Find out how Nashua Communications implemented Microsoft Skype for Business Online in Office 365 at this global mining corporation’s head office and numerous sites across the country for seamless internal communications.
Exxaro Resources is a large coal and heavy mineral mining company in South Africa with facilities that are spread across Africa, Asia, Europe, and Australia. They have established themselves as an organisation that is respected by their peers for their innovation, ethics, and integrity. Nashua Communications’ eight-year-long relationship with Exxaro started when we initially installed multiple traditional Unify PABX systems for them.
When Exxarro decided to move their South African office to a new state-of-the-art wireless office building they needed assistance with transitioning from their previous solution to a fully functional cloud solution. Because of Nashua Communications’ long-standing relationship with the bespoke mining corporation, they turned to us for help to migrate their head office and other sites across the country to Microsoft Skype for Business Online.
What Exxaro needed
Exxaro needed to upgrade their telecom voice services to a newer cloud based wireless solution. As a Gold Tiered Microsoft partner, Nashua Communications offered their assistance in migrating Exxaro to Microsoft Skype for Business Online in Office 365 to facilitate a seamless overall roll-out. Exxaro required that the solution provided the ability for these cloud voice users to utilise the existing PSTN infrastructure to make and receive calls at all of their sites.
The four sites included their new head office in Centurion as well as four of their mining sites located in Mpumalanga and Limpopo. They also needed this solution to be flexible enough to allow the migration of users to Skype for Business Online to occur gradually.
The overall project began with the implementation of the head office in Centurion. The PSTN portion is managed by a central SIP trunk at the Teraco Data Centre and OpenScape 4000 system. The OpenScape 4000 system also doubles up to provide attendant and IVR services to the users at head Office.
We did face one or two roadblocks during the project:
- Some of our client’s sites did not have the correct network requirement in place prior to the go-live date of this project. This made it difficult to achieve our tight deadlines.
- The underground areas on the mining sites were not suitable for a signal dependent solution like Skype For Business Online.
How we overcame these roadblocks
- We were able to resolve the network issues and meet our deadlines by pro-actively engaging and working together with the Exxaro technical team.
- As experts in the field we knew that bedrock does not interfere with signals that are carried using cables. So we implemented more robust analogue devices in these areas, to ensure we provided a high quality signal when team members had to move below ground.
We’re grateful that our wonderful relationship with Exxaro helped overcome these roadblocks. We worked closely with their project manager who indicated the timeframe, time-slots, and required defined mentions.
The unified communications solutions used in the project
Our Unify, Microsoft, and AudioCodes certified engineers implemented and maintained the solution which consisted of placing one AudioCodes Cloud Connector Edition appliance at each of the previously mentioned five sites. Each of these appliances consists of four virtual machines running on a Windows server host, as well as a Session Border Controller.
The appliances provide connectivity between Office 365 and on-premises PSTN infrastructure to facilitate external calling functionality for the Skype For Business Online users. This solution allowed Exxaro to keep using their existing legacy solution when necessary.
Like any new technology solutions implementation, user adoption was essential for this solution to work. We certifications in both Prosci and Microsoft our expert Adoption and Change Management team offered a customised user adoption roll-out, designed for the needs, skills levels, and timelines of the Exxaro team.
The final roll-out included the training of 600 users over a four week period. This training utilised tasks and business processes which were familiar to the users in order to draw them into (and to get them to enjoy) learning how to use the new technology.
Another benefit of the user adoption roll-out was that the hands-on training made us aware of any technical issues allowing Exxaro’s I.T department to rectify them before the onboarding phase began. This made the onboarding experience better. And the user adoption training prepared Exxaro’s I.T department to handle any on-demand training.
We have migrated all of the over 700 users at the head office site to Skype For Business Online. In addition, we rolled out 80 pilot Skype For Business Online users at Exxaro’s mining sites, 20 at each of the four mines. The rest of the users are utilising the Unify PABX infrastructure which we also provided and support. More users will be migrated to Skype for Business Online with the assistance of Nashua Communications should the need arise.
Reduced travel costs
This new solution provided has enabled Exxaro to reduce business travel costs as Skype For Business video conferencing is an excellent alternative to face-to-face meetings.
Increase in productivity
The solution enabled employees to be more mobile as they could communicate from any location regardless of device and allows for more efficient collaboration.
The relationship between Nashua Communications and Exxaro has grown from strength to strength over the years. We were able to build a successful relationship, in part due to our determination to provide excellent service, and to always put their needs, as our customer, first.
We are delighted that all those involved in the project had an impeccable level of professionalism and delivered timeously on their deadlines despite the challenges faced. We are proud of our ability to deliver on all deadlines with consistent professionalism.
“ Thank you and congratulations to the Nashua Communications team that assisted in the Exxaro Lakeside building project to deliver, install, and configure a new voice system in the new Exxaro building. The overall experience of migrating the users was seamless and they provided excellent continued support and training! ”- Jacques Myburgh, Sourcing and Delivery Manager at Exxaro Resources