6 min read

Why staying connected is more important now, than ever.

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When I started building Redspire’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Roadmap last year, I had no idea that a global pandemic would soon be changing the world of work for us all. Nor did I realise that we’d have a brand new challenge to overcome, in making sure our teams are safe and well, mentally and physically, thanks to coronavirus.

Employee health and wellbeing is super important at Redspire and our partners at Microsoft. Straddling technology and Financial Services, we’ve always been mindful that our teams operate in high pressure environments on detail-orientated projects. Prior to Covid-19, many of our consultants were on the road with clients. Lots of us travelled to and from Glasgow, London and other financial hubs to collaborate on solution and software project design and ideation. It can be an intense process bringing these transformation projects to life. So mental health protection and peer support was, and still is, very important to us.

Staying connected during flexible working

As part of our commitment to our employees wellbeing, we tentatively launched new flexible Work from Home policies in 2019. I didn’t realize then, just how meaningful our overarching goal of ‘staying connected’ would be in 2020. Nor did I realise that as a business, we’d taken that leap to flexible working just at the right time to embed the kind of processes that would help us transition to a fully remote team. I’m incredibly glad we did.

Whilst we got slightly ahead of the curve however, it’s important to acknowledge just how challenging working from home has been for many people – not just in our business but across the globe. There’s huge benefits of course.  More family time, reduced commute and staying safe from the virus for example. However, maintaining mentally healthy habits whilst working from home feels like something we need to work hard at, daily. It’s all too easy to fall into habits that blur the lines of work and home. Answering emails over dinner, working alone, not taking breaks and just generally not switching off.

Achieving work life balance 

With that in mind, staying connected has become even more important to Redspire as a business. This takes many forms. Staying connected with each other during our working day. Making time for virtual coffee breaks and collaboration with team mates. Staying connected socially and checking in on each other too. We’ve introduced hobbies groups and a buddy / mentor system, as well as larger group hubs. Managers are embedding new ways to stay connected to direct reports and their teams each week, making sure positive working relationships can continue.

Just as importantly, we’re encouraging our teams to stay connected to their own thoughts and feelings, as well as ensuring they prioritise their downtime to stay connected to friends and family during these tough times. The former we’re helping with, in the shape of mindfulness in the workplace sessions, coupled with mental first aid training and peer accreditations too. We see this as a huge benefit to the individuals taking part but also to our team’s ability to look out for one another in the form of emotional check-ins, encouraging each other to take regular breaks and knowing how to prompt one-to-one conversations if they have concerns about each other.

A health and wellbeing toolkit

When it comes to health and wellbeing, we’re conscious that one size doesn’t fit all. So back in 2019 as I was designing our Health and Wellbeing roadmap, I wanted it to include a wide range of touchpoints for people. After all, we’re all on different journeys. The first step was surveying the teams to make sure everyone’s needs were met. The responses were as diverse as our people are. For example, some people enjoy direct line manager support, whereas some prefer to talk to HR or an external counsellor. Many prefer signposting to resources to self-manage matters.

Holistic Employee Assistance and Support

We’ve also launched a new support package that gives our teams a range of support, in the form of counselling, financial programmes, health and wellbeing, access to CBT and more for their friends and family. There programme is constantly updating with relevant health and wellness webinars, workshops and other resources on how to prioritise your day for example whilst working from home. We’re very keen not to replace a service with a system, however. So the package complements our on-going programmes that are constantly evolving.

Microsoft’s Insights to support

As we head into winter, Microsoft’s Wellbeing insights will help us all get through what’s likely to be a little tricky for us all. We must ensure we stay connected and look out for each other. Personal MyAnalytics – that only users see – will tell individuals if they’re spending too much time working, or not having any quiet, focus days and send them prompts to do so. We’ve already seen our teams take positive action on these prompts in recent months.

Just launched this month, individuals, managers, and leaders will also get insights and recommended actions to achieve a better day, a better week, and a better experience for themselves, their teams, and their organisations. Powered by Microsoft Graph and backed by trusted privacy safeguards, these capabilities put the opportunity for change into the hands of everyone in the organization.

