Veolia Water Tech. & Sol. Belgium recycles and treats water that circulates in industrial processes or requires specific pre-treatment. Typical examples are the recycling of cooling and rinsing water and pretreatment of water as a basic raw material in the food industry. Upon acquisition by Veolia, clear agreements were made regarding the deadline and cost for the continued use of GE's IT infrastructure. The absolute deadline was 31 March 2019.
The company with Belgian branches in Herentals, Herstal and Haasrode opted for a transition to Office 365 and SharePoint. The internal IT department (80 employees) was already busy with numerous other IT migration projects; burdening them with another migration project of this magnitude was not realistic. A partner with targeted expertise was needed. By focusing on the users (Change Management & User Adoption) in addition to the technical part, the choice fell on ICT company VanRoey | EuroSys.
Koen Van Loon, Business Manager Applications at VanRoey.be: "We already had a lot of experience with migrations to Office 365 and SharePoint, but the scope of this project at Veolia was quite new. Migrating 7,000 users worldwide and 14 terabytes of critical, operational data in less than 12 months was challenging."
To the great satisfaction of Gerard Van Kempen, IT Manager EMEA at Veolia Water Tech. & Sol. the actual migration took only 3 months. "By appointing Power Users and providing a Microsoft e-learning platform, our end users were familiar with tools such as OneDrive and Teams faster than expected," he says. To train the 80 Power Users, VanRoey.be organised bootcamps in Herentals, Toronto (Canada) and Philadelphia (US) and produced their own instructional videos. In short, in all respects a successful project to look back on."
4 Key challenges
Gerard van Kempen, IT Manager (EMEA), saw four concrete challenges at the start of the project:
1. Time & budget
When Veolia took over, clear agreements were made regarding the deadline and cost for the continued use of GE's IT infrastructure. The absolute deadline was 31 March 2019, but an earlier migration could greatly reduce costs.
Adoption of the new SharePoint & Office 365 platform
Under GE, an in-house developed system was used - a SharePoint avant-la-lettre, so to speak. Due to the outdated technology and expensive operational costs behind it, a transition to Office 365 and SharePoint was chosen. Gerard knew that this would require an adjustment from all users, and proper training and guidance would be crucial to ensure that the users would embrace the new tools.
3. Expertise & focus
Veolia Water Tech. & Sol. Belgium can count on an internal IT department of some 80 people. These are all skilled people, each with their own expertise deployed on numerous IT projects. They were also busy with numerous other IT migration projects; burdening them with another migration project of this size would not be realistic. Partners were needed with targeted expertise who could focus on this one migration project.
4. Creativity & Flexibility
This was perhaps the biggest challenge, according to Gerard. To act quickly on such a scale, the partner would have to be very creative and flexible in providing solutions. Veolia Water Tech. & Sol. Belgium had to be able to count on the job being done in a timely manner, even if unforeseen difficulties arose that were difficult to capture contractually.
During a 5-day Acceleration Workshop, the scope of the project was determined and a project plan was drawn up, not only with a view to delivering a technically suitable solution, but also with regard to Change Management and User Adoption. After this workshop, Gerard and his team were convinced of VanRoey.be's expertise and creative approach.
Gerard van Kempen, IT Manager EMEA Veolia Water Tech. & Sol.: "The cooperation with the people of VanRoey | EuroSys immediately ran very smoothly. Their approach was strongly results-oriented and everyone dared to take the initiative independently to find solutions. That short decision-making chain was very important for us to achieve quick results."
Pol van Dingenen, Functional Consultant Applications at VanRoey | EuroSys: "We already had a lot of experience with migration projects but the scale of Move IT was still new. Worldwide 7,000 users and 14 terabytes of critical, operational data we hadn't done before. All the more reason to give our best."
The migration process
In order to set up the new data structure, a great deal of information was gathered during the Acceleration Workshop. A stakeholder team was put together to obtain the necessary feedback from the users and the structures drawn up were quickly realised in SharePoint. Gerard testifies that the new SharePoint structures quickly resulted in a more efficient document management of engineering.
To migrate all data, two different methods were used: assisted and self-assisted. In the assisted method, large blocks of operationally critical data were migrated by experts from VanRoey.be. The less critical data could be migrated by the users themselves, who were trained and could always rely on instructional videos and an OASE training platform. This self-assisted migration was monitored by means of Power BI tools.
2. Power Users
As it was impossible for VanRoey | EuroSys to train all the people at the various locations worldwide themselves, Power Users were called in. Some 80 experienced users received intensive training and were the first point of contact for the end users. The Power Users helped the end users get started with the new SharePoint and tools such as OneDrive and Teams. They also monitored the entire migration process in the Power BI. This monitoring was very important to ensure that all data was migrated or legitimately deleted. To train the Power Users, bootcamps were organized in Herentals, Toronto (Canada) and Philadelphia (USA).
OASE is a Microsoft e-learning platform that was made available to all users. On it, short videos with specific instructions or complete series of lessons can be followed. It is an intuitive way to quickly acquire knowledge in the Microsoft Office 365 tools. VanRoey | EuroSys also produced numerous instructional videos specifically for Veolia Water Tech. & Sol. Belgium.
All this information was not just dumped on the users, but learning journeys were compiled so that the training could be tailored to the execution of the migration process and the adoption of the new tools. All users could participate in classroom sessions, Q&A sessions and webinars at times when it was relevant to them. Yammer and Teams were the tools par excellence to learn from each other as well.
The last word
Gerard van Kempen: "The actual migration took just three months, from the beginning of September to the end of November 2018. Before that, most of the hard work went into setting up the bootcamps and preparing the training sessions. Besides the migration of data, governance was also included right away. Keeping all SharePoint structures up-to-date and monitored is certainly as important as setting them up. The shielding of the Water Technologies data and rights within the bigger picture of Veolia was also much appreciated at the headquarters in Paris. Furthermore, the people at VanRoey.be worked very well with the other project partners. In short, the holistic approach of dedicated, experienced people made Move IT a very successful project."
Veolia is a global player with 80,000 employees and an annual turnover of EUR 16 billion. In 2017, it acquired GE Water & Process Technologies, which until then was part of the GE Group. To make this transition smooth and successful, the 'Move IT' project was launched together with VanRoey | EuroSys. Objective: to migrate all 7,000 users to Microsoft Office 365 within a tight deadline of 12 months.