General Cable NZ is wired in

General Cable Corporation is a company based in Kentucky USA with sales and manufacturing facilities worldwide.

It manufactures and distributes copper, aluminium and optical fibre cables for the energy, communications and other industries. Annual sales are over USD 6 billion across the Group. General Cable employs over 11,000 people worldwide.

In New Zealand, GCNZ 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 distributes fibre cable manufactured abroad.

GCC is 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 NZ has been actively participating 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 ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system.”

General Cable NZ uses SharePoint to enable knowledge sharing and corporate communications. It already used SharePoint 2007 and wanted to update to SharePoint 2013 for its new features and tools.

“These new tools would be important for turning our information into knowledge.”

We needed an expert

“What we needed was someone to tell us how to migrate our information from SharePoint 2007 to the SharePoint 2013.

“We saw this as a big project. We run quite a small IT team of six permanent staff and some contractors. 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 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? Alternatively we can 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 know the market, we know who the other suppliers are, we had relationships with companies who could do the work, knowing their capability through demonstrating it both here and through reference sites; and then it was a matter of engaging with them in dialogue.

“We didn’t need to 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, we 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 necessarily at someone who could 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, so there was an element of trust there. Stratos was a low risk option for us because we already knew they could do it.”

With Stratos you’re not just a number

“We told Stratos these are the things we wanted to achieve and we got Stratos to advise 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.

“One of the things about Stratos to keep in mind, is that they are 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 then passes you onto someone else.

“Stratos was very clear about, here are your ‘go-to’ people, this is how we’re going to run it, and there were some internal validations happening 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, somehow it was going slow or while indexing it slowed down other databases. Stratos made themselves available during the weekends to address the issue, suggest changes, took 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 there was a problem around SharePoint search: it wasn’t returning the right results. It seems such a superficial thing but when the entire organisation is relying on the SharePoint sites for storing information, contact information, product information and company communications, all these are areas where the search function is very important. They were able to recommend the necessary changes and they 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. This is where 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 of all, it’s about minimizing business disruption, and tidying up loose ends. All the critical parts worked straight away, and we were able to capture all the 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, the increased speed, the new features, the organisational structures became visible, it gave us an opportunity to engage with the rest of the organisation, review all the information and drop obsolete documents, and re-affirm what information was still relevant.”

Stratos is about…

“Around SharePoint and SQL, Stratos has some very, very advanced knowledge and some very skilled staff. Their ability to engage with us, is something we value highly, both from quality and speed perspectives, meaning GCNZ has come to rely on Stratos for SharePoint and SQL Support. “When I think about why people should use Stratos, I’d say it is the corporate approach, the discipline, the professionalism, and then the people dynamic, a close knit team, not constrained by structures, a flat structure so you get a lot of visibility and transparency.”