About Rivergum Homes
Rivergum Homes is an award-winning building and land development group servicing the retail, commercial housing and investment property markets.
Projects include helping investors grow their property portfolios, developing residential subdivisions and contributing to the construction of outback towns for mining companies. Rivergum Homes is an industry leader in the use of lightweight building materials and innovative construction techniques.
The need to improve staff communication
With offices in Queensland, South Australia and China, and projects all over the country, Rivergum Homes needed to improve the way information was shared amongst staff, increasing collaboration and improving business efficiencies.
Shaun Meers, IT Manager, Rivergum Homes, said, “Making sure that people are up to date and know what is going on in the business is essential. Rivergum Homes previously relied heavily on email to communicate with staff. This was not the most efficient way to proceed and it resulted in some isolation between offices.
“The company was also seeing an increase in email traffic because of the necessity to send out all notices via email. There were also issues around file sharing; there was no centralised point of truth for the company. Instead, we had scattered multiple copies of documents with no control over who could access which files, who had the latest copy of a document and what documents needed to be updated. It was vital to rectify this with a centralised system that would let Rivergum Homes not only manage documents more effectively but also do it via mobile devices so that staff could be productive no matter whether they were in an office or on site.”
“The project was delivered on time and within budget, which has given us the confidence to continue working with Empired on future projects.”
IT Manager, Rivergum Homes
Cloud-based collaboration solution
Rivergum Homes chose Microsoft Office 365, delivered by Empired, to create a central portal for the publication of news and information and to access other documents.
Shaun Meers said, “Because Office 365 is in the cloud, Rivergum Homes could implement it without adding new hardware and servers, so it offered reduced overheads in terms of equipment requirements. It also meant that the platform would be available to staff via their mobile devices regardless of location.
“We chose Microsoft because Rivergum Homes is in the process of completely redeveloping its platform and part of the strategy is to use industry-leading products that will be supported and updated into the future. The Microsoft platform will let us plug in other solutions and add-ons down the track to increase the system’s overall functionality.”
Currently a team from Rivergum Homes updates the portal regularly. It includes a main announcements page that is accessible to everyone plus departmental pages. The homepage shows the latest news, KPI dashboards based on business intelligence and other important information.
The homepage also includes social media feeds that come from external sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
Shaun Meers said, “Having KPI dashboards on the homepage is an important way to make sure every staff member feels personally responsible for achieving targets. Making all of this information transparently available makes employees feel more engaged and, by extension, more positive.
“In the future, there will be different views for different users depending on their department and their role. This will be an automated process. For now, the idea is just to get the information to staff quickly, easily and without clogging up the email system.” Rivergum Homes’s staff now connect to Office 365 to do their daily work. The system is cloud-based but it is heavily integrated with the company’s Active Directory, so users’ log-in information is consistent, making the system easy to use.
Shaun Meers said, “It was a no-brainer to set up the solution in the cloud, integrated with Active Directory, because it meant that the system did not add to the internal maintenance burden at all.”
“Because Office 365 is in the cloud, Rivergum Homes could implement it without adding new hardware and servers, so it offered reduced overheads in terms of equipment”
IT Manager, Rivergum Homes
An experienced partner
Rivergum Homes chose to partner with Empired to implement the solution because of Empired’s reputation as an industry leader.
Shaun Meers said, “Rivergum Homes aims to partner with leading suppliers wherever possible. Empired is known as a leading provider in the IT space, particularly with regard to SharePoint. This project was the first of its kind in Australia so Rivergum Homes needed a partner that was experienced and knowledgeable.
“The experience of working with Empired was excellent. The project was delivered on time and within budget, which has given us the confidence to continue working with Empired on future projects.”
Expected and unexpected benefits
The Empired-customised Office 365 solution has delivered the benefits that Rivergum Homes anticipated as well as some unexpected benefits.
Shaun Meers said, “Having a central repository of information is a huge benefit of the solution. Even something as simple as having an easy way to know whether people are in or out of the office on a certain day has increased productivity through less wasted time. That fits well with the company’s long-term vision of reducing that double-handling that results from people not knowing what others are doing.
“Internal knowledge sharing has been another key benefit. Access to knowledge and information just makes everyone more efficient at their job and lets them get tasks done faster and more accurately.”
There was an unexpected benefit in the form of Office 365’s integration with Microsoft Lync.
Shaun Meers said, “Having Lync as an additional application that could run concurrently with Office 365 contributed to the reduction in email traffic. It offers instant messaging and fits with the existing infrastructure from an Exchange and collaboration perspective.
“Staff on the road can use Lync to have meetings with videoconferencing, which can make it easier to communicate with people on site, for example.
“The ability to share information, screens and files is also a bonus. Historical information is filed back into Outlook so that the company still has a record of the dialogue but without the overhead from a mail storage point of view.