4-page Case Study
Posted: 5/12/2010
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hhpberlin - Ingenieurgesellschaft für Brandschutz mbH Fire-Safety Consultants Expect 10 Percent Revenue Gain with Office 2010

hhpberlin provides fire-safety consulting services around the globe. With 100 employees working globally, hhpberlin needed to improve its project execution solution, called Project Center, so that employees could share expertise, work together efficiently regardless of location, and reduce the amount of administrative time spent documenting projects. hhpberlin had already standardized on a productivity and unified communications solution from Microsoft, and in early 2010 it upgraded to Microsoft Office 2010 and deployed a pilot of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 to provide an improved Project Center solution. The company expects offline capabilities to help increase revenue from its inspectors by 10 to 25 percent by reducing the time spent on project documentation. hhpberlin also expects to improve productivity and customer service by leveraging expertise across the organization.


Founded in 2000, hhpberlin provides one-stop fire consultancy services during the design, building, and operations phases of projects that range from office buildings to stadiums and airports. The company’s 100 employees are spread across office locations in Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, and Hamburg, Germany. hhpberlin has experienced steady growth over the past 10 years, becoming a market leader and one of the largest and most innovative fire-safety consultancies in the world. 

As a professional services firm, hhpberlin’s people and their knowledge are its primary assets. With a growing business, hhpberlin needs to both share expertise during project execution, and build a culture to attract and retain the best talent in the industry. Stefan Truthän, Chief Information Officer (CIO) at hhpberlin, explains, “The organization has changed in recent years from a business model that used to be one local engineer on one local project producing one final output. Now we work in global teams, requiring us to leverage expertise across the organization to deliver projects. We need to solve complex fire-safety issues by closely analyzing client needs and finding solutions using the combined experience of our experts in the field of fire protection.”

Communication is critical to daily employee productivity and customer service. In 2008, hhpberlin began to standardize its business and communication infrastructure on Microsoft software. “We used to support 19 software applications on a wide range of hardware. As the complexity and volume of our projects grew, we had to change our strategy. We decided to standardize our entire infrastructure, everything from laptops, mobile phones, software, and communications services to office furniture,” says Truthän.

hhpberlin deployed a full employee productivity and unified communications environment that included Microsoft Office 2007, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0. Truthän explains, “This integrated environment from one trusted partner—Microsoft—is the foundation of every business process within our company. Application usage, knowledge sharing, and customer service have all improved since we introduced this standardized strategy. By standardizing on Microsoft products, we have reduced our IT infrastructure costs by over €200,000 per year.”

As part of its commitment to provide a unified business platform that would make employees more efficient, hhpberlin created the Project Center; a solution for running complex projects built using Microsoft Office 2007 and Office SharePoint Server 2007. However, project managers, engineers, and inspectors were slow to adopt the solution, which faced performance and scalability issues due to large storage requirements. Truthän explains, “We are working on the new airport project in Berlin, and it has already generated huge amounts of content, about 60 gigabytes of documents and images. We were finding it very difficult to manage.” Also, employees had no offline access to project documents, which led to extra work for the team. hhpberlin inspectors were spending an additional 12 hours post inspection to document and complete site reports for each day of on-site inspections. Communications were also sometimes slowed due to large volumes of e-mail messages sent for each project. These challenges limited the number of projects in which team members could reasonably participate.

hhpberlin also used Microsoft Dynamics CRM v4.0 to manage the sales process. Through its integration with Microsoft Office products, Microsoft Dynamics CRM helps teams to create and monitor opportunities, manage customer contacts, and establish consistent sales processes. Jessica Prehm, Sales Support Manager at hhpberlin, explains, “All employees can generate opportunities, so everyone has an account in Microsoft Dynamics CRM to enter new customer contact information and manage opportunities. When we receive incoming calls, Microsoft Office Communicator automatically displays the customer name on the desktop, because customer information in Microsoft Dynamics CRM is automatically migrated to Office Outlook contacts and Office Communications Server. The customer is always pleased when we answer the phone by saying ‘Hello, Mr. <name>.’” While hhpberlin began to improve management of its sales process with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Office 2007, there was still an opportunity to improve efficiencies—especially in regard to the cycle time for creating proposals.

