Construction firm KVL works remotely, upgrades security via the Microsoft 365 cloud

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 KVL has a team of 200 construction and industrial engineers, architects, and other professionals who manage real-estate and building projects from concept to completion. With offices throughout Germany and around the globe in places like Peru and Russia, KVL employees must collaborate across time zones whether they are in the office, at home, traveling, or at a construction site. The company had €20 million in revenue in 2019.

 

 

KVL has worked with IT partner Quality Hosting since 2010. Over the years, the construction company has migrated from on-premises Microsoft Office applications to services like Exchange Online and Office 365.

 

In early 2020, the customer began migrating to Microsoft 365. KVL was already interested in helping employees work from anywhere more efficiently, but the COVID-19 crisis sped up its timeline to upgrade. Field workers continued to go to construction sites as usual, because Germany designated construction an essential industry and workers are able to practice social distancing and wear personal protection equipment on the job. But most KVL office employees had to start working from home.

 

The need for remote collaboration

Another factor in the move to the cloud was KVL’s involvement, with IT partner Quality Hosting in a Microsoft Security campaign aimed at chief security officers (CSOs), with both companies helping promote the Microsoft Security CSO ebook. As part of the campaign, KVL attended a Microsoft cloud value briefing in Munich, Germany, where its employees learned about the latest innovations through a series of Quality Hosting webinars on Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security features like conditional access, mobile device management, and compliance features relevant to the construction industry.

 

The experience left KVL eager to embrace remote work more fully, address security strategies outlined in the ebook, and manage secure mobile devices remotely to help employees collaborate from home or job sites. To start, KVL enabled Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), PC and Mobile Device Management (MDM) with Microsoft Intune, Conditional Access (CA), and email scanning with Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection (ATP). These features help give KVL peace of mind that its remote, distributed work force is protected by adequate security measures. The company expects Conditional Access and Multi-Factor Authentication to prevent fraud, and is converting all employees to a multifactor authentication by the end of year.

 

The company also added Microsoft Project Online for 20 of its project managers, to orchestrate work more effectively while employees were not able to work together in person. To enable remote meetings now that office workers had to stay home, the company also deployed Microsoft Teams collaboration features, including online chat, task tracking, file storage, and online meetings. Before, employees had to be in a conference room with audio visual equipment to attend online meetings, and now participants can work from home and see up to nine other people on-screen at once, for a realistic, inviting experience. The KVL management board has determined that with Teams, meetings run on time and are two to three times more effective.

 

Thanks to the IT structure changes the company had already made during its journey to the cloud, its employees were able to switch to full-time remote work within two days of KVL updating its licensing.

 

An integrated collaboration platform that spans organizational borders

KVL plans to replace its phone system with Teams, to eliminate the cost of maintaining telephony hardware while freeing employees to make calls from anywhere. By default, employees can make internal Voice Over IP (VoIP) calls in Teams, but KVL is working with another IT partner, CentricCom AG , to draw on private branch exchange (PBX) business telephony capabilities from within Teams and Microsoft 365 for enabling outside calls. Employees are already collaborating with customers and partners via chat and file-sharing on Teams channels.

 

Before the implementation of Microsoft 365, KVL used a third-party tool for managing tasks; now its employees use Microsoft Planner, which supports easy integration of external participants, for better collaboration with partners and customers. KVL is also adding Microsoft Planner to Teams, to make tasks visible to all members on a project team, for clarity of individuals’ responsibilities and the overall project timeline. Team members will also be able to assign, prioritize, and review tasks from a handy dashboard. Plus they integrated Power Apps into Teams to provide a reporting tool.

 

Scalable changes with flexible licensing

These changes have been easy to accommodate because adding or eliminating Microsoft 365 features is as scalable as changing licensing, a process that doesn’t affect solution performance. KVL uses this capability to respond quickly to events like the COVID-19 crisis or fluctuations in business volume. So far in 2020, the company has increased the number of licenses by around 400 percent, spending €10,000 per month on Microsoft licensing (with upgrades to Microsoft 365), to provide a fully productive modern workplace for employees.

 

Today, KVL’s employees collaborate efficiently from home and on the road using Teams and Microsoft 365. Its employees communicate faster and share files internally and externally more conveniently using secure devices.

 

According to Kai Hansen, Head of Communications at KVL, "Thanks to the digital tools from Microsoft 365 introduced with the help of Quality Hosting, we have taken a big step toward efficient, mobile collaboration and communication. Working remotely from home or on the road, sharing data, and communicating with our customers has become much easier. We’ve improved the security of our devices with more effective administration. In a short time, we have taken big steps toward digital transformation. This makes us more flexible, stronger, and able to respond to crises much faster.”

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