Videoconferencing saves McDonald Jones Homes $16K a year
McDonald Jones Homes, a residential home builder, has deployed a videoconferencing system across its disparate offices, saving $16,000 a year on travel costs and staff time.
The company has 210 staff spread across multiple locations in NSW, including four main offices and around 15 display homes, all of which are staffed. As the company is distributed across the state, travel costs were proving expensive.
“There’s a number of people who are travelling site to site regularly, to do some training, see how things are going, mentoring, [for] WHS (work health and safety) meetings, plus general team meetings,” said Greg Smith, IT manager at the company.
“It started to become very expensive to travel back and forth, especially with the Canberra office coming online.”
The company also wanted a way to enable collaboration “with some of the guys who would normally be desk bound, but [whose] teams would benefit from people talking to them more regularly, face to face”.
The company looked towards videoconferencing as a solution. McDonald Jones did a trial with a Polycom system, but with the costs involved and the system’s bandwidth usage, “it wasn’t worth going ahead with”, said Smith.
The company implemented a system comprising a LifeSize room 220 at head office, LifeSize express 200 units at the Baulkham Hills and Wollongong sites, and a Clearsea server 6-port mobile device videoconference virtual machine. The system runs on a combination of Telstra NextIP managed WAN and Open Networks fibre.
Compared to the Polycom system, “the LifeSize [system] still gives us HD quality playback and sound, but without the overhead on the WAN pipes”, Smith said.
“Bandwidth’s not the cheapest thing around, especially when you’re more regional than metropolitan based. We couldn’t really just go with the nicest, prettiest looking thing - we had to really assess bandwidth usage and what impact it would have on the rest of the company.”
As a result of the new system, McDonald Jones is saving approximately $16,000 per year on travel costs and staff time. “The cost of travel has decreased for some people. There’s still some people who would rather go to the office. We’re still working on that - you’ll never phase out all travel.”
“The WHS meetings are now more productive, because you can see the guys on the other end,” so participants can’t nod off as they could on a phone call, Smith said. “People are paying more attention in some of these meetings.”
“We’re having more workflow meetings of a Monday, to see how the whole organisation is running, what they’ve got coming up and where the problems might lie for that week. Whereas in the past those guys weren’t really in the meeting and they’d just go off and do their own thing.”
With a total implementation and equipment cost of $52,000, the company expects to reach ROI in approximately three years, assuming utilisation rate increases after the first year of implementation.
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