CHC + Kaine Mathrick Tech: Adapt to the new normal - Hybrid Modern Workplace
The year 2020 changed the world forever. Consequently, so has the way we work. With the sudden shift towards working from home, the new modern workplace has emerged with various hybrid models widely adopted. Clarke Hopkins Clarke pivoted quickly to a modern workplace model. With KMT’s help, they seamlessly moved their team into a new office and introduced a modern workplace best practice to enable their teams to move seamlessly between desks, working in the office and working remotely whilst not compromising security.
“During the office move KMT was there every step of the way, they were like our own internal IT department and an extension of our team. They were involved from the planning stages and had confidence the strategy and recommendations were the right ones for our business and goals. Throughout the entire project, we didn’t have to worry about the IT side of things. We just knew it was in hand and that KMT were not only recommending the right solutions, but just doing the right thing.”
“KMT are more than IT support, we have a dedicated Account Manager who provides us with strategic advice and is our point of contact for any major issues. We have strategic reviews every quarter which gives the business an IT roadmap and enables us to budget and resource accordingly. They really provide a personal approach to delivering their service.”
Technology Services Used
Hours a month saved
Cloud-Based conference & meeting rooms
Printer s & Servers
As the world transitions to a new era of the modern workplace that blends the office and working remotely, businesses have been forced to reassess their office environments. Whether it’s swapping landlines for cloud-based phone solutions, replacing static desks with virtualised desktops for hot-desking, or boardroom meetings for Microsoft Teams meetings, businesses have used technology to adapt to the physical separation that is now part of our workplace.
If there is one thing all of this clarified for Clarke Hopkins Clarke is that technology was critical for their businesses’ survival. Subsequently, CHC knew that they required an effective digital transformation strategy that affordably enabled them to adapt to the new modern workplace hybrid model. As a result of this project, CHC identified that digital transformation did not merely mean survival, but rather a unique opportunity to revive their team and offer a better work-life balance for all those involved.
Who are CHC or Clarke Hopkins Clarke
For the last 60 years, Clarke Hopkins Clarke has been providing customer-focused, creative architecture services to Australia. CHC is an architectural firm with two offices located in Melbourne and Sydney. Founded by three RMIT Architecture graduates Jack Clarke, David Hopkins and Les Clarke. The trio were true believers in the power of architecture to connect people and communities, fulfill needs, and enrich lives.
Jack Clarke was a legend of Australian Rules Football who captained The Bombers to their 1962 Flag and gave his brother Ron, the world-record-breaking distance runner, a run for his money in the fitness department. Jack was one-off, reserved, and hardworking. David Hopkins, on the other hand, was the quintessential extrovert: energetic, charismatic, mischievous. Les Clarke AM was the visionary and unofficial leader of the trio: curious, passionate, humble. He brought out those qualities in others, too, and was a cherished mentor to many of our current leaders right up until his retirement at age 80.
The founding Partners were people’s people, one and all. Optimistic, resourceful, creative. The ink was barely dry on their graduation certificates when they began Clarke & Associates from a small office in Hotham Street, East Melbourne, back in June 1961. By day they learned the ropes in graduate roles with established practices before making the leap into full-time private practice.
Fast forward to 2021 and CHC boasts 153 staff across Melbourne and Sydney. A far cry from their humble beginnings and a staff cohort that had outgrown their premises in Collingwood that was purpose-built for 50.
“KMT provides CHC with quality IT strategy and advice to keep our systems and hardware current and operating efficiently and keeping our teams productive. The recommendations do not change for changes’ sake. The team takes the time to research the right solution with absolute consideration for our leasing commitments and budget. The technology solutions provide longevity. We were tired of investing in redundant hardware and KMT took the time to research viable solutions.”
The problem space
CHC was growing at a rapid rate, their IT was being supported by a family member of one of the co-founders of the business. IT issues were constant, productivity was being lost and internal IT resources were stretched. They had outgrown the capability of their current supplier. In June 2015 they were introduced to Bradley Kaine Managing Director of KMT.
Robert Goodlife, Partner CHC assessed a number of technology companies at the time and was looking for a Melbourne-based MSP that aligned with their values.
“We were looking for a partner, not a supplier. We highly value customer service. Our business takes it very seriously and we felt KMT was the same” Robert says.
It was widely perceived at that time that MSPs did not operate with the customer in mind. They were seen as selling the deal, and then you would only hear from them over the phone, their service dropped, and you were forgotten about.
“From our first meeting, we knew that KMT were different. We knew that they really cared and that they would do what it takes to make sure that our business reached its full potential,” he said.
Since that day, the relationship has grown, and the trust has blossomed. A true technology partner, the MSP services extend past just IT support. A dedicated Account Manager meets with the CHC IT team monthly and provides a central contact for them to raise any major concerns or issues. The account manager also provides quarterly strategic reviews and ensures their technology is on track to align with their business goals.
“KMT invested the time with our teams. They come on-site, they work with us like they are an extension of our team. They take the time to get to know us and it really is a true partnership. The IT support team is always helpful and goes the extra mile to get things done. They really provide a personal approach to delivering their service.” Courtney adds.
The new modern workplace – purposeful, productive, agile and flexible
CHC had outgrown its offices in Collingwood. Consequently, had been considering an office move for 4 years. Finally, the team found a suitable office in the Melbourne Connect precinct. Naturally, the next step was facilitating the office move.
