Law firm De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek needed to transition its 650 employees to a new communications technology. With its headquarters in Amsterdam's Zuidas and remote offices in Beijing, Brussels, London, New York, and Singapore the company started with a short-term need for a Unified Communications solution, but required one that fit within its virtualized IT environment.
De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, advises multinational companies headquartered in the Netherlands in both national, and international, affairs. The introduction of Unified Communications for internal purposes had already been on its project calendar, but became a higher priority when one of its clients asked to communicate using Microsoft Lync, according to IT Project lead, Arjan de With. "This multinational company [the customer] was an early adopter of Unified Communications. Following that request to start using Lync, we had to orient ourselves to it. We quickly saw the potential that the system could provide, especially the ability to check a person's accessibility before you actually communicate, which seemed like a big plus,” said De With.
After the project was tied up, the law firm asked Microsoft if it could find a suitable Lync implementation partner. After a short selection process, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek chose Lync specialists StartReady. "We got the best feeling from StartReady. That the company is a Microsoft Gold Partner was an important aspect for us along with the fact that it is completely focused on Lync and nothing else, unlike others we saw – all of this played a role in the decision for us," said De With.
The project at De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek wasn’t routine. The law firm has a fully virtualized environment in which a physical Lync Appliance was not the most sensible solution. Therefore, the law firm chose a virtual appliance, which offers advantages in terms of scalability and backups. "The turnaround was an argument," said De With. "We were called to deploy the Microsoft Lync plan this year, but that plan was slightly in jeopardy. Therefore, we were looking for a quick fix. An appliance was a good solution for the firm because, as De With said, "We also wanted the law firm’s existing telephony to have a preliminary run, because reliably functioning and accessible telephone systems within the legal profession are crucial.” De With said, "We can see that Lync telephony offers us opportunities to simplify our infrastructure and to transfer to a vendor, but as yet we are still choosing to maintain the existing system."
It was not a standard project for De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, and StartReady. They did a pilot for the implementation of the Virtual Appliance for Lync so both parties could gain experience with how it was working. The process ended up taking a little over a month to complete, and everyone was satisfied with the result. "We did some tests and it all looks good. But I must confess that Lync has a greater impact than we thought. There are always challenges." With De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, for example, one was represented by the telephone requirements, but also extended to the log of missed calls and chat history. "Our employees do not actually need emails for missed calls, but storing call history in chats is simply a standard requirement. So you should think about it and make good choices," said De With.
De With predicted rightly that the employees at De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek would quickly accept Lync. There is a packet given to employees and used to prepare them, which includes the instructions that lend support during use. "Everyone here is always busy, thus there is no time for extensive meetings so we held walk-in sessions where a demonstration of Lync was given. Additionally, there are videos with instructions, we have a quick reference card online and our service desk is trained to help when needed. It makes a difference that we have a company culture where new technology is easily accepted as actually adding something," said De With.
The benefits of Lync for a large law firm are legion. It's a major plus that you can easily collaborate in documents with this system, but you can also instant message, share documents and you have the ability to see if contacts are accessible, which are all attractive features for De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek. However, end user- and client satisfaction are paramount for the law firm. De With: "Customer satisfaction is for us the most important pillar. Additionally, the internal efficiency is naturally relevant. If we could eventually cut costs that is great, but that's not our main concern at the moment."