“Our staff love the experience: they have a phone system that’s easy to use and it works wherever they are connected.”
Andrew Pritchett, Chief Information Officer, Griffith Hack
As Australia’s leading intellectual property (IP) law firm, Griffith Hack helps hundreds of companies to file patents and defend corporate intellectual property. With more than 270 employees spread across Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth, staff travelled frequently between offices and client sites. Collaboration and communication became increasingly difficult as the company expanded and evolved.
Griffith Hack knew that ease of communication was essential for rapid and efficient client service. All staff needed to be able to quickly locate and consult with individual specialists, wherever they were working. Legal staff needed to collaborate easily on documents, with both their colleagues and their clients.
The existing PBX systems in all sites offered nothing more than dial tone; there were no collaboration benefits and staff got sick of leaving voicemails for each other. Antiquated contact lists and the need to repatch extensions when staff worked from different offices meant their PBX systems were high-maintenance with low utility. Telephony couldn’t be integrated with their billing system, adding another layer of administration and inefficiency.
When the firm’s Melbourne partners announced their office would relocate to the CBD, they insisted that any new telephone system had to be easy to use and maintain. “We wanted to save costs and reduce the risks and costs of re-cabling a new office,” says Andrew Pritchett, CIO for Griffith Hack. “We have a ‘One Firm’ strategy to knit staff and systems together into a consistent, Australia-wide enterprise. This was our chance to help make that strategy a reality.”
After reviewing many alternative technologies, working with Generation-e Pritchett decided to introduce Microsoft Lync. The initial deployment included IM, presence, desktop video conferencing and collaboration whilst monitoring employee uptake. This process ensured that staff more familiar with legacy PBX systems would embrace the advantages of the new technology.
“I was not certain our people would like desktop telephony or find unified communications easy to use, but with Lync we could avoid having to commit,” says Pritchett. “If staff liked the basic Lync application, we could expand the platform. Because Lync is modular and integrates with traditional PBX systems, we could adopt a gradual, low-risk approach.”
After surveying users and observing how employees were using the technology, Pritchett was confident that Lync was the right choice for full deployment. The next step was for Generation-e to replace existing PBX phone systems in all four offices with Microsoft Lync’s Enterprise Voice capabilities.
The deployment included:
- Polycom handsets which staff can plug in wherever they are working, simply allowing the phone to work the same – regardless of physical location;
- Integration of Lync with Microsoft Exchange 2010 means that voice messages appear as email in each Outlook inbox and that contacts’ presence is visible when using email;
- Connection of Lync to the firm’s client file database system which automatically appends the duration and cost of each call to the appropriate client file;
- Integration of Lync with the firm’s Polycom video conferencing system, so that staff working remotely could instantly join an office-based video conference.
Employees at Griffith Hack are delighted with their new communications capabilities, and 97% have reported it ‘easy to use’ in a post deployment survey.
Universal acceptance of Lync amongst staff has seen productivity soar. Employees have stopped looking up numbers, and have started looking up skills in order to capitalise on each other’s individual talents and resolve issues faster.
Further, integrated document management and communication allows for easy collaboration and federation makes all of the Lync features available when staff are working with commercial partners and legal clients.
For IT staff, the benefits are equally powerful. They now have a highly secure and reliable communications solution that works with existing tools and systems to provide easier telephony management, lower cost of ownership, greater flexibility and smoother deployment.
Although cutting costs was not the firm’s principal objective, the Microsoft unified communications platform has helped Griffith Hack rationalise on hardware, software and external suppliers nearly eradicating call charges and maintenance costs. And that is before considering any productivity gains.
“Maintaining four office PBX systems alone was costing us approximately A$100,000 per year,” Pritchett explained. “That cost has gone and as a result we calculate we will generate a return on investment within ten and a half months of full deployment.”
“To have hired an experienced IT professional to manage our desktops in-house, we were looking at a price tag in excess of one and a half times as much money as we now spend outsourcing this to Generation-e,”
Graham Keys, Director of IT for the College.
Brisbane Boys’ College has been preparing young men for the challenges of life since 1902. With current enrolment exceeding 1550 students in day and boarding arrangements, Brisbane Boys’ has achieved a reputation as one of the premier schools in Brisbane.
The college has a commitment to educating their students with the assistance of technology to enhance their learning outcomes. Because of this commitment, the College was presented with the mission of deploying 800 new computers in a very short timeframe bringing their total fleet to around 1600. After review, the College realised that they needed a feasible plan to continually manage their fleet moving forward.
