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Global teams and clients boost collaboration quality, efficiency through the Microsoft cloud

Today’s Office 365 post was written by Robert Butler, worldwide director information technology at Hay Group, a global management consulting firm.

Hay Group pro pixHay Group is all about people. We are a management consulting firm that helps our clients deal with every aspect of human resources, from identifying the right pay scales from country to country to developing executive skill sets. Many of our clients are multinational corporations that come to Hay Group because we understand what it takes to run a global business. After all, we have offices in 50 countries, with more than 88 sites. We know from experience how difficult it can be to establish global pay policies and overcome cultural issues.

Those clients often want their Hay Group consulting teams to mimic the global nature of their businesses, so our teams frequently need to collaborate both internally and externally across continents. In the 27 years I’ve been at Hay Group, I’ve watched us go from using postal mail to fax machines to email. Today, we use Microsoft Office 365 to work confidentially with colleagues down the hall and around the world.

The decision to move to Office 365 was a practical one. We faced a growing datacenter footprint that was expensive to maintain, and we needed to find a way to make data more readily available to employees across the globe. Rather than build, buy, or rent space in all our locations, we now rely on the Microsoft cloud. We started with Office 365 and plan to also move proprietary information into Microsoft Azure in the future.

But the value that we’re seeing from our shift to Office 365 goes way beyond the datacenter. We’ve significantly improved our collaboration, which is the bread and butter of our business. For instance, our consultants consider Skype for Business essential for communicating both with each other and with federated clients through video and audio conferences that they launch with one click. And everyone can see the green indicator symbol when a consultant or client is available—we no longer have to wait to schedule a meeting. This freer communications flow and access to information is critical when we’re finalizing proposals and deliverables. Enabling teammates and cross-company colleagues to quickly reach out, address issues, and stick with project schedules is a surefire way to make clients happy.

We also have 600 Microsoft SharePoint Online sites and a multitude of client-facing websites, where international teams and their clients work closely together and where clients log on and mine the data to create their own custom reports. We’ve empowered consultants to handle site setup for faster service to our clients. And by providing templates for standard project and team sites, it’s easy for them to assign access to specific information, without bogging down our IT department with requests.

As members of our workforce mature over time, they gain valuable expertise and experience, and we need to share that knowledge across the company. Our consultants use Yammer, an enterprise social network, and SharePoint Online to discuss approaches to particular client issues. They’re working together across teams and geographies to solve HR problems for our clients without reinventing the wheel.

It’s critical for us to be a flexible company—it’s what our clients expect—and using Office 365 supports that agility. It removes technical barriers and gives us more touch points with our clients.

—Robert Butler

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