In 2009, hhpberlin joined the Microsoft Office 2010 and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 Technology Adoption Programs to explore improved solutions made possible by new Microsoft Office and server products. Specifically, it wanted to reduce the time employees spent on non-revenue related work and provide an efficient process for storing, organizing, and presenting content for team members, regardless of their location.


In early 2010, hhpberlin worked with Microsoft Services and a partner, Redmond Integrators, to build a proof of concept for the updated Project Center solution that took advantage of improved interoperability and new capabilities

* By deploying SharePoint Server 2010 and Office 2010, we can deliver a project center to help us manage the increasing complexities of our customer engagements with a global team-delivery approach. *

Stefan Truthän
Chief Information Officer, hhpberlin

in the Microsoft Office 2010 suites and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. hhpberlin deployed Office 2010 to all employees in February 2010, completing the first phase of the update to the Project Center solution. The company expects to complete its upgrade to SharePoint Server 2010 and the second phase of the Project Center update in May 2010. Truthän says, “By deploying SharePoint Server 2010 and Office 2010, we can deliver a project center to help us manage the increasing complexities of our customer engagements with a global team-delivery approach.”

Manage Opportunities

For new customer opportunities, an hhpberlin sales-support resource uses Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Office 2010 to help sales consultants create time-sensitive proposals. Microsoft Word 2010 templates automatically pull in contact information and opportunity data from Microsoft Dynamics CRM. When proposals are complete, the sales consultant can save a PDF version of the Word document and send it to the customer using a command in the new Microsoft Outlook 2010 Ribbon that attaches the sent e-mail to the opportunity in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

When a new business opportunity is flagged as active in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, workflow automatically creates the Project Center in a SharePoint Server 2010 team site and the Microsoft OneNote 2010 project notebook. Project team members receive an alert with links to these Project Center resources. In addition, hhpberlin has designed new Web Parts in SharePoint Server 2010 to deliver data from Microsoft Dynamics CRM into the Project Center to align all aspects of the customer’s project.

Execute Projects

hhpberlin is better able to manage its large Project Center team sites in SharePoint Server 2010. Improvements in the architecture of SharePoint Server 2010 help provide better performance, reliability, and scalability for the large sites, like the Berlin Airport team site. hhpberlin is able to improve its support for project sites with proactive health reporting, monitoring, and resolution in SharePoint Server 2010. 

Because OneNote 2010 is closely integrated with Outlook 2010, project team members can easily save e-mails to specific shared OneNote folders. Andreas Dahlitz, Senior Engineer and Project Manager at hhpberlin, adds, “OneNote has quickly become our key knowledge management tool for both structured and unstructured project content. Team members capture and organize project information, including meeting notes, e-mails from Outlook, photo images, and handwritten notes. We can even access and add to the notebook when we are offline at the project site and synch our changes when we are back online.”

Improved search capabilities and new author indicators in OneNote 2010 help team members find what they need quickly and see who has added or changed content. Truthän explains, “When we deployed Office 2010, I was actually quite surprised at how much everyone uses OneNote as a knowledge-sharing tool, like our own wiki solution.”

Team members also use other Office 2010 applications to help execute project tasks. They create customer fire-safety reports in Word 2010, and use Microsoft Office Backstage view to save the documents directly to SharePoint Server 2010 so all team members can view or print documents as needed.

