Sutherland Shire improves internal processes with online forms

In 2009, as part of their Intranet redesign, Sutherland Shire Council decided to revise and reorganise the forms and documents that were previously scattered all over their old site.

Their previous intranet was a very basic site of HTML pages, that didn’t really cater to their staff needs and was full of unrelated forms and documents. They had about 200 forms in PDF that ranged from annual leave forms, sick leave form or gift register form.

These forms were organised by business unit so you had to know which business unit they came from to be able to access it. It was a messy system that was hard to use, generated a lot of inefficiencies and created information duplication. 

The issue

They first tried bringing all their forms, policies and guidelines together and made it one of the headings on the top menu of the Intranet. Then, they reordered them based on subject so when someone looked at the topic, for example training, they would get the training policy or a reference to it.

But this wasn’t enough, people still had to print the form and fill it in by hand, and some forms took a very long time to go through the approval process. In the end, Sutherland reached out to Seamless in search for a solution.

Seamless recommended Sutherland Shire to move the PDF’s into the SeamlessCMS Online Forms system. Online forms can be automatically sent to the approver for revision or to another system for processing, reducing manual work, lead-times and paper waste.  

Sutherland Shire Council home page - screen shot

Project goals

Sutherland wanted the system to be able to identify when a staff member submits a form, who submitted the form, who they report to, who their manager is and if they still have a director who the director is; moving up the ladder until it reaches its destination.

They also wanted SeamlessCMS to be able to identify if a person was on leave and someone else was acting in their position, to send the form to the person who was filling in; and they wanted all of it to be dynamic so that if there were changes in the organization the form would know that. 

Sutherland Shire Council Staff Directory - screen shot


The SeamlessCMS Online Forms gave Sutherland the ability to track form submissions within the system, so the CMS automatically detects where the submission is coming from and where it should go next. Seamless also introduced the Form Workflow to allow Sutherland to replicate their traditional paper form workflows online.

The Form Workflow allows submissions to be sent to the appropriate staff member for revision and approval. It also allows for the form submission to go back to the original submitter if it requires changes and notifies the submitter if the form gets rejected. Seamless opened up the Form Workflow API, so Sutherland could build any necessary integrations and customisations with their internal developer team.

Council used this to customise the processing of the information when a form is submitted. For example, Sutherland could change the normal submission process so the CMS sends the data to their HR system in the right format required by that system.

Likewise, through a customisation of the Online Forms tool, SeamlessCMS pulls out information from Sutherland’s pay system to know when a person is on leave, when someone is acting, or who they report to, and then the uses that information for the submission and follows that workflow.

Each staff member can see a list of the forms they have submitted or forms that are waiting for their approval directly on the Intranet homepage. They can quickly know who submitted that form or where in it is in the approval cycle. 


To start with, Sutherland picked their 5 most used forms and moved them online. They also gave home access to the intranet to all staff, so they can submit a form, request sick leave, and approve forms from home. To keep things simple and easy to manage Sutherland has created only 8 generic workflows and they assign one of these to each of form they bring online.

20% of Sutherland’s forms are now online with a workflow, while 25% are online but do not have a workflow assigned to them. The rest are still sitting in PDF and getting evaluated to decide if they will be moved online or binned.