Post divestment from Shell, Z Energy became a new business in many ways, and as a result required additional technical capability which was aligned to its business needs. These new systems needed to be both modern and flexible enough to enable
Z Energy to deliver extraordinary results. The existing technology solution struggled to cope with the new business needs and caused significant productivity issues and frustrations within the business. To resolve these issues and align the technology to meet
the needs of the new business strategy, Z Energy implemented a new backend infrastructure, desktop and email solution, along with a new intranet and phone system. The new solution provides Z Energy with a robust and nimble computing environment ensuring increased
productivity and lower risk for the organization. It also means Z Energy has a common technology platform for future development.
In 2010, Infratil along with the New Zealand Superannuation Fund purchased a company which they renamed Greenstone. After months of market research, Greenstone was rebranded in May 2011 to Z Energy in order to represent a New Zealand energy brand run by
Kiwis, with a heavy dose of Kiwi attitude.
Z Energy supplies fuel to retail customers and large commercial customers, including airlines, trucking companies, mines, shipping companies and vehicle fleet operators. It also provides bitumen to roading contractors and manufactures ingredients used in
detergents and other household products.
As a new company Z Energy had a number of ambitious and strategic goals. These goals were dependent on a technology solution that was flexible and ready to respond as the business started to move in new and interesting directions. Also imperative was a technology
business unit attuned to the key business drivers, coupled with a technology strategy and toolset to support the wider business strategy.
The technology system inherited at divestment was not suitable for a nimble, local New Zealand company, meaning the existing system required a major overhaul and upgrade. Older systems impacted Z Energy, from significant time delays to frequent outages,
all of which had a negative impact on staff morale.
“The older systems meant busy people were seeing significant delays logging on to and using the system. For staff already under pressure, waiting for that extra period of time to log on and subsequently experiencing frequent system outages was completely
unacceptable,” says Matthew Bird, Z Energy Enterprise Architect.
“The systems we had in place were definitely having a major impact on our people’s productivity.”
As at 1 April 2010 Z Energy were operating on four different client platforms – Windows 2000, Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7. This caused multiple maintenance issues resulting in further delays and frustration.
There was no system management software for the PCs and laptops, given that software patches needed to be applied regularly in order to update and protect the PC fleet and the overall network. These had to be applied manually, which was a very time consuming
and laborious process.
“Having to manually download and install patches consumed hours and was a huge drain on technical resources. The resulting delay exposed us to risks on a daily basis. This was especially frustrating when we all knew there was technology available that could
do this in a far more automated fashion,” says Matthew.
Post divestment the organization had deployed a stop-gap intranet that was completely static, full of dated content, managed by one individual and almost completely unused. There was a huge opportunity to improve on this and to create an information hub
that would help to deliver a more integrated business at Z Energy.
The outdated phone system and PABX and voice messaging system were struggling to cope. In addition, the organization was in a classic “Data rich but information poor” position with no Business Intelligence or Digital Dashboard tools available locally to
support decision making.
The entire company’s technology needs had evolved beyond the capabilities of the legacy systems. To realize the strategic goals and outcomes, Z Energy had to invest in a foundation of new technologies to create the modern and flexible systems that met the
evolving business needs and new possibilities that Z Energy stands for.
Z Energy had an established partnership with Gen-i, so when the organization went looking for a new set of systems the team used Gen-i as technical resource and scale whilst maintaining an architecture team in-house. The company created a core technology
platform that would provide a solid foundation to take the company into the future. There was a deliberate strategy to avoid bespoke products to preserve agility, and by aligning with Microsoft, the organization focused on creating a modern, but common, core
technology platform to build on.
Focusing on delivering the fastest and highest impact solutions first, the technology team decided to deliver a new PC standard operating environment (SOE) along with a new intranet. The end goal was to roll out a Windows 7 solution with Office 2010 and
time this release alongside the new intranet using SharePoint 2010. The change management was then run as one exercise for Windows 7 and SharePoint, minimizing the perceived change for the business. The rollout was staggered over two weekends for the Wellington
office, followed with a weekend by weekend rollout to all the regional offices.
Behind the scenes the backend infrastructure was being upgraded, starting with an entirely new domain and new set of group policies to manage the PC environment.
