“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
Griffith Hack is a specialist Australian intellectual property (IP) law firm. Partners wanted the firm’s staff to be able to quickly contact and consult each other on a variety of business and legal matters, wherever they were working: they were willing
to experiment with new technologies but insisted any new telephone system had to be simple to use and maintain.
During 2010 and 2011, unified communications specialist Generation-e helped staff at Griffith Hack replace their PBX phone systems with Microsoft Lync Server 2010. The deployment provided all staff with presence functionality, enabling them to assess colleagues’
work status and availability, as well as instant messaging, desktop telephony and remote video conferencing.
Staff are delighted with their new communications capabilities, and ninety-seven percent have reported it ‘easy to use.’ Productivity has improved, as staff resolve work issues faster, and colleagues readily capitalise on each others’ individual talents.
At the same time, the firm has saved on maintenance costs and call charges so that managers forecast they will make a return on their technology investment within twelve months.
||Our staff love the experience…they quickly worked out most of the functionality for themselves because it capitalises on the skills they have developed in their online social lives
Chief Information Officer, Griffith Hack
Griffith Hack is a specialist Australian intellectual property (IP) law firm that provides IP advice and related services, including helping companies file patents and defend corporate intellectual property. The company employs over 270 staff members and
has offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane.
Griffith Hack believes that ease of communication is essential to rapid and efficient client service. They want all staff to be able to quickly locate individual specialists and consult with them wherever they are working. Legal staff want to collaborate
easily on legal documents, with clients as well as colleagues.
As the firm’s offices expanded and staff headcount increased, communications and collaboration became more challenging.
“We relied on email and PBX phone installations in each office,” says Andrew Pritchett, Chief Information Officer, Griffith Hack. “When staff moved to a different desk or worked from a different office, we had to re-patch the phones so they could be reached
on the same number. Everyone relied on contact lists, which administrative staff in each office had to continually update. Getting hold of colleagues took time and effort.
“In addition, the way the phone systems worked in each office gradually diverged, so that when staff travelled to different offices, they couldn’t work intuitively. We had installed Polycom HDX video conferencing suites, but we wanted to extend usage to
remote-working staff as well.”
In early 2010, the firm’s Melbourne partners announced their office would relocate to the CBD.
“We wanted to save costs and reduce the risks and costs of re-cabling a new office,” says Pritchett. “However, the move also provided a window of opportunity to experiment with a new generation of communications technology.
“Griffith Hack has 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.”
Microsoft staff in Melbourne introduced Pritchett to the leading unified communications specialist, Generation-e.
“We suggested replacing the entire phone system with a Microsoft Lync unified communications platform,” says Nathan Chapman, Chief Technology Officer, Generation-e. “This would enable Griffith Hack to consolidate email and voice communications on one platform,
and we could integrate Lync with their existing video conferencing systems.”
“I was not certain our staff 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.”
During the first half of 2010, Generation-e helped Pritchett deploy Microsoft Lync 2010, including Microsoft Lync Server 2010 and the Microsoft Lync 2010 desktop client on staff computers. At first, Pritchett only activated instant messaging, desktop video
conferencing and collaboration, as well as the presence feature, which shows colleagues’ status.
“We didn’t provide any training, just made the basic service available,” says Pritchett. “Our objective was to see if staff liked using Lync. They did, and usage kept on increasing.”
||A senior partner recently surprised his colleagues by joining a boardroom video conference from his laptop in New York. But it was easy for him – it took two clicks.
Chief Information Officer, Griffith Hack
Confident that Lync was reliable and well-liked, Pritchett decided to deploy the Enterprise Voice capabilities of Microsoft Lync Server 2010, office by office. This would replace the existing PBX phone system, enabling staff to manage phone calls through their
Generation-e staff activated the Enterprise Voice features in the existing Microsoft Lync Server, and then deployed a Survivable Branch Appliance at each office. This means that if the company’s wide area network (WAN) malfunctions, calls are automatically
routed into the public phone network without loss of service. In addition, edge servers enable staff to access Lync remotely.
The deployment included Polycom CX 600 Lync handsets which plug in to office desktops or laptops. These handsets are mobile: staff can take them home and plug them in to their laptop or desktop. The phone automatically locates the Griffith Hack server, which
then routes that staff member’s calls to the handset.
