The company "Latvia State Forests" (LVM) is the largest forest management company in Latvia. Its work includes three fields: producing seeds and growing plants, managing forests from small plants to complete products made of wood, and nature recreation
The company has an expansive IT infrastructure: two offices in Riga, eight — in other cities, as well as countless connection points in various locations throughout Latvia. Since work specifics demand that LVM employees must be very mobile, of the 800 computers
used by the company, roughly 70% are laptops. This allows working from almost anyplace where an internet connection is available. Of course, laptop computers and internet connections themselves don't provide operative and economical telecommunications between
employees and with clients.
For fixed telephone communications, there was an Alcatel PBX (Public-Branch-Exchange), in each office. However, this technology became outdated, the company developed, and the PBX capacity could not provide for all of the company's needs. For example, the necessary
amount of outgoing calls could not be guaranteed, and system maintenance became increasingly more expensive. And so, the company had to choose whether to continue investing money in maintaining the telephone PBX or to gradually look for alternative solutions.
LVM's goal was to find the technological solution that would allow all employees to always be reachable, that is, to have their "office" and telephone with them outside of the office. Since LVM employees work throughout the whole of Latvia, it was important
to provide video and voice conferences, while decreasing travel expenses and time spent traveling. Conferences with international partners also created problems - since each has a different communications solution, firewall parameters had to be modified prior
to each teleconference. That was time consuming and inconvenient.
While looking for the optimal solution, and since the company was interested in a less expensive communications solution, several alternatives were evaluated. The costs necessary for alternative solutions (additional servers, etc.) were too high, and implementing
them would not be lucrative. The company even tried a telephony solution based on an open code platform. However, because of various inconveniences, employees did not use this software and actively started using mobile communications instead.
During the beginning of the 2010 winter, a testing environment for the Microsoft Lync 2010 solution was initiated. Because of its functionality and easy use, the integrated telecommunications platform quickly became very popular within the company. By the
spring of 2011, all LVM computer users were connected to it. Implementation of the project was somewhat delayed by the fact that it wasn't so easy to immediately purchase 800 quality earbuds in Latvia.
"It is essential that Lync is integrated in Microsoft Office products, for example, it is synchronized with the Microsoft Outlook calendar, and it also has a clear and intuitive interface. External clients can connect to the system as guests after downloading
specific software. In choosing the most suitable solution, it was also important that Microsoft Lync licenses were included in the Microsoft Enterprise contract. The contract for rental of licenses was supplemented with the Microsoft Lync Server 2010 license,"
says Tatjana Hristica, Manager of Information Systems Development at "Latvia's State Forests."
Since "Latvia's State Forests" integrated both fixed (Lattelecom) and mobile communications on the Microsoft Lync 2010 platform, telephone calls have become less expensive. LVM is currently using the Microsoft Lync 2013 version.
Faster and better quality communication both within LVM and with external clients, allowing to essentially save employee time and decrease transportation, travel, and communication expenses. By implementing Lync, it was no longer necessary to maintain and
service 8 regional telephone PBX, saving up to 2000 lats (apr. 2850 EUR) yearly. The main savings result from the decreased amount of subscription lines. Already in 2012, these costs were 60% less (731,76 lats (1041,20 EUR) per month) than in 2010.
Since all information exchange happens electronically, it was possible to decrease the amount of telephony lines and numbers, as well as completely stop use of fax machines. Fax services are used only in places where there is not a stable internet connection.
By implementing Lync, specialists can be reached no matter where they are physically located, because communication lines are linked to specific people. Thus, colleagues and clients can quickly be in contact and discuss issues with the necessary specialist
by transferring a call or by teleconference.
After implementing Lync, work efficiency has increased and transportation costs have decreased, since, for example, regular monthly and weekly meetings can be organized within an hour's time and involved employees do not have to waste time traveling from
one city or office to another. IT support issues are also addressed more effectively, making remote connections and proper consultations and problem-solving possible. This is especially important if computer users are located throughout the whole territory
of the country. A major advantage is gained by teleconferences with international clients, thus costs for international calls have noticeably decreased.
A more unified team develops within the company, because communications are not hindered by costs (limiting discussions), and employees can communicate more freely and informally.