Brisbane Boys’ College is committed to managing their computer fleet to protect their students as much as possible. This includes ensuring that nothing is installed on the students’ desktops that shouldn’t be. Previously, to manage the environment, the College used a combination of tools which resulted in cumbersome processes and reams of reporting to identify which programs and applications were installed on the desktops.
When it came to pushing out applications, the College’s IT team were manually adding and removing applications as required, making management tedious and time consuming. The introduction of the additional computers meant that management was about to become a mammoth task.
Brisbane Boys’ College reviewed hiring additional resources, but once they began looking at all the costs associated the total was more than they wanted to spend so they investigated more viable options.
Generation-e presented a managed service based on Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) to comprehensively assess, deploy and update their computers across their distributed environment. On top of this, Generation-e would build the managed operating environment which was to be used across the fleet, and manage the health of their environment on an ongoing basis.
Generation-e deployed a fully managed SCCM environment for the College to provide:
- Software Distribution: simplified distribution of applications and updates to all devices;
- Asset Intelligence: continuous visibility into what hardware and software assets they have, who is using them and where they are;
- Software Updates: simplified delivering and managing of updates to all devices;
- Configuration Management: to ensure compliance with desired configuration states;
- Operating System Deployment: allows for full deployment and configuration of servers and desktops from any previous state;
- Power Manager: tools to help save energy costs.
Brisbane Boys’ College has been thrilled with the results of deploying SCCM and the Managed Service Generation-e provides to keep it all running.
Some of the benefits the College has experienced include:
- 75% reduction in support desk tickets;
- Simpler desktop management with fast turnaround times;
- Easier reporting to ensure compliance;
- Added security with Forefront Endpoint Protection and Microsoft Desktop security solutions;
- Significant cost and time savings.
“To have hired an experienced IT professional to manage our desktops in-house, we were looking at a price tag in excess of one and a half times as much money as we now spend outsourcing this to Generation-e,” explains Graham Keys, Director of IT for the College. “Plus we get the benefit of the full spectrum of Generation-e’s cumulative expertise working for us. The engineers we deal with are incredibly knowledgeable and the quality of the service we receive is second to none.”
"It was very easy to use Microsoft Lync; just follow the prompts and there you are. Generation-e were terrific and they were excited about it too, which added to our excitement."
Ann Turnbull, CEO Lynden Aged Care
Lynden Aged Care is a standalone not-for-profit residential aged care facility with the long-term goal of helping people see out the end of their lives with as little stress as possible. For residents of Lynden and all aged care facilities, lack of mobility is a chronic problem that directly affects their quality of life.
Abled bodied people often don't realise that immobile people have to be lifted every time they need to get out of their beds. This can equate to nursing staff having to move them many times each day.
When these people go out for the day, they are frightened of being dropped, they don't eat or take medications on time and they have difficulty with toileting. Not only do they experience trauma on the day from having their routine altered, but they worry about the impending ordeal the night before and often can't sleep after it is over. What complicates things even further is that their carers are often their spouses who have their own health issues to contend with.
Something as simple as a standard 15 minute consultation at the doctor’s office typically requires extensive planning and resource coordination, takes up most of the day, disrupts scheduled medications and meals, and causes significant distress.
With Lynden planning to expand in the near future, the facility recognised the need to seek out new technologies that would help them achieve efficiency gains while continuing to provide a high standard of care for their residents.
Four years ago, Lynden was an organisation with a single email address for correspondence and an attitude toward technology that “almost bordered on fear” according to Ann Turnbull, Lynden’s CEO. Today, the facility finds itself embracing technology at every turn. It has an electronic medication management system as well as an electronic communication system running off the robust wireless network which services the entire facility; both of which have contributed significantly to improving efficiencies.
Lynden became aware of telehealth when the Australian government began promoting the initiative in 2011. The implications of greater accessibility to health care for residents and improved quality of care were obvious to Lynden. They saw the adoption of telehealth as a natural progression along their technology journey and invited Generation-e to scope and deliver a customised Lync telehealth solution.
Generation-e designed a telehealth solution using Microsoft Lync Online which is a part of the Microsoft Office 365 suite. On Lynden’s end, the Lync Online client runs off an all-in-one touchscreen computer.
To keep the process as simple as possible for staff and residents, Generation-e customised the Lync Online client for application within the aged care setting. As soon as the computer is turned on, Microsoft Lync runs automatically without the need for a keyboard or mouse. With just the push of a button, residents can now simply connect with their doctor or specialist via an online conference.
