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Facilitating an Enterprise-wide Windows 7 Upgrade

Energy and Utilities | Technology Deployment

TEKsystems supported ONEOK in an enterprise-wide Windows 7 migration effort. The upgrades would impact approximately 2,000 employees in multiple locations across its user community.

Founded in 1906, the client is a diversified energy organization that provides safe energy and services to commercial, industrial and residential customers. Through several business segments, the company facilitates the gathering, processing, fractionating, storage and transportation of natural gas and natural gas liquids. It also owns and operates regulated natural gas transmission pipelines, natural gas storage facilities and gathering systems for unprocessed natural gas. TEKsystems has been a trusted partner of this client since 1998.

Project Overview
Organizations must make critical IT decisions about the optimal time to invest in hardware and software upgrades based on their individual business drivers, budgets and industry landscape. With technology advancing as fast as it does, some organizations struggle to make costly IT upgrades a top priority if there are other priorities with more immediate benefits. And since history has indicated that newer, better and faster programs and hardware are continuously evolving, some organizations may decide to prolong their upgrade decisions.

Yet, the risk of obsolete hardware may be too great for an organization to overlook. A delayed upgrade could translate into slower processing speeds, increased time spent on tech support and space constraints on the current system. Organizations that choose to upgrade to new hardware and software systems can realize numerous benefits such as increased productivity, efficiency and long-term profitability. 

IT decision makers need to weigh the advantages against the immediate costs to determine whether waiting or upgrading is the best choice for the long-term success of the business.

Windows 7, Windows User State Migration Tool, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, BitLocker Drive Encryption
With the acquisition of various natural gas pipelines, ONEOK’s business has grown at an aggressive pace over the past decade. Although ONEOK was scaling in terms of its business size, its technology infrastructure was behind. ONEOK needed to upgrade nearly 2,000 workstations to Windows 7 in a nine-month period; the required upgrades were spread across about 20 locations. Without the internal bandwidth, expertise or technical knowledge, ONEOK sought a single-source partner to collaborate with its high-performance team in support of its enterprise-wide roll-out of Windows 7.

To accommodate the geographic scope of this initiative, ONEOK required a partner with national deployment capabilities and the flexibility to place appropriately skilled resources on site at various facilities. With the high volume and expanse of the upgrades, the client knew they needed a partner with well-established practices in place for project coordination, communication and management. ONEOK wanted a results-oriented partner that would hold itself accountable to the timeline and project goals, and mitigate potential risks such as delayed completion, user impact and system availability.
TEKsystems recommended the deployment of a skilled team of resources, including a delivery manager to serve as ONEOK’s primary point of contact, and desktop technicians to deploy the systems consistently across locations. A project schedule would be utilized in order to manage the logistics, and coordinate and ramp up or down the resources as needed. These resources would facilitate a managed, multi-phased solution for upgrading the workstations.

Planning Phase
During this initial phase, TEKsystems would work with ONEOK to validate resource skill requirements, gather procedural documents and obtain information necessary for onboarding resources. TEKsystems would secure resources and provide an onboarding orientation to bring them up to speed with the project goals and objectives. We would also develop communications, escalation and risk mitigation plans as well as reporting requirements; this would help ensure we are managing and delivering to the client’s expectations throughout the project.

Execution Phase
TEKsystems would then perform the upgrades of 2,000 workstations to Windows 7. We would coordinate any additional resource requirements as needed to ensure we’re delivering on target with time, cost and project scope and provide weekly status reports on our progress.

Closeout Phase
To wind down this initiative, TEKsystems would finalize project data and provide a consolidated report of all lessons learned and key takeaways that could help ONEOK in the future.

Through the long-term evolution of ONEOK’s partnership with TEKsystems, we have demonstrated our ability to provide the right resources, when and where they’re needed. ONEOK selected the TEKsystems’ Technology Deployment team to facilitate the upgrades because of this trusting relationship and their desire for a partner with national deployment capabilities and a proven track record of delivering quality IT services.

TEKsystems successfully implemented the migration of nearly 2,000 PCs to Windows 7 within nine months. The upgrades took place in Tulsa, Okla.; Overland Park, Kan.; Austin, Texas; Oklahoma City; Wichita, Kan. and central Kansas; remote upgrades were also performed via USB at other locations. We provided as many as 25 resources at one time, ramping up and down the number of desktop technicians based on project requirements. To minimize travel expenses for ONEOK, TEKsystems tapped its wide network of industry professionals to provide desktop technicians from the local markets where the
upgrades were taking place.

