Success Story of Unia

«Swisscom is aware of our regional specialities.»

Simon Roelly,
Head of IT, Unia

Present across Switzerland: Unia is at home throughout Switzerland. Swisscom is responsible for operating its 1’000 or so IT workstations and Service Desk

Unia is Switzerland’s largest trade union with 200’000 members and is represented at 110 locations throughout the country. The organisation, for employees in industry, trade, construction and the private service sector, has taken up the fight against cuts in social services. Its IT provider has to share these values and be just as well networked as Unia itself is.

Starting position: flexible solution required

On merging with its forerunners GBI, SMUV and VHTL in October 2004, Unia became the largest trade union in Switzerland. The union has a say in social policy and represents 200’000 members in over 80 sectors, provides legal advice and pays out more than 1 billion Swiss francs each year in unemployment compensation via the Unia unemployment insurance scheme. In ensuring that it can provide sound support for members wherever they are, all IT workstations must run faultlessly at its 110 locations in Switzerland.

Through the merger, the information technology of the individual predecesor organisations was also combined. «Until then, GBI and VHTL worked with local IT partners who kept the office software up to date,» says Peter Baumann, Head of Service & Logistics at Unia. «At that time, the trade unio-nists connected everything themselves via wires under the desks.» The clients were completely heterogeneous and there were no standards for the business software. Before the merger, only the list of members with its 200’000 records had been combined within a shared database. «We are structured like an SME and need appropriate instruments – including IT,» says Baumann. T-Systems initially took over operation of the decentralised computer landscape. In 2008, when the devices were approaching the end of their lifecycle, Unia invited tenders for the platform.

Solution: Citrix-based thin clients

Swisscom was awarded the contract because the IT provider has a nationwide network, like Unia itself, and can thus offer local IT support.

Swisscom equipped the trade union and unemployment insurance scheme’s 110 locations with over 1’000 clients. «The rollout went quickly and was well coordinated,» says Simon Roelly, Head of IT at Unia. After just seven weeks, everything went live on 1 August 2009. «Perhaps that was too swift in several respects,» remarks Baumann. Restructuring at Swisscom led to personnel changes, meaning that a few pending tasks initially remained unresolved. Delivery of the multifuncti-on printers was delayed because the manufacturer was experiencing a supply shortage. «Unia’s IT can only ever be as good as its provider,» explains Roelly. «Calm now prevails, all tasks have been completed and operati-on is stable.»

Benefits: access anytime and anywhere

All thin clients now run on a Citrix platform in the Zollikofen data centre. Employees thus have access to e-mails, Stella (CRM system) and accounting in any location.

In terms of overall IT, Unia’s strategy is relatively conservative. «We aim to purchase IT like a vehicle fleet and would rather take the proven VW Golf over the Porsche,» says Baumann. Office 2003 is currently installed on all computers. «If a printer fails to work or an employee makes a mistake with their password – as I now and then tend to – we get help from the Service Desk,» says Baumann. The trilingual Swisscom Service Desk sends the new password to a mobile phone in just three minutes. Alongside solution competence and proximity, Unia also aims at ensuring a slim cost structure: «We are accountable to our members for every franc contributed.»

Future: maintaining the social balance

The effects of the 2009/2010 crisis on members is still keeping Unia very busy. In 2009, it saw moderate growth in membership and broke even. However: «The trade union must remain alert if it is to strengthen the rights of workers and act as a serious social counter-weight to the current middle-class politics and to the erosion of the principle of social solidarity in Switzerland,» says Baumann of the greatest challenges of the future.

Unia (PDF)

Main Points in Brief

The benefits at a glance

  • Stanndardised, flexible solutions
  • Trilingual Service Desk for all employees
  • Employees can log into any client with no location restrictions and get their personal desktop on the Citrix platform
  • Swift rollout
  • Concentration on Unia’s core business

The project in brief

  • Over 1’000 IT workstations throug-hout Switzerland, of which around 10 percent are notebooks
  • Operation on a centralised Citrix platform in Zollikofen data centre
  • Printing Services
  • Trilingual Service Desk with around 600 calls per month

These products are used by Unia

Client Hardware Service

Various services relating to hardware: Acquisition, connection and operation of end devices, lifecycle management, user support, repair services, etc. All for a fixed monthly price. Find out more about the Client Hardware Service now.

Connected Workplace Service

Holistic management solution for virtual workplaces including administration of business applications. Central data storage in the Swisscom data centre.

Field Service

On-site help with problems with IT workstations: Swisscom offers on-site hardware replacement, on-site administration services as well as VIP support for really fast solutions. Find out about the Field Service now.

IT Service Desk

With our IT Service Desk, problems with IT workstations can be rectified quickly. Thanks to comprehensive professional help you save time and optimise productivity. Find out about the IT Service Desk now.

Rich Workplace

Holistic management solution for client workplaces, including software distribution, software packaging, asset management and best-practice security.