Helly Hansen is known for its innovative blend of technology and design to produce high-performance outdoor gear. However, its business communications and collaboration capabilities had lagged behind and employees were relying on aging, unreliable
email and telephony systems. The small IT staff divided its limited time between maintenance of the company’s forty applications and making sure the outdated email systems were operational–leaving it little time to focus on higher value initiatives. To revitalize
its IT capabilities, Helly Hansen adopted Microsoft Office 365, licensing the E4 plan for all of its employees. Helly Hansen improved communications, accelerated business processes, and transformed its travel culture, resulting in reduced travel costs by 10
to 15 percent.
Helly Hansen produces and sells outdoor gear that can keep you comfortable on the water, at the top of a mountain, or anywhere in between. Popular among skiers and sailors for both work and play, the Helly Hansen clothing line is known for its innovative
fabrics, durability, performance, and Scandinavian design.
||Our costs will basically stay the same once the deployment is complete, but with Office 365 we are getting all of the Lync capabilities as well and we free up our IT staff from managing applications to working on strategic projects.
| Sandy Abrahams
IT Director, Helly Hansen
As a global brand, Helly Hansen operates 39 retail outlets in Europe and North America and works with retailers and suppliers from around the world. It does so with just 350 full-time employees who work out of the headquarters in Oslo, Norway, and from offices
in Germany, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Canada, and the United States. “There is a lot of fantastic competition for the global accounts we serve, so we have to have the best product and deliver on time,” says Richard Collier, Vice President
of Merchandizing, Sourcing, and Development at Helly Hansen. “To do that, we’ve got to communicate all the way through the supply chain.”
Most teams at Helly Hansen are geographically diverse; for instance, the Finance department has people who work from all of the offices. The marketing team in Oslo must provide marketing plans and store layouts to the retail stores across Europe and North
America. The teams typically communicated by email and phone, but the phone systems were outdated and unreliable and sending large files with marketing plans and detailed display photographs over email was not an ideal solution.
Maintaining global operations with a small staff caused challenges for the IT department as well. Prior to 2011, IT operations at Helly Hansen were less tightly controlled and governed. New systems were installed but the old systems were quite often not
decommissioned, resulting in complex environments that were difficult to maintain and often not fully understood. For example, the company was running eleven instances of Microsoft Exchange Server. Some of the servers still ran the Windows 2000 operating system
and Microsoft Exchange Server 2003. The fragmented email environment was difficult to maintain and provided unreliable service. Support was difficult because Helly Hansen had multiple versions of Microsoft Outlook deployed and employees were accessing multiple
versions of Exchange Server.
Helly Hansen had a Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 deployment that was used for an intranet and address books. Some teams were taking advantage of the capabilities for team and project sites, but overall these capabilities were underutilized because the
company lacked an expert to help educate teams and assist them in taking full advantage of its SharePoint solution.
Customers and suppliers could not always connect to the Oslo office due to phone system outages. Helly Hansen had a videoconferencing system in Oslo and the other major sites, but it was complex and rarely used. Because communications options were limited,
travel for meetings between offices and manufacturers in Europe and Asia were common.
In January 2011, Helly Hansen hired Sandy Abrahams as the new IT Director. “We had PBX [private-branch exchange] systems, email, and a videoconferencing system, and they were all unreliable,” says Abrahams. “There was no instant messaging and no conferencing.
Several of our stores were not able to receive phone service and depended on the store manager’s mobile phone for communications. We needed to do something fast so that communication was not an impediment to our business.”
Recognizing that with limited IT resources it would be difficult to make the required changes to its environment, Helly Hansen decided to test Microsoft Office 365 cloud-based services. Office 365 unites familiar Microsoft Office applications with the
power of Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online, and Microsoft Lync Online into one connected solution. “With my team of five people trying to manage forty applications, we thought it was great to be able to outsource email and focus on other
areas,” says Abrahams. “We would have deployed Office 365 just for Exchange Online, but we also got Lync Online for instant messaging and conferencing and the opportunity to move to SharePoint Online.”
||We have to share a large amount of information between our headquarters staff and the stores. The retail team site will make that a lot easier.
| Sandy Abrahams
Helly Hansen started by moving 25 employees to Office 365 as part of a small pilot program. With the transition program Microsoft has in place for Office 365, Helly Hansen could move users to Office 365 without paying any additional fees in the first year,
so there was limited financial risk in testing the solution. Office 365 was easy to implement, and the employees loved the new communications capabilities. After only one week, Helly Hansen recognized that Office 365 was the right direction for the company.