In these meetings, both parties are able to access the full range of collaboration features Microsoft Lync has to offer including file sharing, whiteboarding, calendaring, messaging, inviting other participants, taking notes via One Note and recording if necessary.
All telehealth sessions are conducted in full audio and high definition video which provides a lifelike collaboration experience and does not compromise the quality of the consultation. At the end of the session, the video screen is turned off and the resident is immediately able to get back to his or her daily routine.
The option for residents to attend consultations without leaving the facility has been incredibly valuable for Lynden and for its residents.
Because preparing for, attending and recovering from a 15 minute consultation can effectively disrupt a patient’s routine for several days, being able to attend such an appointment without leaving Lynden’s facility significantly improves the quality of life for them. Not only that, but the doctor gets the opportunity to assess the patient in a stress-free environment with his carers and nurses present so nothing gets lost in translation which contributes to providing better quality care for the patient as well.
The administrative side of the consultation has also become streamlined as compliance issues and forms can be processed faster, plus diagnostics can easily be taken and reported back to the doctor in real time. The doctor no longer needs to remember to send a summary of the appointment to the nurse nor does the nurse need to rely on the residents' family or carer to understand what happened at the consultation or to explain why the doctor wants medications or treatments to be adjusted.
Further, embracing the Lync Online telehealth solution has allowed Lynden to adjust workflows and look for ways to capitalise on internal process improvement in order to increase business outcomes and lower the cost of delivery.
The Lync Online telehealth solution has made Lynden eligible for an upfront $6,000 government incentive in addition to receiving $60 for every telehealth consultation conducted at the facility. Comparatively, offsite consultations entail a great deal of inconvenience as well as additional costs, all without any compensation. Overall, the incentives have helped Lynden achieve an immediate ROI on the project.
As telehealth in Australia gains momentum, helped along by companies like Generation-e and technologies like Microsoft Lync, an increasing number of Australians will reap the benefits. With more doctors engaging in virtual consults and the NBN providing increasingly fast internet speeds, many of the current barriers to medical services for Australians living in rural and remote areas or suffering from limited mobility will fall to the wayside. The result, it is hoped, is that patients will be able to live in their own homes longer while experiencing a higher standard of care than ever before.
"The engagement and the process with Generation-e was smooth and easy. They saw the opportunity and what we wanted to achieve so we shared the vision from the begining."
PJ Stanners, ICT Manager
Founded in 1868, St. Mary’s College in Hobart has been helping students achieve excellence in their spiritual, academic and personal lives for generations.
A critical component of the College’s role is ensuring that St. Mary’s College staff and students have access to the full range of resources they need to learn and grow.
One such resource that was no longer able to keep up was the College’s 30-year-old phone system. Relying on obsolete technology, the PABX needed to be replaced with an affordable, scalable, flexible and future proof solution.
Having decided to upgrade their internet connection to a 1 GB unlimited fibre optic link, the College was investigating imaginative and modern communication solutions to make the most of their bandwidth capability.
After looking at a variety of options, St Mary’s came across Microsoft Lync. Generation-e was invited to demonstrate how Microsoft Lync could be used to make St Mary’s vision of anywhere, anytime access to relevant and up to date information for students and staff a reality.
After the presentation, Principal Tom Dorey as well as the ICT team and Business Manager saw that Lync was able to tick all the boxes they wanted in a new telephony solution. They were also convinced that Microsoft Lync would provide the best user experience possible whilst taking advantage of the rapid modernisation of the College’s ICT infrastructure.
In terms of choosing Lync, St Mary’s Business Manager, Mr Stuart Calvert, asserted “It really was a no-brainer from our point of view”.
Generation-e architected and delivered a complete Microsoft Lync unified communications solution for St Mary’s. Encompassing voicemail, instant messaging, presence, email, online meetings, and desktop/ file sharing in addition to telephony, the Microsoft Lync solution was also integrated with their existing SharePoint solution.
In the current phase of the continuing project, teachers, administrators and the ICT team are now using the Lync client on their laptops for collaboration internally. By federating with other schools using Lync, with the click of a button, St Mary’s staff can also initiate communication via voice, messaging or video conferencing between one or more additional parties.
As a Microsoft Lync pioneer in education in Tasmania, St Mary’s has become somewhat of a lighthouse school, providing the opportunity for others in their community to come to their facility to view presentations and use the technology.
