Heras is well-known pan-European company specializing in perimeter protection solutions. Heras was divested from its parent company to become an independent firm in 2019. This meant that all its business applications, used by over 1,100 employees in eight countries, had to be carved out from its former parent, with the company having to build its own IT landscape and roadmap. Diana Stan, Digital Transformation Manager at Heras, was responsible for managing the carve-out alongside HSO. Diana and Paul Vos, Director Cloud Transformation at HSO, describe the project, its challenges and successes.

Carve-out as an opportunity for modernization

When Heras was divested, it became clear that carving out the IT-systems and infrastructure would be quite a challenge. Built over the course of 25 years, the complete IT-landscape had to be disentangled, migrated, and transformed in a very short time, including business-critical applications, like SAP and NAV. Heras and HSO tackled the challenge together.

Paul: “But instead of a traditional ‘lift & shift’ approach, where you take the existing applications and migrate them to a cloud environment, we saw opportunities to actually transform several applications and offer better solutions instead.”

Diana: “We saw this carve-out as an opportunity to transform and modernize our landscape and application platform. Alongside HSO we designed a new, cloud-based architecture, including the modern workplace. We listed four important elements in this carve-out: 1. Replace the network, hardware and infrastructure. 2. Migrate everyone to Office 365. 3. Move all our data and files from our former file-shares to Teams, in the cloud. 4. Move all business applications to the cloud.”

Covid-19 as a project accelerator

Coincidentally the carve-out project occurred during a challenging year and was regarded as an opportunity. The team could switch to remote working and ultimately the pandemic was something of an accelerator for the project. Diana: “The project’s execution occurred in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Which actually proved to be in our advantage. Since everyone had to work remotely, online access to data and applications and user-friendly meeting tools became a must-have. Before the carve-out, all departments had their own systems and routines, which were less efficient, certainly when everyone started working from home. Covid-19 definitely supported and accelerated the adoption of Office 365, Microsoft Teams and the Microsoft Modern Workplace all together.”

Change management strategy essential to benefit from modern workplace

Heras took the carve-out as an opportunity to modernize the complete application platform, including the modern workplace. Creating a modern, cloud-based workplace for all employees is a first step in its digital transformation. But the team soon realized that a change management strategy is essential to benefit from the opportunities a modern workplace offers.

Diana: “Ultimately the objective of introducing a modern workplace is to help people work more efficiently and to give them more responsibility in organizing their work their own way. But to achieve this we have to guide our end-users. Now that the carve-out has been completed, we have to ensure that we don’t lose momentum, and we have to take the end-users by the hand. That’s why communication is key, and a change management strategy is critical for the success of this transition. We chose a ‘champion’ kind of approach and appointed key users, or champions, in every team, to be the first line of support for other users. They could also serve as a form of filter for the questions, issues and complaints that people might have.”

Managing and aligning all partners involved

Diana: “Of course we also met some obstacles along the way. It wasn’t easy getting the full buy-in of the business. Migrating our legacy business applications was also more challenging than we thought. We had to be sure this was done safely and securely.”

Adds Paul: “Migrating all the business-critical applications and integrations to the cloud, such as SAP on Azure, meant we had to involve and align all the Heras partners. An essential part of our job was to manage and coordinate the integration partners. We did around eight of these quite complicated business application migrations, where all the partners needed to be aligned and work together. That took lots of preparation, dashboards, scenarios, testing and so on. We’re proud that this collaboration went well, and we were able to realize the carve-out in time.”

Successful collaboration with HSO team during uncoupling

The carve-out was quite a demanding project, not only because of the time pressure but also because of potential risks around business-critical legacy applications. HSO was more than happy to take on the challenge. Diana: “We chose to work with HSO because the team stood out with their willingness to think outside the box. HSO also shared our ambitions to deliver in a short time and with the highest quality. During the sales and start-up phase and throughout the project the team’s flexibility was an important success factor.

“HSO ensured we had a strong project manager, focusing on transparency and communication, which was definitely necessary because of our tight deadline. The quality of the engineers HSO provided was definitely a selling point. For me, the right technical support was essential to be able to take the right decisions. It was great to experience how those involved from Heras and from HSO really worked together as one team.

“After the carve out, my focus is now on after-care and optimizing the applications, along with further adoption and training. I look forward to continuing our partnership with HSO!”