Cloud Comms Makes Movement Mortgage Happy

As Pharrell Williams tells us in "Happy," his feel-good song of a couple of summers ago, can't nothing bring you down if you're happy. With his snappy lilt, he had folks all over the world clapping along if they knew what happiness was to them... or just because that's what they felt like they wanted to do.

Whether in our personal or professional lives, happiness matters -- happy customers, happy employees, happy company. Happiness is so important at some companies that it gets its own measurement as a standard of success... return on investment, total cost of ownership, and the happiness metric.

Happiness is something that Movement Mortgage, a fast-moving industry innovator, gives serious consideration as it carries out its mission to "love and value people" and fulfills its commitment to "being a Movement of Change in the mortgage industry, in corporate cultures and in communities." Flakey communications that create unhappiness among staff just wouldn't do at a company with such lofty ideals.

Phone Woes
In the eight years since its founding, Movement has grown from four people to about 3,600 people. A tipping point occurred at about the 2,400-employee mark, Cam Lawler, enterprise applications director, told me in a recent email interview. That's when IT started hearing "rumblings from staff that they weren't happy with the [phone] system," he said.

On average, Movement hires 200 new employees monthly -- so those phone woes only worsened with each passing day. IT was having issues keeping the system -- a premises-based VoIP system it had selected as part of the company launch -- up and running, Lawler said. On top of that, the company was extending its reach, establishing operations centers in Fort Mill, S.C.; Virginia Beach and Richmond, Va.; and Tempe, Ariz.; as well as dozens of branches across the country.

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To handle the rapid growth, Movement moved from its purely premises-based VoIP system to a hybrid environment it hosted itself using services from multiple providers. "The evolution of our system was somewhat organic," Lawler said. "We added on as needed, trying to make do with what we had."

For the IT team, "making do" meant expending considerable effort on the voice environment -- along the lines of 20 support hours a week, Lawler said. Still, dropped calls, poor call quality, and latency persisted. "Some of [this was] because we were trying to support a 3,000-person company with a system meant for 480 concurrent users. It was just too much traffic and didn't work."

Into the Cloud
When company founders launched Movement in 2008, "cloud was simply not on our radar," for voice service, Lawler said. But it was very much a consideration this time around, in line with Movement's overall commitment to using cloud solutions. "We're fully invested in the cloud and try to focus on vendors that utilize the cloud, while still meeting all regulations that we have to follow," Lawler said.

Movement checked out potential cloud communications providers, and after doing its due diligence, the company earlier this year selected 8x8's Virtual Office UC-as-a-service offering. Call quality was a priority, as was seamless connection to Active Directory, and "a lot of functionality," Lawler said. "For instance, seamless integration between the desk and cell phone is vital for our sales team."

Mobility is a big issue for Movement since it is such a fast-moving company. "Sometimes we'll have temporary office locations, and it has always been a bear for us to try to get phones in [those]," Lawler said. "Now with 8x8, it's a lot easier because staff can just unplug their phones and take them with them to the new location. We don't necessarily have to change anything on the IT side other than tell them to make sure they plug in the jack right away!"

For its business calling, Movement has signed on for 4,500 Virtual Office seats, and is migrating to the cloud now. In the near future, the company also plans on implementing a call center-like department for a couple of functions, Lawler said. At the time of our interview, Movement was still figuring out how to make that happen, but the company had that goal in mind when it was selecting a cloud communications provider, he added.

As it brings on new hires, the plan is to ship out phones and send emails to the employees with activation codes for those phones. "From that point, they're ready to go," Lawler said.

Going forward, Movement will "certainly be checking the number of help desk tickets and support hours dedicated to phones and will compare those numbers from the legacy system to now," Lawler said, adding that they would be investigating how to assess ROI and TCO as well. "But honestly, I think one of the biggest measurements is going to be following the 'happiness' score. Things just work now."

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