Teamwork | Sunway & Microsoft Malaysia Migration to Microsoft Office 365 Cloud
Sustainability is deeply rooted in the DNA of Sunway Group (Sunway). In fact, the very birth of Sunway in 1974 was founded in the concept of sustainable development. It began with the development of Sunway City Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s model “Smart Sustainable City”. Almost four decades ago, it was an abandoned land of disused mining pools caused by destructive mining activity. Sunway rehabilitated the land and transformed what was once known as a wasteland into a wonderland.
Sunway attributes its success today to its 16,000-strong workforce. The Group had never in its history embarked on any retrenchment exercise, even throughout its bleakest period during the 1986 economic crisis and 1997 Asian financial crisis. Holding firm to its core values of integrity, humility and excellence, Sunway emerged from the crises stronger, and has since grew from strength to strength.
As Sunway expanded and diversified into adjacent and new ventures, effective IT systems and productivity platforms were put in place to enable and support that growth, allowing process improvements, communication, collaboration and innovation. After Sunway migrated from its legacy platform to Microsoft Office 365 in 2019, it allowed employees to work from anywhere, anytime and on any device. This came in useful after the Malaysian Government imposed the Movement Control Order (MCO) 18-31 March 2020 (which was subsequently extended to 2 additional phases, i.e. 1-14 April 2020 and 15-28 April 2020) to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.
Overall, Office 365 especially Microsoft Teams has helped Sunway Group to minimize and navigate through unprecedented disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. While construction and property development projects were halted for 4 weeks due to the MCO, most IT projects and key business processes continue operating remotely and completed with minimal delays. Microsoft Teams has been heavily adopted across Sunway for remote meetings and discussions, project user testing and trainings, collaborative brainstorming sessions, document co-editing, town hall briefings; while OneDrive is instrumental in remote file sharing and co-authoring. More importantly, the Sunway Crisis Management Team, formed to devise strategic plans in combating the impact caused by the outbreak, utilized Microsoft Teams to conduct remote meetings to discuss issues, evaluate options and take decisive actions.
About The Customer:
Sunway, a household name in Malaysia, is one of the country’s largest conglomerates with 13 business divisions, powered by a 16,000-workforce operating in 50 locations primarily across Asia. With diversified businesses including real estate, construction, retail, leisure, hospitality, healthcare and education, Sunway is able to leverage its collective strength and synergy of each business division to espouse a unique Build-Own-Operate business model in creating sustainable townships across Malaysia.
As a strong believer in “doing well by doing good”, Sunway has embraced and is fully committed to advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in this part of the world. Sunway continues to align its business interests, strategies and processes with the SDG agenda. All Sunway’s 3 public listed companies – Sunway Berhad, Sunway Construction and Sunway REIT – with a combined market capitalization of more than RM15 billion (as of 20 April 2020) are listed on the FTSE4Good Bursa Malaysia Index. This is testament to the Group’s concerted efforts in ensuring that profitability and sustainability can go hand-in-hand.
As a progressive organization keeping pace with the rapidly shifting business dynamics, Sunway made a milestone decision to leverage the practice of IT Shared Services to enable and support sustainable growth for the business. Formed in 2003, Sunway IT Shared Services Center (ITSSC) drives two key organizational objectives, i.e. to achieve operational efficiency via standardization, as well as to consolidate and optimize usage of IT resources across Sunway’s subsidiaries. One of these efforts were the implementation of a group-wide IT productivity suite, which had served Sunway well in enabling its various businesses in achieving its success to date. Subsequently, Group IT was formed in 2012 as the IT strategy and governance arm to complement ITSSC’s focus on implementation and execution.
While Sunway’s former group-wide IT productivity suite served Sunway well during its time, it no longer met Sunway’s requirements of having the capabilities to adapt and thrive in the increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous business environment. The key drawbacks were that its collaborative features were not user friendly. Poor cross platform and mobile device functionality resulted in low adoption, which in turn gave rise to the following challenges:
Video conferencing facilities incurred a significant amount of costs, and it was only available to a select population of the organisation. Hence the majority of meetings were held in person, and key decision makers or participants may not be able physically attend those meetings. As a result, discussions, decisions and ultimately decisive actions were delayed.
Having business operations in 50 locations around the globe, some management decisions required visits to geographically dispersed offices. Conversely, it also required regional management teams to converge at Sunway’s headquarters. These business trips were both time consuming and very expensive. With limited meeting rooms for face-to-face meetings, communication was done through a combination of emails, phone calls, text messages over publicly available messaging platforms and audio conferences.
File sharing was primarily done either through shared network drives or emailing documents. Collaborating on business documents was a tedious process. Tracking changes made by individual collaborators and updating versions, resulting in inaccuracies and subsequently additional time was spent on compilation and checking. It was also an inefficient method of collaborating with external vendors and partners.
Because of the inability of platform to cater to the collaborative needs of users, the development of “shadow IT” took place and some resorted to using third party tools which were more user-friendly and achieved their purpose.
Tech-savvy millennials make up a significant portion of Sunway’s workforce. Most would expect a large organization to be equipped with the latest collaboration productivity tools, widely available in the market. Not having a robust collaboration productivity tool aligned with the needs of a dynamic workforce negatively affected employee engagement.
