Deris increases employee’s satisfaction with less IT effort and better security stance
Deris is a one-stop shop for IP services with one of the largest and internationally regarded IP litigation and advisory team in Turkey. Back in 2019, the company was looking to enhance its Digital Transformation stance. “During the pandemic process, we were able to develop a cheerful intranet environment that will contribute to the morale and motivation of the employees, without writing a single line of code, with the contributions of our own human resources and even business users. In the Office applications we currently use, the new features and especially the "working together" function made our lawyers who worked together and developed content for most of the day, very happy.” Founded in Istanbul in 1912, Deriş has pioneered the development of intellectual and industrial property law by specializing in this field over the years. Over 100 years, our company turned from a small enterprise consisting of 5 employees and 2 lawyers into a company who today has won international awards with its staff of more than 90 people including lawyers, European patent attorneys, trademark and patent attorneys. Today Deriş has taken a leading role in the formation of Turkish Intellectual Property Law and is one of the largest intellectual property law firms in Turkey, which is internationally recognized.
By moving to Office 365, we got rid of the complexity and difficulties of on-premise system management and gained simplicity. By 2019, we wanted to change the on-premises e-mail system, being cumbersome, which was no longer responding to user demands, had very limited storage space and required a large investment for expansion, but could not make this difficult transition due to the tight integration bond with existing business applications. We started our transformation plans as soon as we saw that we could move to Office 365 product by carrying our integrations via proof-of-concept studies.
We have restructured our server infrastructure with IAAS architecture, now we are working on the transition to cloud applications enabling us to reduce costs further, whereas increasing flexibility and performance even more.
The year 2020 was the time for renewal of our physical servers in our office building. We wanted to use this investment opportunity in a way that eliminated physical hardware risks and created a more secure and modern IT infrastructure. Thus, in 2019 we started to examine and evaluate cloud systems.
The criteria affecting our decision the most, comprised the ability to expand according to need, to return resources the use of which discontinue, ease of management, and the fact that the cloud applications we intended to use in the coming years were available in the chosen cloud structure. On the other hand, we wanted to position our new IT infrastructure in the GDPR region, in line with the information security criteria of Deriş's clients, who are predominantly American and European. We chose Azure as it meets all these criteria and considering that we will find more integration opportunities between Office 365 and cloud applications.
In a short time, moreover at the very beginning of the pandemic we were able to realize this great transformation.
Based on our decisions taken in the end of the year 2019, we moved our e-mail system to Office 365 and our entire server infrastructure to Azure cloud in a short period of time, like 4 months. Although the process of moving the servers to the cloud coincided with the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, we managed to move all virtual servers located in the office building to the Azure cloud by using Office365 tools and working from home, without any business interruption. We were concerned that these big changes might create difficulties for our end users to adapt to them during the Pandemic. Thus, although we moved the system to the cloud, we postponed the activation for a month and tried to understand the pandemic situation. By the end of April, as we were convinced that the Pandemic was not temporary and we decided to put the system into operation without further delay. We have measured that moving the system to the cloud did not cause a change in the current habits of the employees, as well as provided significant increases in the performance of the servers, being a much better performance than our previous physical servers.
Our experience in the past years was that changes affecting user habits were met with resistance. Nevertheless, when the old system is replaced with a modern and right system and the transformation is correctly managed, users are satisfied.
Deriş considers employee satisfaction as an indispensable criterion for the quality of the service provided. Therefore, the services provided by cost (support) centers, especially IT services are measured annually. As IT team, we have determined our transformation methods by prioritizing employee satisfaction. The results revealed that our choices were correct.
The annual satisfaction survey conducted to measure Deriş’s employee satisfaction pertaining to "IT Services” revealed for the year 2021 an increase of 7% compared to the previous year, which shows us that the investments made and the transformation methods we chose were right. Deriş is also participating annually in the Great Place To Work survey conducted by an independent organization, to measure employee satisfaction. Deris is certified as best employer in the Great Place To Work survey of 2021 by raising its score compared to previous years and we consider this result as a sign that the transition to new IT applications are welcomed by our end users.
In this transformation period our main motivation was to increase efficiency by offering the most modern business tools to our end users and at the same time increase information security to the next level.
In our search for modern business applications, Sharepoint and One Drive applications, which are included in the Office 365 package met our objectives regarding information security. In accordance with our information security policies, we have to authorize only those who need it to the extend as required. However, the IT team actually has access to all systems, despite they are not users thereof, due to their responsibilities for backup and authorization distribution. Since cloud applications do not need back up services, the need to access the storage areas by the IT team for back up no more exists. Also, user authorization on Sharepoint does not require IT competence. Therefore, said responsibility has been transferred to business users.Since the technical reasons for both backup and authorization services ceased, the IT team no longer needs to have access to the documents of business users. Thus, instead of strenuous risk-reducing activities regarding access authorization risks, we have eliminated many of them directly and simplified the process only by switching to Sharepoint and One Drive.
