on-the-go
- Integrating technology to equip customers with greater independence
To bring the quality of care and support for the disability community to the next level, Activ Foundation (Activ) needed to free up more of its staff’s time and allow more flexibility in their day-to-day work. The organisation decided to take a major step in its digital transformation, moving its on-premise apps to the cloud.
The decision to move to the cloud was a big step in an organisation where technology seemed far removed from day-to-day activities. Activ needed a solution that was not only secure but intuitive so that every stakeholder could access the platform easily.
Using Multi-Factor Authentication and Single Sign-On, staff could easily access the various apps across the Activ platform from their tablets or mobile devices. This meant that support workers could provide more frequent updates about their customers.
Activ plans to continue integrating technology as part of its Independence strategy, which is all about delivering proven pathways to independence for people with intellectual disability. Trusting Okta to provide a secure cloud environment that’s also flexible and adaptable, the organisation plans to add on more apps and features to its service suite to remain as a leading National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provider.
“We wanted an identity solution that didn’t tie us down to a single vendor, is easy to deploy, use, and maintain new apps, and with Single Sign-On capabilities. Okta checked all the boxes for us.”
Virat Shah, ICT Manager, Activ Foundation
Improving the quality of support services, securely
Every person has the right to live an independent life. On a mission to give people of all abilities the same opportunities to achieve independence, Activ Foundation (Activ), a leading registered National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provider in Australia, provides individualised services for people living with intellectual disability.
The not-for-profit organisation supports more than 1,800 individuals in Western Australia. “To remain as a top choice for disability support, we must equip our support workers well, so that they can spend more time supporting customers to achieve their independence goals,” says Virat Shah, ICT Manager at Activ.
To fulfil this mission, Activ relies on technology as its enabler and problem solver. Shah never tires of asking: What can we do to support staff to perform their work in a more mobile capacity whilst they are working with customers? “I want my team to move from being service providers to business partners, and with the right technologies, we are better equipped to support our customers achieve greater independence,” he says.
Activ is proud of its staff and the belief, skills and commitment they bring to supporting their customers to live the life they choose, but some staff may lack expertise when it comes to technology. Coupled with the fact that customer databases require a high level of security, Activ needed to provide a fool-proof solution to access its applications without compromising any data.
“IT used to be a back-office function, where support staff would need to sit behind a computer to complete necessary admin tasks,” Shah explains. “Now, we’re looking to change that so that every support worker can easily use their own device or one that’s provided to them, to enter data about their customers more frequently and accurately, from wherever they are.”
On the external side, Activ provides every customer with internet access and equips them with tools and programmes like online videos that help them learn new skills or communicate better with their support staff. For example, individuals who are unable to speak can use a tablet to better communicate their needs like food choices, or to request activities they want to engage in.
As Activ continues to integrate technology into its everyday activities, it needs a highly secure platform like Okta to ensure that all of its data remains secure, regardless of where or when staff and customers access its platform. “Security is a core pillar in the service we deliver. Making sure customer information is stored safely and securely is of utmost importance to Activ and is taken very seriously,” says Shah.
Anyone with access to the Activ platform can be a risk to the organisation. Whether deliberate or not, the organisation can be exposed without a solid security structure in place. For a safe, Zero Trust strategy, the team decided to implement Adaptive Multi-Factor Authentication and Single Sign-On for easy and secure access to the platform. It also deployed Universal Directory for full visibility and management of all its users on the platform, and API Access Management to secure API access and further mitigate risks from external applications.
Protecting personal data while liberating platform access
When the Activ team decided to move the majority of its on-prem data to the cloud, they needed to find a solution that was easy to implement, use, and maintain. In an industry where technology isn’t a strong point for some of their staff, accessibility and ease of use were just as important as ensuring a high level of data security.
Activ found Okta’s Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) and Single Sign-On (SSO) to be the answer. “Moving to the cloud meant that we suddenly had an open perimeter to manage. MFA not only gives staff freedom to access applications from their own devices at any time of day but also takes away the anxiety around security breaches,” says Shah. Without MFA, if someone on a mobile 4G device connected directly to a core application, it wouldn’t go through a firewall so no one would be able to know if the device was compromised.
In another example, if a person has logged in from Sydney, and two hours later is trying to log in from Western Australia, Adaptive MFA will automatically block that person from logging in. However, if the same thing happens within six hours apart, the user will be required to re-enter the MFA. “In other words, we can set our own rules and parameters around how we want to use it, which is great because we have that flexibility,” says Shah.
Coupled with API Access Management for the core team to monitor API access from a single point, the solution was a no-brainer. “We used to have 18 different passwords for various apps, but implementing Single Sign-On means that employees only need a single password to access all the apps they need with ease.”
Working with an easy to use, mobile-friendly technology
Keeping a mindset that technology should be an enabler rather than a hindrance, mobility and ease of use is high on the list of priorities for Shah and the team. Since most of their support workers spend 90% of their time in the field, using a tablet or mobile phone was the easiest way to stay connected. In addition, the Okta Integration Network enables Activ to seamlessly integrate a range of solutions that provide a smooth user journey when customers sign on to the platform.
“With Okta, we can involve our customers’ chosen support teams by allowing them to see their progress using a secure, private Webex space that is accessible via a tablet or mobile phone, so they can be connected to the individual’s goals and achievements.”
Whether it’s swimming or cooking, the entire customer journey and progress can be showcased in the form of videos and photos. Having this layer of transparency in the work they do provides Activ with a strong differentiator over the other service providers.
The best part? People have a choice when deciding to access the Activ platforms. Smartphone users may choose to use Okta Verify for MFA, while those without smart devices may choose to use the SMS option.
Since integrating Okta, the organisation has deployed 30 apps and counting. “We wanted an identity solution that didn’t tie us down to a single vendor, is easy to deploy, use and maintain new apps, and with Single Sign-On capabilities. Okta checked all the boxes for us,” says Shah.
Giving back to the community through technology that enables
As the first not-for-profit in Australia to work with the Okta for Good team, Shah says the experience has been a positive one. “Our primary reason for moving to the cloud was to provide more proactive support. With technology accessible at our fingertips, support workers can enter data more frequently and in real-time, which helps the next person on shift to stay informed so they can respond and provide the appropriate follow-through,” Shah explains.
Capabilities aside, the Okta Professional Services team supported the team through the transition to the cloud and provided comprehensive training for Activ’s engineers.
“Technology used to be the last thing people discussed, but these days, it’s the first thing on the list. Okta enables us to grow as an organisation, evolving alongside technology that is integrated into our systems in a secure, reliable way.”
As the largest disability support provider in Western Australia, Activ provides individualised services for people with intellectual disability, offering services in accommodation, community, employment, training and education, short-term accommodation and behaviour support. Founded in 1951, Activ was formed by a group of families who wanted more for their children with disability who had become marginalised by society. Today, Activ supports more than 1,800 individuals to achieve greater independence.