Established in 1911, Woolpert is a design, geospatial and infrastructure-management firm that integrates services and applies technologies to benefit federal, local and state governments as well as private-sector clients. Nearly 40 percent of the company’s 650 professionals focus on surveying, mapping, GIS and remote sensing. The design group provides services that center on the built environment through planning, architecture and engineering while the infrastructure-management group offers watershed management, water and wastewater services, and information technology and management consulting.
When attempting to facilitate communications among employees, clients and business partners, Woolpert faced the challenge of disparate and aging telephony systems across the company’s 20 offices. Collaboration was stifled without the ability to tap into instant messaging and presence capabilities that enable spontaneous communications. Woolpert also could not leverage the staff’s mobile devices to take advantage of voice and video communications. Ultimately, creativity as well as speed-to- market and customer experiences suffered.
New Vision Communicates the Value of Unified Communications
When Phil Go came on board at Woolpert as the new CIO, he created a vision that mapped enterprise collaboration and unified communications capabilities back to the business benefits so senior management could assess the value. He also quantified the ROI and articulated the soft business benefits such as speed in decision-making and expanded availability of resources.
Creating this vision proved critical in helping Woolpert move forward.
Logicalis Forges a True Partnership by Understanding Business Needs
After selecting Cisco as the collaboration technology on which to build the unified communications platform, Woolpert turned its attention to identifying a partner to deploy the solution. Having collaborated with Logicalis at his previous company, Go immediately turned there first.
Go also considered other solution providers, but chose Logicalis based on its Cisco expertise and how well Logicalis demonstrated a clear understanding of Woolpert’s needs. “Logicalis took the time to understand what we were trying to do and how the new technologies would fit within the bigger picture of our business,” Go explains. “I also already knew they execute meticulously and work proactively through issues. Logicalis understands the essence of a partnership in terms of helping each other out and truly wanting us to be successful.”
Logicalis configured, tested and delivered the Cisco Unified Communications platform for Woolpert that includes call processing, integrated messaging and collaboration via Cisco WebEx. Even with the complex logistics surrounding a 20-site deployment across 13 states, Logicalis met the planned project schedule and helped create an end-user training program.
“Logicalis managed the project efficiently without any delays,” Go adds. “Their team immediately resolved any issues so that the key performance indicators remained green throughout the life of the project.”
Transforming How Business Is Conducted
By providing training guidelines and helping design the coursework, Logicalis helped ensure Woolpert employees could leverage the functionality they truly required—as opposed to overwhelming them with too many features all at once. “Logicalis helped us create a training program that focused not so much on mechanics but more so on what the technology is capable of doing such as recording video messages, answering calls with tablets, content sharing and multi-party video calls,” Go says. “Taking this approach gets employees excited and facilitates change management.”
The investment in unified communications also changed how Woolpert conducts business and interacts internally as well as with customers and partners. “We’ve given our geographically dispersed and mobile teams an effective way to communicate and collaborate at any time, anywhere, and on any device,” Go explains. “We can also truly promote ‘work as an activity, not a place’ as every employee can easily connect with every other employee.”
This transformational, game-changing capability helps Woolpert achieve one of its key objectives: Be an employer of choice by promoting a work-life balance. The unified communications capabilities also allow Woolpert to be a high-performing firm by allowing employees to serve clients more efficiently and effectively.
Providing Employees with the Tools to Succeed
From the internal perspective, Woolpert employees have been impressed with the quality of the new communication system’s audio, which they report is much clearer than the previous system. “The video component also adds significantly to our collaboration,” Go adds. “Given that we have so many locations across multiple states, video helps our employees connect on a more personal level—we get to see people we usually don’t.”
The staff also leverages WebEx extensively for client meetings, which each employee has the ability to host. Woolpert logs more than 1,000 hours of WebEx sessions per month, and Woolpert clients have emphasized their appreciation for the effectiveness of these video meetings.
Looking ahead, the presence capabilities through the Cisco Jabber client that Woolpert plans to deploy soon on mobile devices and desktops will make it possible for employees to know if other employees are available for spontaneous meetings. This will prove particularly beneficial for field employees who need to quickly launch collaborative sessions.
Achieving Full ROI in Three Years
Go expects to achieve a full ROI for the Cisco Unified Communication deployment in year three, which he says is “very impressive for a technology deployment of this scope.”
One of the ways Woolpert will recover the cost is through reduced travel for internal meetings—with projected savings estimates in the tens of thousands of dollars.
“Eventually, we also expect to reduce the physical office space we require as employees spend more time working from home, which means they can share office space,” Go adds. “As part of our culture shift, we’re moving towards an employee- management model based on production, which helps with retention and creates a better quality of life by giving employees the ability to work within a more flexible schedule.”
Based on the quality of work Logicalis delivers, Go expects the partnership will continue well into the future. To round out the Unified Communications solution, Logicalis is deploying Cisco TelePresence, which will create virtual conference rooms where Woolpert employees can conduct meetings with colleagues across multiple offices as if everyone were in the same location.
In addition to new Cisco initiatives focusing on wireless controllers and access points for improved security and signal strength, Woolpert will also collaborate with Logicalis on deploying an environment to support employees who use their own personal devices for corporate applications (BYOD). Logicalis will also provide assistance on multiple Microsoft deployments including Systems Center, Windows 8 and Office 2013.
“Relationships are based on delivering timely and quality results, and that’s exactly what Logicalis does,” Go says. “They set themselves apart from other technology companies by forging true partnerships and making sure their solutions work as promised.”