Assisting Guide Dogs Victoria to Move to Microsoft Teams Voice During COVID-19

Assisting Guide Dogs Victoria to Move to Microsoft Teams Voice During COVID-19


IComm supported Guide Dogs to deploy Microsoft Teams Voice to replace an ageing PABX system in advance of a large rebuild and renovation of their Kew campus. The Teams deployment is part of a larger 3 year digital transformation plan that began in 2019, but with COVID-19’s arrival in 2020, obviously moved up the deadlines for deployment so that staff could continue to service their clients during the Melbourne lockdowns.

About Guide Dogs

Guide Dogs’ vision/mission is to “Be the first choice provider of services for people with blindness and low vision, enabling a lifetime of independence.” They were formed in 1957 with associations in each state, and in 1962 they moved the Victoria HQ to their current location in Kew. That campus was the first specially-designed Guide Dog Centre in the world, built on land granted to the National Association by the Victorian Government.

As a national organisation with state-run associations, the Victorian HQ houses not only the Guide Dogs Association of Victoria, but also the National Association’s business operations. With over 150 employees servicing their clients statewide, and over 600 volunteers, GDV positively impacts over 8500 Victorian lives each year, enabling clients and their support networks.

The Challenge

HQ Campus Renovation Poses Issues for Ageing PABX System

Guide Dogs Victoria had an ageing PABX system that was not scalable, costly to maintain, and didn’t allow the staff to easily move locations. They were also looking at a complete overhaul of their Kew campus – brand new buildings and renovations over the next two to three years – that meant the staff would have varying work arrangements. Some would be remote, some hybrid, some would be shifting office space as the renovations were taking place. And their existing system would not accommodate that.

“We were continually getting feedback from regional team members dialing in that they felt that they were missing out on things, or that they weren’t able communicate or collaborate, and that the connections weren’t good.”

Simon McDonald-Kerr, Regional Team Leader – Geelong, Guide Dogs Victoria

The Solution

A Cost-Neutral Productivity and Efficiency Upgrade with Microsoft Teams Voice

For stage 1 of the communications overhaul, IComm recommended that GDV take full advantage of their existing Microsoft 365 licencing, and deploy Microsoft Teams Voice, allowing for a full communication and collaboration platform to integrate and simplify existing workflows. In addition, as the staff were all at varying degrees of tech-savvy-ness, IComm encouraged GDV to take up Halcyon Change Management, to ensure no user was left behind, via user profiling, tailored interactive training, and Teams Champions.

“IComm had worked with us to elect Champions of Change, and they were very instrumental. Each team had a Teams Champion, who worked with us to manage some of the those expectations.”

Sophie Wild, GM of Business Transformation & Technology, Guide Dogs Victoria

Due to COVID-19 lockdowns, the deployment date needed to be brought up considerably, and training offered to employees in fast, remote fashion. The Halcyon Change Management team were able to assist the users all across Victoria to get familiar with Microsoft Teams and its many useful features, so that staff were able to continue delivering their essential services, despite the obstacles presented by COVID-19.

The Results

Guide Dogs Victoria Embraces Microsoft Teams as a Collaboration Tool

“The results, if you take COVID-19 out of it, are as we had hoped: which is that people have embraced it, and they’re using it as a collaboration tool.”

Sophie Wild

Benefits and results include:

  • Sweeping and rapid adoption of Microsoft Teams across the organisation
  • Ability to continue working despite building works and then COVID-19 lockdown
  • Increased engagement and inclusion for team members outside of metro areas
  • Cost neutral upgrade for a non-profit organisation
  • Regional team members feel more connected and valued

“It’s good to have a partner that has that technical deliverable capability, because then you have more confidence. And I must admit with this actual deployment, it’s been – and it’s pretty rare in this day and age – it’s been seamless.”

Michael Whyte, ICT Manager, Guide Dogs Victoria

What’s next?

IComm is proud to partner with Guide Dogs Victoria and continue to support them with Managed Services for their communications. As GDV continues on with the rebuild and renovation of the Kew campus, and as the buildings are being designed, meeting spaces will assessed for best use of space and features to ensure that the organisation and their staff’s needs are being met, with the aim being to provide usable, functional spaces that the staff, clients, and stakeholders will enjoy being in.

“We’re redesigning our campus, so we’ve got to redesign all of our meeting spaces, and actually all of our desktop spaces as well – to be able to facilitate Teams and all sorts of collaborative technologies, and IComm are really working with us on that. IComm are going to help us really make our spaces useful and future-proofed, going forward.

Sophie Wild


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