“SADA helped us comprehensively assess our situation prior to the migration and gave us sound guidance.”
- Scott Huckleberry, Chief Information Officer, St. John Knits
St. John Knits is Redefining Collaboration with Office 365
St. John is an American luxury house that was founded in 1962 on the premise of a simple, yet elegant knit dress. Over the years, the brand has evolved, but the basis for the collection remains the same today as it did from the very start — updated classics, timeless and elegant clothing that appeals to women all over the world. The company, headquartered in Southern California and New York City, now employs about 2,000 people and is vertically integrated with workshops, offices and stores worldwide. Its collection is sold by high-end specialty store retailers in 26 countries and 24 company-owned retail boutiques.
St. John had been running on Exchange Server 2003, which was quickly approaching end-of-life. Working off of a near-obsolete system limited St. John’s IT team and employees from leveraging more advanced, cloud-based technology. The old on-premise email system was slow, especially for the remote employees overseas trying to access their email. Different workstations were running on different versions of Office, causing inconsistencies between departments, and St John’s retail locations also struggled with the outdated version of Outlook Web Access that was installed on their store computers. In addition, there was a constant battle to manage mailbox size. Furthermore, St. John had the desire to empower their employees with tools that would foster an efficient and collaborative environment.
Knowing they had to make an investment into a new version of Microsoft Office, St. John began to evaluate their options for an effective solution that would give them a competitive advantage. After careful review, they chose to implement Office 365, realizing that Microsoft’s cloud-based solution would eliminate the burden and cost of updates in addition to the management of hosting it onsite. Furthermore, St. John’s employees were already familiar with the Office family of products. With Office 365, the IT team wouldn’t have to manage the hardware, plus they would get access to Microsoft’s online collaboration tools like Lync and Sharepoint Online.
St. John reached out to Microsoft, who recommended SADA Systems as an implementation partner because of their proven track record in implementing Office 365, especially for businesses making the transition from Windows Server 2003 to the cloud. St. John’s Chief Information Officer, Scott Huckleberry, commented, “What we were really striving for was that the migration would be a non-event, and that’s exactly what happened. SADA helped us comprehensively assess our situation prior to the migration and gave us sound guidance throughout the implementation.” SADA Systems constructed a detailed implementation plan, made key recommendations, and broke down migrations into manageable batches that were converted smoothly and efficiently.
Since St. John deployed SADA Systems’ 365in90 initiative, which moves customers to Office 365 within 90 days, the deployment moved forward quickly and strategically. Huckleberry stated that “It was a smooth transition and a pleasant surprise. We’ve had minor issues from a business standpoint.” Despite the fact that the jump from Exchange 2003 to Office 365 is a significant one, SADA Systems leveraged their extensive experience in order to make the implementation as smooth as possible. Ferron Henry, St. John’s Senior Project Manager, added, “If you look at it from an objective standpoint, which is on time, on budget, and a quality implementation, we were able to accomplish it without disrupting the business.”
Results and Benefits
St. John expects to realize savings in time and expense, as well as an increase in productivity as a result of the Office 365 implementation. St. John’s IT team is relieved to have more time to focus on supporting their co-workers and less time supporting the hardware. The time saved managing mail on premise and upgrading licenses has contributed to, in the words of Guillermo Lopez, the VP of IT Infrastructure at St John, “less worries on the IT infrastructure side.” The retail locations specifically are thrilled how the Office 365 Web Application turned logging in and checking email into a faster, more pleasant experience with more storage space and functionality.
However, the mail migration is just the first part of the project. “We have eight corporate locations in the US and Mexico,” said Huckleberry. “Our staff need to be able to collaborate efficiently and effectively, so we are eager to deploy the new productivity features in Office 365 such as Lync, OneDrive, and SharePoint online. We think these collaboration tools will help us design, produce, and service our customers better and faster. Those are the highest value business benefits we are striving for.”