Beset with the limitations of legacy technology designed for a bygone age where bandwidth was in short supply, a top specialist wholesaler looked to Lancom Technology for a leap forward in its business systems. With a move to Microsoft 365, commercial furniture specialist Buro, has left old systems where they belong – in the past – while benefiting from a more convenient, better aligned and simply easier way of doing business. From spending up to two minutes simply logging on, people in the company’s offices across New Zealand and Australia now access the systems and resources to get their work done instantly and with ease.
Founded in New Zealand in 1994, Buro is a leading wholesaler of quality ergonomic seating across Australasia. With original offices opening in Auckland and Christchurch, Buro has successfully crossed the ditch and established an enduring presence in Australia. With over 25 years of experience designing, manufacturing, and wholesaling commercial sitting equipment, the company prides itself on a deep-seated understanding of what makes a truly great chair – one that feels as good as it looks. Buro takes pride when the chairs it first sold in the 1990s return for reupholstering – the best endorsement of a quality product.
Remote access to company technology resources was once challenging, particularly where connectivity was in short supply. Buro addressed the issue with a thin client solution, which while suitable for the time and place, had effectively reached the end of its usable lifespan. At the same time, the Ultrafast Broadband rollout meant bandwidth was no longer a constraint, explains Steve Muscroft-Taylor, Buro operations manager. “This thin client environment was used by around 30 users in two countries. It was causing frustration, taking minutes just to log in, and frustration soon turns to annoyance. We also had a Virtual Desktop Environment which wasn’t really cutting it, with users experiencing difficultly logging in.”
From an administrative point of view, there were also challenges. If the servers supporting the thin client environment weren’t balanced, things got slow or restarts were necessary, interrupting business – and notes Muscroft-Taylor wryly, causing headaches for the Ops Manager. “To put it bluntly, we were doing a lot of stupid workarounds to get things working.”
He says the company engaged Lancom for a better alternative. “We also had a few other disparate workloads, such as a hosted instance of MYOB EXO, eFolder for file sharing, and a few cloud services like Dropbox and some databases. We needed something which would work well along with that existing infrastructure.”
While the shift to Microsoft 365 seemed an obvious choice, Muscroft-Taylor notes that the devil is in the detail. “You want to be informed before you make the move. Our considerations included cost, timeline to implement, and complexity to deliver,” he reflects.
These issues were directly addressed to his satisfaction by the Lancom team, while Muscroft-Taylor himself spent considerable time up front dealing with administrative and housekeeping issues which would otherwise stand in the way of a smooth configuration and rollout. “We had things like hundreds of gigabytes of ancient data on eFolder, and other messy bits which, if left to the service provider, would drive up cost and complication. It’s just easier addressing that internally.”
The rollout went without a hitch, taking up some time over a weekend. It included the introduction of typical Office 365 applications replacing prior versions (some as old as 2016), SharePoint, Teams, the elimination of an outdated version of SQL Server, and a shift of the MYOB EXO hosting to Kilimanjaro. Best of all, the clunky thin client solution got a final wave goodbye.
Additionally, Lancom recommended introducing a business-to-business order processing automation as part of Buro’s digital transformation project. By integrating MYOB EXO with a key supplier which uses the SAP Ariba procurement platform, manual order processing is eliminated. This improves accuracy, accelerates order processing, and eliminates ‘swivel chair integration’ where data is manually transferred from one system to another. Lancom achieved the integration using an MFT Gateway running the AS2 protocol leveraging AWS and has achieved ‘straight through processing’.
A modern, consolidated cloud environment leveraging both Microsoft and AWS solutions is a world away from the clunk and hassle of the past, Muscroft-Taylor confirms. “The biggest thing is the convenience. There’s no need for messing around with a thin client log on, you get your files anywhere – on your phones, whatever. It just makes life easier.”
And while point solutions like eFolder kept things jogging along, he says the perpetual hassles with logins from one country to another are a thing of the past. “It’s a simplification, and you’re giving people Microsoft applications that they already know and love, so the change management isn’t a big deal. All the cloud DBs and point solutions for exchanging documents and collaborating are gone – it’s all in SharePoint, consolidated, easing security and management.”
On the integration with the supplier SAP Ariba system, Muscroft-Taylor says early signs are encouraging, and that the success of this initiative sets the scene for future automations as opportunities are identified and expired.
Working with Lancom has made the upgrades easy, he adds, hinting that there’s more to come as Buro has now seen the advantages of moving its technology into the modern era. “We’re maybe 50% of the way to where we want to be,” he says. “Lancom has been a partner to Buro for over a decade. They have assisted our business transform technologically and continue to do so. Their strong culture of support means our people are enabled to stay productive, while we work through a continued roadmap of improvements,” he concludes.
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