Engineering Firm Provides Service Delivery Innovation and Improves Client Retention

Capitalizing on Innovation in the Cloud

Written By // Larry Jensen

Engineering Services
Western Suburbs of Chicago

In a highly competitive business climate and tight market for top engineering talent, the firm identified the following constraints to growth: A) ability to securely share information and collaborate in real time with clients, B) ability to take advantage of the work styles of an evolving workforce, and C) the need to modernize aging communication systems.

The firm expected to produce the following results in the first year and beyond: A) improve customer retention through service delivery innovation, B) maintain currently high operational efficiency and seek opportunities for additional cost savings, and C) provide engineering teams with easier access to data and better tools to work smarter both internally and with clients.

Engineering Firm

Identifies Opportunities for Service Delivery and Innovation in the Cloud

An independent engineering firm recognized their ability to retain clients and grow was constrained by the following: A) limited ability to securely share information and work collaboratively both internally and with clients, B) capabilities allowing the firm to take advantage of the work styles of an evolving workforce, and C) the need to modernize aging communication systems. During the Summer/Fall of 2016, the firm took this opportunity to re-think the way their teams interact with each other and with clients. The Executive Vice President of Operations and Senior Manager in charge of IT engaged the right practice areas to identify process roadblocks and opportunities for service delivery innovation. The teams identified limited access to data and lack of capabilities to collaborate internally and with clients in real time as risks to client satisfaction and retention. In budgeting and deploying solutions, it was important to maintain the firm’s already high level of operational efficiency. The firm also competes in a very tight labor market for top engineering talent, and is committed to providing the tools necessary for teams to work smarter in today’s evolving workplace.

Results thus far, according to the firm’s EVP of operations, include demonstrable improvements in client service delivery, process efficiencies through better internal collaboration, and additional anecdotal evidence of higher client satisfaction and retention.

With the help of SWC’s change leadership framework, the firm addressed the following challenges:

  • Cost justification
  • Employee adoption
  • IT governance
  • Keeping up with continuous innovation of cloud services.

By teaming up with SWC, the firm successfully deployed Microsoft Office 365capabilities to client-facing personnel ahead of schedule, under budget, and with a very high rate of adoption.

Improving Customer Retention

The Executive Vice President in charge of operations and his team identified challenges, both internally and with clients, in data sharing and in collaborating on projects in real time. They took this as an opportunity to create real business impact by innovating and improving client service delivery. The firm worked with SWC to identify unmet productivity needs of their client-facing teams and to lay out a roadmap for addressing the most important of these. The firm deployed mobile and collaborative capabilities which made it easier for their teams and clients to access data and work smarter, at any time, from anywhere, using whichever tools were best to get the job done. According to the firm’s EVP of operations, they have demonstrably improved client service delivery and the firm expects to see tangible improvements in client satisfaction, retention, and additional business.

The firm competes also to attract and retain the best talent. The firm’s workforce, workplaces, and the needs of clients are evolving. The firm recognized the need to provide flexibility to employees in how they serve clients. There is a great deal of pride in the firm’s people, and this is recognized as a key contributor to client satisfaction and longevity of both staff and clients.


Controlling Cost

Similar engineering firms typically employ 8 people for IT operations. The firm employs considerably fewer IT staff and had no intention of hiring more. The IT team is heavily focused on transforming their capabilities and skills toward helping the rest of the organization find ways to be more agile, scalable, and innovative. IT led by example in engaging SWC for specialized skill sets to develop technical solutions, facilitate adoption of the new capabilities, and establish proper IT governance. Further efficiencies were recognized through consolidation of redundant applications and technical debt reduction, and by eliminating expense relating to disaster recovery and security compliance.


Tools Used

The firm took advantage of Microsoft Office 365 capabilities to produce these results. They met core needs for communication and collaboration, both internally and externally with clients, with Exchange and Skype for BusinessSharePoint was used to develop extranet and intranet sites for managing work products and associated workflow and collaboration. OneDrive was used to enable secure mobile sharing of information, and Yammer was deployed for real-time interaction between the teams, clients, partners, and other external parties.

SWC’s change leadership framework was employed to create use cases and a roadmap, to facilitate high adoption of new capabilities, to provide governance and reduce the risk of technology sprawl, and to take advantage of continuous innovation in Microsoft cloud services to the benefit of the firm and their clients.

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SWC Technology Partners