Your Gig’s Too Big Competition

Paula Hurley / Medibank Private / Newtown, Australia

Business Need/Opportunity

It is impossible to imagine the modern workplace without email. The very ubiquity of the tool means that it is largely taken for granted, and any disruption generates not only lost productivity but significant angst among users.

With these high stakes in mind, Medibank Private, Australia’s largest private health insurer, planned to move approximately 2,250 staff off the Lotus Notes email platform to Microsoft Outlook in August 2011. This was part of a broad strategic move to become a Microsoft “house,” to upgrade employees’ outdated desktop environments and to facilitate better integration with newly acquired businesses, which used Outlook for email and calendar purposes.

Eight months before the scheduled move, the IT department faced a significant problem. The long-term intention to move to Outlook meant that Lotus Notes had not been upgraded for several years and the existing version was experiencing performance issues. These issues were compounded by the fact that the server had reached 97 percent capacity; there were no mailbox limits in place, and many users maintained excessively large mailboxes—approximately 27 percent of users had mailboxes that were larger than the industry standard of 2GB (gigabyte) for managers and knowledge workers, and 500 MB (megabytes) for frontline workers. There was a very real risk the Lotus Notes platform could crash.

Operational staff in IT had made previous attempts to reduce stored data by issuing email clean-up requests to staff, but these had been largely ignored. This left a prevailing mood in IT that it was pointless to engage staff on the issue and that something needed to be done forcibly. When Paula Hurley joined the Outlook project as a communication adviser, IT was two weeks away from mandatorily deleting 10 percent of emails from the largest 150 mailboxes to create much-needed space on the Lotus Notes server.