Search for data security solution unearths collaborative capabilities of Microsoft 365 at general contracting company
Based in Lynnwood, Washington, Transblue employs 20 people split between a general contracting business and a facility management company. When company leadership switched from Dropbox to Microsoft SharePoint for improved data security, they realized that Microsoft 365 could modernize every aspect of their business, from customer relationships to mobility and collaboration. Today, Microsoft Teams supports internal communications while a combination of SharePoint Online and OneDrive help keep data secure and accessible.
Years ago, when David Wescott opened the doors of a small general landscaping business, his focus was on winning his first contracts and getting the company on its feet. Today, that small business has blossomed into two successful entities: Transblue General Contractors and Transblue Facility Management.
As a general contractor, Wescott, now with the aid of his brother Jim, delivers customized landscaping solutions for individual homeowners. On the facility maintenance side, the Wescotts have developed a single point of contact model for their larger customers. “We work with Walmart, Wells Fargo, HomeStreet Bank, Marriott, and other companies to either keep their facilities up and running or help them with problems as they arise,” says Jim Wescott, who has taken up the position of Director of IT at TransBlue. The company’s facility maintenance services include anything from minor repairs to stripping a facility down to the studs and rebuilding it.
Based in Lynnwood, Washington, Transblue employs 20 full-time staff members in roles that range from accounting and account management to sales and marketing. Operating with such a small staff has kept Transblue lean and agile, but with everyone working in isolated positions, data had become siloed. When Jim Wescott arrived at his brother’s company in 2017, he noticed the business lacked a unified data aggregation solution. If anyone left the company, there was a strong chance that their data would leave with them.
If customer data or information regarding the meticulously curated network of Transblue subcontractors fell into the hands of competitors, the results would be disastrous for the company. With this issue in mind, Jim Wescott began to look for a solution, ideally one that would help Transblue tailor engagements to each of its customers’ needs.
As part of his search for a unified platform, Wescott identified each of the programs in use at Transblue. This led him to two discoveries. First, Transblue had a single license of Dropbox for the entire company. “Everything synced with every computer, and uploaded and downloaded, and one mistake would destroy all of it,” he recalls. That would need fixing, and the sooner the better. Wescott’s second discovery was that the company had three individual subscriptions to Microsoft Office 365, used solely for email. The other components included in Office 365, such as Microsoft Teams, OneDrive, SharePoint Online, and Skype for Business, were left untapped.
This got Wescott thinking. Both problems could be solved simultaneously, and the company would gain a lot more than improved data security. “At that point, no one was using Skype for Business, no one was using Teams, they weren't using OneDrive or SharePoint, just email,” says Wescott. “We had a huge need to standardize our operations. Thankfully, Microsoft 365 Business has become a big piece of our IT infrastructure.”
By consolidating the three Office 365 subscriptions into one Microsoft 365 subscription, Wescott was able to retire the company's instance of Dropbox, eliminating hundreds of dollars in monthly costs. The elimination of unnecessary tasks and redundant employee accounts created efficiency gains of 80 work hours every week, resulting in a further $2,400 reduction in monthly costs. Now personal work files are protected in employee-specific OneDrive accounts and organizational content is easily managed and shared with SharePoint, both inside and outside the company. Best of all, employees have access to all of those files anywhere, on any device.
Discovering enhanced collaboration
Although it set out to improve data security with Microsoft 365, Transblue quickly realized that it had revolutionized the way employees collaborate. Once employees were on the same platform, they started using Microsoft Teams to connect with one another and work on projects in real time. “We use Teams to communicate and collaborate seamlessly, whether we’re chatting about what vendors we’re using or providing status updates for ongoing projects,” says Wescott.
On the facility management side, where many customers would prefer a hands-off relationship, Teams has been especially beneficial. Conversations between facility management group members in Teams provide a searchable record of each facility’s maintenance history. Searching that history or asking the rest of the group about work in progress replaces the need for customer interaction and adds value to the customer’s experience.
For the general contracting business, adding value can also often mean increasing points of contact. Customers in the landscaping arena most often prefer frequent, substantive contact with their contractors, and subcontractors often need guidance. To facilitate these needs, Transblue assigns onsite project managers for contracting jobs.
“We use SharePoint from the job site to quickly access and review contract details with our subcontractors. This has definitely been a lifesaver,” says Wescott. In the past, project managers had to send emails or text messages to the home office and then wait for a PDF or photo of a document to be sent back, which resulted in delays and miscommunications. Now, working from the same smartphones as before, project managers have full access to company documents whenever and wherever the need arises.
Since implementing Microsoft 365, Transblue has modernized almost every aspect of its operations. Company data is now more accessible and secure. Internal communications are streamlined and searchable. Wescott and his team even have the ability to better tailor customer experiences to an individual’s needs.
“With Microsoft 365, we have transformed the way we do business into a seamless experience for our customers,” says Wescott. Customers can now contract Transblue through a single point of contact, never having to repeat their needs or personal information. “On the back end, sales can easily create their bids, sync that information, and get it over to the customer,” continues Wescott. “When we win the job, that data is already available to our operations team and our project managers. That’s all down to Microsoft 365.”
With Microsoft 365, we have transformed the way we do business into a seamless experience for our customers.