When it wanted to modernise its digital work environment and give new flexibility to its 600 staff, the City of Hobart tapped not just one channel partner, but three.
Insync Technology, Engage² and Adopt & Embrace are just three of five total members of the Modern Workplace Alliance, a collective of Microsoft partners that collaborate on projects where their unique specialisations can come into play. They were tasked to deploy a broad Office 365 solution, while acting as a single unified team.
The City of Hobart’s existing technology platforms were starting to show signs of age, and the organisation wanted new systems to better connect its staff and serve the 100,000 workers and residents of the local government area.
The Office 365 implementation sought to provide secure remote access so staff could work from anywhere, provide cloud accessibility, and to centralise the IT team and offer automatic application and policy deployment.
The council also wanted to reduce administrative overheads and improve its users' experience.
In order to achieve those tasks in a way that staff would find most satisfying, the 12-month program of work kicked off with a series of workshops for staff to share their experiences and opinions, which would help the Modern Workplace Alliance guide the Office 365 implementation to cater to the specific needs of divisions across the organisation.
The approach was a winner with Peter Carr, City of Hobart’s director for city innovation and technology.
“We used a hub and spoke, or beehive model, where teams begat teams. It was that kind of natural collaboration that had always existed but hadn’t been turned on. The Modern Workplace Alliance really helped us because they had the right specialist for the right part of the organisation,” Carr said.
As the rollout began, each acting partner would manage their own set of project elements.
Insync looked after identity and Office 365 foundations like security, mobility and modern desktop. Adopt & Embrace introduced collaboration pilots and charted a phased rollout, ongoing adoption plan and change management support. Engage² concerned itself with knowledge management, communication design and project rollout.
In the first three months of the project, the partners put the Office 365 foundations in place and set up a single sign-on experience. Collaboration pilots for Microsoft Teams and Yammer also ran during this time.
Months four through six saw the council transition to Windows 10 and the design and release of a new organisation-wide intranet and collaboration suite including OneNote, OneDrive, Teams and Yammer.
Throughout the remaining six months, as the adoption of new processes took hold, City of Hobart reduced its reliance on paper through workflow configuration and process automation, including digital signatures, expanded intranet content and new records management processes.
“This is a major change program for the organisation. We are helping people get to a new normal and focus on a new way of working. We want people to take responsibility for what they do with it and we will continue to work with and support them,” Carr said.
Carr added that the change program was a success because the City of Hobart’s partner was focused on the people outcomes over the technology.
“You can throw a rock and hit a Microsoft reseller or service provider, but they are not equal. It is so valuable to be working with a partner that thinks beyond the technology.”
Insync sales and marketing director Stuart Moore told CRN why the alliance worked the way it did, and how the partners differentiated themselves in the Microsoft partner ecosystem.
"Our philosophy is 'people first, technology second'. So it's not just a technology project but something to generate impact with lasting change for the organisations we engage with," he said.
"Secondly, we’re all agile organisations, and often cohabitate offices – there’s a really easy working rhythm within the businesses and a lot of cross-pollination of ideas so we often end up working closely on customer challenges that cut across different platforms in the Microsoft productivity stack to drive a business outcome."
City of Hobart system administrator Stefan Hattrell praised the approach.
"We wanted someone to help us, to recommend how to set this up and implement best practice around structure and security. We definitely got that through this partnership. We got a really solid sense from the Modern Workplace Alliance that this was the right direction to going with strategically,” Hattrell said.
“Their attention to detail is outstanding. We’ve been really happy with the project methodology – great communication on how the project is tracking and updates on achieving key milestones.”
Insync Technology, Engage² and Adopt & Embrace are finalists in the 'Working Together' category in the 2019 CRN Impact Awards. For a list of all finalists and further details on the awards, please head to the CRN Impact Awards hub. The awards take place during the CRN Pipeline conference. You can get more information and purchase tickets here.