Several new capabilities in Outlook 2010 also help hhpberlin team members better manage the volume of daily e-mail so they can focus more on project work. Many of the following capabilities are now available after hhpberlin’s recent upgrade from Exchange Server 2007 to Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, which started in January 2010 and will be complete by May 2010:

  • Conversation View. Organizes e-mail messages by conversation topic, enabling employees to access information more quickly. Karsten Foth, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at hhpberlin says, “Conversation View in Outlook 2010 is very helpful because of the volume of e-mail I receive and respond to daily. Before, I could lose the conversation thread with so many threads going on in parallel. Now the e-mails are grouped and sorted for me—even my sent responses. I can always go to the latest thread and see the history.”
  • Quick Steps. Workers can perform multi-command tasks, such as Reply and Move to a specific folder, with a single click from the Outlook 2010 Ribbon toolbar.
  • Calendar Preview. When employees receive a meeting invite, Outlook 2010 automatically includes a slice of their calendar in the meeting request, allowing them to read the request and check that date on their calendar at the same time. Now employees can quickly make an informed decision about whether they can attend the meeting without leaving their inboxes.
  • Voice-Mail Preview. Unified messaging also allows employees to quickly access and review voice mails in Outlook, helping to reduce the chance that an important message from a customer is missed.
Support Project Work from Anywhere

At hhpberlin, inspectors have their own processes for collecting information, and each service project has unique data characteristics and requirements. In every case, inspectors must be physically onsite during inspections, but frequently they have low-bandwidth or no Internet connectivity. A critical component to making the updated Project Center solution successful is Microsoft SharePoint Workspace 2010, where inspectors can work with files even when they are offline during on-site inspections. SharePoint Workspace 2010 minimizes bandwidth by only transmitting update packets over the network instead of whole files or documents—speeding inspectors’ work process.

While performing their inspections, hhpberlin inspectors enter fire-safety data into project documents, such as Microsoft InfoPath 2010 inspection forms, SharePoint lists, or other Office file formats. They also take pictures using a digital camera connected to their portable computers and add images to the inspection documentation. When they have completed the inspection, they can store all of the information in the SharePoint Workspace, ensuring that the inspection data and files will be securely and automatically synched the next time they are online. They can also synchronize lists containing system data with Microsoft Business Connectivity Services. Then project resources around the globe can collaborate using files and data from the on-site inspection and present the content in whatever format the customer requires.

With the new solution, hhpberlin employees stay connected and available to the business even when they are away from the office, which is especially important for executives. Employees can access e-mail and Microsoft Office documents from the most convenient device at the time, whether it is their portable computer, mobile phone, or from another other computer via Web browser. For example, when he is not in meetings, the CEO of hhpberlin spends most of his day using Outlook, Microsoft Office Mobile, and Microsoft Communicator 2010 to keep up with his team and connect experts to resolve customer and business issues. Foth explains, “Office 2010 was installed and I was able to start being productive right away. Because I travel two or three days a week, Microsoft communication tools are vital to me staying in close contact with my team. I can present myself as available, even when I’m on the road.”


hhpberlin upgraded to Microsoft Office 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010 to improve its innovative Project Center solution. The company expects this solution, and its integration with Office Communications Server 2007 R2, Exchange Server 2010, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0, to help it increase profitability, improve productivity and customer service, and continue to attract and retain the best talent.
Increased Profitability with Improved Project Execution

Using the interoperable capabilities of Office 2010, SharePoint Server 2010, and other Microsoft server applications, hhpberlin employees can spend more time focusing on their core business: fire safety. hhpberlin is better able to manage its large Project Center team sites in SharePoint Server 2010 with architecture improvements and offline capabilities of SharePoint Workspace 2010. Truthän explains, “Our Project Center will help us streamline the process of organizing and uploading project data. With SharePoint Workspace 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010, hhpberlin will significantly reduce the amount of time inspectors spend on post-inspection activities back in the office.” After the Project Center solution is fully deployed, the company expects its inspectors to decrease post-inspection time by two-to-four hours per inspection. This savings of non-revenue generating time will increase the number of on-site inspection days per inspector by 10 to 25 percent, with a potential revenue impact of €69,000 to €155,000 (U.S.$94,000 to U.S.$213,000) a year.

