Microsoft Volume Licensing
Customer Solution Case Study
/ / Building Manufacturer Expects Application Integration to Yield $300,000 in Time Savings
Country or Region: United States
Wick Building Systems was founded in Mazomanie, Wisconsin, in 1954, and manufactures residential and commercial structures under five brands. It has 1,000 employees and several hundred builders.
The company wanted to provide integrated applications for employees and builders and improve the ability of its Information Services group to quickly deploy tools that help employees better serve customers.
Wick Building Systems renewed its Microsoft® Enterprise Agreement with the Enterprise CAL Suite. It is using components of that suite to replace legacy business applications and its intranet, and to add new communications capabilities.
Enhanced customer service through recovery of U.S.$300,000 in productivity
Faster solution development
Support for company expansion
Seven integrated server products for the cost of two
Reduced IS management time / “In addition to providing us with the capabilities to increase productivity, simplify collaboration, and improve communication, the Enterprise CAL Suite made financial sense.”
Vicki Buss, Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Wick Building Systems
Wick Building Systems, a manufacturer of residential and commercial structures, wanted to expedite delivery of new technology solutions to increase efficiency and effectiveness across its three divisions. To achieve this, the company is replacing legacy business applications with integrated collaboration and workflow applications based on Microsoft® Office SharePoint® Server 2007 and upgrading its messaging server to Microsoft Exchange Server 2007. Through these changes, Wick Building Systems expects to recover U.S.$300,000 worth of information worker time, significantly cut solution development time, expand its builder network, and improve its business intelligence. And, by acquiring the Microsoft Enterprise Client Access License (CAL) Suite, the company gains access to seven server products under a single license for the cost of just two of those product CALs acquired separately.
Since 1954, when John F. Wick established Wick Building Systems in Mazomanie, Wisconsin, the company has remained family owned and dedicated to building high-quality homes, commercial buildings, and agricultural structures. The company built its reputation on using top-quality materials, customizing plans to meet customer specifications, and providing top-notch customer service to deliver the best homes and buildings possible at affordable prices.
Today, Wick Building Systems consists of three divisions: Wick Buildings, which offers wood-frame and metal-clad commercial and agricultural buildings; John Wick Homes, which specializes in conventional single-family homes; and the Modular/Manufactured Homes division in Marshfield, Wisconsin.
The company has more than 1,000 employees spread out over five offices—three in Mazomanie; one in Marshfield, Wisconsin; and one in St. Paris, Ohio. Until 2007, each of the Wick Building Systems divisions had its own business applications and processes in a fragmented IT structure. Workers stored CAD drawings, Microsoft® Office documents, and schedules on the corporate intranet (based on Xpedio software), in Microsoft Exchange Server public folders, or in shared directories on a file server. “Our intranet environment made it very difficult for users to locate documents because they didn’t know whether to look on the intranet or in public folders,” says Vicki Buss, Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Wick Building Systems. “It was difficult for us to easily share information with our remote workers and builder network.”
“We had several homegrown legacy applications for everything from lead tracking to scheduling and invoicing,” says Jared Burke, Application Development Manager for Wick Building Systems. All of those applications hosted job-related data but weren’t integrated, so if one of the company’s independent builders called with a question on a customer order, a Wick Building Systems employee had to open three or four legacy applications to find all the job-related information needed to work with the builder.
The company primarily served exurban and rural markets throughout the Midwest and was seeking to expand into urban markets. Wick Building Systems management felt that the lack of integration among its systems might hamper its ability to grow cost-effectively. “It was clear that each new system that users had to work with contri-buted to a loss of productivity, and that loss kept mounting and increasing frustration,” says Mike Fredrick, Business Analyst for the John Wick Homes division. “We really wanted to set up a system where users could search, view, and use the data that they needed all within the same interface.”
In response to those needs, the company launched initiatives in 2006 to replace its intranet and legacy systems and to implement an enterprisewide document management system. To support those initiatives, the company planned to upgrade from Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server to Exchange Server 2007 and from Microsoft Office Professional Edition 2003 to Microsoft Office Enterprise 2007. Wick Building Systems also planned to implement a Cisco Unity unified messaging solution so that employees could access voice mail, e-mail, and faxes all from a single inbox.
The company’s 21-member Information Services (IS) department had its own set of challenges. “We had to maintain all of those applications and deal with multiple vendors and multiple support contracts, which took an average of about 20 hours a week,” says Buss. “We needed a way to deliver solutions faster and maintain those solutions more easily in the future.”
