Yolngu Business Enterprise is a Northern Territory civil engineering, mine site rehabilitation, environmental management, building and services firm that is proudly 100% owned by the Yolngu people of North East Arnhem Land.
Headquartered in Nhulunbuy, the company had humble beginnings in 1968 as Yirrkala Brick Works, but has since grown to become a large, profitable enterprise that undertakes works critical to the region.
With services that span road and airstrip construction and maintenance, haulage, environmental rehabilitation, mechanical repairs and mixed works, YBE helps to keep the people and industry of a wide surrounding area on the move.
YBE is an important organisation not just for the groundwork it takes ownership of, but also through its commitment to community. The business trains, employs and provides career opportunities for local indigenous Yolngu people.
YBE (2) Pty Ltd ATF YBE Unit Trust, has 55 employees spread across two offices in the Northern Territory. Workers, both in office and on the road, were reliant on a remote, on-premises server based in Nhulunbuy that frequently suffered outages, preventing access to business-critical files and inhibiting productivity. YBE also hosted its phone system on an ageing copper network that was frequently disrupted by weather and other factors.
YBE had two key challenges: providing staff with uninterrupted access to company files and maintaining a reliable phone system that kept staff connected wherever they work from.
Providing necessary civil work in remote Australia means YBE continues to evolve. In 2019, YBE’s growth and in-demand services saw the business open a secondary office location in Darwin.
As a long-time Calibre One customer, YBE has enjoyed increasing modern workplace updates over the years including Office 365 productivity, Telstra-enabled fibre internet and Calibre One’s dedicated managed IT services. However, with a new building came new technology requirements.
Following YBE’s new office opening, staff in Darwin found accessing YBE’s Nhulunbuy-based on premise server remotely was becoming impractical and inconvenient.
Power outages, a common occurrence in remote northern NT, would strike Nhulunbuy about six times a year, each time resulting in the Darwin office being cut off from accessing the YBE file server, obstructing productivity and frustrating busy staff for at least two hours each time. Phone systems were also being disrupted on a regular occurrence due to old technology or water damage to equipment in telecommunication pits during the wet season.
“If the electricity or internet connections are disrupted, our office in Darwin can’t access our company files,” said YBE Accounts Officer Ilizebel Venter. “Where we are located this can happen quite often. It’s affected by weather, our location, old infrastructure; a combination of all of those things.”
When outages occur, YBE can also be left waiting extended periods for the limited regional energy technicians to resolve issues, costing the business time and money.
Compounding YBE’s concerns was an approaching cyclone season.
For YBE, cyclone season poses a greater risk to the operation of critical services like server and telephone access when they are needed most, as the company can often conduct works that support cyclone recovery.
Knowing the technology challenges facing Northern Territory businesses well, Calibre One worked with YBE to modernise their infrastructure and services in order to better defend against unplanned outages and be prepared for the 2019 cyclone season.
The Calibre One team consulted closely with YBE around its on premise infrastructure and the risks of continued power disruptions to productivity.
Simply replacing the on-site infrastructure and migrating YBE’s old server was not an ideal solution. The cost of installing new server, software, and uninterruptible power supply assets to keep systems online during outages would have cost upwards of $50,000 in capital outlay.
Calibre One proposed a more financially accessible solution. Offering to take YBE’s environmentally vulnerable on premise server out of the equation by uplifting the company’s file server to the cloud. To solve phone line disruptions, Calibre One would deliver Fibre with back-up 4G connections to supply robust internet and voice carriage to offices.
To achieve both upgrades Calibre One would deploy two Office 365 innovations, a Microsoft SharePoint hosting solution and Telstra Calling for Office 365.
SharePoint allows users to manage their files and content in an organised, searchable structure that
is designed to be used by teams. In addition to file hosting, bulletins, articles, applications and other content can be shared and created to form a powerful intranet experience that is accessible anywhere an internet connection is available.
For YBE, the solution means that their satellite offices can independently access company files quickly and easily. On top of that, YBE’s largely mobile workforce don’t need to worry about heading back to base to access their data and can push and pull files to the company’s cloud from wherever they are on the road.
As well as taking YBE’s files to the cloud, Calibre One was able to further decentralise YBE’s office experience by replacing the company’s terrestrial phone system with a modern, cloud-hosted solution with Telstra Calling for Office 365.
Telstra Calling for Office 365 is a cloud-based voice calling service that plugs right into Office 365. It allows users to call landlines or mobiles from Skype for Business or Microsoft Teams.
This solution removes the need for hefty on-premises phone routing hardware by providing a managed link from Office 365 into Telstra’s dedicated telephony network, alleviating the business from maintaining cumbersome infrastructure.
For YBE, Calibre One’s Telstra Calling for Office 365 implementation keeps staff in touch wherever they are. Most YBE employees now simply use their mobile phones or a small headset with their desktop computer to access a powerful suite of communication tools also access a complete corporate phone system right from their desktop, laptop or mobile. That covers voice calling, video conferencing, instant messaging and collaboration services.
Calibre One had the new services up and running before the onset of the 2019 cyclone season, which typically begins in November. This timeliness ensured staff were contactable and that critical company data was safe and accessible during what can be a stressful time up north.
“We’ve had a long relationship with Calibre One and they’ve been fantastic,” Ilizebel said.
“And as far as our new connectivity goes, it’s fantastic to not be reliant on a desktop phone. The guys can be anywhere and still be reachable. It’s seamless and you don’t have to think about it, you’re just answering a call”.
Calibre One’s continued work with YBE has set the company free from the hassles they experienced with their old on-premises hardware while avoiding further downtime during one of the more difficult periods of the year.
Power disruptions at one location will no longer mean cutting off staff from company resources and critical communication services. The new Fibre and back-up 4G connection has also provided practically uninterrupted services, keeping staff online and in touch.
Staff can now also work with company files (and each other) irrespective of where they are in the region. These innovations are ensuring the important work YBE does can proceed on schedule.