Personally, I’m looking forward to using and learning about the productivity tools, as well options to bring in a level of normality like the virtual commute and tea breaks. I’m also very excited about the partnership with Headspace, making it available directly through Microsoft Teams.

Be kind to each other

Kindness, as I mentioned in my previous blog, is something I am passionate about. It can make the biggest difference to someone who might not be feeling their best. But it’s important to also be kind to yourself. Meditation and mindfulness with tools like Headspace allows people to take a breath and focus on the now.

In these unprecedented times, and given that our whole lives are now ‘at home’, we can feel like we need to be ‘always on.’

Ideally over the coming months, we can bring together our focus on wellbeing with Microsoft’s tools, to balance work and life a little better.

Staying positive in the months ahead

Over the next month, our executive team are looking at some interesting ways to bring our Christmas Party to life virtually. Look out for my next piece on our ideas on supporting teams over Christmas and new year and how we are boosting company morale.

Let’s look out for each other – and ourselves – in the months ahead and nurture positivity and staying connected wherever we can. It’s the only way through tough times.

Connect with Kristine as she shares more on Redspire’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Roadmap over the months ahead. Redspire are currently recruiting, visit the website or connect on LinkedIn to find out more.

3 min read

Tech sector signs of resilience as Scottish IT firm announces 18 new hires and 39% increase in turnover during ‘challenging’ times

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The hires meet planned growth targets for the year, despite COVID-19 interruptions and challenges to mid-year on-boarding.

Expanded teams will help meet increasing demand from new and existing Financial Services clients.

Redspire, a Microsoft Gold Partner announced 18 new hires today, to support continued growth within their Financial Services business units.

The Glasgow and London based firm, led by CEO and founder Billy Lyle has secured a number of significant new client wins in Banking, Insurance and Capital Markets groups this year.

Today’s announcement comes on the tail of their year-end results which highlight 39% turnover growth on previous year.

The firm commented that strategic, on-going transformation continues to be a prime focus for their FSI clients, despite the very real challenges faced by the sector due to coronavirus.

Since March, the firm have also led a number of tactical projects to support business continuity throughout the pandemic. These include a partnership with Beazley, the specialist Insurer, to help Brokers and Underwriters stay connected when lockdown closed the Lloyd’s of London trading floor.

CEO Billy Lyle said: “It’s been a rollercoaster of a year for all businesses in the UK but our clients in Financial Services have shown real resilience. We’re very fortunate to be working through these challenges with them, making best use of the tech available and to be able to grow the team and offer employment opportunities during the pandemic, when many people are looking for work.”

He continues: “Right now, years worth of transformation is happening with every month that passes. The demand for strategic, continuous transformation is greater than ever, in addition to the at-pace projects that are helping the sector meet new and evolving challenges the pandemic poses. The Microsoft cloud and suite of business applications has risen to the challenge.”

“Now, that the market has adapted to new ways of working, we’ve turned our focus back to investing in talent in our technical, delivery and commercial teams. This ensures we have the capacity to meet the strategic requirements our clients’ like Virgin Money and Golden Charter have in 2021 and beyond.”

Services Director Steven Brown said: “Like many businesses, these past few months haven’t been without their difficulties. However, we’re working hard with our clients through times of uncertainty and shifting technology needs to support their people, customers and operations.

“Like many technology-first companies, we’re fortunate to have the infrastructure to be able to switch to remote working practically overnight and help our clients maintain service levels. Now, we can now focus our attention on growing our team and hitting the ground running with strategic projects as we head into 2021.”

Redspire is an IT Consultancy, specialising in Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform technologies. As part of the Microsoft account managed teams, Redspire work collaboratively to drive future-proofing digital transformation, improve processes and help businesses understand and engage with teams, customers, clients and partners. With particularly strong capabilities in Financial Services, their client base includes the Money and Pensions Service, Beazley and Virgin Money.

