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How we saved over £85K in 3 days using Office 365.

Every year, a UK based engineering firm host a three day internal event that looks at the impact of technology in the engineering sector and how to ensure that they are capitalising on latest trends and practices whilst complying with regulations. The purpose of the event is to communicate the changes and advancements within Business Information Modelling (BIM), share successes and bring a range of practitioners together from across their worldwide locations. 


Every year, a UK based engineering firm host a three day internal event that looks at the impact of technology in the engineering sector and how to ensure that they are capitalising on latest trends and practices whilst complying with regulations. The purpose of the event is to communicate the changes and advancements within Business Information Modelling (BIM), share successes and bring a range of practitioners together from across their worldwide locations. 

Earlier this year a senior director at the firm ordered that overheads would need to be scaled back in a in a cost optimisation exercise that resulted in the BIM forum transforming to an online only event. Having explored which technologies would facilitate the BIM forum it was decided that a combination of Lync and Yammer would be used throughout the event as the main collaboration platforms. Lync provided the voice discussions, to create the engagement, providing the personal touch, whereas Yammer allowed a place for content as well as discussions during and after the forum. 

The team created four groups in Yammer for each of the three days that the BIM forum spanned and an ‘admin’ group for the organisers and moderators to collaborate around the event. Interviews and panels with senior directors, product demos and presentations were pre-recorded and shared in to the Yammer network ahead of the event. The team also created an agenda with links to the all content, as a precautionary measure should there be any technical difficulties with bandwidth and connectivity issues in some of the remote locations. 

With a few days before the start of the BIM forum 2014, the project team had: 

  •  Created a Yammer network and designed the network structure for the event. 
  • Created the content and briefed the moderators.
  • Prepared an almost minute-by-minute agenda.
  • Sent out communications, short training videos and invitations to attendees. 

Caffeinated and ready to go the event kicked off on Tuesday 8th July 2014 at 4am GMT for the APAC region, followed by EMEA at 9:30am and 4:30pm for the Americas. 

The event was treated like a radio show where Lync was used to introduce sessions and live discussions took place about the videos and content that was being reviewed. The project team had set up a control room to monitor the network and have lively discussions between the hosts. 

What worked particularly well, was having four people trained on community management and on the products used to manage the network and run the event. It was important to have discussions over Lync, to drive engagement, and instructions on what to do next. It made the BIM forum feel like an event, rather than online training. What was interesting was that throughout the event, more and more people started to comment and engage.

I caught up with the project team after the event for a review; to determine what worked or needed improvement and understand if it was a success or not.

Results: 

Based on previous events, it was estimated that the engineering firm saved over £85K over three days. These calculations were based on the costs of the previous event and equipment hire, as well as the charge out rates of the engineers. 

The flow the event worked well and there were great engaging discussions from people who had never met before, collaborating and sharing ideas. There were clear learning outcomes and employees now better understand what the organisers had set out to achieve. There were over 400 attendees and the network is continuing to pull in others from across the organisation who had heard about the BIM forum. 

As a follow up, a crowdsourcing activity is in the planning stages to act on learning’s from the event and apply them to current practices. Although in the embryonic stages, it will involve crowdsourcing improvements to documentation, workflows, standards and training. 

Within just a few weeks we have realised a huge amount of value from Enterprise Social.

Steve CromptonComment