“The Wipfli Way starts with a different mindset,” begins Wipfli LLP’s website. At Wipfli, a national accounting and consulting firm ranked among the top 20 in the United States, “the Wipfli Way” informs every choice employees make — from their workplace practices to their client relationships. For the industry-leading firm, the mindset translates into committed, individualized client support and a flexible, community-minded workplace environment.
Since its founding in Wausau, Wisconsin, in 1930, the firm has expanded to include more than 2,000 employees around the world, with more than 45 offices in the U.S. and two offices in India. Serving more than 60,000 clients, Wipfli places a considerable focus on its business consulting services, offering guidance on everything from technology governance, risk and compliance support, to various human capital management solutions and wealth management through an affiliate. As Wipfli’s success continues, the firm looks to cloud technology to support its mission.
Wipfli’s key priorities for modernizing and optimizing internal operations
Wipfli’s rapid growth in recent years is partially due to its firm combinations — many of which used a number of disparate systems and alternate technologies. Given this situation, one of Wipfli’s key challenges was to find a digital solution that would enable it to successfully manage expansion and migrate new team members over to one consistent platform, while increasing overall efficiencies. In addition to consolidating its platforms, the firm needed a digital solution that would allow its sensitive data to be centralized, secure and accessible to the appropriate teams.
Wipfli’s emphasis on promoting a flexible and healthy work-life balance is an essential part of “the Wipfli Way,” so finding a digital solution that would improve employee mobility was also a key priority. The firm’s IT team also wanted to increase connectivity to make managing system updates and company-wide security easier across devices. Wipfli also wanted to adopt more effective collaboration tools that would streamline its internal processes, encourage teamwork and enhance its ability to offer world-class support to clients.
“Having technology that provides the flexibility to go and watch a child’s sporting event or recital — and to get work done when it works best for our associates — is pretty powerful and important for us at Wipfli,” explains Maureen Pistone, Wipfli’s Chief Human Resources Officer.
From a productivity standpoint, the firm’s long-term vision for digital transformation involved two significant opportunities. Wipfli wanted a digital solution to:
- Enable teams to successfully reorganize their workloads and easily transfer work between associates, departments and offices.
- Develop more efficient, automated systems using AI and workflows to streamline common daily processes.
According to IT Director Tom Lens, “The ultimate goal is to enable associates to work when they need to, where they need to, and use the tool that’s appropriate for the job they’re trying to do. Then, we need to keep all of that under a security umbrella.”
Leveraging Microsoft’s Office 365 E5 solution to streamline workflows
Over the years, Wipfli has maintained a steady relationship with Microsoft products, adopting cloud-based solutions, exploring system updates and frequently migrating to the latest versions as they are released. As part of its recent transition to Microsoft’s Office 365 E5 solution, Wipfli has fully deployed Windows 10 and is in the process of exploring ways to streamline and standardize updates and efficiencies across the firm. In the past two years, the firm also migrated its on-premises Exchange email service over to Office 365’s cloud-based platform.
Perhaps one of the most transformative aspects of Wipfli’s digital transformation is the wealth of cloud communication tools and collaboration platforms now at its disposal — including solutions like Yammer, Teams, Skype, SharePoint Online and OneDrive. For example, with Skype Voice, employees use the messaging, screen-sharing and voice component to enhance mobile communication, productivity and inter-department interactions. News of the solution’s success is spreading across the firm, even leading employees at office locations without Skype to start requesting it. Wipfli employees also experience improved mobility and connectivity with Microsoft Teams, reducing the firm’s reliance on traditional email communication in favor of a faster, more intuitive platform.
“Our ability to collaborate, minimize emails and allow everyone to see the string of discussion points around a particular client engagement, or around an issue that we’re working together to resolve, makes Teams a really powerful tool,” explains Michael Pynch, a technology partner at Wipfli.
Building a robust security interface with Microsoft insights
With so many integrated, cloud-based solutions as part of the Microsoft Office 365 E5 platform, security has become an increasingly significant focus for Wipfli. In addition to the need to protect clients’ sensitive data, the firm wanted increased security features such as multi-factor identification to protect its assets. Wipfli also benefits from partnering with industry leader Microsoft, leveraging the threat-intelligence and data security Microsoft has gained through its experience and innovation to strengthen the firm’s digital protections.
“The added security capabilities of the E5 license have provided us with necessary controls to protect our Microsoft cloud assets,” says Nate Roberts, Wipfli Director of Information Security. “Integrating these tools, analytics and threat intelligence with our existing Security Operation team’s technology and processes has delivered measurable value and allowed us to enable the firm’s goals and objectives.”
Exploring innovation to build a stronger firm
Looking toward the future, Wipfli has plans to enhance its business with even more of Microsoft’s cloud-powered solutions. For example, to democratize and better manage the company data gathered through Power BI, the firm is hoping to build a data warehouse within Azure’s cloud platform. Wipfli is also extending Dynamics 365 and SharePoint to launch a client portal to unify its method of managing client-facing information and interactions. And lastly, the firm is planning to explore AI technology and Microsoft’s Cortana offering with the goal of utilizing chat bot and personal assistant technology to increase productivity.
“Ultimately, our vision of digital transformation focuses on increasing the ability to work from anywhere while advancing collaboration and cloud communication across the firm,” says Pynch. “We wanted to build an overall platform, not just a bunch of solutions pieced together.”
With a stronger, more connected digital infrastructure in place, Wipfli is continuing to lead its associates in living and working “the Wipfli Way,” bringing a service-oriented business approach to thousands of clients and colleagues, now and in the future.