3F’s Head of IT is leading the trade union’s cloud bound journey using several of the organization’s central IT applications. Among the significant gains are improved agility and increased attention to IT development projects.
3F is Denmark’s largest trade union and unemployment insurance fund. Over the past 10 years, the IT department has been kept busy with an extensive digitalisation process and several mergers. This has resulted in the streamlining of the entire IT architecture, and the need for employees to collaborate in a better, easier and faster way in day-to-day operations. Going cloud with the standard systems supports both tasks, explains 3F’s Head of IT, Michael Olsen.
“We are well on the way to consolidating our standard IT on a Microsoft platform in the cloud. This includes our ERP platform, CRM system and Office 365. There is no reason to deal with IT operations internally if others out there can do a better and more cost-effective job. We want to make a difference, and that is rarely done in operations. We need to streamline work procedures and optimize processes. If the IT department is unable to create value for the company, we have no reason to exist.”
The IT strategy is dead
Michael Olsen explains that the changes have brought IT closer to management. IT is no longer viewed – or budgeted – as an expense, but rather as a development opportunity. Learn more the changing role of CIOs.
“Previously, we produced IT strategies outlining how to update this, that and the other product in our IT environment. This is no longer the case. We now concentrate solely on digitalization strategies to realize profits,” says Michael Olsen.
Yammer strengthens collaboration
Right now, the tools in Office 365 are in the spotlight – especially the collaboration tool Yammer.
“Yammer is a great example of a tool that we probably wouldn’t have started using if it wasn’t part of Office 365. If you need to install, maintain, and invest development hours on an application, the process is likely to slow down – this makes you think twice about getting started at all,” says Michael Olsen.
“In the case of Yammer, we simply clicked a new button in Office 365 and started testing. Today we use Yammer when we launch new solutions. Instead of calling the support hotline, our employees simply ask a colleague and solve the problem themselves – quick and easy.”
Azure for peak times. Michael Olsen explains that 3F is considering using the computing power and flexibility of Microsoft’s cloud service Azure in the future.
“Today, our members enter the details of their insurance card using a self-service solution at a particular time each month. To handle this peak data flow, we always run 10 servers. However, for the rest of the month we get by with only one. If we placed our self-service solution in Azure, we could just add the server capacity when we needed it and scale back afterwards.”
Faster time to market
After taking their core business applications to the cloud, Michael Olsen highlights flexibility as the largest gain for 3F. This is partly because ownership costs of both IT software and IT hardware have been transformed into rental expense, and partly because IT no longer needs to upgrade their employees’ IT skills.
“If we continued operating all our IT internally, our employees would need lengthy training programmes in installation, maintenance and surveillance of our applications. Instead, we can now focus our resources on fast delivery of new initiatives. We have actually decreased our time to market after going cloud,” says Michael Olsen.
Extra IT muscle
As a final benefit, 3F has added extra IT muscle in the shape of the external partner, SCALES, who has helped 3F during the digital journey towards the cloud. Today, SCALES runs 3F’s ERP platform, Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations.
“SCALES lets us skip a communication step. Previously, our finance department turned to us in IT if they needed something changed. Today, the finance department communicates directly with SCALES if they, for instance, need a new type of report – this makes it easier and faster for the organisation to get the services they need. And in IT, we can now focus on IT development,” Michael Olsen concludes.
3F is Denmark’s largest trade union and unemployment insurance fund with 290,000 members from sectors such as manufacturing, transport and construction. 3F has 65 local union branches, offices in 116 cities, and employs around 2,300 staff.