System Centre Configuration Manager (SCCM) was designed and implemented to give the systems management solution what it needed to manage the Z Energy workstations and servers. This delivered bare metal deployment and rebuild functions, application provisioning
and patch management. Due to the previous difficulty with manual patching, uploads occurred less frequently than best practice dictates, which increased risk and created extended periods of vulnerability for the organization. Now with the new SCCM solution,
patches and updates can be scheduled to upload automatically, saving the Z Energy technical team several days each month.
Exchange 2010 was implemented along with Outlook Web access, Outlook Anywhere and Active Sync to provide a full service, robust, email solution. Implementation of SQL 2008 R2 was delivered to support the data needs of the various systems.
In relation to the existing PABX system, Z Energy made the decision not to re-invest in the standard telephony technology, but to move forward with a modern solution that integrated with the other new client and backend systems. This approach also created
savings on a costly PABX and voice messaging upgrade. The driver for this decision was to further the organizational goal of Z Energy becoming a connected business. With these goals in mind it implemented Microsoft Lync.
A pilot system was deployed on 10 user profiles in the company, and the solution was tested and developed to optimize the functionality for Z Energy. Once testing was complete, the Lync system was rolled out in organization.
In consultation with Microsoft, Z Energy decided to condense the planning phase and reallocate the extra resources to support the implementation phase of the rollout. By managing the risk with the business, rather than trying to remove it entirely, the approach
was highly successful and gained executive support and trust.
Using Microsoft technology, the Z Energy Business Technology & Transformation Team delivered a foundation of tools and technical capability enabling the company to operate at speed. The solution also supported integration of the historically disparate business
units at a cost that was sustainable long term.
Such a major organizational change had to be managed very carefully and a change management team at Z Energy was charged with controlling the deployment. Microsoft Premier Support was leveraged during deployment. Prior to each new group of users being upgraded,
the teams were carefully trained and supported through the process. Users also had remote access and could connect to the system from anywhere with an internet connection. This allowed users to familiarize themselves with the new system in their own time.
Microsoft’s Home Use Program was offered to employees to assist with support and uptake of Z Energy’s IT and work place changes.
Z Energy achieved a number of key benefits with the Microsoft solution, including:
•A more robust and nimble computing environment
•Elimination of manual software installation and system patching
•Lower risk for the organization
•Streamlined communications with Lync and Exchange
•A platform of tools to deliver a more integrated and collaborative business
•Time savings from a unified inbox
•Common platform for future development
With new system and desktop software in place, the team at Z Energy can now log on in seconds and gain access to the latest Microsoft technologies.
Software patches are now applied automatically saving the technology teams days every month. These technical resources can now be redeployed throughout the business.
“The Business Technology team can now focus on helping our business use technology to solve business challenges. The implementation of Microsoft SharePoint means we now have an intranet that is not just the information hub for our business but is where our
people go to find other people at Z Energy. The Intranet has become the central online place that brings us together as one organization,” says Matthew.
The policy of integration extended to the new phone system through Microsoft Lync. The move away from the old PABX system to an Internet Protocol (IP) based system means employees can utilize new functions such as a unified inbox. This allows users to retrieve
messages from multiple different sources such as email, voicemail, instant messaging (IM), short message service (SMS) and fax all in one place.
"The unified inbox has generated massive productivity gains for us, it saves every member of the team precious minutes every day.”
Lync allows users to see if the person is available and has photos attached so when they are speaking to staff in other locations people can put faces to names.
"Using Lync we can now IM, share screens and initiate voice and video call, this has had a really positive effect on how we communicate as a company. We no longer have to rely on 'email and wait' communications – we get answers to questions in real time
to make real time decisions.”
“Everyone was buzzing. When the solutions were deployed, our people were accepting and excited about the systems changes and very positive about leaving the old systems behind in the past,” says Matthew.
Z Energy chose a subscription model for licensing. This model means a lower cost of ownership up front, with the option to purchase the licenses at the end of the agreement. During the term of the agreement, Z Energy are entitled to all relevant upgrades
as they are released, meaning all systems will be kept up-to-date.
"Over the last 12 months there has been a major perception change for the Business Technology Team moving from “the team that looks after the PCs” to the “team that helps to unlock our business strategy.”
Z Energy has implemented a truly modern, completely integrated solution that will form the basis of their technology system into the future.
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