5 min read

Customer Success Story: Martin Currie Investment Management

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The Challenge

As their legacy Dynamics system approached end of life/support, Martin Currie Investment Management Ltd required a new CRM system to support their global Sales, Marketing and Business Development front office, who operate in disparate time zones. The project was deployed in two phases.

  • Migrate and upgrade to dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement
  • Implement and integrate Dynamics 365 for Marketing

Stability, maximised efficiencies and a simple UX were key requirements, as well as the ability to augment existing systems and provide teams with a single customer view. The project sought to future proof digital infrastructure and processes and end reliance  on a single system, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in all time zones.

The Solution

Redspire’s approach was to rebuild Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement, hosted by Microsoft online. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing to provide an integrated digital marketing suite. Out the box functionality was maximised with customisations and configurations, rather than development, to remove any dependencies on specific partners going forward. Furthermore, this approach allowed Martin Currie to leverage existing Office 365 Licenses using the out the box integrations to Outlook, SharePoint and PowerBI.

Redspire’s approach was based upon sound, proven methodologies that ensured the new Dynamics 365 system and integrations were built precisely to the client’s needs. The project’s digital and data infrastructure not only achieved Martin Currie key outcomes, but provided the perfect foundation for the future continuous digital improvement that the business sought.

Business Outcome Highlights

  • System stability: The global sales teams can reply on a secure and stable cloud based system that is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in all time zones.
  • Significant cost savings per annum: In just three months’ post Go-Live, Martin Currie Investment Management Ltd report significant annual savings attributed to support costs and zero system downtime.
  • Additional cost savings and productivity gains: A user-friendly, unified system with established and connected processes to help attract, acquire, on-board and manage customers and their interactions.
  • Resource efficiencies: No more manual updates.
  • Connected sales, marketing and BD teams: Data is more accessible and dashboards shareable on the core system and by email. Dashboards are easy to build with no manual reporting required.
  • Integrated email and CRM: Automations mean nothing is missed and improved succession planning.
  • Automated RFP request and tender process
  • Adoption and confidence: Improved team confidence in new, slick systems and processes
  • No manual updates required: Dynamics twice yearly wave releases provide access to the very latest features and capabilities without any manual oversight or updates.
  • Informed business decisions: Improved MI and capabilities for qualitative analysis have allowed business decisions to be made quicker.

Why Redspire?

“Our analysis and scoping led us to Dynamics 365. It offers more features available out the box, was customisable to current and future needs and suited our wider technology suite. Microsoft then recommended Redspire as a technology partner for implementation. Apart from understanding the scope of work, they were stand out partner in terms of approach and rapport. They didn’t try to oversee or overdevelop the project, they listened carefully and met our requirements.

Redspire’s approach and turnaround was efficient and effective. During implementation, updates and progress reporting were daily and structure. Communication was good and I was aware of progress at every stage. They’re a great client facing consultancy with strong people. The weekly project call and status report gave me really useful insight to share with the key stakeholders and financial teams too”

Hayley Keenan, Head of CRM, Data and Change

 

The Client

Martin Currie Investment Management Limited is a global organisation that offers asset management, equities, securities, investment strategies, financial planning and advisory services to customers worldwide. Operating since 1881 with £11.2bn Assets Under Management, the business has 110 employees operating across five global offices.

Their stock-focused approach is driven by in-depth fundamental research and skilled portfolio construction. Martin Currie’s key goals are to gain a holistic view of investment companies and an insight into their culture to build an understanding of material risks and opportunities develop conviction in ideas, and deliver differentiated client outcomes.

Martin Currie Investment Management Limited is a Specialist Investment Manager of Franklin Resources, Inc. which has Assets Under Management totalling US$1.4 trillion (as of 30th June 2020).

 

Client Feedback

“The project was delivered on time, it restored system dependability and increased confidence across our sales and commercial teams in multiple geographies. A key objective was removing reliance on a single system and partner. Dynamics has solved that for us.

The team now spend more time on qualitative data analysis and access data much easier, thanks to improved visual reporting and MI capabilities. We have such great visibility now on workflow and can manage resource effectively. We’re actively using every capability the solution offers, to the huge benefit of the business.”

