The Rudolph Libbe Group, (RLG) is a one-stop provider of construction and consulting services that range from site selection and financing to ongoing facility management. RLG, comprised of Rudolph Libbe Inc., GEM Inc., GEM Energy, and Rudolph Libbe Properties, operates as one team. US-based RLG is headquartered in Walbridge, Ohio, with offices in Cleveland, and Lima, Ohio; Ithaca, New York; and Plymouth, Michigan.
Founded in 1955, RLG serves the automotive, chemical, food processing, healthcare, industrial/manufacturing, institutional, metals, power/petrochemical, refining, educational, commercial/retail, hospitality/recreation, and warehouse/distribution markets. RLG brings its skilled trades, safety-first culture and collaborative process to every project and service. When clients are ready to find property, build, renovate or maintain a facility, they make the Rudolph Libbe Group their first call.
A long-time user of Microsoft Office, Exchange and SharePoint on-premises, the team at RLG knew they needed to migrate their Productivity suite (Exchange and Files stores) into Office 365 in the cloud but a 900+ user move was daunting. Having downloaded and sampled free versions of solutions such as Teams in the Microsoft stack, the team decided they’d benefit from a partner’s assistance. “We had been looking to move to Office 365 in the cloud since 2015, but the project really took off in 2019/2020 after Brad Deal, our senior VP of construction services, and I collaborated and defined the values and benefits of the project,” explains Keith St. John, director, information technology, for RLG. “In 2021, we received approval from the Presidents to move the project forward based on the value we defined for the project,” continues St. John.
Business challenges that the team at RLG were looking to overcome included the cost of maintaining and upgrading an on-premises solution, security concerns, limited collaboration tools, limited accessibility, and more. Approximately 70% of RLG users are remote workers – onsite at job sites and working from home – so accessibility and collaboration were big challenges.
A formal RFP was developed and sent to multiple Microsoft partners. Velosio responded by professionally addressing all RLG’s specific requests and metrics in their RFP. Three Microsoft partners responded to the RFP, but Velosio was chosen because they are a strong partner in the Microsoft ecosystem, had excellent customer references, and a team who would take personal ownership of RLG’s success.
“Velosio’s company culture matched ours very well, and we were impressed with the level of expertise, their presentation was better than the others, they made us feel comfortable with them, and we felt that the process that Velosio brought to the table was in line with how we would approach an implementation,” says Margaret Hutton, operations coordinator for GEM, Inc. “Velosio brought in the actual consultants who we’d be working with throughout the duration of the project, and that impressed us,” continues Hutton.
“There’s a lot of value in first impressions, and Velosio allowed us to quickly trust their plan and expertise,” adds Christie Fair, business development specialist at RLG.
RLG elected to move its 900+ Microsoft Office 365 users to the cloud with Velosio as its partner. “RLG’s spirit of innovation is very much in line with Microsoft Office 365, and the cloud-based version supports that initiative even more,” says St. John.
RLG assembled a team of IT and Business professionals to lead the team for RLG as project champions, with remote assistance from Velosio. “Without the diverse knowledge and collaboration of our internal project champions, the implementation would not have gone as smoothly,” says St. John. “It’s the largest implementation of a single solution that we’ve ever completed and is a great success story for how future projects should be carried out at RLG,” continues St. John.
The team at RLG brought in 15-20 associates at a time to update their systems and logins. “By the end, we felt as if we could do it in our sleep,” laughs Susan Deal, specialty project manager for RLG. “A lot of our remote employees don’t often login to their laptops, so there were a lot of equipment upgrades or wireless cards that needed to be updated when they walked in for the migration and training— the IT team helped us with that,” continues Susan Deal.
On Time, On Budget
The migration was completed on time, and on budget. 900+ Office 365 mailboxes were migrated with very little disruption to users. RLG was using the free online, trial version of Microsoft Teams, and Velosio was able to convert all its information into the new cloud-based solution. Velosio developed a custom script to show all Teams usage to drive the decision on which Teams Channels to recreate and which to decommission. There was a need to change all local Active Directory users over slowly to avoid disruption, using Microsoft PowerShell and Microsoft Excel to verify that users with the same naming convention were not overwritten. “Communication with end users was key,” says Brad Deal. “There were numerous emails to coordinate and schedule, town hall meetings, Team messages, and more, which was key to success,” continues Brad Deal. Additional keys to success: executive and end user buy-in from the start along with great preparedness.
“Velosio was always helpful in answering any questions that came up during the implementation,” says Chris Babcock, information security engineer for RLG.
“It was a smooth transition, and we never felt constricted between the hours of 8am-5pm—we felt comfortable reaching out to Velosio outside standard business hours,” continues Babcock.
The RLG team cites many business benefits from converting Office 365 to the cloud, including:
- Availability of data to anyone, anywhere, on any device
- IT staff has more time for special projects because they no longer manage on-site solution
- Microsoft Teams makes increased collaboration “phenomenal”
- Increased accessibility and sharing of files
- Integrated Office 365 and CRM so business development managers can access CRM
through Outlook a “huge benefit”
- Apps available for forms and workflow
- More uptime – don’t worry about outages during upgrades
- Easier to forecast costing for updates/upgrades and adding users
- Office 365 applications makes remote users more efficient
RLG has several projects on the horizon related to Microsoft Power BI. One project is for tracking fabrication of piping which is shipped to job sites. Power BI will help with tracking specifications for welding, and certification for pipes. This will increase output and efficiency for the team, and better control future project spends.
“Power BI will give us real-time data related to sales, operations and financial metrics allowing us to make faster and better decisions to support our customers. This will help with identifying job, product, and people performance activities. This solution will help us better support our associates and field personnel,” says Keith St. John.
RLG considers its Office 365 project to be an ongoing journey. “We were very cognizant of rolling out the Office 365 migration and implementation project in an organized fashion, because we learned from business peers and other organizations how difficult it is to roll everything out at once with no data governance in place,” says St. John. “We expect Office 365 to evolve over time,” concludes St. John.