The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) has been administrating New Zealand rugby since 1892. Headquartered in Wellington, the NZRU provides technical support to over 80 employees, as well as the organisation’s national teams, including the All Blacks. As a national body with a highly mobile workforce, reliable communication is essential to the efficient management of New Zealand’s national game.
However, it was clear they were not meeting employees’ need for reliable remote access to email, calendaring and documents from anywhere in New Zealand and around the rugby-playing world. This led the NZRU to identify a need for a comprehensive IT infrastructure upgrade.
The recent deployment of Microsoft Office 2007 and Microsoft Exchange 2007 achieved this, enabling the NZRU to secure an intuitive experience for employees and improve their productivity.
The NZRU had not upgraded their IT infrastructure for a number of years and required a reliable communications platform to equip employees with the necessary tools to carry out their mobile roles.
NZRU deployed Microsoft Office 2007 Microsoft Exchange 2007. The upgrade empowered the NZRU and their employees to achieve significant productivity gains.
A mobile workforce, unable to connect
The NZRU’s committed team travels around New Zealand and the rugby-playing world to ensure New Zealand’s national game is run smoothly and effectively at all levels. For the Union’s end-users, gaining remote access to their email, calendar and general files when out of the office had become compromised as the Union had not recently updated their IT infrastructure in line with their business growth in both size and complexity.
Consequently, employees found it time-consuming and complicated to access the information they needed which greatly affected productivity.
“People’s experiences connecting with our IT system were irregular and it was a frustrating process just to get to the information you needed, says NZRU IT Manager, Chris Hope.
“Because our people base the majority of their day around their ability to send and receive email, often with documents attached, it is important we equip them with the necessary tools for a consistent experience no matter where they log-on from.”
Although a number of factors constraining the NZRU were outside of their control, one factor that could be controlled was the software that was being used.
“We realise that to stay current and maintain our credibility as a national organisation, we have to operate with up to-date technology.
“Our main goals were to improve the end-user’s experience with intuitive communication tools, while also ensuring a seamless technology infrastructure upgrade,” says Hope.
“We didn’t want to spend time retraining people so it had to be painless for everyone involved.”
A sophisticated upgrade that suited everyone
Having made the decision to upgrade, Hope turned to Microsoft for a sophisticated technology solution to meet their needs.
“We have always used Microsoft and the great thing is, if users are familiar with one Microsoft product, it’s easy to learn to drive a number of other Microsoft products.
“This consistency makes it attractive for our employees,” says Hope.
Over a six-month period, with the assistance of one other colleague, Hope independently deployed Microsoft Office 2007 and Microsoft Exchange 2007.
“Another benefit of Microsoft technology is that, because it is so intuitive, we were able to do all the upgrades ourselves again saving us both time and money,” says Hope.
Hope has been pleased with the benefits Microsoft Office 2007 and Microsoft Exchange 2007 have delivered to date.
“It is much easier to set up new users in Microsoft Exchange 2007. It’s no longer a manual process and at least 50 per cent faster so has significantly reduced our workload.”
“And Microsoft Office 2007 has some great additional features which we are just starting to play with which are a bonus in addition to the intuitive email, calendaring and document creation tools.”
According to Hope, no formal user-training was required.
“This was particularly important for us. Because we hadn’t upgraded in quite a while we were worried it might be prohibitive to do so due to the significant investment we would need to make in retraining staff.
“This was simply not the case. Staff quickly picked up and ran with the new technology with very little help and we didn’t need to offer a single day IT training.”
Employee adoption was therefore immediate: “With a reduction in the time people now take to log-on in the morning, our employees are understandably excited and feel they are now in a position to take back responsibility and control of their work.”
Some employees have taken this further and become champions of the products, providing their own expertise to the wider team.
“People are keen to help each other out and share ideas about the best use of the new technology,” says Hope.
“We couldn’t be happier with the outcome.”
Further upgrades in the pipeline
Since the deployment of Microsoft Office 2007 and Microsoft Exchange 2007 the NZRU have experienced significant gains throughout the company. As a result, NZRU are continuing to upgrade their IT infrastructure to include Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS).
“We have been operating off an old intranet platform and some of our information sources are becoming out-of-date and difficult to manage. We are currently in the process of deploying MOSS and look forward to the possibilities it will open,” says Hope.
Still in the early stages of deployment, Hope sees MOSS assisting the organisation to operate a sophisticated document management system that will guarantee document integrity.
“It is about improving workflow, ensuring the accurate document is available and pushing the management of data on the intranet out to the teams responsible for it,” he says.
The future for the NZRU also includes further taking advantage of the capabilities of Exchange 2007, including integrating their voicemail.
“Going forward we want to reduce the duplication of tasks and reduce complexities, which Microsoft technology enables us to do,” explains Hope.
“Ultimately it’s about serving our members and stakeholders as best we can.”
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For more information about New Zealand Rugby Union(NZRU) products and services, call (64) (4) 499 4995 or visit the Web site at: www.nzru.co.nz
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