The United Kingdom Royal Mail Group (RMG) is responsible for mail collection and delivery, and related postal services. RMG must operate efficiently and introduce new products to remain competitive with the private sector. To accomplish this, RMG replaced a costly and outdated version of IBM Lotus Notes across its entire computer estate, and implemented a “pay as you go” services model. Its award winning IT outsourcing partner CSC deployed Microsoft Business Productivity Online Dedicated Suite to help transform the business. RMG migrated 28,000 e-mail accounts to the new cloud service in just eight weeks, introducing new tools such as instant messaging and audio and video conferencing to a total of 30,000 users. The company will save more than £1 million over four years in maintenance and operational controls and be better positioned to provide new and innovative services to customers.Situation
Operating in a highly competitive environment, Royal Mail Group (RMG) in the United Kingdom (U.K.) processes and delivers every working day more than 70 million items to 28 million addresses. Directly employing 165,000 people, RMG prices are among the lowest in Europe. Currently government-owned, RMG is likely to become partly privatised during the current parliament. In the meantime, the company—which operates from 3,000 separate processing sites across the U.K.—is making every effort to improve efficiency and introduce new products to stay competitive with private sector service providers.
||“We needed a complete re-design of our computer estate, starting with e-mail messaging, to bring down costs by adopting a pay-on-consumption model."
Head of Infrastructure Management, Royal Mail Group
In the last quarter of 2008, RMG decided to upgrade its e-mail messaging service for 28,000 employees who were using IBM Lotus Notes. The cost of storing e-mail messages—which was managed by RMG IT partner CSC—was rising, and many employees found Lotus Notes difficult to use. RMG realised that to receive the maximum value from its e-mail migration project, it should also empower its employees with more powerful communication and collaboration tools than they had access to previously. Adrian Steel, Head of Infrastructure Management, Royal Mail Group, says: “We needed a complete re-design of our computer estate, starting with e-mail messaging, to bring down costs by adopting a pay-on-consumption model. We also wanted to improve our collaboration environment, which was running on out-of-date software and used very little.”
With 30,000 computers under management, RMG directors were keen to transform the business and avoid incurring capital expenditure by adopting a flexible model that could accommodate growth or shrinkage. An emerging solution was to acquire a suite of business productivity tools using a flexible software-as-a-service (SaaS) approach with payment on demand from vendors, including Microsoft, Google, and Lotus Live. Over a nine-month period RMG analysed several other options, including retaining the existing system with minor upgrades, moving to a new version of Lotus Notes, or replacing it with Microsoft Exchange Server.
Steel and his colleagues evaluated each option with consultants from Accenture and Avanade, as well as its outsourcing partner, CSC, and Microsoft. An added consideration was that RMG, as a result of its long standing outsourcing partnership with CSC, one of the world’s leading independent IT services companies, did not own its IT infrastructure. Steel says: “Cost was a driver, especially with the economy in recession. But an equally important consideration was the need to improve collaboration and give the workforce new communication tools to help them play a part in transforming the business.”
RMG chose the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Dedicated Suite based on a CSC recommendation and its own research. It provides Microsoft Exchange Online for e-mail, Microsoft Office Communications Online for instant messaging, Microsoft Office SharePoint Online for collaboration, and Microsoft Office Live Meeting communications tools for web-based audio and video conferencing.
Working with CSC and Microsoft, RMG formed a unified deployment team, which helped the companies work together and achieve common ownership of the transformation. To speed up migration CSC built a suite of user migration, training, and management tools that helped many employees to start the migration process themselves. The result was that thousands of people were automatically migrated overnight with no downtime or business disruption. Steel says: “The advice from Microsoft was that the quicker the migration the better because that way we’d minimise the impact of running two systems at the same time.”
The three business partners organised a series of workshops to help prepare RMG staff for the migration and change in business culture that the new productivity suite would bring. In the first eight weeks of deployment, 28,000 employees were supplied with their new collaboration suite, giving them access to tools such as instant messaging and presence awareness. Steel says, “Around 46 per cent of those 28,000 were fully migrated overnight, producing overwhelmingly positive reactions.”
While around 30 per cent of Steel’s time was spent on the technical work behind the migration, the rest was on running a Culture and Change programme within RMG. “I am managing up to 1,000 people at individual sites as champions of the new business productivity suite,” says Steel. “You have to remember that most of our people had only ever used Lotus Notes. It was engrained in the RMG psyche.”
As a Culture and Change champion, Steel sought buy-in for the new toolset throughout the organisation from the Chief Executive Officer downwards. “The champions act as super users at their sites and serve in the role of a conduit with the users,” he says. “Our investment in detailed planning, education, and training has paid huge dividends. People are enthusiastic about the deployment because they hear so many good things before they even get the new tools.”
The solution includes SharePoint Online, which is replacing an earlier version of SharePoint that was little used. “We have launched SharePoint Online with a series of applications,” says Steel. “An example is a room-booking system written in Microsoft Silverlight. It complements the business productivity suite with graphics and screenshots of all 1,000 rooms our staff can book for meetings.”