To date, the impact of the switch to Microsoft Lync has been most pronounced on the ICT department and College office staff. The inherent flexibility and scalability of the system allows the ICT staff to upgrade and maintain the system in far less time than ever before, leading to greater IT staff productivity. As Paul-John Stanners, ICT Manager noted, “With the previous PABX, if someone changed office and we needed to run a new line, it might take a day and a half to get it set up as well as the cost of getting in cablers. With this new Lync system in place, as long as the new office has an available port, it takes less than 5 minutes.”
The portability of Microsoft Lync has not only allowed the College to utilise spare UTP ports, but it also makes it easy for staff to use Lync’s full functionality from wherever they are, thus increasing productivity and efficiency.
From a financial perspective, the switch to Lync has led to a 40% reduction in St. Mary’s telephone bill with all their communication being web based through a SIP provider. Virtualisation of the Lync servers that are housed on site has meant the system is simple and cost effective to maintain and run which has a direct impact on the College’s bottom line as well as meaning the system is more resilient to any hardware failures.
In implementing Microsoft Lync, St Mary’s has enabled themselves to embrace technology at every turn. The next stage of development for St Mary’s will see them take full advantage of Microsoft Lync’s scalability by integrating the College’s PA system with Lync and extending the use of Lync for anytime anywhere tutorials between staff and students as the college transitions from Live@edu to Office 365 for Education this year.
“Switching to a Microsoft solution has meant that our staff have attended more training courses in the last six months than they had been able to attend in the past five years. As a consequence, our system stability has improved immensely,”
Peter West, Director of eLearning, St Stephen's College
St Stephen’s College is a P-12 co-educational learning facility located on the Gold Coast. Renowned for its strong performance across academics, sport and cultural pursuits, the college now has over 1300 students enrolled.
Like many educational institutions, St Stephen’s college wanted to adopt 21st century learning philosophies in order to enhance the curriculum they were providing for their students. This meant that there would be a major increase in the volume of students and staff needing to be able to connect to the network via tablets, laptops and mobile devices anywhere, anytime. Providing network access to accommodate this high demand whilst still maintaining control and security of the environment was a task that the College’s current solution just was not going to be able to support.
St Stephen’s College had an ageing Novell technology stack. This solution afforded them some virtualisation, security, management and remote access capabilities, but there were issues with overall supportability, reliability and availability. In fact, the e-directory solution they were using to manage their file and print services, directory control, e-mail communication and remote access was fast becoming a liability.
There was limited external technical expertise and support available for their technology and when support could be arranged, it was expensive. Further, high level technical training for in-house IT staff was also very difficult to organise.
With staff beginning to use mobile devices for email and calendaring, it quickly became apparent that there had to be a better way. It had become clear that a significant overhaul was needed to support the planned growth of the college.
St Stephen’s College saw that the only way forward was to replace their existing systems with a best-of-breed solution underpinned by Microsoft technology. Using the core Microsoft product set, a reliable and scalable solution was designed that would support the College now and into the future.
Generation-e was chosen to design and deploy the solution, given their experience in education IT environments.
The solution included the deployment of:
Microsoft Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V Hosts – to provide hypervisor and virtualisation services for the College and to replace the existing suite which was installed in the blade environment.
Microsoft Server 2008 R2 Domain Servers – to provide Active Directory Domain Services through user and role based control and directory schema for the College.
Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 – to provide email and collaboration services to the staff at the College and enable unified communications extensibility.
Microsoft live@edu Services – to provide low cost off-premise email services to Students of the College, enabling savings on storage, power, cooling and administration time.
Microsoft DirectAccess & Unified Access Gateway Services – to provide the College with remote access capabilities and VPN-less access to internal College resources without the need for expensive and convoluted VPN controllers.
Microsoft SystemCentre Services – to provide a single pane of glass management experience for the IT staff at the College by turning a reactive support process into a pro-active monitoring and maintenance process.
St Stephen’s College has seen a marked increase in reliability with the deployment of the Microsoft solution and has become increasingly self-sufficient in the management of their IT.
Improvements have included:
- Improved service to users;
- Reduced operating/maintenance time;
- Simpler management;
- Increased staff efficiency;
- Increased job satisfaction;
- Increased productivity;
- Increased end user satisfaction.
“Switching to a Microsoft solution has meant that our staff have attended more training courses in the last six months than they had been able to attend in the past five years. As a consequence, our system stability has improved immensely,” Peter West, the Director of eLearning commented. “Overall, the ‘back end’ technical operation and maintenance of the system is significantly easier for our IT staff. Efficiency has been improved by using System Center Configuration Manager to image our 900 computers and push out applications.