The company registration at the trade office was only the first step – and probably also one of the simpler ones. From then on, it was necessary to systematically work through a long to-do list: find suitable premises, set up IT infrastructure, define basic processes… All this in order to cope with the planned growth forecast for the first financial year. No easy task for the first Arineo colleagues! Due to the existing requirements – distribution of colleagues across Germany and Austria, ensuring fast operational work, missing networks or servers – they decided on a cloud-only strategy. The benefits were obvious: cloud solutions made the required systems and tools quickly available and scalable at all locations, which greatly simplified the integration of new colleagues. And the best thing about this is that since the company does not hold any data in its own data centers, we were able to obtain important certifications more easily.
Basics: workplace equipment
“It was important for Arineo to give the entire workforce as much freedom as possible in the design of their workplaces: colleagues should be able to individually decide on both their end device and its operating system,” reports Michael Zielinski. As agreeable as this decision was for future colleagues, the procurement team faced a logistical challenge. To cope with this, the team programmed a Microsoft PowerApp. “With the shopping cart app, the team was able to capture the hardware requirements of the new colleagues, monitor them centrally, and transfer them to a uniform procurement process within a very short time – without this simple solution, this could have quickly ended in chaos,” adds Zielinski. The Microsoft PowerApps procurement process has proven its worth: over 98% of colleagues hired during 2019 were able to work productively on their first day with the desired equipment, within an hour: laptops, monitors, keyboards, mouse devices, cell phones, and other accessories were waiting for them, ready to go.
Communication: all aboard
In contrast to conventional start-ups with a central office, Arineo had to create decentralized communication options right from the start. After all, even in the early stages, part of the workforce was already working in branches or home office. “When choosing the central teamwork and filing platform, we paid particular attention to information security and GDPR. In addition, the platform should provide the best possible support for decentralized, agile teamwork – and even boost it,” explains Tim Dombrowski. The choice fell to the Microsoft E5 license plan with O365. Its simple installation and scalability, as well as the possibility to use all O365 applications on any end device, was convincing. The onboarding team relied on Azure AD to manage the ever-increasing number of users. “Once we rolled out the Microsoft E5 plans, we could work together. That was all we needed: we have established Microsoft Teams as a central communication platform and use Microsoft SharePoint for document storage. Generally, the colleagues quickly found their way around in this (for the majority) new environment, and they gladly make use of the various possibilities,” continues Dombrowski.
In this modern working environment, all documents are centrally managed, shared, and jointly processed. The working groups document project stages and manage tasks in virtual Kanban boards via Teams. At Arineo, telephony is also handled centrally by Teams, both internally and externally. If files have to be exchanged externally with customers or partners, Microsoft OneDrive can easily handle this. “Of course, there are also challenges when using the Office 365 Stacks, especially Teams,” admits Dombrowski. “For example, we quickly had a large number of teams in the system, with duplications. Here, it is important that someone acts as an administrator and points out redundancies to the participants. And even if the tools are very intuitive, training has never harmed anyone. In addition to tips and tricks for daily work, it also gives us the opportunity to agree on cooperation principles”. In the meantime, agile work in virtual teams has established itself throughout the entire company. The shorter coordination paths and increased flexibility that result from this benefit not only colleagues but also customers.
To ensure system security, the development team relies on the Microsoft Security Stack with Microsoft Privileged Identity, Microsoft Authentication, Azure security features such as Defender, and anti-virus programs. “To further increase data and system security without compromising the working comfort of our colleagues, we have introduced two-factor authentication and the password management tool, Keeper. This has proven to be very successful and enjoys a high level of user acceptance,” reports Dr. Frank Wilkes. Through the intelligent combination of cloud services, the young company not only ensures the security and stability of its systems but also benefits from a low TCO.
Billing: getting the numbers right
The development team implemented Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM/CE for the planning, control, and billing of the projects, as well as the administration of marketing and sales activities. In addition, it provided Power-BI cockpits for the reporting of revenues, expenses, and the utilization rate of the consultants, in the shortest possible time. This allowed business leaders to quickly view the figures in near real-time and, if necessary, take early corrective measures. With success: five months after its foundation, the company was already in the black. “The Dynamics 365 CE PSA module enabled us to provide a solution tailored to our needs within four weeks, with which the colleagues in the consulting department could record and invoice their project-related activities – even on the move,” explains Ronald Höbler. The CRM team continues to expand the scope of the solution in an agile manner so that the entire Arineo workforce can benefit from new functionality every month.
The recipe for success
The key to success lies not only in the strategic use of modern tools and software services but also in the great commitment of all those involved, who want to realize their vision of an Employee Owned Company together. Nevertheless, after one year, the Arineo success story can be summarized with these principles:
- Don’t be afraid of the cloud. Your advantages – rapid deployment, scalability, and security – clear benefits.
- One for all. You need fewer IT personnel than you think: those who work with modern tools work more efficiently. Just 5% of the Arineo colleagues were responsible for the successful onboarding of the current Arineo team.
- Talk is golden Those who share information often find a competent sparring partner in an unexpected place and progress faster than they would in a rigid environment.