RMG considers that the speed of migration for the first 28,000 users to the Business Productivity Online Dedicated Suite is a world-class achievement for a government owned, public sector agency. The award winning CSC project equipped its workforce with diverse new collaboration technologies and met RMG savings targets. Steel says: “We believe that the Microsoft business productivity suite—compared to Lotus Notes with the same capabilities—will save more than £1 million over the four-year duration of this deal.”
Cost-Neutral Solution Produces Innovative Approach
||“An example is a room-booking system written in Microsoft Silverlight. It complements the business productivity suite with graphics and screenshots of all 1,000 rooms our staff can book for meetings.”
Head of Infrastructure Management, Royal Mail Group
The need to move to a more flexible pay as you go model and keep within existing budgets was a pre-requisite for making the change. As a result, RMG challenged CSC to approach the project with innovative thinking for a solution that would both optimise existing systems and support cost-efficient development for the future.
Simon Thomason, Director, Global Microsoft Practice, CSC, says: “We are delivering on the RMG requirement for a cost-neutral change—a new environment at a price no higher than the maintenance costs of the existing infrastructure. Significant new investment was simply not available at RMG. The payoff for RMG is a new productivity infrastructure that gives the company greater flexibility at no additional cost.”
People Benefit from New Business Productivity Suite
A driving force behind the project was a strong focus on tapping into the benefits of cloud-based computing to meet specific needs for enhanced productivity in the business. Steel says: “RMG is concentrating on change across its existing user base for personal computers but also wants to make the potential of IT available to a much larger proportion of the workforce.” A cloud-based services model allows RMG to pursue this goal cost effectively. Thomason adds: “RMG has adopted an aggressive approach to moving away from the Lotus Notes application—to drive the cost savings and efficiencies we are looking for, our goal is to retire and rationalise rather than just migrate.”
With the new solution from CSC and Microsoft, RMG management now has greater flexibility to move beyond the 30,000 office staff with personal computers, to around 100,000 others who lack regular access to a computer. The agility and flexibility afforded by this cloud-based communication and collaboration solution means that RMG is much better positioned to react to market changes and develop new products and services to stay on the leading edge of the market.
CSC Wins Top Award for RMG Cloud Computing Solution
The RMG Business Productivity Online Suite programme helped earn CSC the top award for “Most Collaborative Firm” at the 2010 U.K. Management Consultancies Association annual event. The citation, which also included other CSC work in the U.K. public sector, praised CSC for its “ground breaking cloud computing programme working with Microsoft.”
Supporting the RMG business productivity suite implementation, Terry Smith, Senior Director, Enterprise Partner Group, Microsoft UK, says: ”CSC was the first Microsoft Business Productivity Suite reseller to implement the solution. CSC is expert at building on advanced Microsoft software services offerings to deliver added value for clients.” In October 2010, CSC won the award for innovation in outsourcing for its BPOS solution at RMG at the National Outsourcing Association of the U.K. annual awards ceremony. Two months previously, RMG received an award from Microsoft for its showcase deployment of BPOS.
Workforce Preparation for Migration Pays Dividends
The meticulous planning for the migration and awareness programmes carried out with champions in place at more than 1,000 sites helped speed adoption. Among the responses to post-deployment feedback surveys included: “Having a local expert is definitely the way to go for future changes of this sort” and “the best change in IT we’ve ever implemented.” The consensus was that Steel and his team had managed a seamless migration using excellent communications and training modules.
RMG Moves Ahead with Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010
Since embarking on the migration, RMG has taken additional steps to complete the transformation programme. It has concluded a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement for low-cost licensing of its software giving RMG the tools it needed to move further away from its previous environment. It is now moving towards the modern IT infrastructure its employees and business partners expect from a world class postal service. Steel says: “This prepares the way for the roll out of the Microsoft Office 2010 suite and Windows 7 operating system in 2011. We will be one of the first companies globally to deploy the Office 2010 suite—and certainly one of the first to run it on Windows 7.”
Close Collaboration Between Partners Helps Realise Shared Goals
The Microsoft practice at CSC played a key role in bringing all the stakeholders together. Steel says: “As a business in the middle of long-term change, we required an environment that ensured we had a positive transformation and not just business as usual.”
The RMG, CSC, and Microsoft partnership was unusually collaborative in its format. And yet, it delivered an SaaS solution that RMG is confident will position the company as a leader in global postal services for years to come.
Microsoft Online Services
Microsoft Online Services are business-class communication and collaboration solutions delivered as a subscription service and hosted by Microsoft. With these offerings, customers can cost-effectively access the most up-to-date technologies and immediately benefit from streamlined communications, simplified management, and business-class reliability and security features. For IT staff, Microsoft Online Services are backed by strong service level agreements and help reduce the burden of performing routine IT management, freeing up time to focus on core business initiatives.
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This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY. Document published December 2010