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Case study - LifeWorks


  • Counselling service
  • PCs: 40 (80 users)
  • Locations: 8


LifeWorks had been using a 2-person IT support provider who were good when on site, but challenging to prioritise across multiple sites. Long delays were frequent. LifeWorks was grappling with how to balance direct investment in client services against emerging internal IT needs.


LifeWorks partnered with Combo® to provide IT support for all 8 sites. Initiatives have included a new wide area network, upgraded servers, online booking system for counselling appointments, easy access for remote staff, and gradual introduction of money-saving thin clients.


Senior staff no longer waste time tackling day-to-day IT problems and instead focus on strategically managing major changes. Online systems are streamlining service to counselling clients and thin client computers are significantly reducing IT capital costs.


LifeWorks Relationship Counselling and Education Services provide affordable professional counselling, family dispute resolution, mediation and education for individuals, couples, families, children, adolescents, work teams and organisations.
LifeWorks is a not-for-profit organisation partially funded by the Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

LifeWorks serves the Victorian community with 8 branches throughout metropolitan Melbourne and country Victoria promoting positive relationships for the achievement of wellbeing and the fullness of life. It provides workplace services to business for investigations, mediations, training, critical incident debriefing, people management and leadership.

The business problem

Many of LifeWorks’ counsellors work part time. Over 80 staff, at 8 metropolitan and regional sites, use 40 computers throughout the organisation. Clients book counselling, education programs and dispute resolution sessions at local offices and pay through EFTPOS.

LifeWorks’ main client database also interacts with Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs databases in Canberra as part of funding accountability arrangements.

LifeWorks recognised that an old IT infrastructure was holding the not-for-profit organisation back. A reactive approach to IT management meant that senior staff were spending inordinate amounts of time sorting out routine problems like password resets, logon problems, faulty keyboards and monitors for staff.

Partnering with Combo

“We considered a range of tender proposals,” says Peter Holmes, Finance & Administration Manager at LifeWorks. “Combo’s proposal displayed a clear understanding of the IT infrastructure needs of a not-for-profit organisation of our size.”

“The difference in IT support was obvious to everyone when Combo started. Every computer has a sticker with Combo's telephone and email support contacts. With Combo’s ValueCare® Plan our staff can ring direct and get immediate response.”

“With IT support clearly under control, we were able to focus on implementing our strategic goal to overhaul our old IT infrastructure.”

“Combo upgraded our servers, introduced and improved links between all of our offices, improved remote access, and implemented a standard operating environment to ensure computers throughout the organisation each have the same software. This is the sort of strategic overhaul we could never have done with our previous reactive approach to IT.”

“When we standardised on Microsoft Exchange 2007, Server 2008 and Office 2007, Combo were instrumental in assisting us to get all of that software free as a generous donation from Microsoft for our not-for-profit organisation. We were thrilled.”

“When we moved from our old CBD office in Collins Street to a new office in Bourke Street, Combo made the IT move painless. From initial planning through to actual execution, I was amazed by Combo’s attention to detail. We had allowed all day Saturday and Sunday, but Combo had the move completed by 4pm Saturday and were back on Monday morning just to check that everyone could log-in easily from their new desks,” said Peter Holmes.

“Now when our older PCs are retired, Combo is progressively replacing them with low cost thin clients that are simply used to access applications and data stored on central servers.”

Business benefits for LifeWorks

“Responsive desktop support and progressive introduction of thin client terminals is delivering significant savings and efficiencies but it’s Combo’s strategic support for our organisational growth that I personally value,” continues Peter Holmes.

“Combo worked with us to develop an electronic booking system based on Microsoft Exchange. This makes it very easy for sessional counsellors and trainers (who may only work 4, 5 or 6 hour shifts) to see scheduled appointments.”

“Having well supported IT infrastructure has enabled us to focus on new business initiatives. We are about to implement SMS text reminders to clients before counselling and training appointments. Next year, we will trial electronic receipting for payments.”

“Partnering with Combo has transformed IT from a headache into a real strategic driver in our organisational growth.”