4-page Case Study
Posted: 9/11/2013
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Hans Merensky Hans Merensky Joins the Dots with Microsoft Lync

Established over six decades ago by geologist and renowned philanthropist, Dr. Hans Merensky, Hans Merensky Holdings is one of South Africa’s most prominent bio-renewable resource groups.

Privately held, yet controlled by several notable shareholders such Hans Merensky Foundation, the South African state-owned Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and Vuka Forestry Holdings (Pty) Limited, Hans Merensky Holdings is one of the globe’s most significant providers of forestry, wood processing and fresh sub-tropical fruit.

Located in Parktown, Johannesburg, and yet incorporating numerous satellite offices and plantations, Hans Merensky Holding’s IT requirements are as unique as they are complex.

Business Situation

With over 500 users scattered between 19 remote locations across the globe, swift and effective internal communication has always been a challenging obstacle for Hans Merensky Holdings to overcome.

Although the group has historically used PABX telephonic systems to facilitate affordable voice communication, Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Exchange to manage corporate email and Instant Messaging (IM) platforms such as Microsoft Instant Messenger for text based chat, these facilities had proven somewhat ineffective when partnered with a modern corporate ecosystem.

Following Hans Merensky Holdings successful implementation of Microsoft SharePoint as a means to encourage greater internal collaboration, an organisation wide upgrade to Microsoft Windows 7 and the decision to move previously volume licensed software over the Microsoft’s hosted SPLA platform, the group began investigating more interactive solutions to facilitate daily employee interaction.

“Although we had invested significant effort into upgrading our collaboration and software infrastructures, ultimately opting for a hosted model which allowed for greater flexibility, we felt that the manner in which Hans Merensky Holdings employees communicated on a daily basis still required attention” comments Mike Slade, Hans Merensky Holdings IT Manager.

“In order to resolve the issue, we made contact with Hans Merensky Holdings’ longstanding IT partner group, PWC Exordia, to present the challenge and begin investigating possible solutions”.


In conjunction with certified Microsoft Partner, PWC Exordia, Hans Merensky Holdings made the decision to implement Microsoft Lync throughout the group.
Microsoft Lync is an enterprise-ready unified communications platform which connects users across devices to Presence, Instant Messaging, voice and video services via a corporate IT environment. Lync also closely integrates with Microsoft SharePoint and shared spaces, Skype and the Microsoft Office bouquet.

“Implementing Microsoft Lync throughout the enterprise was an obvious solution for an organisation with hundreds of employees situated in several locations” says Andre Oosthuisen, Director at PWC Exordia.

“Microsoft Lync integrates closely with Hans Merensky Holdings’ existing hosted Microsoft infrastructure and certainly compliments the SharePoint collaborative corporate eco system that the group has been making effective use of over the course of the past year”.

Hans Merensky Holdings’ decision to implement Microsoft Lync also offered several benefits in terms of integration with existing software such as Microsoft Office and allowed the organisation to reduce operating expenses by largely eradicating costly fixed line voice and PABX systems.

“Microsoft Lync was a clear choice because it allowed us to make full use of our existing Microsoft infrastructure while reducing our reliance on telephonic voice systems for internal communication. Instead of implementing a competitor solution and hoping for the best, we knew that Hans Merensky Holdings’ IT environment would collaborate well with Microsoft Lync” adds Slade.


After engaging PWC Exordia to implement Microsoft Lync to Hans Merensky Holdings’ IT infrastructure, the group has enjoyed numerous benefits.

Collaborative Corporate Ecosystem

The nature in which Microsoft Lync naturally collaborates with Hans Merensky Holdings Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft SPLA hosted IT infrastructure has facilitated the emergence of an organic collaborative ecosystem.

Previously, Hans Merensky Holdings employees were limited to telephonic and email services to communicate internally, unaware of their colleague availability to conduct conversation or awareness on recent project developments.

Today, staff members are afforded immediate access to their peer’s current status and, via Microsoft SharePoint, the extent of their knowledge relating to current progress.

“Hans Merensky holdings employees are now able to view, in real time, if a colleague is available to discuss a corporate topic. Integration with Microsoft Outlook via Presence and Microsoft SharePoint also makes it easier for those involved to stay ‘up to speed’ on recent developments” says Slade.

“The fact that we can simply have a voice or video enabled chat, via Lync, from any location has made it far more convenient for staff to converse across hundreds or thousands of Kilometres. A business of this nature relies on regularly contacting staff who are situated in remote settings – Microsoft Lync has made this ideal far easier to achieve”.

Reduced Operating Costs

The implementation of Microsoft Lync to Hans Merensky Holding’s hosted Microsoft infrastructure has also enabled cost savings on fixed line telephonic and PABX systems.
“Although we do not have access to exact figures, we have noticed a marked decrease in spending on telephonic communication between locations. Furthermore, we have also detected a reduction in internal email loads since introducing Microsoft Lync to our infrastructure. In this way, Microsoft has not only facilitated improved communication between staff, but has also enabled Hans Merensky Holdings to reduce operating costs” concludes Slade.
Solution Overview

Organization Profile
Established over six decades ago by geologist and renowned philanthropist, Dr. Hans Merensky, Hans Merensky Holdings is one of South Africa’s most prominent bio-renewable resource groups. 
Hans Merensky Holdings is one of the globe’s most significant providers of forestry, wood processing and fresh sub-tropical fruit.

Software and Services
Microsoft Lync Server

Vertical Industries

South Africa


PwC Exordia