Mobile Management Case Study
McGladrey Sets the Stage with Tablets for All (Cont'd)
The clients are very impressed that we’re bringing up-to-date technology to these meetings. They feel that if we’re progressive with this technology, we’re probably going to do a good job with the other work we’re doing.”
Rob Lewis, Chief Technology Officer, McGladrey LLP
Quickly prepare and deploy 6,500 tablets to employees nationwide
Deployment managed by AT&T Mobility Solutions Services, with device management using MobileIron from AT&T
Dramatizes the company’s fresh beginnings and provides a new business tool
Assurance, tax and consulting services
75 offices nationwide
McGladrey is the nation’s fifth largest accounting firm, providing tax, assurance and consulting services for clients in both private and public sectors, including owner-managed and public companies, financial institutions, not-for-profit organizations and government entities. From tax accounting to in-depth, company-wide audits, McGladrey’s multifaceted services help clients achieve best-practice business processes.
McGladrey has a history of growth through mergers, acquisitions and partnerships. In 1999, McGladrey’s tax and consulting businesses became a subsidiary of H&R Block and its assurance business remained a legally independent partner-owned entity. In 2011, McGladrey announced a reunification of the two organizations into a single partner-owned firm. Leaders wanted to mark the occasion by distributing tablet computers, as a business tool and symbol of employee empowerment in the newly combined firm. To turn the tablets from toy to tool, McGladrey needed to prepare them with a preferred set of applications and provide a high level of security for company data. Employees weren’t allowed to store client information on existing personal devices, but these tablets could be used for both personal and work activities. The firm set a goal of just two months to complete the project.
McGladrey tapped longtime service provider AT&T to help with the company’s tablet deployment. For device security, the company chose MobileIron’s mobile device management (MDM) platform. The AT&T Mobility Solutions Services (MSS) team took charge of staging and kitting the devices, training McGladrey help desk professionals and integrating with MobileIron MDM from AT&T. The McGladrey IT team could then focus on upgrading the company’s Wi-Fi network. With the support of AT&T support, McGladrey was able to complete in weeks what could have taken many months. The tablets are now transforming how employees engage with their jobs, clients and the firm.
Global Standards, Local Presence
McGladrey was founded in 1926 when Ira B. McGladrey bought a small accounting firm from his employers in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. While it has since grown into one of the nation’s leading accounting firms, the company maintains its small-town business values and provides clients both international perspective and local support. “What sets us apart is our client service approach, which involves a high level of client interaction, collaboration and direct partner involvement in our engagements,” said Bob Gerardi, Chief Marketing Officer.
There’s a certain
level of trust required to go out on the tightrope wire – employees are trying
to figure out ‘Can I trust my new leadership?' So it was absolutely critical
that not only was this seen as a great resource, but that it was
implemented so seamlessly."
Tricia Jordan, Employee Relations, McGladrey LLP
McGladrey’s highly skilled professionals provide clients with world-class resources, no matter where or how big those clients may be. The focus is on the middle market. “The client base we serve often has fewer internal resources available, so we provide a lot more to them in terms of general business advice, insights about their industry and ideas to help their business,” said Sara Webber Laczo, Senior Director-Corporate Communications. Whether advising on technology and risk reduction, doing tax consulting and returns, or conducting audits, McGladrey professionals work closely with clients to support each company’s strategic goals and/or compliance needs.
The values McGladrey extends to clients are the same it practices within its own business. “Our employees work in smaller teams and have more access to our high-level leadership, giving them the opportunity to develop a broader wealth of knowledge,” said Tricia Jordan, Employee Relations. Employees’ assignments range widely, and McGladrey makes sure they have the tools and technology they need to do their jobs well. This translates directly to McGladrey’s clients.
Sign of Things to Come
Late in 2011, McGladrey reunified the company, buying back a non-attest services division, RSM McGladrey, from H&R Block. To commemorate the new company structure, leaders made a dramatic decision. They would distribute a popular tablet computer to each of McGladrey’s 6,500 employees. The tablet project became a symbol of the new management and its investment in technology. “We wanted to set the stage that this is what our new world is going to look like,” said Jordan.
What started as a celebratory gift quickly grew into something more. “We realized this would be a tool that our employees would be able to use, not only for personal and social reasons but also to leverage in their daily work activities,” Gerardi explained.
McGladrey’s employees rely on technology as they serve clients. Many employees work directly at client locations. “It’s important for us to provide the toolset for them to stay connected and get the information they need,” said Gerardi. But it wasn’t just the mobile employees that McGladrey felt could benefit from the tablets. From consultants to receptionists, “we saw ways that people in every role could use the tablet to be more efficient in their jobs,” said Laczo.
The goal was to have the tablets ready soon after employees returned from the holidays. New management would be in place, and there would still be time before the start of the busy tax and audit season, but McGladrey had a short turn-around time and a lot to get done. At an early December web conference with employees, just a week after the close of the reunification transaction, CEO Joe Adams and COO Mike Kirley announced the tablets and their January rollout. “There was an audible gasp in the room,” said Laczo. “People were very excited.”
