Reception staff at Waterman Business Centres can now onboard a new co-working tenant and configure and provision every service they need in 15 minutes – a process which typically would have required a two to three week lead time. 

Previously each step in the onboarding process was completed manually, undertaken by an employee at each office location. The time to complete an onboard was typically three weeks or longer depending on the availability of technical resources. 

The company has completed an automation project which has allowed it to cap costs as it opens new locations while also making life fast, simple and easier for its tenants. These outcomes earnt the business a Which-50 Award for Best in Automation. 

Waterman Business Centre is a privately owned serviced office and coworking business that opened its first centre in 2016. The business currently has three large facilities, covering 17,000sqm in Victoria. An entry-level single membership is competitively priced $30 per month for provides unlimited hot desking and high-speed internet.  

Martin Reidy, operations manager at Waterman Business Centres, said it was clear processes would need to be automated to enable the business to grow. 

Martin Reidy, operations manager at Waterman Business Centres

When we expanded from our initial site in Narre Warren, we realised that a 2-3 week lead-time for onboarding would limit our ability to scale quickly and also to offer a very competitive entry-level membership fee of $30 a month with no lock-in contracts,” Reidy said. 

“If we couldn’t speed up onboarding it would also mean that expensive leased office space would remain unprofitable if we didn’t fill it quickly with new members.” 

The business looked to the telco industry, which provisions similar services, and designed a customer journey and infrastructure which would eliminate the major pain points customers face when dealing with their phone or internet provider. 

With a technology budget of $600,000 for the project, Waterman acquired best-in-class technologies from leading vendors including Extreme Networks then designed, developed and deployed an intermediate synchronisation tool to automate the technical and administrative components of onboarding a new customer, and managing their requirements over time.  

Our automation is founded on a Secure Automated Campus solution based on Extreme Fabric Connect, and Extreme Networks wired and wireless networking hardware, Network Access Control. We’ve written custom code to integrate the Extreme environment with our Microsoft CRM and LDAP, PaperCut, Xima, Avaya, Inner Range, Xero and PayWay,” Reidy explained. 

By automating processes and systems Waterman Business Centres was able to shorten the sales cycle, reduce onboarding time and cost, optimise IT efficiencies, eliminate lost revenues through human error, and offer more competitive new products.  

Without the investment in automation, Waterman estimates it would have required one full-time network admin to manage every two sites, equating to 2.5 FTE at a cost of approximately $300,000 per annum. 

The centres have just one part-time IT administrator looking after the network, supported by its front-of-house reception staff, who can often resolve issues with the system.

Reidy said the system also has benefits for ongoing maintenance, because staff can quickly identify and resolve any issues, such as device connectivity problems, rogue access points or excessive bandwidth consumption

“Extreme Network’s automated tools and automatic provisioning means there is no need for technical intervention and our front-of-house service team can resolve most issues. In fact, our members sometimes don’t believe that our receptionists can sort out their issue.”

As well as office space and shared facilities, Waterman provides technology services such as internet and its own enterprise-grade data centre facility.  

The key differentiators in our industry are definitely the additional technology services you can provide over and above basic internet access. If you can do that simply and easily, that’s a massive advantage,” Reidy said. 

“We are 100 per cent BYOD – our members can bring their own devices, phones, printers and routers. There are no constraints on what devices are on our network. We also pride ourselves on the community we have been able to create amongst our members. That’s one of the hallmarks of our business.”

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