The Virgin Entertainment Group, a global entertainment media company, operates dozens of Virgin Megastores in the United States, North America, Europe, and Japan. These stores offer some of the most extensive entertainment products in the form of CDs, DVDs, video games, books, and others.
In contrast to “top-40” oriented mass-market media outlets, Virgin Entertainment distinguishes itself by serving entertainment enthusiasts in a way that encourages repeat business and fosters long-term customer relationships.
“We had to stop overwhelming people with unneeded information. Microsoft Office SharePoint Server will give us this capability… about 40-50 hours per week of our group members’ time will be freed up to do substantially higher-value tasks, such as operational oversight and strategic planning.”
Lisa Sullivan (Director of Operations, Virgin Entertainment Group)
(To sustain profitability while maintaining its unique market niche, fast and accurate information flow through the organization was critical. However, information overload is a constant threat to productivity. For example, the Megastore manager is responsible for communicating a store’s inventory, sales, and profit information, responding to reports and requests from Headquarters, and providing timely, individualized training to the sales force.
Similarly, the six organizations comprising Headquarters (Operations, Sales, Marketing, Human Resources, Finance, and IT) need to communicate business-critical information quickly and securely in order to respond to ever-changing industry trends and customer needs).
Virgin Entertainment was using e-mail and a rudimentary Intranet as the primary communication mechanisms. Paul Duchouquette, Senior IT Manager at Virgin Entertainment, describes their situation: “We had e-mail, mass voicemail, and a ‘rigged’ portal called ‘The Wall’ (a reference to Pink Floyd’s famous 1982 album of the same name).” The Wall provided a web page with hyperlinks to reports, policies, and forms produced by various departments in shared folders.
This system had severe limitations, including lack of security, poor document management tools, inadequate capacity, and lack of search capability. Duchouquette continues: “For example, we could handle some security issues by limiting access to those shared folders, but the system was very cumbersome to use…it was difficult to post anything, frustrating for people who didn’t have right permissions, and nearly impossible to find information tailored to the needs of an individual manager or employee. A lot of time (and money) was wasted looking for information and wondering if it was timely or accurate.”
Lisa Sullivan, Director of Operations at Virgin’s Los Angeles headquarters, describes what can happen when needed information is not found quickly: “The impact can be huge…we frequently need to pull a manager off the floor to find needed information. He or she could end up spending hours finding the information instead of coaching employees and selling product on the floor. ” Considering the cost of a manager’s time and negative impact on sales because of sold-out product or other inventory issues, this can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars a day in lost revenue for a store.
With continuing growth and business expansion, the company needed a better, more cost-effective electronic communication system for Headquarters aits stores. The new system had to streamline all aspects of’s business processes, enabling managers to spend more time doing what they do best: assisting and selling to customers and providing hands-on leadership and presence.
Xavor Corporation, a Microsoft Gold Partner, recommended the client to use SharePoint for collaboration and team sites. Based on the assessments and recommendations, Xavor implemented Microsoft SharePoint solutions to help the client ensure smooth cooperation and communication among 1,500 employees across different teams.
As part of the solution, a SharePoint-based portal was created that worked as the central source of information for all Virgin employees.
The portal helped overcome one of the biggest challenges that modern organizations face: finding, consolidating, and sharing critical information in a single, easy-to-access location.
Using customizable Web Parts (re-usable program components that reduce the time and effort needed to locate and manage information from multiple sources), IT managers can design and populate portal sites appropriate to specific positions in the company.
In addition to the corporate portal, Microsoft® SharePoint™ Services will allow departments or workgroups within each Virgin Entertainment business unit to create team sites, leading to improved collaboration and sharing best practices.
The new portal solution gives decision-makers faster, fuller access to information that promises to help boost revenues and profits while cutting operational expenses. Because the portal was developed and deployed more quickly and cost-effectively than competing solutions, it is likely to run with relatively low operational support costs.
“The portal is more secure, delivers more accurate and timely information, and saves substantial IT support costs…for example, a system administrator’s time spent administering multiple passwords and individual permissions can be cut by up to 50% or about four hours per week.”
Paul Duchouquette (Senior IT Manager, Virgin Entertainment Group)
The portal eventually reached all departments in the company and now provides each employee with a central “one-stop” location for job-related information.
The Portal helps Operations Department improve sales by customizing and centralizing business processes and information management.
For a typical store manager, this means they spend no more than the equivalent of 1 day per week in the office dealing with business processes. This has resulted in an improvement of at least 20% more time devoted to training and sales. By adopting SharePoint, Virgin Entertainment has been able to exploit the following benefits:
Headquartered in Irvine, California, Xavor has provided business and software consulting services to enterprise companies since 1995. Our Microsoft SharePoint Collaboration and Content team deliver products and services for better insights, enhanced innovation, and improved productivity through connected intranet and extranet portals. We perform new implementations, migrations, upgrades, and customizations of SharePoint solutions for tomorrow-connected enterprises.
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