Acendre was founded with the intent of creating solutions to help its clients improve their workforce performance.
So, when it came to enhancing its own workforce’s performance it had a head start – it understood what makes employees tick. It knew they needed access to data, to be able to connect and communicate, and have access to powerful tools to do their jobs better, when and where they needed.
Acendre was however being held back by the legacy information systems developed over the decades which were proving increasingly unsuited to the modern, flexible, international world that the company and its clients now inhabit.
Established in 1987, Acendre’s cloud–based platforms help organisations recruit, manage and develop talent. They are used by 200 large enterprises, including Government agencies, and the company has offices in Australia, the US and India.
As the company’s IT specialist, Brian Parsons’ job is to ensure Acendre’s own employees have access to the systems they need to do their jobs. By moving away from on premises legacy platforms and relying instead on Microsoft Azure and Office 365, Acendre now has a unified environment that its people can use to connect and collaborate when and where they want.
According to Parsons; “By moving to the cloud, we have one environment. And that is shared equally by all regions. It has allowed us to come together quite dramatically as one organisation.” It’s also streamlined IT operations allowing Parsons and the global IT team to spend less time worried about maintaining infrastructure, or running backups, instead being freed to focus on work that adds genuine business value.
Moving to the cloud has also reduced risk. Instead of battling to keep legacy hardware maintained and software updated, Acendre is assured that Azure is continually enhanced with high levels of security and resilience.
Local performance, global reach
Acendre’s cloud transformation began in 2017, initially with email transitioned to Office 365, with additional functionality regularly rolled out ever since. The company has been supported by LogicalTech through the transformation with additional specialist support from Microsoft.
Deploying Skype for Business initially, and more recently Teams, also meant that Parsons has not had to manage and update PABX networks. Instead Acendre uses the internet to facilitate Teams conversations among its workers in Australia, the US and India.
The cloud-first approach has also accelerated the speed at which Acendre’s mergers and acquisitions can be integrated. Instead of trying to mash together disparate systems following an acquisition, new businesses are brought swiftly into the Acendre fold, and provided access to Office 365 which instantly gives them access to the same tools as colleagues around the world.
Azure services allow access policies to be managed centrally with Intune deployed to handle device management.
This approach means, says Parsons, that Acendre’s workforce is integrated across the globe and their physical location poses no limits on what they can achieve.
“We feel we have cross global teams. We have the right people for the team, rather than the right location. Microsoft Teams has been a huge win for us – everyone is having equal performance quality.”
Teams’ synchronous and asynchronous capabilities are also important for a global business, he says. “The ability for a meeting to be recorded and put up to stream, and then people share it if they need to, or they can restrict it, whatever they like, has really been great,” he adds.
With Teams chat as the foundation for communications, augmented by audio and video as necessary, Acendre has wound back its use of other web–conferencing communications platforms and reduced email.
The rollout of Azure and Office 365 has also injected more workplace flexibility which Parsons says means; “People consider they are working much more productively. They are able to work from home. If there’s a meeting in a different time zone, they can chime in on it, even if it’s 10 at night or 11 at night, doesn’t matter.
“I was just chatting to the IT person in the US just a little while ago. She was driving from one site to the other, and was chatting to me on her phone, and then got off the phone and we’re talking the rest of it on a desktop, while sharing her screen and allowing me to assist her. It’s that flexibility, the mobility, and the continuous ability to work wherever.”
Parsons’ next agenda item is to move to single sign on, and to leverage features in Enterprise Mobility Suite such as identity governance, which will allow better integration of external contractors into internal teams.
“At the moment I can do office groups, but there’s not a lot of governance around it,” says Parsons. The additional governance features will allow external contractors to be provided controlled access to systems they need to do their jobs, with no security compromise for Acendre.
“And that could be run by the business, not the IT department. So we set the rules up, but the invitation and management of the teams is done by the business and the business managers,” he adds.
Which all points to a more empowered, more effective workforce – which is, after all, Acendre’s mission.