In this interview for the Atlas Case Study Series, we spoke to Laing O’Rourke’s Digital Communications Manager, Kerri Warner, and Group Human Capital & Corporate Affairs Director, Josh Murray.
We discussed their vision for a central, digitalised hub to drive collaboration across the global business and support their communications needs alongside their specialised Line-of-Business (LOB) systems.
Laing O’Rourke is an international engineering enterprise, with more than 15,000 staff, founded on over a century and a half of experience. Through Laing O'Rourke's fully integrated offer the firm delivers a single-source solution for some of the world’s most prestigious organisations.
The Atlas Digital Workspace includes out-of-the-box communications, collaboration and knowledge capabilities for end-users, management and IT. Atlas defines a new digital workspace platform category known as a "Knowledge Productivity Platform".
Atlas is installed within the customer's Microsoft 365 (Office 365) tenant and Azure infrastructure, leveraging existing Microsoft 365 licenses, security/compliance settings, Active Directory and more.
The platform fully supports Microsoft Teams, Yammer, SharePoint Online, Microsoft Groups, Planner, OneNote, Power Apps, Power BI and much more.
Both Josh and Kerri emphasised that one of the main challenges was that when they upgraded and improved their line-of-business (LOB) systems and had started the transition to Microsoft Office 365, their old, congested communication platform was left behind.
As the firm adopted further new systems, inconsistencies and incompatibility became an issue too, meaning data and information became unwieldy and difficult to manage.
Kerri described how as their old intranet lost its role as a communications platform, it became a dumping ground for information that had no obvious home: “a system where everyone just put the stuff they didn’t know where else to place. We wanted to bring it back to a true communications platform, which is why we looked to Atlas.”
Josh added: “The challenge of a business of the global size and reach of ours, predominantly focused on projects, is that you have to keep constantly updated.”
Kerri explained how Laing O’Rourke’s vision is to create a company-wide system which works to share information on both a local and global scale.
Josh said: “We’re a global business and the systems that were in place didn’t have the interoperability to work on this scale - it was either one or the other. The company needed a solution to this global question, where relevant information could be fed out locally, but governed from a global standpoint.”
Laing O’Rourke was looking for a product with innovation built into its core, with a roadmap and an upgrade methodology that will help the firm stay ahead of the curve. Josh added: “We really didn’t want a system that burdens our people, or one which requires a full redesign in 4-5 years in order to stay current with new technology.”
"Combining Laing O’Rourke’s ambition to be a digital leader in the construction industry with ClearPeople’s IP, skills and expertise in the Microsoft’s cloud stack has proven to be a powerful mix."
"We delivered to the Group Executive and the Hub Executive exactly what we said we would [a digital workspace] that would look impressive in its initial user experience"
"[During the lockdown] we actually saw it as a benefit to launch, largely because it is mobile enabled, so for people working remotely it is much more accessible to them."
"What has been key is the ability to deliver complex features and functionality through a simple and engaging user experience that makes sense to our users wherever they are, in the office, on-site or in a firstline worker role."
"Atlas for us is the front door to our business. When an employee begins their day, it's the first port of call. It houses all the information they need to get started and the Launcpad to take them into the business critical systems they need throughout the day."
When the Laing O’Rourke team was introduced to Atlas, “it seemed a perfect fit”, said Kerri.
Atlas was initially launched within Laing O’Rourke as a centralised communication system - as a network for employees to explore the vast range of activities underway locally and across the global business. A big impact of Atlas is its speed and the ease of access to information and data. While user preferences deliver the most relevant updates to each individual, global news and updates can be broadcast widely to ensure everyone is informed.
Josh agreed and added: “We chose Atlas because it could solve our entire problem, at speed, whilst appearing seamless across the business".
Laing O’Rourke has already had positive feedback from users in the few days after launch, with the globally integrated system already adopted across all sectors within 24-hours of general availability.
Josh commented: “The initial feedback we’ve received has already been very promising and we are looking forward to seeing how everything evolves. We didn’t want a system that needed major updates, instead we’ll see innovation of the product on a regular basis.”
Josh also stressed the importance to the firm of being able to showcase their operational projects, which he is excited to see sit front-and-centre on the new Atlas system. Kerri ended by highlighting the importance to project staff who now have access to a reliable and robust system to work from, which is essential for future productivity and innovation across the company. Kerri said: “Atlas will be the tool to allow our teams to maximise what they have, and help them to tell their stories.”
Read more here about the integrated iGMS solution which Josh and Kerri refer to in the above interview. iGMS is LOR's Integrated Group Management System delivered on Microsoft 365.
Vickie Stevenson, Head of Digital Transformation at Osborne, was interviewed in this first of a three-piece Case Study about Osborne’s vision and digital transformation strategy.
In another "Atlas Case Study Series" episode, listen to the Weightmans LLP team talk about the selection process to the initial success stories just days after going live.