Collaboration tools have become employees' favorite applications that we consider to be truly lifesavers during the pandemic.
During the pandemic, we were able to develop a joyful intranet environment contributing to the spirit and motivation of the employees, without writing a single line of code, via contributions of our own human resources and even business users. The new “Collaboration tools” integrated in our Office applications were life-saving applications for our lawyers working and developing content together for most of the day, working from home with the onset of the pandemic. Now it is possible to work together remotely as if you are side by side. Working together simultaneously and at different times on the same document copy has eliminated the confusion created by different copies during content development processes.
We made a rapid transition to paperless home office application.
In recent years we invested in paperless office applications thinking that it will increase our productivity. We made transformations in both end-user applications and communication infrastructures but could not fully switch to paperless office yet. Because on the one hand solutions with low user experience were still being used in critical processes.
Whereas on the other hand server performances were low also in critical business applications and forcing users to paperless office applications within these systems could further decrease productivity, rather than an increase. The improvements we have achieved with the transition to Office 365 and Azure made it possible to switch to paperless office application also in said critical processes. The most important effect of the pandemic in this regard was that it provided a motivation to change user habits. If we had not made these transformations in the beginning of 2020, many of our staff would have to physically go to the office and face the risk of transmission during pandemic.
We found ready-made tools in Office 365, current Microsoft Operating Systems and Azure which served our goals regarding Information Security and facilitated ISO27001 Certification.
Many tools and functions needed for Information Security technical controls that we started to build in 2020, were found in current Microsoft systems, Office 365 and Azure Portal, which we positioned in our Information Security system, and as a result we successfully passed the ISO 27001 audit.
Support time to end users for e-mail application has been decreased to almost zero.
By entering the security umbrella of Microsoft, we got rid of our extra efforts we used to spend on e-mail security. The comparison of our prior on-premises e-mail system to Office 365 reveals that we have achieved a serious cost advantage and ease of management. Support requests by end users regarding the e-mail system have decreased to almost zero.
We were able to make Measurement and Evaluation tools available to all our users without paying any additional fee, while these tools had a limited number of users with paid subscriptions.
Microsoft Forms application was not in our focus prior to this transformation, nevertheless it became a bonus for us since it was also included in the Office 365 package. We now started to measure the effectiveness of on-line trainings conducted via Teams, satisfaction surveys, and supplier evaluation tests with Forms. We can offer an extremely easy-to-use application to all our users, the application including question types, options, and flexibility we need in measurement and evaluation, that we can use both inside and outside the company.
The workload caused by backup processes has been decreased almost to zero, whereas our system has become much safer than before in terms of Disaster Recovery and High Availability.
Before the conversion, a significant human resource was required to manage and test backup sets created at different times for each server. For this process, it was necessary to locate an individual server, manage storage areas, use software, and track their updates and licenses. We also had a disaster recovery solution, but in our disaster recovery tests, we measured that our system will not work as well as our main system in the event of a disaster, and a significant investment was required for a disaster recovery installation to level up to the current performance. Since we did not have an isolated environment for disaster recovery tests, performing these tests required a large-scale organization on its own, therefore we could not conduct tests frequently enough. However, systems are constantly changing and as a result of these changes, the operability of disaster recovery copies turned into a question mark. However, it was not possible to do a new test at every question mark.
When we transformed our server infrastructure into IAAS with Azure, we grouped our servers according to certain criteria and implemented a separate backup policy suitable for each group. Backup sets that previously required an inventory tracking have now turned into a few policies. A teammate who was not even a system expert was able to do the backup tests and we were able to test each server in an isolated environment in about 10 minutes each. These results showed that the system has become extremely simple, the reliability of the backups and the turnaround times have been moved to an advanced level incomparable with the prior system, and it is no more human dependent.
For Disaster Recovery, Azure has actually an active-passive data center architecture, nevertheless since this architecture cannot be tested, we created our own disaster recovery environment in a separate active data center. In this way, we were able to test the environment we created in an isolated network as simple as doing backup tests.
As a result, with our new backup and disaster recovery infrastructure, we have minimized the time spent on these processes, simplified its management, and ensured its reliability.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
We continue our transformation in the software field.
This year, we plan to increase the efficiency of our office lawyers, by converting existing contents - which we are unable to use sufficiently - to an online library tool, positioning it on our Azure Cognitive Search, using Azure Blob Storage services.
With the foresight that monolithic business applications will be replaced by microservice architectures in the coming years, we are structuring our team in accordance with this near future and preparing for the transition to this new architecture, which we think will include external teams more easily. By using this new architecture, we hope to modernize our Legal and Intellectual Property business applications and gain the speed and efficiency advantages of current software technologies.
Regarding the future, we aim to support trademark and patent attorneys as well as lawyers, by increasing their success and maximizing their efficiency by using AI technologies such as natural language processing and deep learning in many processes in the field of Intellectual Property, from Trademark and Patent search to writing a strong court petition.