Sunway’s top management assessed the challenges above, looked ahead and concluded that Sunway needed to take a proactive stance to safeguard and improve our competitiveness. This meant equipping Sunway’s progressive workforce for the digital era with the right digital tools. In 2018, Sunway Group President commissioned Group IT to conduct a comprehensive study evaluating the move to a more robust collaboration and productivity suite of IT tools. Technical and financial feasibility studies were conducted and comparisons were made between Office 365 against another leading service provider over several aspects including features, functionality, fit for purpose and licensing in relation to Sunway’s existing IT infrastructure. After weighing all relevant considerations, Office 365 with its powerful project collaboration tool Microsoft Teams, was deemed more suitable for Sunway’s needs, and was ultimately chosen by Sunway’s top management team.
After the strategic decision was made, the implementation had to follow through, which was to seamlessly migrate Sunway from its previous platform to Office 365. This was unprecedented in Malaysia as no other large corporationsin Malaysia had used Sunway’s previous platform at this scale and complexity. Therefore, Sunway needed an implementation partner with international and broad expertise, as well as capable of delivering Microsoft licensing to migrate Sunway from its previous corporate email, calendaring and corporate resources system to Office 365. Softline stepped up to the challenge, working with Sunway Group IT and ITSSC through the migration assessment, planning, and execution as well as adoption and change management initiatives.
First, selected Sunway executives from Group IT and ITSSC and technical experts from Softline formed a joint Project Management team tasked to execute Sunway’s planned migration to Office 365. This team reported to a Project Steering Committee which comprised senior Sunway Group IT and business unit IT management members with Softline’s senior management team in Malaysia. This committee oversaw key project milestones, gave strategic input and made key project decisions.
With the project team structure in place, it was on to planning and executing the migration while sustaining current business operations that were still on Sunway’s legacy platform. Softline experts used Microsoft Azure to host both applications which allowed the coexistence of the legacy platform and Microsoft Office 365 throughout the migration. Due to the unprecedented scope, the team had to carefully test the email and calendar migration to Outlook with a select batch of pilot users to resolve the numerous technical issues which arose during the pilot migration testing period.
Realizing the need for change management to prepare Sunway employees for the inevitable shift, Softline and Sunway formed a joint Change Management sub-team who worked alongside the project technical implementation team to lead and to execute a detailed adoption framework integrated with the migration plan throughout the project lifecycle.
To obtain stakeholder buy-in and public top down commitment from Sunway’s senior business unit and group function management team members, the project team organized a high-level kick-off meeting chaired by Sunway Group President. Microsoft Malaysia’s Managing Director and Softline Asia’s Vice President were invited to Sunway’s headquarters in Malaysia to address its senior management teams regarding the migration to Office 365. Sunway Group President stated that Office 365 would help Sunway “Collaborate, Organize and Deliver our best work Where we want, When we want, How we want”, which became the project team’s tagline in all our communication materials. This meeting was crucial to smoothen the project’s implementation.
The phased migration to Office 365 was planned in detail according to targeted business units and group functions based on a targeted number of users to be migrated per week, which. This process is executed by taking into consideration, the migration server capacity, resources available and user readiness. Once the plan was decided, the team set in motion a weekly 4-step cycle of “Engage – Migrate – Train – Support” for the duration of the project:
Engage: The change management and project teams facilitated in-depth engagement sessions with each of Sunway’s business units and group functions to:
Recap the migration decision rationale
Introduce Office 365 and its envisioned benefits
Appoint user champions to assist the project team in facilitating the migration as well as act as Office 365 advocates
Provide detailed migration instructions
Address questions and concerns
Send pre-migration notification emails to reiterate instructions
Migrate: The emails and calendars of the target users would be replicated from the legacy platform onto the servers and converted into Outlook format every Friday.
Train: Weekly Office 365 user training sessions were scheduled and conducted on Mondays focusing on Outlook, OneDrive, Office, Teams and Yammer. These sessions were conducted with both physical and remote attendees joining via Teams Meeting, and the session recordings were shared to all Sunway employees.
Support: User queries and issues arising from the migration were addressed by both the change management and technical teams.
Additionally, the change management team also curated and delivered Office 365 awareness and knowledge sharing materials via communication channels:
email flyer blasts
Sunway Office 365 Infozone Yammer group posts to useful Office 365 video training links, quick user guides, cheat sheets, best practices, guidance and articles from Microsoft’s website.
Sunway Office 365 champion T-shirts
Promotional booth during the annual Sunway Leaders Conference 2019 with games and prizes awarded for demonstrating knowledge of Office 365 apps
Permanent link on Sunway’s Group Portal to Office 365 training resources and materials
Sunway employees fully migrated from the legacy platform onto the Office 365 platform by the end of November 2019.
After a period of adjusting to the primary email and calendaring tool Outlook, Sunway employees soon discovered the power of Microsoft Teams, the central hub for teamwork, meetings, chat and content collaboration. This solution allowed Sunway employees to be connected at all times through call and meetings (audio and video conferencing), enabling them to be present remotely, make decisions without delays and travel requirements. It truly allowed Sunway to collaborate, organize and deliver value, both internally and externally, in a way that was more efficient, effective and productive than ever before.
With Microsoft Teams provided free as part of Sunway Office 365 E1 subscription plan, the following usage statistics demonstrate Sunway’s adoption of Microsoft Teams, all of which has accelerated collaboration, discussions, decisive actions and productivity.
An average of ~100,000 instant messages are exchanged on a normal working day.
Average of 500 online meetings hosted on Microsoft Teams on a normal working day.
Over 1,500 online meetings held in 1 week.
Microsoft Teams is used on multiple devices, with ~30% of active users also using the Microsoft Teams mobile app for communication and collaboration while on the move.
Sunway’s adoption of Office 365 has also allowed individual business units and group functions to adopt tools relevant to their unique needs and requirements. Some of the use-case scenarios are as follows: