Low cost airline easyJet has migrated its 9,000 employees to Windows 7 after sweating its XP assets for seven years, and enrolled managed service provider Avanade to support the project.
Avanade advised easyJet to create 'personas' for its employee base to specify build requirements, rather than adopting the traditional approach of rolling out new desktops department by department.
Computerworld UK spoke to Andy Caddy, CTO at easyJet, who explained that due to low satisfaction amongst employees with the company's IT, the project was necessary.
"We had sweated our assets for seven years and we had underinvested in the desktop. We are a fairly lean company and we get the most out of what we can - we were having a number of problems around performance for the desktop estate," he said.
"Also, we did an employee survey in 2010 that told us that one of the top issues in the company was the IT equipment, it was in the top five issues raised. We had a lot of crew rooms that had equipment that wasn't maintainable and was malfunctioning."
Caddy added: "It was getting hard to reach decent service levels and it was becoming expensive. Also, our mobile users were becoming increasingly frustrated - we are issuing more laptops to employees and getting XP on to laptops leaves quite a lot to be desired."
EasyJet started looking for managed service providers at the end of 2010. With a very lean IT department made up of 65 people, the airline knew it needed a partner to work with on the project. It appointed Avanade in April 2011 and completed the rollout with the migration of emails in October 2012.
Caddy said that Avanade's approach of creating personas for easyJet's employee base worked well for the airline, as it allowed for it to design a solution that was well suited to each employee.
"We looked at our user community and tried to break them into groups of users that we could then provide a solution for. Rather than looking at it department by department, we would look at, for example, mobile users, crew users, engineering users etc.," said Caddy.
"You then provide solutions on a persona basis, which worked really well for us. We ended up with five user personas and each had a very fixed build. We spent a lot of time going out to each of these users and trying to understand their problems and what they needed - not just on the desktop, but from an infrastructure perspective too."
EasyJet expects that the rollout of Windows 7, along with Exchange and Office 2010, will last for at least three to five years. Caddy said that if the company needed to upgrade to Office 2013, something it has looked at, it could do this easily and remotely.
Caddy also noted that in his professional career he has been responsible for three major OS upgrades and for each one the business case has been difficult.
"Businesses cases are always hard - it's difficult to justify desktop projects. If you make someone five percent more productive, how do you justify that? However, because we had sweated the assets for such a long time, we managed to get the investment we needed. We got the CFO on board and he had no problem with it," he said.
"We have obviously made a big investment here, but we have seen a huge decrease in support costs. Also, we got our latest employee satisfaction survey through at the end of last year, which said that IT is no longer an issue."
He added: "It was great to have such a clear metric that the project made a difference to our employees."