Generation-e staff also integrated Lync with Microsoft Exchange 2010, so that voicemail messages appear as email in each Outlook inbox, where they can be read or played back. Presence information appears next to the name of each email sender, so staff can
instantly judge how best to respond.
Lastly, Chapman and his colleagues integrated Lync with the firm’s boardroom video conferencing system, so that staff working remotely could instantly join an office-based video conference. And since Outlook connects to Lync and the firm’s client file database
system called Autonomy iManage, Chapman and his team could create a new capability, so that the duration and cost of each phone call is logged on client files.
“The first deployment in Brisbane went surprisingly well so we just kept going,” says Pritchett. “Between August and December 2011, we deployed in Perth, Sydney and then finally Melbourne, to coincide with their move to the CBD.”
With Microsoft Lync 2010 Enterprise Voice, Griffith Hack staff members have a voice, video and desktop communications system they like using, which provides a consistent collaboration experience across all offices and is readily accessible from home. Staff
can contact each other more easily and collaborate faster, while the firm has cut costs.
The unified communications platform means legal staff can make better use of each other’s experience and availability, so legal matters are dealt with faster.
“Our staff have stopped looking up numbers, and have started looking up skills,” says Pritchett. “In the future for example, if a partner is looking for someone with litigation experience who can speak Cantonese, they will use Lync to identify potential
skills matches and presence to see if they are available.”
In addition Lync accelerates staff workflows. Because the platform integrates with the firm’s other document-management and communication applications, staff can rapidly progress an issue from stakeholder identification to collaboration and then resolution.
“Anyone working on a legal document can see who else has changed it and contact them immediately to resolve a query,” says Pritchett. “At the push of a button, they can escalate from instant messaging to a call to a video chat, and instantly bring additional
staff into the conversation.
||Maintaining four office PBX systems alone was costing us approximately A$100,000 per year. That cost has gone and as a result we calculate we will generate a return on investment within eleven to twelve
months of full deployment.
Information Officer, Griffith Hack
“We can federate Lync as well, which means extending the Lync platform to commercial partners and legal clients. When we do this, our staff and clients can see each other’s presence status and contact details, and instantly communicate with each other through
Intuitive tool promotes rapid take-up
A successful deployment depended on staff liking the system. They did, and Pritchett thinks this is because Lync is intuitive.
“Our staff love the experience: they have a phone system that’s easy to use and it works wherever they are connected,” he says. “They quickly worked out most of the functionality for themselves because it capitalises on the skills they have developed in
their online social lives.”
However, rapid uptake has not been confined to the digital generation.
“A senior partner recently surprised his colleagues by joining a boardroom video conference from his laptop in New York,” says Pritchett. “But it was easy for him – it took two clicks.”
After the full deployment, Pritchett conducted a usability survey that revealed ninety percent of staff had no issue with desktop telephony and ninety-seven percent found Lync easy to use.
More responsive technical services
The unified communications platform has enhanced the firm’s technical capabilities, as well as the reputation of ICT staff.
“Now we have the opportunity to deliver technical services that were previously beyond our capability,” he says. “As a result, there is now much greater confidence in IT and our ability to respond positively to business requests.
“Last year, the partners wanted to double the size of the Brisbane office in just a few months. Before, this would have been a massive headache; with unified communications, we just added new staff to our Active Directory database, deployed new desk phones
and checked for licence compliance.”
Rapid return on investment
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.
“We don’t pay for under-used lines or equipment, we require less maintenance, we don’t need dedicated voice software and we have re-tasked 20 computers,” Pritchett adds.
“Maintaining four office PBX systems alone was costing us approximately A$100,000 per year. That cost has gone and as a result we calculate we will generate a return on investment within eleven to twelve months of full deployment.”
Microsoft product that was featured
Microsoft Lync Server 2010 is an enterprise unified communications platform that allows you to replace your existing PBX phone installation with integrated IP telephony. Staff can manage all office communications through their desktop: identifying colleagues’
availability, starting instant messaging conversations, escalating to voice calls and establishing desktop audio and/or video conferences, all with just a few clicks. Lync integrates with Microsoft Office 2010 and Microsoft Exchange 2010, so that colleagues
can be contacted direct from Word documents or emails.
For IT staff, the benefits are equally powerful, with 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.
The Microsoft Lync 2010 desktop client is available for Windows and for Mac, and mobile versions are available for Windows Phone, iPhone/iPad, Android and Nokia Symbian devices.
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