To assist with the deployment, Helly Hansen brought in Microsoft Partner Network members Atea and Skill. Atea performed a diagnostic of the Helly Hansen environment to ensure all the elements required for a successful global Lync implementation were in place.
Skill prepared the Active Directory infrastructure for Office 365 and set up Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) to enable single sign-on for the on-premises and Office 365 solutions.
With a small team rolling out Office 365 while also working on the service desk, Helly Hansen has transitioned all of its office employees and some of its stores to the cloud in a relatively short period of time. It plans to complete the rollout to its remote
sales people and the remaining stores in early 2013.
With the move to Exchange Online, Helly Hansen employees now enjoy fast and reliable email service. Exchange Online provides 25-gigabyte mailboxes so employees no longer have to spend time managing the size of their mailbox. The reliability of the email
service has also increased, gone are the days of frequent email outages due to a problem in one of the 11 email servers or spam filters. Employees also like the consistent user experience from working with the latest version of Microsoft Outlook on their desktop
and Microsoft Outlook Web App from virtually any browser or mobile device. Next, Helly Hansen will work with Skill to retire its Exchange servers and migrate all of its remaining user data to Exchange Online.
The company has adopted SharePoint Online for team collaboration. All new team and project sites are created using SharePoint Online and the IT staff is actively promoting their use. Over time, Helly Hansen plans to migrate its existing SharePoint applications
to SharePoint Online and retire those servers as well. “The retail teams have requested a shared calendar in SharePoint Online that they can use to post important marketing activities,” says Abrahams. “After we get that set up, the store employees will be
able to go into Outlook and check their calendars to see when new promotions are occurring or the store displays need to be updated.” Helly Hansen is also in the process of setting up a team site for its retail staff so they can share information without sending
large files over email. “We have to share a large amount of information between our headquarters staff and the stores,” says Abrahams. “The retail team site will make that a lot easier.”
||Beyond replacing traditional phone service with Lync, we will be able to set up the store PCs with HD video cameras so our marketing managers can give visual feedback on the displays.
| Sandy Abrahams
The teams at Helly Hansen quickly adopted the instant messaging, presence, and conferencing capabilities in Lync Online. They were hosting frequent desktop sharing sessions and accelerating business processes with presence and instant messaging. “We ran a development
project at the beginning of the year with contributors from Germany, Denmark, Sweden, the United States, and Norway entirely on Lync. The only time they came to Oslo was for final acceptance testing,” says Abrahams. “We used Lync meetings and desktop sharing
and set up a team site in SharePoint Online to manage the project. The great thing was that everybody on the team felt that the process worked and our management heard that message.”
While adoption of Lync Online grew between April and September of 2012, the PBX system in Oslo was causing serious problems. Internal communications switched to Lync, but customers and suppliers were having trouble connecting with the offices. Helly Hansen
decided it needed enterprise voice capabilities and deployed Microsoft Lync Server 2013, which replaced Lync Online but was still licensed through the Microsoft Office 365 E4 plan. With the help of Microsoft Services, Helly Hansen set up the servers in its
Oslo data center and is upgrading the networking connections to its offices and the wireless networks within the offices to handle VoIP calls. Helly Hansen will also deploy audio conferencing bridges so that every country it works with will have local dial-in
In the stores, Helly Hansen plans to provide phone service via Lync rather than traditional landlines to save money and improve phone access. “Beyond replacing traditional phone service with Lync, we will be able to set up the store PCs with HD video cameras
so our marketing managers can give visual feedback on the displays,” says Abrahams.
