A large multinational conglomerate has inherited a large amount of legacy software through its many acquisitions, and the lack of integration poses additional communication challenges to an already highly dispersed workforce. They set out to help their frontline telecommunications technicians get easy access to the right information and collaborate faster with peers and office-based colleagues, aiming to improve their ways of working by utilising their existing Microsoft licensing, with the addition of Microsoft Viva.
Enlisting the help of Rapid Circle to do a proof of concept, the conglomerate created a ‘Telco’ working group, and engaged in several discovery, design and training workshops facilitated by Rapid Circle’s Adoption & Change experts. The result is an effective Teams and Viva Suite solution, built by their experts, Rapid Circle and co-designed by the people who will use it every day.
“Working with Rapid Circle was really amazing, I must say. What I liked most about the Proof of Concept is that it was all about the user experience, and it wasn’t about the technology. It was about focusing on change management and what will really work for the business. The technology was just the underlying thing that they implemented to make that work!”General Manager of Business Engagement
Note: We use ‘Pilot’ and Proof of Concept interchangeably in this case study to stay accurate to both Microsoft’s terminology and the language of the interviewed stakeholders.
A crucial part of the backbone of Australasia, they provide of integrated services as well as designing, building, and sustaining public and private assets, infrastructure and facilities. They have gone through hyper-growth in recent decades due to several, large acquisitions, equipping them with tens of thousands of staff globally, across hundreds of sites.
The nature of the conglomerates makeup has always been hybrid, with a mix of frontline, field and office staff, so the frontline communication obstacles facing the Utilities business are a common challenge throughout their group, making this proof of concept of great interest, with international representatives joining the workshops.
We interviewed The Head of Technical Capability and The General Manager of Business Engagement, about the Viva Pilot and their experience of working with Rapid Circle.
Through each acquisition, the conglomerate not only grows in people but also in legacy software which typically doesn’t integrate well with other software. Software working in silos presents further hurdles to the organisation, when combined with its highly remote, dispersed, and diverse workforce. Part of their diversity is a small and crucial group of Technicians and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), some of which are shortly retiring and have a lifetime worth of experience on how to maintain and repair the ageing telecommunication infrastructure in their cities and small towns.
Whilst they are actively hiring new technicians, there is a huge amount to learn on the job, and the information isn’t readily stored in one place, which has caused productivity issues.
“As a service company for our clients, all the technicians are dispersed across the country, so our focus was around enabling our technicians to be able to share information and easily communicate with each other. They need to know ‘who’s who in the zoo’ and solve critical problems across the large cities and small country towns. Our technicians are also a reducing and ageing workforce, so we’ve got great knowledge that is disappearing through retirement.”Head of Technical Capability
For example, newer technicians won’t always know the specific codes or steps they need to take to fix issues with a particular telecommunication asset, so they need to call around the organisation to find a person who does know, and then wait for them to reply.
“Our subject matter experts answer the same questions over and over. Instead of every person phoning that one person, how do you share the answer so that everybody can benefit from it?”General Manager of Business Engagement
The combination of all of these challenging factors resulted in communication and productivity delays. The conglomerate’s utilities department had already started work to alleviate some of the communication issues by implementing SharePoint and Teams.
This project was started to create a basic framework for better communication, however, they were unsure of how to utilise it to its potential and were interested to see how powerful apps like the Viva suite could also benefit their organisation. The conglomerate sought to find a new strategy and work with experts to help them bring their staff together and also help prepare them for the inevitable future where their current telco experts begin to retire.
With a vision of what Modern Work could look like, the conglomerate approached Microsoft to find the right partner who could take on the technical and change management complexities of an ultra-large organisation. Rapid Circle was chosen for the Viva pilot due to its renowned Modern Work reputation and experience in the utilities industry.
Settling into work quickly, the conglomerate created the ‘Teclo’ working group, a group handpicked stakeholders from throughout the Utilities Telecommunication business. This group included; Technicians, Subject matter experts, Designers, IT professionals, Telco Managers and Operations representatives from around the conglomerate.
