Leading with collaboration
It started in 2002: two partners. Two cell phones, pre-smartphone era. Engineers Eric Kavanagh and Joseph Dunne grew their company from that humble beginning to the global energy, oil and gas, and power generation industries multi-solution provider it is today. They now offer a broad range of services, from placing highly specialized technicians to help client companies cope with unforeseen events anywhere in the world to training workers and maintaining equipment. As the company grew, it added an on-premises IT infrastructure, standardizing initially on Google email. But the small office staff preferred Microsoft Office applications for routine business administration tasks, prompting a migration to an on-premises Microsoft Exchange Server with Microsoft Outlook client for email.
As the company expanded in size and global reach, OFS Director of Resources Sean O’Leary saw collaboration needs proliferate. For him, the challenge was not just in enabling communication between professionals, but in expediting the search for the best person for a given situation. “We needed to facilitate engineer-to-engineer conversations,” he says. “And our need went beyond the capabilities of a telephone. When one engineer has an issue, they need to see who has the answer and is readily available. They need to then connect with that person and share images, perhaps video content, and communicate quickly. That’s why we chose Skype for Business Server after moving to Exchange.” With the mobile capability of Skype for Business, OFS engineers and technicians can join conversations from their mobile devices, adding as many people as they need.
Microsoft SharePoint Server was the logical next step for a company requiring collaboration across time zones and international borders. Sharing files without version-control issues gave knowledge workers peace of mind and sharpened efficiency. But cloud computing was on the horizon, and the company’s increasing reliance on collaboration among widely dispersed team members propelled OFS in that direction.
Shifting from on-premises, lifting to the cloud
Aging hardware and increasing demand for round-the-clock uptime hastened the company’s move to the cloud beginning in 2012. O’Leary also felt that it offered the highest level of security. “People fear that by moving to the cloud, they risk malware and other threats. Some people worry that they lose security by moving off-premises.” He disagrees: “It’s actually completely the opposite. Having the backbone of your business in the cloud is far more secure.”
Now staff in offices in Singapore and Dubai collaborate with team members in Ireland and the United States with SharePoint Online, sharing files across time zones without version-control issues. OFS staff collaborate in real time—managing projects in SharePoint, assigning employees wherever they are needed. For OFS customers, the team has built a bespoke HR solution incorporating all aspects of the recruiting function—from initial advertising and onboarding to payroll and expense processing through final project review.
OFS staff use the intelligent search and discovery capability in Office 365 to surface and organize data. With the launch of its OFS Recruitment Portal through Microsoft Dynamics CRM, OFS staff spend less time locating qualified workers. They’re free to focus on promoting, advertising, and targeting the specialized skills they need for specific regions. The company estimates that it now saves USD100,000 in recruiting costs. As an added benefit, traffic to the OFS website and LinkedIn company profile page has increased.
Project teams use Microsoft Teams to administer and share project data as the OFS IT team has rolled out Microsoft Dynamics 365. The clear visibility into task status and priority in Teams helps project managers to make fast substitutions when situations or resources change and ensure that the project stays on track. O’Leary finds that his technology-savvy colleagues are quick to capitalize on other Office 365 solutions, and the range of applications affords them the opportunity to explore options.
With a workforce that hovers near 130 but is subject to spikes that can add up to another 400 people to the payroll, O’Leary must match IT resources to people in a flash. To optimize costs while ensuring that every worker has the best tool set possible, he has developed guidelines for allocating licenses and controlling IT spend. “I appreciate the flexibility of Microsoft licensing,” he says. “I’m able to allocate license types based on need. I issue Office 365 Business licenses to our travelling field engineers; they need a full suite of tools that are mobile. Typically, Office 365 Enterprise 3 licenses are issued to higher management and office-based staff. I can issue an Enterprise 3 license to a temporary project manager for a short-term contract and re-issue it to another staffer when they leave. Field technicians who need fewer apps receive an Office 365 Enterprise 1 license. Switching licenses off and on and cutting off access to critical data is easy—I can do it from my mobile device.”