Dockwise: Using Lync as a lifeline

1 May 2014

Dockwise: Using Lync as a lifeline

With over 1500 employees worldwide, working both shores and seas, Dockwise is involved in some very large projects. The oil and gas service provider specializes in heavy marine transport. Dockwise ships and installs offshore platforms for the oil and gas industry, while also providing for the transportation of large and heavy objects such as luxury yachts, mechanical components and defense material. After multiple mergers and acquisitions, the company’s fleet nowadays counts 24 half-submersible ships.

Dockwise headquarters is situated in the Dutch city of Breda. However, employees of the shipping company are spread out over 12 offices worldwide – from Houston to Shanghai. The company recently opened a second office in the Netherlands, in the center of the fourth largest
port in the world: Rotterdam. Moving into the new office, Dockwise wanted to deploy a Unified Communications solution. ,,We had been looking at Microsoft Lync for some time”, says IT Manager Karel Parre. ,,We planned for an implementation later this year, but opening the Rotterdam office made us decide to start right away.”

Business needs

At first, Parre was a little hesitant about switching to Lync. Communications are a lifeline for an international company like Dockwise. Literally, in some cases. ,,If some calamity occurs on one of our ships at sea, we have to do emergency responses. Those conversations can be very chaotic: we’ve had issues with noise on the line and we are sometimes dealing with crews that don’t speak English. In those cases, it’s hard to determine the situation the ship is in. That’s why we record all of our emergency responses.” Dockwise clearly had a business need for an excellent communications solution that never fails the crew onboard or the employees on shore. One that could be implemented quickly, and provided for an integration with Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS). ,,I wondered if all of that would be possible in such a short amount of time”, Parre explains.


Coworkers ultimately convinced the IT Manager of the advantages Lync could offer the company, after which a relatively short search for the right implementation partner followed. Parre found StartReady to be the best option. ,,StartReady immediately understood how important communications are to Dockwise and came up with a high availability solution, based on Lyncappliances, that lifts management duties from our shoulders. We sat down with the right people from the start. Therefore, the entire implementation process only took us three months.” Looking back on that process, Parre states he’s very satisfied. ,,From the beginning, it was clear which information StartReady needed from us. Going from there, they ordered the Lync Appliance right away.” According to the IT Manager, configuration was another positive experience within the implementation process. ,,Configuration happened without any problems. It was smooth sailing, basically.”

Education and training

Even though the technical implementation of Lync went smoothly, training employees and getting them to accept the new system took a lot more effort. Mostly because these aspects of the implementation were underestimated, Parre explains. ,,We didn’t realize it can be a huge transition for some people. We figured: what’s there to tell about a new phone? Yet it seems that many people don’t automatically know what to do when they see a new telephone on their desks.” This proved to be problematic for light telephone users, while heavy telephone users like receptionists and secretaries experienced far less trouble. According to the IT Manager, the education and training employees received were at the root of those differences. ,,Heavy telephone users received extensive training and were assisted by the StartReady team on the day of the transition. In contrast, the education light telephone users got was aimed at basic telephone use. Soon after, these users appeared to have problems when it came to simple details in everyday use of Lync. For instance, they didn’t know there was no need for dialing a zero when calling externally. That’s where I think improvements can be made.”

High availability

Dockwise has been using Lync for over four months now and the overall user experience turns out to be excellent. The company has two Basic Appliances in a high availability setting to its disposal in order to ensure the employees can be reached at anytime, anywhere in the world. The 280 employees in the Dutch offices are able to make a large amount of (international) phone calls at the same time while always having access to a backup in case the system is hit by an outage. However, Dockwise hasn’t experience any disruptions like that since it started working with Lync. ,,The solution works like we expected. We are not experiencing any problems when it comes to connectivity”, Parre says. ,,The sound is always very clear, even when we make international calls.”

Singapore calling

Especially for those long-distance and international calls Lync proves to be an ideal solution for Dockwise. ,,It’s amazing I can speak to my colleagues in Houston or Shanghai for free using our own internet connection. Last week I was on the phone for two hours with my coworker in Singapore, without any extra cost. Saving money on these long-distance phone calls was one of the main advantages that made us choose Lync.” The company also saved money by dismantling one of the receptions in the Dutch offices and integrating desk phones with mobile phones. But Dockwise wants to take it one step further, the IT Manager explains. ,,We work on many projects with third parties. We are now able to set up federations with those partners, in which everyone uses Lync. This flexible integration makes it so much easier to reach your clients and coworkers within other companies. Lync has really helped us to communicate more effectively.”

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