Say What? Daniel Evans Answers Your 'Workplace of the Future' Questions
August 06, 2012
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Recently, Driver's Seat invited associates to submit questions about the Workplace of the Future (WOF) initiative to migrate to the Microsoft Office 2010 suite of tools, including Outlook for e-mail. Here, Daniel Evans, TMS IS technology manager and, specifically, the WOF product manager, sheds some light on this timely topic.
From where I sit, it seems the company’s migration to Outlook went pretty smoothly. Is that true TMS wide?
It’s good to hear that. From the WOF project perspective, we are thrilled with the progress. In just three months, we’ve moved almost 14,000 users to a new e-mail system. Mailbox migrations from Notes to Outlook were 99 percent successful, with most issues addressed within 24 hours. Of course with a project of this scope, there were a few bumps in the road. We appreciate the patience of those users with more persistent problems, and the support of the WOF Champions in the business units who have helped us identify and fix the issues.
I can’t help but wonder why we didn’t do this sooner, especially since we’re using software that dates back to 2010 and it’s now 2012.
We are constantly looking at new technology. We also strive to meet the needs of the business as quickly and effectively as possible at the lowest possible cost. But it is not always easy to move as quickly as we would like with large scale technology changes while ensuring that there is no business disruption. In the case of e-mail, we started seriously shopping for alternatives to Notes in 2010 and built our business case. The challenging business environment of the past few years, from the global economic crisis to the tsunami to flooding in Thailand all brought to light the importance of communication and collaboration across Toyota’s North American affiliates and the need for improved capabilities. These events helped drive the decision to move forward.
Will we have access to our e-mail when we’re away from the office? Assuming your answer is yes, will we be able to use an iPad, iPhone or other similar mobile devices to take advantage of this access?
One of the exciting aspects of the move to Office 365 is the flexibility to provide different paths to mobile access. One example is Outlook Web App (OWA). It offers a web-based e-mail and calendar experience that is remarkably similar to what you have with the Outlook client.
Because we are now living in the same Office 365 environment, Toyota Financial Services (TFS) and other Toyota affilates will also have the flexibility to adopt services as business needs dictate, but their schedules and scope of services may differ from TMS. For example, at TMS, we are moving forward to adopt iOS devices as an additional corporate standard for the smartphone and tablet, meaning you’ll be able to use these devices to access e-mail and calendar securely while on the move. TFS continues to evaluate the needs of the business, and is not offering the service at this time.
With the new software, can we use our desktop computers to make phone calls, assuming we have a headset and webcam?
At TMS, we are excited about new capability such as seeing people’s availability and the ability to connect instantly through text with Lync 2010. In addition, voice and PC-to-PC video are available. Video capability is coming to TFS in the near future.
We are working with Microsoft and our telecom vendors to take the next logical step of allowing PC-to-phone calls. Our goal in the future is that we will be able to click on a contact in Lync and ring through to an associate’s conventional phone.
In the meantime, PC-to-PC phone calls work great, as long as you have a webcam and headset. Most of the TMS company issued laptops have that capability built-in, and you are now able to order the webcam and headset from the IS eMarketplace.
I’ve found Outlook’s “Tasks” feature to be a useful way to maintain a to-do list. Are entries in “Tasks” automatically deleted after a certain time in the same way e-mail messages are deleted?
The short answer: Tasks are not automatically deleted. As in Lotus Notes, all e-mail messages in the Outlook inbox are automatically deleted after three months. Calendar entries are deleted after 15 months. The logic around the calendar retention is to keep one year, plus one quarter to support annual planning activities. The new policy represents an agreement across the participating Toyota North American Affiliates. We realize that TMS associates will need to adjust to this change. But the upside is that we’re learning how to work together as one Toyota.
What’s the future of Mailguard (and its daily e-mail messages) now that we have Microsoft’s Spam Quarantine Notification e-mail messages? Currently, I see e-mail from both in my inbox.
Mailguard notices should quietly disappear from e-mail inboxes. With the migration to Outlook, Mailguard was replaced by the Microsoft equivalent: Forefront Online Protection for Exchange. Or, as we affectionately call it, FOPE (FOH-pee). It works in much the same way as Mailguard. It will send you a notification that some mail items have been quarantined and then will ask you whether or not you want to receive that e-mail. In the near future, we will supply some additional background information on how to read and act on the messages you receive from this new tool.
I’m a Product Quality and Service Support engineer on a three-year assignment with Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky (TMMK). My laptop docking station is on the TMMK LAN and I can access the TMS domain, Outlook and ToyotaVision. But I can’t seem to access Lync. Is it supposed to work this way? I thought one of the objectives of the Workplace of the Future was to promote collaboration across North American affiliates.
Absolutely! Collaboration across the regions is a core objective. Since you’re part of the TMS workforce, we want you to have Lync. Providing this access could be a relatively simple matter. We stand ready to help. The best way to reach us is to contact the service desk to either send an e-mail to IS_service_desk@toyota.com
or place a call to 1-877-IS-1-CALL. That applies to any associate who is having an issue with the new software.
Before we migrated to Microsoft 2010, I requested a SharePoint site so I could explore ways to use it going forward. Unfortunately, the site is so locked down that I can’t really implement anything that’s much more useful than a shared drive. I have a lot of ideas about how to use SharePoint with several of my project groups. Are there plans to open it up in the near future?
Our SharePoint strategy is to provide new functionality and flexibility to the business, while maintaining controls around system performance and costs. It’s certainly not our intent to “lock down” the software. Rather, when someone in a business unit wants to own a site, we give them the keys to SharePoint so they can structure the site however they want and manage it on their own, contacting the Service Desk only when they need help. There’s plenty of functionality available, and even more so now that we’re operating in the Office 365 environment using SharePoint 2010.
We’d be happy to consult with you to learn what SharePoint can do for you and your teams. Please contact the service desk and let them know you need help configuring your SharePoint site. We’re here to support you!
By Dan Miller