About Stichting Thuiszorg en Maatschappelijk (STMR)
With 1,450 employees, Stichting Thuiszorg en Maatschappelijk Werk Rivierenland (STMR) is a Dutch company providing domestic care and other social services in the central-eastern part of the Netherlands. The organisation supports people who require medical or social care at home, and also provides cleaning services and dietary advice. Equally, STMR runs a network of residential care homes.
STMR wants to improve communications with its employees, who are effectively working in isolation when outside of its offices. If an employee, working at a different site—for example, at a client's home—encounters an issue and needs advice or support from colleagues, they can only get this by returning to the office. Even then, communication is very one-dimensional: colleagues might e-mail or call each other, or an employee might approach their manager, but there is no lasting record of the communication, and no way to share any insights more widely.
In addition to being inefficient, the inability to communicate in the field potentially impacts on the quality of care that can be offered to clients. STMR wants to create a more autonomous working environment for its employees, allowing them to share information and collaborate more easily outside of the office.
STMR considered Microsoft SharePoint and Novell Vibe® (formerly Novell Teaming) as possible solutions, and chose the Novell option. "Our previous experience with Novell solutions had taught us that it would be the more reliable and stable option," said Peter van der Wee, ICT Manager, STMR. "With Microsoft products, it tends to take longer to set up and learn the system; Vibe was very user-friendly right from the outset."
Vibe provides STMR with an online portal for messaging, document sharing and knowledge management. In addition to sending messages and exchanging documents, employees can post and answer questions in a knowledge base, enabling them to seek advice from colleagues and contribute to discussions with their own knowledge and experience. The system is interactive and searchable, enabling live collaboration on topics and providing a full archive of past discussions.
In addition to creating and answering work-related queries, STMR employees are using Vibe to manage personal information such as their address and contact details, saving time for the human resources department. "Better communication makes it possible for us to help patients faster and more professionally—the most important benefit of Vibe is the effect it has on our patients," said van der Wee. "We also save time and effort in management, and the organisation performs more efficiently."
STMR is working with Netflex, a Novell Platinum PartnerSM, to roll out Vibe and train employees to use the system. "Netflex is performing very well, and the training is a valuable step in helping us make the most of our investment in the new technology," says van der Wee.
STMR will run Vibe on SUSE® Linux Enterprise Server, using VMware to virtualise this environment and its other Linux and Windows-based servers. The use of server virtualisation will enable STMR to reduce its physical hardware requirements by approximately 35 percent. The organisation is also deploying Novell ZENworks® Configuration Management to improve the efficiency of managing its onsite and remote desktop computers.
Vibe will transform internal communications at STMR, improving working conditions for employees and enhancing the quality of service they can offer to clients. The solution should also eliminate the need for employees to regularly visit a formal office location, enabling them to work more flexible hours and from home. This translates into less time and expense wasted on commuting, greater satisfaction, and improved efficiency for the organisation as a whole.
"It's difficult to precisely quantify the benefits of using Vibe because it's a tool that improves communication and, with it, patient care," said van der Wee. "Using Vibe, employees will be able to find solutions together, in a way that simply wasn't possible before. One question often follows on from another, so when an employee posts a question or a suggestion, more people add their thoughts and it often reveals a related issue that would otherwise have remained hidden from view."
The implementation of Vibe is currently still in progress. The rollout of Novell ZENworks Configuration Management is also nearing completion. When it goes live, STMR expects to measure a significant reduction in the time required to support users and manage software deployment and updates.
"The Novell technologies are excellent: the stability and reliability will make them very cost-effective to manage, and the licensing structure is much better than with other vendors," said van der Wee. "With Vibe, we will have a highly effective communication environment running on a stable, low-cost platform."