The multi-phased program—Planning, Execution and Closeout—was implemented as initially recommended to ONEOK. TEKsystems addressed several challenges as part of the migration. These unforeseen circumstances required TEKsystems to react quickly, adjust our plan and power through to ultimately meet ONEOK’s expectations for the upgrades:

Compatibility Testing
Gauging the feasibility of converting the target machines to the upgraded technology is critical to any successful migration. It was not until TEKsystems was selected and a program kick-off meeting was held that we learned that more than half of the applications in use by ONEOK’s user community were incompatible with Windows 7 and as a result not ready to be converted. Noncompliant software was identified on a daily and weekly basis. This meant that numerous users either could not be upgraded to the new operation system, required configuration changes or required research to locate patches for Windows 7 compatibility.

Upon learning of this compatibility issue, TEKsystems conducted the Planning and Execution phases in tandem and worked closely with ONEOK to resolve these issues. We created and maintained an exception list of non-compliant software users that included 1,000 users at its peak; these users’ roles were considered mission critical and were not transitioned to Windows 7 until a resolution for their software had been determined. This enabled us to stay on track with our nine-month deadline and avoid potential delays.

Automated Deployment
ONEOK had also engaged a consultant to develop an automated deployment tool to enable multiple deployments to occur concurrently. However, the tool was abandoned prior to completion due to internal challenges and security policy issues. In response, TEKsystems developed and relied exclusively on a manual installation process; this eventually evolved from a network-based solution to a solution utilizing USB drives for capturing end-users’ existing data and imaging PCs with Windows 7.

Distribution of New Hardware
ONEOK placed hardware orders to satisfy its enterprise-wide hardware needs. A small percentage of that hardware was dedicated to this Windows 7 migration, and this lack of incoming equipment put a strain on our schedule. To address this, TEKsystems continually worked with ONEOK to monitor orders and arrivals, and the placement of the incoming hardware. In conjunction with this, we performed as many in-place migrations as possible without new hardware.

Project Scheduling
Given the volume of users affected by this initiative, a project schedule would be essential to managing eligibility for an upgrade to Windows 7, as well as planning and coordinating the upgrades. Depending on the location and facility, the client had provided a department-by-department or floor-by-floor schedule. With this type of scheduling and no employee list available, it was difficult to pinpoint the priority users in each department/floor and maintain proper tracking to ensure all targeted users had been scheduled. Additionally, managers and leadership differed from one floor to the next, so they did not have insight or context into what we were doing. TEKsystems worked with the ONEOK desktop technician staff to identify and ensure we were reaching the target users.

With our skilled team, careful planning and ability to navigate through these unexpected roadblocks, the migration of all required PCs was successful and there are plans to upgrade an additional 4,000 workstations so that all ONEOK employees have access to Windows 7. TEKsystems provided ONEOK with daily, weekly and monthly status reports to highlight key metrics regarding our progress and performance, such as unit completions and preparation per site data.

Key Success Factors

  • Project Assistance. Several unforeseen challenges arose throughout this project but because of TEKsystems’ careful planning and assistance, all upgrades were completed on time and on budget. With our support in getting the client to this point, ONEOK can achieve greater productivity as employees are working with better, faster equipment.
  • Project Management. TEKsystems applied our customized project management methodology for delivering on infrastructure deployments—Quality Management Methodology (QMM). Our QMM provides metric-driven oversight and helps ensure projects stay on track towards success. With diligent effort to effectively manage this project, we were able to react and resolve roadblocks quickly and continue moving on towards the end goal without compromising the deadline, budget or quality of our delivery. Flexible project management enabled us to ramp up resources as needed and coordinate upgrade locations. Additionally, exposure to our approach and project management expertise allowed the client to learn ways to better manage future projects.
  • Customer Relations. The client required a partner they could trust to achieve tangible goals while also being transparent, open and communicative throughout the engagement. TEKsystems closely managed the relationship with ONEOK from start to finish. We provided a dedicated delivery manager who acted as the client’s main point of contact for any questions or concerns. Weekly and monthly reports were also generated that enabled the client to keep an eye on the progress of the engagement. This ongoing support promoted client confidence in our abilities and promise.