Advanced scheduling solution frees up employee time and helps with IT strategy
Established in 1834 and with a head office in Birmingham, UK, Gowling WLG is an international law firm that provides a full service to clients worldwide, including hundreds of public sector organisations and thousands of large private companies. The company also has offices in London, Brussels, Paris, Munich and Guangzhou, China.
With over 1,000 employees, including 615 lawyers, Gowling WLG has an excellent work environment, ranking 13th in the Financial Times’ 50 Best Workplaces in the UK; the firm is also well known for its IT prowess, since the technical team won IT Team of the Year at the prestigious Law Office Technology Awards (LOTIES).
Despite this recognition, reception staff used a manual system, until a major expansion of the head office focused attention on meeting room management. According to Reception Manager Caroline Kennedy, who joined the firm in 1989, “We were using a ruler, a pencil and a pencil rubber.”
These implements were thrown out when Rendezvous, by NFS Hospitality, was selected to manage bookings in both the head office and in the smaller London office. Rendezvous is specifically designed for multi-site management. Initially the system went live at Birmingham; six months later the London and head office databases were linked, and Rendezvous was fully operational at both locations.
The selection process was simple, says Caroline. “One of our staff had prior experience of NFS, so as Rendezvous could meet our needs operationally as well as from an IT strategy point of view, it was a simple choice. The installation went smoothly, with excellent help from the NFS team.”
Caroline had specified a system that could handle bookings for the firm’s 31 meeting rooms at head office and another 11 rooms in London. The system also had to produce maintenance, catering and quarterly meeting reports. Naturally she wanted a user-friendly system. “Most of all I wanted simplicity as I had no experience of computerised room bookings,” she notes. “Once Rendezvous was installed, it was surprisingly easy to use – especially for a mature non-techie like me.” At present, four reception staff in Birmingham and three in London use Rendezvous, and the results have been dramatic, according to Caroline. “We’ve cut phone calls by a third, which means much more time for quality service for staff and visiting clients.”
Caroline tells how an online booking form was created in the corporate intranet. “We print the form off and decide the room assignments. Much of the assignment is quite personal as we know that particular partners like particular rooms. For example, some like the atrium rooms in our head office, while some want windows. Some like to meet in the older part of the building and some prefer the new extension.”
Gowling WLG has its own in-house catering and is often called on for silver service at lunchtime. “Rendezvous handles everything – menus, wine, flowers – the works,” Caroline concludes.