In recent months. Financial Services organisations have seen a years’ worth of digital transformation for every month that’s passed (Satya Nadella). Redspire and Microsoft are working together to deliver transformation in the sector, from remote teamwork, connected operations and critical cloud infrastructure to sales, marketing and customer service.

The intelligent office is the future of Investment Management. Download our Sales Professional Guide to Dynamics 365 to find out how machine learning and AI can drive automations, or read more on the power platform.

Redspire is a Microsoft Gold Partner with strong capabilities in Financial Services. We’ve worked on the biggest operational challenges facing the industry today. From Business Banking improvements at VirginMoney and business automations at Beazley Insurance to client and stakeholder engagement at Money and Pensions Service. Our expertise in Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform helps our clients unify operations quickly, deliver transformative projects that solve business pain and future proof for all scenarios.

3 min read

2020 Wave 2 Release: What’s coming up? Recap

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When the developer team aren’t deep in Redspire client work, we’re usually found over at the Virtual Power Group (VPG) developing our technical skills and growing our network. The VPG is a Community Forum for Power Platform and Dynamics 365 users of all levels to come together to share knowledge and best practice.

This month, VPG was joined by Microsoft’s Lucy Bourne to cover the functionality and features of the Wave 2 release in the Microsoft Business Applications stack.

Staying on top of the ever changing platform and their twice yearly updates is a mammoth effort. Lucy’s session gave us a major leg up, with her run through of the features coming to the stack from October onwards.

There are two major releases of functionality to the Microsoft stack in a given year. One in April (Wave 1) and one in October (Wave 2). You can opt in to these features early, or preview in a trial instance. Though please note, once applied it cannot be removed so exercise caution. For existing implementations, it is advised to apply in a Sandbox environment and test that your solutions are not negatively affected by any conflict with new (or potentially retired) functionality. If you want support with this, reach out to a VPG Admin to discuss.

These major release waves do not launch all this new, cool shiny stuff immediately in to your environment – though there will be some. October 1st marks the beginning of the release wave and this functionality is launched – some elective – landing over the coming months up to the next release wave in the following April/October.

During her session, Lucy gave us a fantastic introduction to Power Apps for Teams and a rundown of the major highlights. Some of these were showcased in real-time alongside announcements at Ignite, adding a little extra excitement.

Here’s my highlights from across the main products:

Sales 

  • Mobile Experience Changes
  • Forecasting and Gamification
  • Usability enhancements
  • Sales Insights Updates

Marketing

  • Natural Language Segment Editor
  • Enhanced Customer Journey Canvas
  • Form Submission Enhancements
  • Improved Email Customization
  • and more…

Customer Service

  • Agent Productivity Dash (Multi Session Experience)
  • Omnichannel for Customer Service
  • Integrated Insights with Built In AI
  • Native Call Functionality in Omnichannel Framework

Field Service

  • Insights Dashboard
  • Customer Voice Survey Integration
  • Proactive Service Delivery
  • Scheduling experience improvements
  • Technician Success and mobile app enhancements

ERP/Commerce/Project Ops

  • CDS Integration improvements and various Cross App Capabilities
  • Document and Electronic reporting enhancements
  • Major updates to SCM
  • PayPal Integration for Commerce
  • And upgrade path plan for PSA to Proj Ops

Dynamics HR

  • AAD Integration enhanced
  • CDS Integration with Skills, Certificates, Performance and Benefits
  • Teams Self Service GA and further enhancements

Power Apps and Power Automate

  • Power Virtual Agents available within Power Apps Portals
  • PCF control support in Power Apps Portals
  • LOADS of RPA Capabilities in Power Automate (direct quote)
  • Power Automate Visual in Power BI

This is a session that I’ll not only watch again but be recommending to colleagues and clients to stay ahead of the tsunami of features scheduled to land this October. Watch the replay below.

As ever, I’m so excited to be working in this field where, as it was said on the call tonight, “change is the only constant”.

This article was first published on Viritual Power Group. For more information on forthcoming events, visit the website or connect with me on LinkedIn.