Along with the server products, Helly Hansen also receives licenses for Office 365 ProPlus. Office 365 Pro Plus provides access to the latest Microsoft Office capabilities and enables employees to deploy Microsoft Office on up to five devices, from PCs to
tablets to mobile phones. “It’s really nice to know that our employees can use a copy of Office wherever they need it, without us worrying about the cost of the license,” says Abrahams. Microsoft Office Web Apps are also available to Helly Hansen employees
so they can access documents and take advantage of the latest Microsoft Office capabilities, even if they are using a computer that doesn’t have a copy of Microsoft Office.
The transition of Microsoft Office 365 has been very smooth for Helly Hansen. With the help of Atea, it has migrated employees to Exchange Online and SharePoint Online. It has also deployed Lync on-premises with a full enterprise voice deployment that
is being rolled out across the company. When the solution is fully deployed, Helly Hansen expects its overall solution costs to be lower than they were for its previous on-premises solution despite adding capabilities like instant messaging, presence, conferencing,
VoIP, and Office Web Apps that improve communications across it global retail business.
The entire Microsoft communication and collaboration solution can be licensed under the Microsoft Office 365 E4 plan. One low annual cost per user provides access to Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office 365 ProPlus, and Lync Server 2013 for a full
on-premises voice deployment.
When compared to the costs of its previous solution, the licensing costs of Office 365 are very attractive for Helly Hansen. Its previous licensing costs for Microsoft Office, Exchange, and SharePoint, along with the hardware costs and PBX costs, were almost
the same as its current licensing cost for Office 365. “Our costs will basically stay the same once the deployment is complete, but with Office 365, we are getting all of the Lync capabilities as well and we free up our IT staff from managing applications
to working on strategic projects,” says Abrahams.
Improved Reliability of IT Services
Beyond the cost savings, the ability to retire its 11 Exchange servers, two spam filters, and various pieces of PBX equipment will end a period of unreliable service for Helly Hansen employees. Office 365 has financially backed 99.9 percent availability
SLAs that provide comfort to Abrahams and the rest of the IT staff. “The most noticeable difference for us is that email now works reliably,” says Abrahams. “It helps the business run smoothly and frees up a lot of IT time that we used to spend troubleshooting
Transforms the Travel Culture
Soon after the move to Office 365, Helly Hansen started a pilot program to encourage employees to replace business travel with Lync meetings. “We ran this pilot and, in a very short time, were able to avoid 15 trips and save more than €15,500 [US$20,000].
Lync quickly made a real improvement in how we do business,” says Abrahams.
Now every manager has been asked to reduce their travel budget and use Lync instead. Helly Hansen expects travel costs will be reduced by 10 to 15 percent in 2013. While senior management was initially skeptical that Lync could help reduce travel costs,
it is now convinced that Lync can deliver savings. “For the IT team, which is spread over five countries, being able to have all of our meetings via Lync has been an amazing transformation,” says Abrahams. “Now that we can see each other and share our desktops,
we can lead more productive meetings and benefit from closer relationships. We joke that if our phones went down for a day we could survive, but we couldn’t do without Lync meetings.”
Another way that Helly Hansen will benefit from Lync videoconferencing is by reviewing clothing samples with its manufacturers in Hong Kong. “Our suppliers can use Logitech HD cameras to show samples to the developers in Oslo. We previously had to send an
entourage of people to Asia to check samples every year. Now, only half of the team will need to go,” says Abrahams. “Everybody is excited about this; especially the people who are tired of so much traveling and the managers who want to save money.”
Reduces Telephony Costs
Helly Hansen will use Lync to replace the outdated PBX equipment, which will reduce the cost of maintenance and greatly improve the reliability of telephone communications. Lync will also help Helly Hansen to reduce its mobile phone charges. “We have
one employee who frequently travels between Munich and Oslo. He saw a reduction in his mobile phone bill of more than €200 [US$260] a month after adopting Lync,” says Abrahams. “That is the savings from just one person.” Overall, Helly Hansen has reduced the
budget for mobile phone costs by 10 percent.
Microsoft Office 365
The new Office provides anywhere access to your familiar Office applications—plus email, calendar, video conferencing, and your most current documents—on almost any device, from PCs to smartphones to tablets.
For more information about Microsoft Office 365, go to:
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