VELUX—Building global efficiencies and local service excellence with Office 365

Today’s post was written by Peter Bang, chief financial officer for the VELUX Group.

Picture of Peter Bang, CFO, the VELUX GroupAs CFO at the VELUX Group, I’m responsible for the financial health of the company. I’m motivated to ensure that we are running a cost-effective global operation so we can continue to design, build, and deliver the best skylights and roof windows, at the best prices. Right now, we are in the midst of a journey toward a more united and global company—One VELUX—with a goal to reduce costs by consolidating administrative business functions and uniting siloed teams in our company. We had local finance, HR, and IT departments in offices all over the world. While we want to preserve the local sales teams that ensure specialized customer service in the approximately 40 countries where we have a presence, we had to reduce the administrative inefficiencies that this decentralized structure entailed.

For One VELUX to become a reality, we needed business productivity tools that everyone could use to connect and collaborate with each other across time zones and functional and geographical borders. We call it global collaboration. One way to help achieve this goal was to replace our outdated and disparate email, chat, and web conferencing solutions. We wanted to go the cloud route because it saves money on hardware and IT management. The VELUX Group chose Microsoft Office 365 and gained a cloud-based global communication and collaboration platform that’s saving us up to 5 million Danish kroner [US$913,000] annually in hardware and licensing costs.

When we envisioned One VELUX, we didn’t want a centrally run global organization, we wanted a globally run global organization. Office 365 cloud collaboration technology is playing an important role in fulfilling this vision. Instead of local finance departments all over the world, we have one global finance organization. But it’s not run centrally in Denmark. Instead, we created a virtual finance steering committee that includes people all over the world to run the global finance function. We can do this with our new web conferencing technology. Just a few clicks brings everyone together in a global meeting. We can see each other, build relationships, and share our knowledge—all to the benefit of the company’s financial health and our strategic goals.

Infographic comparing Lync sucess vs. previous VoIP

Personally, Office 365 has completely changed how I work. The other day, I had an issue come up that required input from staff at our outsourcing department in India and from our finance manager in Paris. I could see that they were available using presence, and with a few clicks on my computer we were in a web conference, solving the issue. I’ve joined conference calls while sitting in traffic and used hotspots to turn on video and share presentations.

It’s the same for sales reps and service technicians who are providing better service and making more efficient sales calls in the field. In the few minutes they have between meeting architects, dealers, installers, and customers, they can use their smartphones to connect back to their offices for the sales, customer, and service information that they need to be most productive. And we can continue to provide responsive, locally based sales and services that resonate with customers around the world.

In our journey to be a more efficient and united global company, there are three things that are important to us: trust, teamwork, and transparency. We’ll benefit from the transparency of sharing information and knowledge in a much easier way when we fully deploy Microsoft SharePoint Online, bringing new ideas to the table from anywhere in the world. And the new tools will enable teamwork across time zones and functions. That’s my vision: to access and share the right information quickly to the right people in the organization in order to drive global collaboration, innovation, and increase sales. Office 365 is a key tool in helping us make that journey toward One VELUX.

The technology involved

The VELUX Group licensed the Microsoft Office 365 Enterprise E4 Plan so employees can download Office 365 ProPlus, the familiar Office desktop suite, on more than five devices and work productively with synced files on all of them. Everyone is using Office Online for browser-based access to Office applications. Staff members use Microsoft Exchange Online to communicate on the same email and calendaring platform. They use presence awareness and web conferencing tools in Microsoft Lync Online to connect with colleagues around the world, and will deepen their social connections and share ideas when the VELUX Group launches Microsoft SharePoint Online.

See the VELUX case study for more detail.