25 November 2020, Singapore - With COVID-19, Digitalisation is no longer a matter of the future. Local Process Construction & Maintenance (PCM) companies are starting to adopt various digital tools in their everyday work to increase productivity and overcome challenges raised by the pandemic.
As such, ASPRI’s Digitalisation, Innovation & Technology Adoption (DITA) Workgroup announced a new webinar series titled, “Harnessing Technology, Transforming Businesses” where ASPRI members are encouraged to come forward and share their insightful journey of implementing various digital solutions.
In the first webinar session on 25 November, Mr Alagu Thirunavirkarasu, Director of Universal Solution Pte Ltd, came forward and shared how implementing Microsoft Office 365 Cloud has transformed the way his company worked remotely during this pandemic.
Mr Danny Chua, Secretary of ASPRI’s 13th Executive Council and the Lead of ASPRI’s DITA Workgroup opened the webinar by highlighting the generic benefits of digitalisation and called for the industry to persevere during this period of pandemic.
After Mr Chua’s address, Mr Alagu began his sharing by giving a brief introduction of his company. Universal Solution Pte Ltd specialises in Design Fabrication, Testing and Installation of Heat Exchanger, Pressure Vessel, Tank and Site Piping. With a workforce of fewer than 50 people and about 15 in Engineering and Administrative fields, the company does not have an IT department to cater to their IT needs.
In its early years, Universal Solution Pte Ltd relied on local network-attached storage (NAS) to store documents. Any form of back-up was stored in the NAS as well. Unfortunately, the company’s email network was a victim of email spoofing and as a result, the company lost a lot of money in a bogus online transaction. Their network was also infected by malware and the company’s document were compromised. Additionally, whenever Mr Alagu’s team needed to access a file urgently, they had to return to their office as every document could only be retrieved from their office’s domain.
Not wanting to face a similar experience again, Mr Alagu decided to adopt a digital workflow. After much consideration, the company decided to use Microsoft 365 – mainly OneDrive, SharePoint, Outlook and Teams.
Mr Alagu explained that the implementation of these programs eased the company’s administrative work tremendously. Before this, Mr Alagu’s team had to constantly return to the office to retrieve a document. Now, all of their documents are stored online and they could access them from anywhere as long as they have an Internet connection. This also meant an increase in productivity as the staff were able to collaborate easily by accessing the same document much readily.
Having discussions in the form of meetings were also much convenient due to the adoption of Microsoft Teams. Mr Alagu even opted for the additional add-on called Planner which could be seamlessly integrated into Teams. Planner allowed Mr Alagu to assign tasks to staff and monitor their progress.
Mr Alagu stated that the company started to implement Microsoft 365 into their workflow at the same time when the Circuit Breaker started. He admitted it was a blessing in disguise because even though production was affected, it allowed the company to take its time to fully integrate the new workflow and be familiar with the Microsoft programs.
Mr Alagu also acknowledged that the timing of the digital implementation was perfect as the company was compelled to work from home during the Circuit Breaker.
However, Mr Alagu confessed that the company had concerns to adopt a digital workflow. The primary challenges are Cost and Limited IT Knowledge. Cost concerns were easily quashed as Microsoft 365 had various plans to cater to varying level of needs. Mr Alagu revealed that the plans are scalable if required – one can easily add on to the existing plan at any point of the time.
With most of the company’s workforce in the Engineering and Administrative fields, none had any prior knowledge of Microsoft 365. However, Mr Alagu said that during the initial set-up, the IT vendor gave a thorough explanation to the company and they found it easy to use afterwards. If necessary, they could always watch tutorial videos online for help, Mr Alagu further added.
In summary, Universal Solution Pte Ltd was able to streamline their workflow by using Microsoft 365. This allowed the team to easily access important documents anytime and anywhere. They could also make changes to the document and the edits would be reflected in the cloud. This meant everyone would be looking at the most updated version of the document. Hosting online meetings were also convenient due to the usage of Microsoft Teams.
After Mr Alagu’s sharing, the attendees were given the opportunity to ask him questions and any concerns they had regarding Microsoft 365 or the digitalisation process in general.
ASPRI would like to thank our members and Mr Alagu for making the first session of this webinar series possible. Stay tuned for session 2 of the series!