There were many elements to consider such as the overall scheduling and project management, staff and culture, the physical relocation, IT services, server relocation, and more. The team at CHC had a huge job on its hands.
The office move included 160 desks, 15 meeting rooms, 6 servers, 8 switches and over 140 hours just for the IT alone. Additionally, CHC was aware that the office move presented an opportunity for a ‘Game Changing’ digital transformation. Because of the office fit-out and the added factor of remote working, they knew that staff would work differently.
“We wanted to introduce a modern workplace to enable our teams the flexibility to work securely and seamlessly from anywhere,” Courtney says.
The business needed to achieve efficiencies and longevity around their solutions. The cost of replacing hardware, PCs, laptops, servers, and switches was becoming prohibitive and a resolution was required.
The team at KMT evaluated the technology and infrastructure and developed an IT strategy and technology road map based on the goals and budget. The strategy provided a long-term view of what needed to be done when it should be completed and the budget required.
“It was honest, took into consideration our current leasing commitments and provided solutions that had longevity,” she added.
KMT worked practically within the existing commitments of CHC. Instead of trying to sell an expensive solution, they provided an affordable solution that scaled and rolled out at the client’s pace giving their teams time to settle into the office, get used to the new tools such as working in a hot desk situation.
There were a few issues constraining CHC. The main issue was moving from a site with aging infrastructure to a new site with twice the amount of network requirements. Other issues such as lack of hardware stock and fiber connectivity also needed attention. Their network was sluggish, sharing large files and throughput was slow when sharing data from the servers. Consequently, backup times were slow due to the size of the data, common for businesses that work with graphics files.
The solution was to implement a network capable of scalability as well as interoperability with a technology-driven outcome. This involved specialized meeting rooms, booking systems, AV setups as well as virtual calling rooms. Additionally, remote access requirements were important as well as hot desking to accommodate staff movements. Essentially, staff work from a server which means that every individual doesn’t need a laptop and they can log in securely from anywhere.
KMT provided Fortinet FortiSwitch 10GB core network, extending to Fortinet FortiAP and FortiGate Firewalls. The entire network was redesigned with 10GB in mind, all servers were upgraded to 10GB access directly into the core. VLANS were used to segregate traffic and improve the overall throughput of the network.
Management of the entire network was improved by utilizing the Fortinet fabric. All network devices could now be managed via a central portal.
Prior to the move, KMT was able to install all hardware and test the network. This reduced the amount of downtime for the move. After the move, it provided live support to quickly address any of the issues post-migration.
The project was seamless and effortless from our behalf. It was so enjoyable to work with the team. They are easy to work with and we had confidence that our IT was looked after.”
Courtney went on to say, “With 150 staff, there were many desks, printers, photocopiers, teams calling and other technology that had to be set up and ready to go by the Monday so our business could operate as usual. KMT pulled it off with no issues. Over that weekend we knew we didn’t have to worry about IT and left it in their hands. They worked seamlessly with our teams and if we had any questions or issues, they were there and so enjoyable to work with. We had a great time even with the large amount of work and pressure we faced.”
KMT helped CHC during the office move every step of the way. As a part of the planning, it became an extension of their team, giving them further confidence that their technology was looked after and in good hands.
“We didn’t worry about it knowing that KMT was not only recommending the right solutions but just doing the right thing. During the move, they were with us every step of the way and were just as excited as our team was. They had teams in over the weekend and they stayed until the job was done. The move was large and we had many moving parts,” she said.
Secure Remote working
CHC also needed to adopt a remote working model during COVID. KMT managed to switch all users and systems over to a remote hybrid model within 48 hours without a hitch. To CHC it meant that there was no downtime or productivity lost during a very stressful time.
“The impact on the business and the teams was incredible” Courtney adds. “The CHC Partners really value the partnership we have with KMT. We have grown together. The ability to pick up the phone and talk to Brad or Scott or any of the team and you know your issue will be resolved is highly regarded”
CHC is also acutely aware of the risk of cyber attacks targeting Australian Businesses. Following the advice of the team at KMT they are committed to ensuring their systems and data are backed up regularly and securely.
The right partner is gold and technology that works is “priceless”
CHC really enjoys working with KMT, the things that stand out the most are the true partnership, the quality of the relationship,s and their faultless customer service. Right from the leadership to the service desk, KMT provided a consistent level of customer service.
They found KMT to be a true partner and an extension of their practice. “I always have a pleasant experience with the teams. Even if there is a challenge, we talk and work through it,” said Courtney. “The team is super knowledgeable, and we know that our IT is looked after and we just don’t have to worry about it.”
The business has confidence that the technology solutions are the right ones. They are well researched and considered based on our needs and budget. Rather than quick-fix measures.
“KMT doesn’t fault at any level. Our improvements are continual. We couldn’t operate without a robust setup for efficiency and effectiveness and morale of the team. They are able to work better and faster,” she said.
CHC believes that this major project was managed with a smooth transition, and a short downtime, ultimatley resulting in a much improved technology platform.
“You cannot put a price on bad IT that doesn’t work. If staff can’t connect or log in, it is detrimental to our efficiency and effectiveness. Our team was properly set up from day one – working on-site and within the office. The queries were minimal and the morale was excited and pleased. The move has given the staff a new lease on life.”
Describing the benefits achieved out of this transition in three words, CHC terms them as “growth”, “flexibility”, and “productiveness.”