2 page Case Study
Posted: 11/9/2012
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Woods Bagot Architecture Firm Expands Collaboration Capabilities to Support Global Workforce

Design studio Woods Bagot has long used Microsoft SharePoint technologies to centralize information for its employees. The firm was eager to deploy SharePoint 2013 in a pilot project and evaluate its social features, simple drag-and-drop interface, improved reporting, and more robust document management. Now, the firm is streamlining its business processes and better supporting its highly collaborative work environment.

Situation
Woods Bagot strives to meet its clients’ functional, operational, and cultural requirements through its architectural consulting services and award-winning designs. To achieve this success, Woods Bagot relies on best-of-breed IT platforms that are aligned with the firm’s
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* SharePoint Server 2013 is transforming the way we work. With its newsfeed and other social features, our staff can more effectively collaborate around the world, in real time. *

Nectarios Lazaris
Chief Information Officer, Woods Bagot

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social and business needs. For years, this has included using Microsoft SharePoint technologies to support global communications, document sharing, process automation, and especially collaboration.

Woods Bagot replaced allocated desks and offices with collaborative teams of employees, many of whom are mobile or work in remote facilities. To better support these teams, the firm wanted to build on its previous positive experiences with SharePoint and take full advantage of collaborative features, such as the ability to view and manage documents, tasks, links, calendars, and colleagues’ status. “Our users were pushing to add enhanced social features to our intranet,” explains Felicity McNish, Global Knowledge Manager at Woods Bagot. “We thought an improved implementation of collaborative features would address this request.”

More generally, Woods Bagot wanted to help remote and mobile workers exchange information more effectively, make internal business processes more flexible, and facilitate knowledge management by automatically identifying employees’ expertise and experience.

Solution
To address these goals, Woods Bagot adopted Microsoft SharePoint 2013 in early 2012 to evaluate a beta version of the software. “The social-networking-style newsfeed feature in SharePoint 2013 was what really grabbed us,” says McNish. “With newsfeeds, our employees can share ideas, conduct conversations, keep up with colleagues’ work, and learn about changes to documents as soon as they happen.” Users can also search newsfeeds and preview documents in them. She adds, “With the addition of the new social features, we can use SharePoint to help us quickly achieve a more engaging intranet.” In general, the social features in SharePoint 2013 are deeply integrated into the product as a whole.

Other features that interested Woods Bagot include integration with SkyDrive Pro for on-the-go access to cloud-based documents, and drag-and-drop functionality across SkyDrive folders and SharePoint lists, sites, and newsfeeds. The firm can also use SharePoint 2013 to analyze newsfeed usage and content, providing metrics to spot trends. Another area important to Woods Bagot was functionality to support its extensive use of Microsoft Office Web Apps and reporting and calculation services. SharePoint integrates with Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services and improves on its integration with Microsoft Office applications, including Excel, Excel Calculation Services, and Office Web Apps.

Microsoft Services consultants were available every step of the way to assist Woods Bagot as it installed SharePoint 2013 in a test environment. The firm built test sites to emulate production sites that currently run previous versions of SharePoint. Next, a pilot project was initiated in a limited production environment that was spread around the world. “We’re not targeting one region, one location, or one discipline,” says Nectarios Lazaris, CIO of Woods Bagot. “The pilot is a true proof of concept for the whole business.” After the pilot project, the company will deploy SharePoint 2013 companywide over the next year.

Benefits
By deploying SharePoint 2013, Woods Bagot expects to improve collaboration among employees, gain access to key metrics and analytics, and better support its dispersed offices and mobile workers.

Image of Felicity McNish, Global Knowledge Manager, Woods Bagot
Felicity McNish,
Global Knowledge Manager,   
Woods Bagot
Promotes Information Sharing
Although previous versions of SharePoint provided centralized file storage, SharePoint Server 2013 simplifies and greatly expands this capability. “Being able to have social conversations in a specific context, within a site, within a community, is key for boosting productivity,” says McNish. “Because we can drag newsfeeds into those sites and also use the newsfeeds to track document changes, sharing information is now easier and faster than ever before.” These features will encourage replacing large unmanaged email attachments with links to documents that are always up-to-date. “Working on the right documents is critical for keeping projects on track,” McNish notes.

Lazaris adds, “SharePoint Server 2013 is transforming the way we work. With its newsfeed and other social features, our staff can more effectively collaborate around the world, in real time.”

Improves Knowledge Management and Business Analytics
The community usage metrics help McNish identify which employees regularly post newsfeed topics (the power users), what expertise they demonstrate, and how useful their content is based on how employees rate it and how closely they follow it. “The availability of metrics represents an enormous step forward in using knowledge-management to optimize our business practices based on informed decisions,” she says.

Image of Nectarios Lazaris, Chief Information Officer, Woods Bagot
Nectarios Lazaris,
Chief Information Officer,   
Woods Bagot
Additionally, better integration with Microsoft Office is helping Woods Bagot more easily automate reporting and other business tasks, which helps the staff work more productively. For example, a single Office Web App Server (beta software) farm can now support multiple SharePoint 2013 server farms—it is no longer a companion product installed on a SharePoint server, which makes maintenance much easier for the IT department. “If you look at SharePoint 2013 from an IT perspective, the flexibility of the new integration architecture makes tasks like managing updates and upgrades much easier and more reliable,” says Sunny Wang, SharePoint Developer at Woods Bagot.

Supports Mobile Workers
Mobile workers can now more easily access documents and newsfeeds, which are updated in real time. “We’re constantly on the move, so time-saving mobile support is very important,” says McNish. “With SharePoint 2013 combined with SkyDrive Pro, our staff can use their smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device to upload to and download from a specific project site.” She concludes, “Upgrading to SharePoint 2013 has been worthwhile, and support from the Microsoft Services team has been invaluable. We’re delighted with the latest SharePoint functionality and look forward to deploying it across the company.”

SharePoint
SharePoint is the new way to work together. A simplified user experience helps you organize, sync, and share all your content. New social capabilities make it easy to share ideas, keep track of what your colleagues are working on, and discover experts you never knew existed.

For more information go to
www.sharepoint.microsoft.com

For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to
www.microsoft.com

For more information about Woods Bagot products and services, visit the website at
www.woodsbagot.com

Solution Overview



Organization Size: 750 employees

Organization Profile

Functioning as a global studio, Woods Bagot specializes in architecture and design for education, science and health, lifestyle, workplace, and sports environments.


Software and Services
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013
  • Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services
  • Microsoft Office 2010 Suites
  • Microsoft Consulting Services
  • Excel Services in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007
  • SkyDrive Pro

Vertical Industries
Architecture, Engineering & Construction

Country/Region
Australia

Business Need
Mobility

IT Issue
Document and Records Management

Languages
English

Partner(s)
Microsoft Services

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