The response in planning sessions was less cheery. “The reaction there was, ‘Wow, how are we going to do all this?’” said Rob Lewis, Chief Technology Officer. “To really allow employees to leverage the devices in a manner that would be useful, we needed to also give them access to information and protect that information.” This meant manually checking device functionality, setting uniform interface design and installing management software to support security policies. In addition, tablet use could double network traffic, potentially overwhelming the existing wireless infrastructure.
All Hands on Deck
Could the McGladrey team handle the job alone? “We thought about it for 10 minutes,” said Lewis. Then the company asked AT&T to help with device deployment, allowing McGladrey to concentrate on upgrading the wireless networks throughout its offices.
AT&T Mobility Solutions Services rose to the challenge. “There was a whole team of people that were committed to McGladrey,” Lewis said. The AT&T team developed a detailed plan for preparing and deploying the thousands of mobile devices to 75 separate locations. They worked through the holidays to unwrap, power up, test, load software, power down, repackage and apply asset tags to each device. This required about 30 minutes of attention per tablet.
The product managers, staging managers and distributors on the MSS team staged and kitted all 6,500 devices, making sure each one looked and worked the way McGladrey intended. The initial timeline was 15 days, but the MSS team deployed all 6,500 devices in only 12, exceeding McGladrey’s expectations. Contract submission to final delivery took a total of 30 days.
MSS trained McGladrey service desk professionals to answer employee questions during and after device deployment. “Auditors are very skeptical by nature, that's what makes them a good auditor,” said Jordan. “So there was a contingency of ‘How are we going to use these? How is this going to be helpful to us?’” MSS helped maintain a live FAQ on the McGladrey Intranet to give employees constant communication.
After considering several MDM vendors, McGladrey chose MobileIron from AT&T to provide a platform for mobile device management. Again, the AT&T team helped out. “AT&T was really the broker for the relationship, establishing pricing and contractual agreements, and making sure that McGladrey was represented in the eyes of MobileIron,” Lewis explained. With MobileIron’s skilled engineers and MSS support, the deployment was completed on schedule, without trouble. With rollout beginning in early January, everyone had a device in-hand by the end of the month. “This could not have been as successful without the involvement of AT&T,” said Lewis.
Connecting with Confidence
With the tablets, McGladrey has opened up new possibilities for employee engagement. “One of the big themes behind our reunification was empowerment of the individual,” said Laczo. “We wanted to help people figure out how to use the devices in ways that worked for them.” McGladrey announced a contest, encouraging employees to share ideas for tablet use.
Already employees are using the devices to record meetings, access email, take notes and remotely communicate with video. The tablet acts as a calculator, newspaper, research tool and second computer monitor at the client site. “It’s an additional tool for most of our employees, but in some cases it is a primary tool,” said Lewis. And this is just the beginning.
For clients, the tablets demonstrate McGladrey’s commitment to best-practice services. The devices make an easy and high-tech presentation tool for showing clients proposals and reviewing reports. “The clients are very impressed that we’re bringing up-to-date technology to these meetings,” said Lewis. “They feel that if we’re progressive with this technology, we’re probably going to do a good job with the other work we’re doing.” The devices, running over McGladrey’s updated wireless infrastructure, provide consistent connection.
MobileIron from AT&T provides device oversight and managed application deployment, together with a high level of security. “It’s really about peace of mind and protecting our clients’ data,” said Lewis.
Before MobileIron from AT&T, McGladrey had no way to secure any data on any device, and therefore didn’t allow employees to store client information on personal devices. Now McGladrey can remotely wipe lost devices, providing protection for client, company and employee data.
The software works on other employee-owned devices like PDAs and smartphones, and McGladrey plans to extend the platform to these devices. MobileIron from AT&T also allows McGladrey to see the number of installations of each authorized app, giving the company further insight into how employees are using the devices.
Impressing the Competition
McGladrey is moving forward with app development to support tablet use long-term. “One that we’re developing is just a real simple app that talks about our vision and values for our employees,” said Ken Foster, Director of Digital Media and Mobile Platforms. “It’s something that’s very personalized for McGladrey.” The company will also adapt enterprise applications for daily work activities for use on the tablets.
The tablet initiative has given McGladrey’s employees confidence during its transition. “There’s a certain level of trust required to go out on the tightrope wire—employees are trying to figure out ‘Can I trust my new leadership?’” said Jordan. “So it was absolutely critical that not only was this seen as a great resource, but that it was implemented so seamlessly.”
McGladrey is ahead of the game, and Lewis is fielding questions from clients and competitors alike. “I just met with some of my peers about two months ago and I was cornered for about an hour talking about our deployment,” he said. “They were quite frankly shocked that McGladrey would do this. They had tried to get their management team to do this as well, but we beat them to the punch. They’re now looking to us to help understand the value that we’re achieving from the tablets today.”