“We created a small telco working group of around 10 people to try and initiate that connection of expertise across the country. We started with the ideas, pulling the information together and worked on them in the workshops with Kat and Peter to drag out even more information.”Head of Technical Capability
This working group was facilitated by Rapid Circle’s Principal Adoption and Change Consultant, Kat Olsen and was technically guided by Teamwork Consultant, Peter Varitimidis. In the weekly workshops, the stakeholders went into deep discussion about their challenges and built out a concept of how they could use Teams and Microsoft Viva to eliminate some of their daily productivity disruptions.
“The person who leads the sessions is very important, they need to have the right questions to pull out the real challenges to make sure that what we put in place, will address those challenges, and keep it interesting.”General Manager of Business Engagement
The conglomerate’s leadership team was also really delighted by the attendance and engagement of their technicians in this pilot, given current events in New Zealand at the time. The Head of Technical Capability explains;
“We thought that because these guys are out working in the field, it would be quite hard to get them engaged in this project because they’re busy! It’s a substantial amount of effort, six or seven workshops, an hour to an hour and a half each over a period of two months, but they were really engaged and enjoyed the sessions.”
“It was great that they were able to participate, especially because it was a critical time with Cyclone Gabrielle having recently struck the east coast of New Zealand causing extreme flooding, putting even more pressure on the team.”Head of Technical Capability
The trifecta product solution of Viva Topics, Viva Learning and Viva Connections came from these workshops, supported by Teams and SharePoint. The conglomerate and Rapid Circle collaborated on the build with the Utilities Senior SharePoint Solution Lead , Peter Varitimidis and Kat Olsen working to make the vision a reality.
“Everyone on the project was a part of co-designing the solution. We just set up it up in the tools.”Kat Olsen, Principal Consultant – Rapid Circle
After a few training workshops with Kat Olsen, tested the proof of concept with their existing Teams group, which was made up of almost 600 people. Content has already been added to make it useful to the technicians from the get-go, and the team is organically increasing their use of it each week.
“A few of the people that have been in the training sessions can show other technicians and we’ll watch for organic growth there. We’re also looking forward to receiving more feedback from the techs. We’re excited to see how that goes.”Head of Technical Capability
Although the conglomerate experienced a lot of interest and positive feedback from their Australian peers, due to their shared challenge, the best feedback has come from the Technicians themselves.
“Not only was every tech really engaged through the process, I got an email this morning from one of the technicians saying, “Thanks for getting me involved in the workshops” and that he was quite pleased that he was able to contribute and be part of it.”Head of Technical Capability
Choosing the right partner, such as Rapid Circle, with extensive experience with Modern Work, Viva and Utility industry implementations, was crucial for the conglomerate. The engagement and participation of technicians in the pilot project exceeded expectations, demonstrating their willingness to embrace new ways of working.
The solution developed through the workshops included Viva Topics, Viva Learning, and Viva Connections, integrated with Teams and SharePoint. This comprehensive solution enables easy collaboration, information sharing, and access to relevant content. Training workshops conducted by Rapid Circle, led by Kat Olsen, further equipped the conglomerate’s staff to utilise the solution effectively. The pilot is showing promising results, with positive feedback from technicians, expressing their gratitude for being involved.
“Proof of concepts really work, if you’ve got the right partner! I think that’s critical.”General Manager of Business Engagement
This case study highlights the importance of having a diverse and engaged team, co-designing the solution with the people who are going to use it, and investing in good training for new software and solutions.
“Ultimately, we want to be easy to work for. I think it is one of the powers of the technology, isn’t it, you’re able to be easier to work for, and easier for clients to work with too.”Head of Technical Capability
In their own words:
“I would absolutely advise organisations to go with Rapid Circle, because we really enjoyed the experience and their approach. It’s the approach that Rapid Circle took that really worked. Their communication style, always making sure we all on the same journey and making sure we all know exactly what was happening, when and where. I would definitely recommend them.”The General Manager of Business Engagement
“I’m really impressed with Rapid Circle and the solution. We didn’t realise how Viva and AI can pull together information and make it more organised, centralised, topic based and easily consumable by the audience. You can see how we can easily add, build and share content really effectively.”
“The technicians are out there fixing stuff all the time, and sometimes they get some real curly ones and you need to be able to ask for advice. That’s a great opportunity for an experienced technician to record a simple video of things that are being done or how to do something or a piece of equipment. Those things are going be invaluable.”The Head of Technical Capability