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Fuze helps ThoughtWorks connect its globally distributed organization

June 04, 2015 by

ThoughtWorks is a global consultancy that helps companies solve some of their toughest business challenges through technology. It has averaged 20% year-over-year headcount growth for the last decade with customers spanning industries including retail, government, education, healthcare, entertainment, and transportation. The company now has more than 3,500 employees in 13 countries spread across 32 offices. Continuously scaling global operations while maintaining an Agile, connected organization is a key focus, and challenge, for the company’s information technology team.

“With clients and projects distributed across the globe, it's critical for us to be able to work effectively across a range of locations and contexts,” said David Whalley, ThoughtWorks CIO. “Much of our success can be attributed to the quality of our people, and their ability to share knowledge and collaborate wherever they are.”

Many “ThoughtWorkers” work outside of their offices, and the company has its largest development centers in India and China and major “hubs” in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, Australia and Singapore. A truly distributed organization, the company has no designated headquarters and even typical “corporate” functions like human resources, finance and marketing are decentralized.

“We are seeing a massive increase in video use across the organization,” said Andy Yates, ThoughtWorks IT Business Partner. “The difference is incredible, even over the last few years. It is changing work patterns. People are realizing they are not tied to the physical office. More people are working at customer sites, from home or ‘on the road’, and there is a growing comfort with that.”

Fuze ThoughtWorks

Aligning the organization

Alignment is a key challenge for any organization, especially those that are highly decentralized. ThoughtWorks first piloted Fuze for global and regional all-hands meetings, which include individual participants as well as groups gathered together in different offices. The sessions take place twice per quarter and are highly interactive with multiple presenters and guest speakers.

Prior to Fuze, they experimented with many tools, from hardware-based video conferencing systems to web conferencing software, but encountered a lot of issues in terms of complexity, quality, the user experience and IT support requirements.

“The all-hands meetings were an important scenario for us to solve, because in a highly distributed organization like ours, regular interaction and alignment is key,” said Yates. “Before Fuze, these meetings

required support from many people, across each of several locations. Now, one person can manage these calls with minimal setup time. ”

Supporting Agile development teams

Building custom software solutions for customers is the company’s primary focus. Many projects include a remote development element and ThoughtWorks is seeing a sharp increase in the number of multi-site projects. Teams are typically co-located with the customer and other major stakeholders. When that is not possible, the IT organization relies on tools like Fuze that can better facilitate distributed teams in support of client engagements.

“Perhaps it’s contrary to the stereotype, but we believe building software is an inherently collaborative process; both within our teams and with the people for which we are building solutions,” said Yates. “Video helps us stay connected when we can’t be there in person.”

The company also organizes around practice areas and teams commonly use Fuze for ad-hoc discussions about specific topics, and for workshop-style sessions about new technology developments.

“It is important for people doing similar jobs to be able to connect and share knowledge and client experiences regardless of where they are located or happen to be working at the time,” shared Yates. “Fuze gives our teams incredible flexibility in how and where they connect.”

Fuze ThoughtWorks blog

Saving time and reducing travel

Yates is seeing growing use of Fuze across the organization, particularly in areas that help people save time, like reducing the need to travel.

“As the company expanded, our leaders were spending much of their time on airplanes. That did not scale, so we embraced video communications to reduce the need to travel,” said Yates. “With Fuze, we can literally put the technology in everyone’s hand, which allows them to travel only when they really need to.”

Creating digital meeting rooms

While people are increasingly mobile, meeting rooms remain a key environment where people get work done. The team had previously deployed hardware-based video conferencing systems into several meeting rooms with lackluster results. A pilot of Fuze for Rooms in several settings saw higher adoption rates and positive feedback from employees. Yates and team are now deploying Fuze for Rooms across locations in both formal meeting rooms and informal “huddle” room environments.

“I love that Fuze for Rooms is the same user experience as other Fuze applications and that it runs on standard hardware,” said Yates. “It means our employees already know how to use it, and we can run other applications, like the room’s calendar. The cost is significantly lower than the hardware-based systems we previously used and the return, in terms of use, is much higher.”

Fuze ThoughtWorks blog

What’s next ...

Just as ThoughtWorks helps its customers solve business challenges using technology, Yates and team are helping other parts of the organization rethink some of their workflows with Fuze.

“We’re starting to experiment with some “always-on” connection scenarios,” explained Yates. “For example, every quarter, the finance team is in “crunch time” finalizing reports. By putting co-located teams into rooms and connecting everyone in an always-on Fuze, we think it will help streamline the tremendous amount back-and-forth discussion that is required. We’re just scratching the surface with Fuze.” About ThoughtWorks: Global technology consultancy 3,500 employees in 13 countries and 32 offices Major hubs in Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Challenges: Scaling company and operations Enabling remote workers and distributed teams Alignment of a decentralized organization Multi-site projects, across time zones Maintaining Agile focus Different use cases across functions, regions, practices, and accounts Reducing travel expenses Streamlining conferencing (audio, video, web)

Key use cases: Distributed team meetings - scheduled and ad-hoc All-hands meetings for company and regions Digital meeting rooms Connecting communities of interest to discuss specific topics Supporting multi-site customer projects Multi-day interactive workshops

Fuze Solutions: Fuze apps - Mac, Windows, iPad, iOS, Android, Browser Fuze for Rooms - conference rooms, huddle spaces

Integrations: Google Calendar - scheduling Okta - single sign on, user provisioning

Tools Fuze replaced: Vidyo, WebEx, GoToMeeting, Livestream, Asterisk, Global Crossing (audio conferencing)

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