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Posted: 9/4/2012
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L.L. Bean Retailer Boosts Worker Productivity, Speeds Image Updates by 66 Percent with Upgrade

L.L. Bean, a worldwide provider of outdoor clothing and equipment, needed to update its aging computing environment. By upgrading to the Windows 7 Enterprise operating system and Microsoft Office Professional 2010, and using Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2, it eased IT management, raised the success rate on software updates to 94 percent, reduced image update times by 66 percent, and improved worker productivity.

Business Needs
Founded in 1912, L.L. Bean is a global merchant of outdoor gear and apparel whose 2010 net sales were US$1.44 billion. Renowned for very durable merchandise, the Freeport, Maine-based company was struggling to provide the same high quality in its computing environment.

Most of its 6,000 computers were six years old, its Windows XP operating system had been deployed nine years earlier, and the company had been using Microsoft Office 2000 for 10 years. “Employees complained about slow performance and, because applications were so out-of-date, we had compatibility issues. We often couldn’t open L.L. Bean catalogue files sent back from our printer because we had an earlier release of Microsoft Office. We had to convert documents or convince vendors to go back to Office 2000,” says Kristy Trice, Manager of End User Computing at L.L. Bean. Many employees installed other applications to fill functionality gaps. Over time, the number of application counts grew from 300 to more than 2,000.

Management was time-consuming. For its annual image update, IT members drove to the company’s three call centers and used CDs to manually reimage 700 computers. This took about 180 hours. Fixing computers was problematic. If an issue could not be resolved within 15 minutes, IT reimaged the computer and, then, the employee spent from two hours to several days reinstalling applications. Employees often chose to live with problems instead of losing productivity. Monthly updates could also be difficult because they were not applied if computers were offline and had to be rebooted. Success rates averaged 85 percent.

L.L Bean used a third-party encryption product for security. “Managing yet another vendor’s product put more strain on IT staff. We needed to update and simplify our environment as well as key processes,” says Trice, noting that it took 55 minutes for an office employee to sign up for volunteering in the shipping department during the holiday season.

Solution
L.L. Bean made across-the-board upgrades to its environment, with moves to the Windows 7 Enterprise operating system, Microsoft Office Professional 2010 productivity applications, and Microsoft System Center Configuration 2007 R2 for operating system and application deployment.

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* Everything from protecting computers to deploying and supporting software is easier since we moved to Windows 7 and System Center Configuration Manager. *

Kristy Trice
Manager, End User Computing, L.L.

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The company began its upgrade in January 2011, focusing on building the image, enabling the advanced security features in Windows 7, and determining how to deploy software using System Center Configuration Manager. With backing from the company’s most senior executives, Trice directed an aggressive application rationalization project to cut the application count to 300.

In May 2011, L.L. Bean initiated a pilot project, rolling out Windows 7 and Office Professional 2010 to 30 employees. After an overwhelmingly positive response, the IT team began consecutive deployments to L.L. Bean business units using the operating system deployment feature in System Center Configuration Manager. It determined which applications a particular group needed, tested them for compatibility with Windows 7, and upgraded applications when required. IT provided the new image to a few early adopters, who helped train their colleagues after Windows 7 and Office Professional 2010 were rolled out to the rest of their group.

L.L. Bean also held a Strategy Briefing at the Microsoft Technology Center in Boston in May 2011, which helped the company understand how to best use application and desktop virtualization in addition to Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 to improve productivity.

By November 2011, L.L. Bean had deployed Windows 7 and Office 2010 on 5,500 new and upgraded Lenovo desktop and portable computers. Another 500 computers in retail stores will be migrated by December 2012. It uses Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.6 to simplify application deployment. As of March 2012, it had virtualized about 20 percent of its applications and expects to virtualize another 70 percent by March 2013.

Benefits
By upgrading to a Windows 7-based environment, L.L. Bean simplified management, reduced imaging time, and improved productivity.

Eased Management, Boosted Update Success Rate to 94 Percent
L.L. Bean streamlined IT management. “Everything from protecting computers to deploying and supporting software is easier since we moved to Windows 7 and System Center Configuration Manager,” says Trice. Because enhanced security features are included in Windows 7, IT does not have to manage a separate encryption product. In addition, the success rate for software updates rose to 94 percent—a 10 percent increase.

Reduced Call Center Imaging Time by 66 Percent
It takes one IT member about 60 hours to conduct the call center refresh, instead of the three members and 180 hours previously required. In March 2012, when its call centers needed to be quickly reimaged because of an issue with a key application, three IT staff reimaged 700 computers in one day. Without Microsoft solutions, it would have taken nine people at least three days.

Improved Employee Experience, Productivity
Workers are more productive. “Tasks are much faster and simpler thanks to Windows 7 and Office Professional 2010. Employees love the new environment,” says Trice. They no longer spend hours reinstalling applications after IT reimages computers. All their applications, whether installed locally or virtualized, are pushed to the user’s device. Employees are much more likely to get computer problems fixed, rather than try to work around them as they had in the past.

By upgrading to Office 2010, L.L. Bean eliminated compatibility issues with vendor documents. The company also used SharePoint Server to simplify the employee holiday volunteer process, reducing sign-up time by 90 percent, from 55 minutes to just 6 minutes.

For more information about Windows 7, go to:
www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7

Solution Overview



Organization Size: 4600 employees

Organization Profile

Headquartered in Freeport, Maine, L.L. Bean is a multichannel merchant of outdoor gear and apparel. It serves customers through catalogs, web sales, and retail stores. It has about 4,600 employees.


Hardware

  • Lenovo ThinkPad T500 portable computers
  • Lenovo ThinkCentre M Series desktop computers


Software and Services
  • Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.6 For Windows Desktops
  • Windows 7 Enterprise
  • Microsoft Office Professional 2010
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
  • Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2
  • Microsoft Technology Center

Vertical Industries
Specialty Retail

Country/Region
United States

Languages
English

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