"Around SharePoint and SQL, Stratos has some very, very advanced knowledge and some very skilled staff. skilled staff. We highly value their ability to engage with, both from quality and speed perspectives. GCNZ has come to rely on Stratos for SharePoint and SQL Support."
- Bentley Seeto, Regional Head of IT, General Cable Asia Pacific
General Cable New Zealand needed an expert to help it migrate from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2013. Stratos Technology Partners had advanced knowledge and the ability to engage, provided fast response times, and was always available. The project went ahead with very little disruption and allowed General Cable to take advantage of the new version without fuss.
General Cable NZ is wired in
General Cable Corporation – based in Kentucky, USA, and with sales and manufacturing facilities worldwide – manufactures and distributes copper, aluminium and optical fibre cables for energy, communications and other industries. General Cable employs over 11,000 people globally, and its annual sales are more than USD 6 billion.
Global operations are divided into four geographic operating units. The New Zealand operation services the Australasian area and is one of the businesses within the Asia-Pacific regional unit.
General Cable New Zealand manufactures a wide range of cables from electrical wire for residential housing, cables for power stations and power system networks to undersea power and communications cables. It also distributes fibre cable manufactured abroad.
“General Cable NZ has been active in the Christchurch rebuild. As a result of the earthquake, there was an urgent need for cable in Christchurch, and with the permission of our customers we were able to divert product to meet this need,” said Bentley Seeto, Regional Head of IT for General Cable’s Asia-Pacific unit.
“The New Zealand company has a number of IT requirements to service its diverse functions: sales, raw materials purchases, inventory management, manufacturing, finance, and distribution, all pulled together with a Baan Enterprise Resource Planning system.”
General Cable NZ was already using SharePoint 2007 for knowledge sharing and corporate communications. It was eager to upgrade to SharePoint 2013 to take advantage of new features and tools. “These new tools would be important for turning our information into knowledge.”
We needed an expert
“We needed someone to tell us how to migrate our information from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2013.
"We run quite a small IT team of six permanent staff and some contractors. We saw this as a big project. Being a big project, we had the choice of spreading it out over 18 months and doing it during our spare time, or ‘sprinting’ and doing it quickly over a short period of time.
"The sprint option was attractive because, although it involved a lot of upfront configuration, once done there was no need to retain that knowledge. Why go through the pain of learning something and only for the knowledge to become quickly obsolete?
“Or, alternatively, we could bring in the experts, they show us how to use it, the light bulb goes on, and we’ve learnt it quickly.”
Picking a low risk supplier
"We didn’t go through an RFP process because we knew what we wanted. There was no need for anyone to tell us how they were going to do it, since there was really only one way of delivering it. We were already a Microsoft shop and already used SharePoint. Another supplier wasn’t going to suggest anything different.
"Certainly cost was a factor to consider, but we knew roughly how much work was involved, so we could easily sanity check any quotations. We weren’t looking for someone who would be 10% less than everyone else. We recognized that you often get what you pay for.
"Stratos already had a track record supporting us in the day-to-day operational environment. The attraction of Stratos was that they knew our environment and they’d already proven themselves. There was an element of trust. Stratos was a low-risk option because we already knew they could do it.”
With Stratos you’re not just a number
“We told Stratos what we wanted to achieve and they advised us on how to do it. Stratos came back to us with, 'We’ve done this with other customers, we know your environment, this is what you need to do, here are the steps.' Their knowledge of SQL databases and hardware infrastructure really helped.
“Stratos is not a small business. They act very professionally, and yet they respond like a small business, so you know who the people are.
"It’s not like going to a corporate where there is a help desk, you’re given a help desk number, you don’t know who you’re talking to and then you’re passed onto someone else, who passes you onto someone else.
"Stratos was very clear about, here are your 'go-to' people, and this is how we’re going to run it. Some internal validations happened to make sure it worked. It was all part of the service, a package.
"It wasn’t like a body shop, where we were hiring a body to do some work and then see what happens. There was a lot of ownership there."
They were always available
“When something didn’t quite work, like when we had a problem with SharePoint indexing, Stratos made themselves available during the weekends to address the issue, suggest changes, and take ad hoc calls. Throughout the project they were always available.
"It wasn’t like 'I’m working on another project, we can’t help you, I’m away on holiday,' or anything like that. It was like, 'Here, this is what you need to do', or, 'This is more complex and I’ll need to come in.'
“We had another time when SharePoint search wasn’t returning the right results. It seems such a superficial thing but the entire organisation relies on SharePoint sites to store information – contact information, product information and company communications – and these are areas where the search function is very important. Stratos recommended the necessary changes and were very responsive about it.
“Someone else might send in a project manager to assess what needs to be done. Well, no, we don’t want a project manager, we want someone to do this. Stratos is able to send someone in who can engage with us.”
Success #1 is: Minimal business disruption and tying up loose ends
“Success for this kind of project is in two parts: First, minimizing business disruption, and tidying up loose ends. All the critical parts worked straight away. We captured issues as they arose and resolved them as quickly as possible. In each case, we could resolve it ourselves and if we couldn’t, we could call on Stratos and get an instant response.”
Success #2 is: Getting the benefits of the new version
“Secondly, it’s about the business benefits: increased speed, new features, and organisational structures becoming visible. This gave us an opportunity to engage with the rest of the organisation, review all the information and drop obsolete documents, and re-affirm which information was still relevant.”
Stratos is about...
“When I think about why people should use Stratos, I’d say it is their corporate approach – the discipline, the professionalism – and then the people dynamic. They are a close-knit team, not constrained by structures. They have a flat structure so you get a lot of visibility and transparency.”