Facing a corporate mandate to implement a secure operating system on every user's desktop by year-end 2002, Roger Thibodeau, IT executive for architecture and remote computing at Royal & SunAlliance USA (R&SA USA), had to make a decision. He and his team could make the incremental move from Windows 95 to Windows 2000, or leapfrog to Windows XP, which offered myriad long-term benefits.
Thibodeau decided to make the leap, and to do it as efficiently as possible, especially because of Charlotte, N.C.-based R&SA USA's ($9.2 billion in assets) dispersed workforce.
"We knew we were going to need some help with software distribution," says Thibodeau, "and after a review of the products out there, we decided that Novadigm's Radia was head and shoulders above the competition."
Emphasizing Novadigm's (Mahwah, N.J.) unique intelligence capabilities on the desktop, and bandwidth controls that make the product particularly adaptable to laptops, Thibodeau ultimately highlights self-service features as one of the product's key selling points.
Reducing Licensing Fees
"Novadigm really got self-service right with the 'software mall' feature," says Thibodeau, referring to a feature that allows users to download and install applications and operating systems directly to their desktops based on administrator-defined authorization. "Not everyone needs every application, and in performing our software audit, we realized that there were...a lot of desktops loaded with applications that were never used."
Using Microsoft Access as an example, Thibodeau recalls discovering that there were 3,000 copies of the application on various desktops. In order to upgrade licenses for all 3,000 users, R&SA USA would have had to spend almost $400,000. Rather than simply upgrade all the licenses, Thibodeau sent e-mails to the various users, asking them to verify that they needed Microsoft Access.
Upon review, only a fraction of the employees actually used the application. Therefore, only 900 licenses were renewed.
"This whole element of entitlement in change management is really exciting," says Thibodeau, who believes his organization may have saved "upward of $850,000 by challenging users to disclose what applications they actually use." In fact, "we found almost 1,000 applications, many of which we had not approved for corporate use," explains Thibodeau, who was able to eliminate extra applications and reduce the total number of executables to 450.
Once the software audit was complete, Thibodeau and his team could start helping employees install new operating systems and applications. "We took people from our IT department and trained them," he says. "We would send them out on half-day sessions, where they would explain to users how to execute backup procedures, format the hard drive, launch Radia, install the operating system, and finally load applications and printers."
A central "command center" at IT headquarters was also made available for fielding questions from the on-site coaches.
Training 20 employees at a time at five or six sites a week, Thibodeau's staff was able to complete the installation of the new operating system in a little over four months.
"I can't tell you how successful this project was, particularly compared to traditional methods of having consultants come in and install software over the weekend," Thibodeau says. "By having employees participate in the software upgrade, we were able to combine training with installation. Employees felt really empowered by the experience and were much more comfortable with the new interface and software."
The project saved "at least $1.5 million in consulting fees, employees liked participating in the training, and our IT staff enjoyed acting as coaches," says Thibodeau, who adds that "in your career you work on one or two really great projects, and this was one of them."