Wick Building Systems had signed a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement in spring 2005 that covered the Windows® XP Professional desktop operating system, the Office system, and the Microsoft Core Client Access License (CAL) Suite. Under the Core CAL, the company had access rights to the Windows Server® 2003 operating system, Exchange Server, Microsoft Office SharePoint® Portal Server, and Microsoft Systems Management Server. Because the Enterprise Agreement includes Software Assurance, Wick Building Systems could upgrade to the latest versions of any of the covered software as soon as new versions were released.
In June 2006, Wick Building Systems began researching its options for intranet and enterprisewide document management solutions and became interested in the soon-to-be-released Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007. The IS staff contacted their Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Berbee Information Networks to learn more about the software. Recently acquired by CDW, Berbee is a leading provider of technology products and services to business, government, and education. In 2006, Berbee received Microsoft U.S. Midwest Region Partner Excellence awards for its Enterprise Project Management (EPM) and Office SharePoint Portal Server solutions.
After finding out more about Wick Building Systems’ immediate needs as well as its future plans, Berbee and Microsoft presented the company’s IS department with a demo of the 2007 Microsoft Office system and Exchange Server 2007 Enterprise. “That presentation really opened our eyes,” says Buss. “We saw a lot of potential in the new workflow, document management, e forms, and search capabilities in Office SharePoint Server 2007 Enterprise for both worker productivity and helping the IS department deliver solutions faster. And when we saw that Exchange Server 2007 Enterprise included unified messaging as well as new calendaring, scheduling, and search technologies, we decided to go with that version, which would save us the acquisition and management costs of the Cisco Unity unified messaging solution.”
Before launching the Exchange Server 2007 and Office SharePoint Server 2007 projects, Wick Building Systems first replaced its legacy SBT Accounting System with Microsoft Dynamics™ GP 9.0 and is looking forward to taking advantage of the increased integration between Microsoft Dynamics GP and the 2007 release of Microsoft Office. The integration will enable workers to access, search, organize, and share data from Microsoft Dynamics GP and Microsoft Office applications from Office SharePoint Server sites.
Reducing Cost and Complexity with Enterprise CAL Suite
Because Wick Building Systems was planning to deploy Exchange Server 2007 Enterprise and Office SharePoint Server 2007 Enterprise, the Berbee representatives suggested incorporating the Microsoft Enterprise CAL Suite into the new Enterprise Agreement. The Enterprise CAL Suite provides access rights to seven integrated Microsoft server products—in addition to the four included in the Core CAL Suite—under a single license.
“Berbee took the time to get a broad picture of what we intended to do and what technology we needed so that they could provide relevant options in terms of licensing,” says Buss. “Before we signed a new Enterprise Agreement in 2007, the Berbee representatives made a very helpful presentation comparing the costs of our various licensing options, which made it easier for us to decide on the most cost-effective way to get the technology we needed.”
The Berbee representatives compared the cost of renewing the company’s existing Enterprise Agreement and adding separate CALs for Office SharePoint Server 2007 Enterprise and Exchange Server 2007 Enterprise to the cost of renewing its Enterprise Agreement with the Enterprise CAL Suite, which includes access rights to seven additional integrated server products.
The comparison showed that the Enterprise Agreement with the Enterprise CAL Suite was U.S.$10 less per seat than renewing the other option. And, when Wick Building Systems took into account the value of the additional Enterprise CAL Suite products that it planned to deploy—primarily Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 Enterprise and the Forefront™ Security Suite—the company had the potential to avoid more than $50 per seat in additional licensing costs.
When the Wick Building Systems IS staff presented both options to the executive team, they also demonstrated how Office SharePoint Server 2007 capabilities could increase information worker efficiency. “When the executives saw how straightforward it was to find documents and fill out forms in [Office] SharePoint Server 2007, it was pretty easy for them to imagine that each person could save 15 minutes a day once SharePoint Server 2007 is fully deployed.” says Burke.
The cost savings, increased productivity, scope of capabilities, and integration of the Enterprise CAL Suite products made it very easy for Wick Building Systems to decide to renew its Enterprise Agreement with the Enterprise CAL Suite included.
Adding Unified Messaging Capabilities
After Wick Building Systems decided to upgrade to Exchange Server 2007, Berbee set up an Exchange Server unified messaging pilot for the company’s IS staff and a few users from other departments—including the chief operating officer (COO). Those participating in the pilot found it very convenient to be able to access voice mail and e-mail from a single inbox. “Our COO travels a lot, and he regularly uses unified messaging to keep connected with the business,” says Buss.
In April 2007, after testing unified messaging for four months, Wick Building Systems began planning for the Exchange Server 2007 upgrade. It began deploying the new software across the corporation in June 2007 and completed the project at the end of July. The company also deployed Forefront Security for Exchange Server to safeguard its messaging environment from viruses, worms, and spam. When Exchange Server 2007 is fully deployed, the company will roll out Office Enterprise 2007 to its 270 desktop computers. Employees will then be able to use the Microsoft Office Outlook® 2007 messaging and collaboration client to take full advantage of the new automated calendaring, scheduling, and security features in Exchange Server 2007.
Planning a Comprehensive Intranet
The next project on the IS team’s list is creating a companywide intranet on Office SharePoint Server 2007 Enterprise. The intranet will include a corporate portal and departmental collaboration and document management sites as well as multiple “centers”—for instance, the Learning Center, where people can sign up for classes, see course descriptions, and check out books; and the HR Center, which will have Microsoft Office InfoPath® 2007 forms with associated workflows so that users can fill out forms for expense reports, benefits, and vacation requests online and submit them automatically.
The intranet will also provide a job-based collaboration site, where Wick Building Systems employees and affiliated builders can securely access all the information related to their projects—including scheduling, budgeting, project status, and invoicing—in one place and collaborate with each other. The company is also using capabilities in Office SharePoint Server 2007 to replace its legacy applications with an integrated set of SharePoint Server–based applications. Wick Building Systems will deploy Forefront Security for SharePoint to safeguard its collaboration environment from malicious code and inappropriate content, and to help safeguard confidential information. The company plans to roll out the intranet one division at a time, starting in fall 2007.
Extending the Value of the Enterprise CAL Suite
When Wick Building Systems has completed deploying Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Exchange Server 2007, it will turn its attention to Office Communications Server 2007, also part of the Enterprise CAL Suite. The company expects to use the instant messaging capability in Communications Server 2007 for an IS help desk. It also plans to use the Web conferencing functionality to replace weekly teleconference meetings between headquarters and its remote locations. “By allowing people at different sites to see each other, and to see drawings and presentations in real time, the video capability will help make our weekly team meetings more productive,” says Buss.
In addition, Wick Building Systems plans to replace its Symantec desktop security software with Microsoft Forefront Client Security when its Symantec agreement expires in April 2008.
By adding the Microsoft Enterprise CAL Suite to its Enterprise Agreement, Wick Building Systems gained access to an integrated set of enterprise server products at a significant savings over the cost of separate server licenses. By taking advantage of these new server products, the company expects to recoup approximately $300,000 worth of annual productivity, which will help employees provide better service to customers; shorten solution development time; increase the quality and size of its builder network; improve decision making; and reduce the cost and complexity of software licensing.
Improved Customer Service Due to Potential Recovery of $300,000 in Productivity
With the SharePoint Server–based intranet and the integration of the Enterprise CAL Suite components with the 2007 Microsoft Office desktop programs and Microsoft Dynamics GP, Wick Building Systems employees will be able to access necessary job and HR data from a single site with a single logon. Employees will also be able to complete forms online and automatically route them for review and approval, rather than having to print, complete, and route them manually. Buss estimates that these process improvements alone will save an average of 15 minutes per day per employee, which has the potential to recover more than $300,000 in time that can be dedicated to providing better service to customers.
The company expects additional productivity gains from Exchange Server 2007 unified messaging and Office Outlook 2007. Workers will be able to use unified messaging to retrieve and forward e-mail, voice mail, and faxes from their inbox in Office Outlook 2007 and search voice mail and faxes in the same way as e-mail.
Faster Solution Development
Based on the integration and broad functionality of the products within the Enterprise CAL Suite, Wick Building Systems expects to significantly reduce solution development time, enabling the IS department to respond to new requirements faster. For example, one full-time company developer took approximately two-and-a-half months to develop a service request system in late 2005. In 2007, it took one full-time developer only about two weeks to develop a similar solution using native capabilities in Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Office InfoPath 2007. “That kind of time savings is going to give us a lot more time to focus on developing more complex drawing tools for our builders rather than creating systems that simply collect and report information. SharePoint Server 2007 does that for us out of the box,” says Burke.
“Microsoft has talked about closing the gap on delivering true integration,” says Buss. “Now that we’ve had our taste of that integration, we’re starting to realize the benefits. This integration is really going to improve our ability as an IS department to deliver solutions to our employees.”
Support for Company Expansion
By extending the advantages of the Enterprise CAL Suite software to its builder network, Wick Building Systems expects to recruit and keep the quality and number of builders it needs to help it expand into new areas. “By improving the flow of drawings and cost and pricing information to and from our distribution network, the Enterprise CAL Suite products will help make us easier to do business with, and help our builders increase their sales and ours,” says Jeff Wick, Chief Executive Officer of Wick Building Systems. “As we expand into more urbanized markets, we must build sophisticated and effective systems to attract and work with the builders and developers who are already successful in those markets.”