Global workforce benefits from transformed user experience and smooth transition to remote working during Covid-19 pandemic.
Abzena is a leading Global Partner Research Organization providing the most complete set of solutions in integrated early discovery to mid-phase biotherapeutic and bioconjugation drug development and manufacturing in the biopharmaceutical industry. The company maintains resources around the world, with facilities in the US and UK. Working with companies and academic groups all over the world, including most of the top 20 biopharmaceutical companies, Abzena supports the development and manufacture of better treatments for patients.
In 2015, Abzena embarked upon an ambitious growth strategy. It soon became clear that the company’s existing Microsoft® Skype for Business communication and collaboration solution was unable to provide the global reliability and resilience required by an expanding workforce, located in two continents. At the time Abzena was relying on an on-premises solution and experiencing a growing number of outages, which were putting strain on the IT department.
Ben O’Flaherty Seddon IT Manager at Abzena decided that it was time to move its communications and collaboration to the cloud. With over 300 employees, located in its UK and two US sites, the company wanted to improve communication and facilitate more effective collaboration between its multi-site teams.
In 2018 Abzena began the search for a partner to support its move to a cloud-based unified communications solution. The tender document was sent to three companies, but Intrado provided the best understanding of the business and closest fit to their requirements.
Ben O’Flaherty Seddon IT Manager at Abzena: “Intrado had delivered the unified communications solution at my previous company, so I had experienced first-hand the quality and reliability they were capable of delivering. And their proposal stood out from the competition by offering us both the best solution and the most competitive pricing.
Importantly, Intrado recommended that we should move from Skype for Business 2015 to Microsoft® Teams and jump ahead of a potential pain point when Microsoft removed support for Skype for Business. Since we were already using Teams as a collaboration, document sharing and messaging solution, Intrado’s recommendation made complete sense.”
Luca Di Domenico, Project Manager, Intrado, Enterprise Collaboration: “It was clear that Abzena had outgrown their current solution. By moving to the cloud and upgrading to Teams, we felt they could provide their employees with a much better user experience. We could see an opportunity to not only improve the quality of connection and eliminate outages, but also to provide them with better collaboration tools.”
The implementation began towards the end of 2019, with a successful pilot for UK users, swiftly followed by rollouts at Abzena’s two US sites. As part of the rollout, Intrado’s technical team installed and configured two virtual Session Border Controllers (SBCs) in the Microsoft® Azure platform, located in the UK and the US. A staged approach meant the project was delivered within a couple of months, without any issues.
Ben O’Flaherty Seddon IT Manager at Abzena: “Throughout the rollout, the Intrado team was brilliant, both in terms of communication and technical expertise. Luca Di Domenico, Project Manager and Marcin Swiatelski, Microsoft Solutions Architect were always there when we needed them, which was crucial given that we were working across multiple time zones.
The staged, site by site approach worked really well and we also provided training for all staff, so the whole project went extremely smoothly. Looking back at the implementation, there isn’t really anything I would do differently. I was more than satisfied with every aspect of the rollout. In fact, I have since recommended Intrado to another company located on our campus, without a moment’s hesitation.”
In the event, the project proved very timely, as within weeks of the rollout, the Covid-19 pandemic meant that many of the Abzena employees had the ability to complete work from home.
Ben O’Flaherty Seddon IT Manager at Abzena: “In addition to implementing Teams, we had also equipped employees with laptops, as part of a hardware refresh early in 2020. As a result, the transition to home working was more straightforward.
With Teams installed on both their laptops and smart phones, our employees were able to stay in touch with colleagues as easily as if they were in the office. In fact, we have seen a proliferation of Teams channels as our employees are discovering new ways to collaborate and also to socialize while they are working from home.”
Marcin Swiatelski, Microsoft Solutions Architect added: ”The move to a cloud solution means Abzena’s employees now have access to a state-of-the-art unified communications platform with a full set of collaboration tools, including the ability for multiple users to work on the same document at the same time. It also means that remote and home workers have access to the same communication and collaboration experience as their colleagues on-site, which puts Abzena in a great position for the long-term.”
Abzena were able to make use of a number of additional features afforded by Teams. Users can now make all calls to any location across the globe using local numbers, whereas previously they had to dial international numbers. They can also make recordings of calls and take advantage of widgets for integrations with other applications.
Ben O’Flaherty Seddon IT Manager at Abzena: “Another benefit has been an improved user experience, with better audio and video quality thanks to a more stable connection. And I am delighted to say I have fewer helpdesk tickets to manage, which is a definite bonus, given the many demands on our IT team during these challenging times.”