Improved Productivity with Better Knowledge Sharing

With OneNote 2010, project team members have a shorter learning curve and can get on board with a project much faster. Truthän explains, “Two years ago, we averaged five active projects per engineer. Now each engineer is working on an average of seven projects at any given time. Now employees are instantly connected to everyone in the organization via Outlook, OneNote, and the integration of Office Communications Server in Office 2010. This promotes an environment of knowledge sharing and helps us retain our employees.”

Dahlitz adds, “Before we used shared notebooks in OneNote, we had to hold internal meetings each time we met with a customer. Now we are constantly connected and sharing information, and almost all of the project content is available both online and offline. OneNote, SharePoint Server, and SharePoint Workspace help us share all meeting notes and updated documentation with the entire team. This improves our productivity and allows us to take on more projects.” He continues, “I would estimate we would need 10 to 15 percent more capacity to take on the same amount of projects we have active today without the tools we use daily from Microsoft.” This productivity improvement equates to a potential labor cost avoidance of €650,000 to €970,000 (U.S.$890,000 to U.S.$1,300,000) per year.

hhpberlin has also shortened its overall sales cycle, meaning sales teams have more productive energy to put toward new customers, or to building existing relationships. Prehm says, “With enhancements delivered in both Microsoft Office and Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the sales support team has improved the proposal cycle time by 30 percent compared to two years ago, resulting in a significant increase in proposals completed per week.”

Improved Customer Service

Truthän says, “With the integration with Office Communication Server, Communicator lets us instantly locate and click to communicate with experts by IM, e-mail, phone, or conferencing. To quickly find answers, improved search functionality in Outlook, OneNote, and SharePoint Server 2010, plus offline search of synched enterprise content in SharePoint Workspace, significantly reduces the time it takes us to respond to customer questions. Unified messaging also allows us to quickly access and review voice mails in Outlook, ensuring we never miss an important message from a customer.”

Attract and Retain Talent

hhpberlin believes that using the latest technology can help it attract new employees. Foth says, “Candidates are impressed with how we use technology. This helps attract the best and brightest engineers to build a new generation of fire-safety experts. Because most new employees used Microsoft products at the university or at their previous jobs, the learning curve is minimal.”

The company also believes that when employees are able to be more productive and more mobile, they have a better work-life balance and are more likely to stay with a company that supports that balance. Truthän explains, “As a result of our strategy to standardize on the latest Microsoft technologies, our revenue has increased while the average number of hours worked per week per employee has gone down by 3 percent. This is an important metric for us. We want our employees to enjoy a work-life balance. This balance has resulted in improved employee satisfaction.”

hhpberlin has established a strategy to reduce complexity and standardize its infrastructure to remain highly competitive and profitable in the specialized industry of fire safety. Microsoft Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 products and services offer new and improved capabilities to help deliver a communications and collaboration environment for continued profitability and growth.
Microsoft Office 2010
Microsoft Office 2010 gives your people powerful, timesaving tools to do their best work from more places. With new capabilities and insightful updates to Excel, PowerPoint, Word, and Outlook, Office 2010 offers the complete package—with familiar, intuitive tools. Now you can express ideas, solve problems, connect with people, and create amazing results—in the office, at home, or on the go.

For more information about Microsoft Office, go to:

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Solution Overview

Organization Size: 140 employees

Organization Profile

hhpberlin provides fire-safety consulting for large construction projects around the world. Headquartered in Berlin, Germany, it employs 100 workers.

Business Situation

hhpberlin wanted to streamline its project processes and improve employee collaboration and their ability to work while out of the office to improve project execution and increase revenue.

hhpberlin deployed Microsoft Office 2010 and a pilot of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 to evaluate how the company could help its employees work together on global projects.

  • Increases profitability
  • Improves productivity
  • Improves customer service
  • Attracts and retains talent

  • Dell XT2 Tablets PCs

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Office Standard 2010
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
  • Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Enterprise Edition
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Enterprise

Vertical Industries
Professional Services



Redmond Integrators