Bringing the expertise of its specialised engineering staff to large construction projects around the world was the impetus for Meinhardt Group to seek new platforms for email, office applications, and knowledge sharing. By standardizing on Microsoft Office 365 and SharePoint, Meinhardt is realizing cost savings, improved productivity, and new business opportunities from greater collaboration and easier access to the Group's Global Knowledge Platform.
A mix of different email systems and older versions of Microsoft Office applications were hindering full communications and productivity of the employees of Meinhardt Group of companies. These companies previously used a mix of email systems, which were limiting our flexibility to collaborate and difficult to maintain.
Additionally, some of these systems did not support updated global contact lists and had limited capabilities for collaboration and sharing of information and resources.
"We wanted to bring everyone to a standard email system and current Microsoft Office applications, but implementing an on-premises solution would have required a large investment outlay," says Anderson Teo, Group IT Director at Meinhardt Singapore. "We started looking for cloud solutions and this led to our choice of Microsoft Office 365."
Another goal was to develop a knowledge base and document storage system that could be accessed by all employees across the different Meinhardt companies and countries.
"Meinhardt employs professional engineers in many different disciplines, but we can't be hiring these engineers for every discipline in every country where we operate," explains Dr. Shahzad Nasim, Global CEO, Meinhardt Group. "In this competitive market, we needed collaboration capabilities that would allow us to work on projects in other countries while reducing operation costs and yet achieve higher productivity."
This knowledge based platform in Microsoft Office 365 would help employees to create proposals for new business more efficiently because it would offer a central repository for project profiles and other content to showcase Meinhardt's global capabilities.
Meinhardt Group has migrated to Microsoft Office 365 as its standard platform for email and office applications, and is using Microsoft SharePoint as the knowledge base platform.
Meinhardt Façade was the first company to migrate, in a pilot project involving 180 users in multiple countries. Mathieu Meur, Meinhardt Façade International Managing Director, notes, "After our nine-month pilot project with Meinhardt Façade Technology (S) Pte Ltd, savings of SGD$16,000 in
communication costs alone convinced our senior management team to roll-out Office 365 in Singapore and Australia. Our goal is to eventually move all Meinhardt Group users to Office 365."
The migration involved moving both user mailboxes and project mailboxes, which archived all messages, documents, and drawings specific to a particular project. Maintaining these project mailboxes is essential to allow access to the archived documents and drawings as and when required.
"We have about 335 active project mailboxes to migrate and these mailboxes are huge because each drawing is 5 megabytes to more than 25 megabytes, so we like the unlimited archive space of Office 365," says Teo. "In the future, we will bring these project mailboxes into our SharePoint platform so we can integrate related documents into our knowledge management portal."
According to Teo, Meinhardt Group's ultimate objective is to increase collaborative work by using Outlook, Lync, and SharePoint. "We believe this technology simplicity will help us reap the results of increased collaboration and improved standardization and compliance," he says.
The knowledge base will store content such as capabilities documents, project specifications, engineering drawings, and proposals. The Meinhardt Group application development team created the portal for user access to the knowledge base, online communities, and collaboration calls. In addition, SharePoint integration with the in-house Meinhardt-Online System (MHOL) will allow shared use of the Project Management System across offices and companies.
According to Peter Galvin, Regional CEO, Meinhardt Australia, Office 365 contains at least three to four times the functionality of the company's previous IT environment, sharpening the company's market-leading edge. "We operate in a very competitive landscape, and the visible improvements in the way our employees share resources and create synergy with Office 365 has enabled us to better service our existing clients and tender for new projects," he says.
When all users are migrated to Office 365 and the knowledge base is fully implemented, Meinhardt Group expects the following benefits:
• Annual cost savings of more than 40 per cent from reduced conference call and travel expenses just for the Meinhardt Singapore headquarters. Comparable cost-saving rates are expected for Meinhardt subsidiary companies as they adopt Microsoft Lync for conference calls.
• The subscription model of the Microsoft technologies allowed lower initial investment and immediate benefits.
• Realized savings of more than SGD$50,000 by eliminating the expense of storage devices to backup and archive mailboxes, which instead are maintained by Office 365 in the cloud.
• Expected productivity increase of 10 per cent as more collaboration among employees accelerates project schedules and completion.
• Improved ability to generate new business through collaboration capabilities that allow employees in different companies and countries to work on a single project team.
• New business opportunities from easy access to expertise and project documents through the knowledge base.
• Reduced support and maintenance burden on IT because all users are on a single, cloud-based platform.
• Unlimited archive space for storing the project documents, drawings, and communications that are essential for meeting the requirements of Meinhardt's certified professional engineers.
• Increased business efficiency and resilience thanks to cloud-based storage of information
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