ARRAY’s Virtual Teams Collaborate Better with 8x8’s Cloud Communications Solution
“8x8’s cloud flexibility also helped ARRAY overcome the Air Force’s restrictions that prevented the use of other communication applications. Now we can just give them a phone number and a PIN code, and they can dial it right in. No downloading applications. We can easily have audio calls, conference calls and video calls—however people need to connect.”
Operations Director, ARRAY
When you provide IT services and solutions to government markets, you’ve got a big territory to cover. And when the main portion of those contracts is the Aerospace and Defense Industry, providing IT services literally becomes mission critical. ARRAY needed a flexible, secure communications system that could keep up with their needs.
Founded in 1997, ARRAY Information Technology (ARRAY) now operates eight domestic operation centres and 13 site offices across the globe with a team of full-time employees and partners working both in-office and remotely. To adapt to different project needs worldwide, ARRAY needs to quickly assemble highly skilled, focused teams to get the job done—remote teams from all across the country and globe, who rely on good communication and collaboration to work efficiently and effectively. ARRAY’s cumbersome communication system was becoming an issue that could no longer be ignored.
Uniting Remote Teams with Greater Flexibility
“The U.S. Air Force is currently one of our largest clients with bases located all over the world,” explains Wes Henderson, ARRAY’s Operations Director. “We provide a lot of different IT support and applications to them with teams that come together from all over the country. I needed the flexibility to be able to potentially turn phone systems on and off all over the country.”
Working with government contracts requires the flexibility to form project teams that can expand and shrink quickly—all over the country and world. The nature of much of their work—application development—requires strong team communication to work closely together, which was becoming an increasing challenge.
“Because our teams are spread all over the place, it was difficult for the teams to communicate or even to resemble a team with our multi-vendor PBX-based system,” explains Henderson.
The Air Force is restricted from downloading communication applications, such as Skype for Business, which ARRAY had previously relied upon. They needed to provide simple and reliable communication for ongoing international client support. Finding a better communications solution to help them operate more efficiently and provide better customer service was one of Henderson’s first assignments when he joined ARRAY.
Reducing Complexity and Costs of Disparate PBX Systems
Managing ARRAY’s existing multiple PBX-type systems was cumbersome, expensive and required their extensive remote workforce and partner network to use their mobile phones.
“Our Maryland headquarters used a PBX system,” explains Henderson, “and our five other nationwide site offices were all using different Ma Bells. We had to deal with a mixture of rates, rules, and regulations, which also varied depending on the country you were in. Unless you were constantly calling to renegotiate new deals with these different companies, contracts stayed on autopilot.”
Adding new employees to teams was both inefficient to manage and insufficient for remote workers. “It was a local nightmare,” explains Henderson. “If employees weren’t physically located at a particular office, they were only connected through email and had to use their own local number or cell phone.
Choosing the Right Communications Solution
When ARRAY set out to search for a solution to replace their existing PBX system, cost was a key consideration, but they were more intent on getting the best value that delivered the flexibility they needed.
Making the Cloud Choice
Because ARRAY already had success running applications in the cloud for its clients, 8x8’s cloud-based solution made perfect sense. “Being virtual as a company and the way we do business, 8x8 is a great fit. It answers our need for extreme flexibility, which is core to our business.”
8x8’s cloud flexibility also helped ARRAY overcome the Air Force’s restrictions that prevented the use of other communication applications. “Now we can just give them a phone number and a PIN code, and they can dial it right in. No downloading applications. We can easily have audio calls, conference calls and video calls—however people need to connect.”
After a rigorous vetting process, ARRAY narrowed their choice down to RingCentral and 8x8. Excellent service tipped the scales. “What eventually sold me on 8x8 was their responsiveness,” says Henderson. “We had a lot of questions about capabilities, and 8x8 was always prompt with detailed answers.
Saving Costs by Centralizing
With 8x8, ARRAY was able to centralize its management across all of their sites, which reduced costs. “We saved significant costs in staff management time alone thanks to 8x8,” states Henderson, “and we gained central oversight over the entire ARRAY corporation.”
8x8 also allowed ARRAY to reduce their conferencing costs and expand their conference calling capabilities. “I eliminated all of the conferencing lines I was having to buy,” reports Henderson. “We have several calls that can have up to 30 people connected, which are critical to enable closer ties with our customers we’re supporting.”
Flexible Solution for Fluctuating Teams
While ARRAY lists over 200 employees nationwide, that number is constantly in flux. “This is where the uniqueness of 8x8 comes in,” says Henderson. “It’s not just our employees, it’s our partners too.” Project team members can consist of about 60 percent ARRAY employees and 40 percent external partners. “Now I can get them all phones for the duration of a project and then quickly shift when the project ends. Most of the time I’m just sending out headsets for people.”
8x8’s directory feature allows team members to find each other easily. People can be organized by location and by project for easy searching—no matter how quickly these teams are formed and fluctuate. Scheduling meetings with team members is also a lot easier with 8x8 Virtual Office Meetings. “We’re able to more easily connect and bridge that gap to get a better sense of collectiveness as a group.”
“This virtual and centralized communication really helps with the cyclical fluctuation of our development cycles,” explains Henderson. “I need to be able to potentially turn phone systems on and off all over the country quickly and easily.”
Building Teamwork in Teams: Easy Access and Video
While ARRAY has 13 different office sites, more than half of their full-time employees don’t work out of any of them. “With 8x8, I was able to essentially form and make team members located across the country look like a team,” says Henderson. “Using 8x8 Virtual Office, I was able to give them their own number and they could easily reach each other whenever they needed to.”
About 75 percent of ARRAY’s calls now include video, which aids collaboration by adding a key team-building element to their extensive remote workforce. “A lot of our folks were never seen face-to-face on teams because it’s geographically impossible,” says Henderson. “But with 8x8, we just turn on the laptop cameras and hold video conference calls. That’s become the norm. It gives us the ability to be more connected, and get to know who your coworkers are.”
Remote Workers with a Local Presence
With 8x8, ARRAY is able to create a local presence for workers no matter where they’re based or travelling. “We can help employees appear more attuned to our customers with a local number, which provides greater peace of mind for clients. People are assigned to a particular site,” explains Henderson, “and they’re given a virtual number that’s carried out to their homes or wherever they’re working. So a remote worker in New York assigned to our Fairfax office uses our Virginia exchange to conduct business—no one would know that he’s not right there in northern Virginia.”
Cloud Flexibility Overcomes Government Restrictions
8x8 helped ARRAY overcome the restrictions the Air Force had that prevented the use of other communication applications. “Now we can just give them a phone number and a PIN code, and they can dial right in,” explains Henderson. “No downloading applications. We can easily have audio calls, conference calls and video calls—however people need to connect.”
Responsive Service That Continues to Shine
The very feature that eventually sold ARRAY on 8x8 continues to support their business today. “What eventually sold me on 8x8 was their responsiveness,” says Henderson. “That effort didn’t stop at the sale. I get immediate support response for all my folks across the country.”
Providing excellent service is at the heart of ARRAY’s business, and with 8x8 Virtual Office Pro, they’re better able to fulfill their mission, so their clients can too.