Christian Brothers Services unites distributed workforce

Lotus software speeds access to information and connects employees wherever they are

Published on 07-May-2011

Validated on 14 Jan 2014

"With Lotus Quickr and Lotus Sametime software, clearly our operational efficiency has gone up because we resolve calls the first time." - —Tom Drez, CIO/CPO/CSO/managing director, Christian Brothers Services

Christian Brothers Services

Professional Services

Deployment country:
United States

Collaborative Innovation

IBM Business Partner:
Mercury Consulting Corporation


A nonprofit service provider to Catholic institutions, Christian Brothers Services (CBS) is the administrator of 11 independent trusts that fund health, property/casualty and retirement benefits for 3,000 church-related organizations in the United States and Canada.

Business need:
Christian Brothers Services needed to support an increasingly distributed workforce. Its users required access to collaboration tools when they were in the field or working from home.

CBS worked with IBM Business Partner Mercury Consulting Corporation to install IBM Lotus Quickr and IBM Lotus Sametime collaboration software to add team projects, groups and instant messaging.

Using the Lotus software, CBS improved collaboration between staff members, as well as with vendors and customers. Productivity improved because of an increased ability to share information.

Case Study

A nonprofit service provider to Catholic institutions, Christian Brothers Services (CBS) is the administrator of 11 independent trusts that fund health, property/casualty and retirement benefits for 3,000 church-related organizations in the United States and Canada.

Distributed workforce: the new reality

"Technology over the last five years has made geography of systems and data irrelevant," says Tom Drez, CIO/CPO/CSO/managing director, CBS. "Our employees are increasingly distributed, whether working in the field or from home.” Almost half now have laptops and BlackBerry smartphones for mobility. This is essential, because as Drez points out, "We have an on-the-go team that travels from coast to coast and overseas to serve our members. We count on IBM software to keep us highly responsive and enable us to function as if we're all in the same room. That level of connectivity is key to member satisfaction, retention and growth."

Collaboration tools helping integrate the work environment

In 2000, CBS adopted IBM Lotus Notes® and IBM Lotus® Domino® software for messaging and collaboration. Since then, to further optimize productivity for all employees, CBS has worked with IBM Business Partner Mercury Consulting to implement IBM Lotus Quickr® and IBM Lotus Sametime® collaboration software. It also plans to roll out IBM Lotus Connections social networking software to the whole organization in 2011.

More than 50 Lotus Quickr sites support team projects and groups for employees, vendors and customers. Users can easily access these features using a browser and publish content directly, speeding content delivery to the web. These features enable easy information sharing by participants, regardless of location. CBS board members use their site to exchange information in preparation for meetings, while a joint CBS/vendor team implementing a new software product uses its site to store project plans, task lists and other related discussions and documents. Subgroups of Catholic employers involved in cooperative property and casualty plans, such as schools, colleges and universities, have their own sites to exchange information and ideas.

CBS chose Lotus Sametime software for instant messaging because, as Drez explains: "We are a business, so we need industrial strength capabilities and security features. Plus Lotus Sametime software is a natural fit since it plugs into everything else we’re doing, and we value the IBM support." With the Lotus Sametime application, Drez can interact in real time with his staff, and staff members can interact with each other. "It really pays off when some of my developers work at home part of the week," Drez states. "Maybe a colleague urgently needs technical help to take care of a customer. We can get that resolved right on the spot, even though our expert is not in the office. A quick ping, a few sentences back and forth, and you’ve just resolved the problem. With Lotus Quickr and Lotus Sametime software, clearly our operational efficiency has gone up because we resolve calls the first time."

Expanding the solution with profiles, blogs and communities

CBS also piloted Lotus Connections software within the organization’s IT department and has found the Profiles, Blogs and Communities features to be especially valuable. Drez uses a blog for detailed weekly communications with his staff. His team finds profiles useful for locating the necessary expertise to answer customer and technical questions. The Communities component is helpful for sharing files and discussion threads, and for supporting forums among subject matter experts. Drez anticipates that the Lotus Connections application will ultimately have a significant and positive impact on CBS. Recently, a small team brainstormed and identified many strategic uses for the Lotus Connections solution in the future.

Using technology to keep up with changing work patterns

Some of the concrete results CBS has seen since implementing the Lotus applications include improved communication and collaboration among employees, as well as with vendors and customers. This enhanced communication has led to increased productivity because employees are able to locate information and identify subject matter experts more quickly and easily. The Lotus software has helped unite employees via online sharing and collaboration, wherever they are working, in a more integrated workforce.

Ultimately, the Lotus applications are enabling CBS to use technology to address changing work patterns. Drez remarks: "With the workforce becoming more mobile and dispersed, you stop hearing anybody mention geography. It doesn’t matter if I’m using Lotus Sametime software to talk to the person in the office right next to me or to somebody traveling on the East Coast. For business continuity planning, as well as for our spread-out workforce, we are working to eliminate the relevance of location. Anything by anyone, anytime, anywhere."

For more information

To learn more about the IBM Lotus Connections, IBM Lotus Quickr and IBM Lotus Sametime software, please contact your IBM marketing representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website:

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Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Lotus Quickr, Lotus Sametime, IBM Connections

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2011 IBM Corporation Software Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 U.S.A. Produced in the United States of America April 2011 All Rights Reserved IBM, the IBM logo,, Domino, Lotus, Notes, Quickr and Sametime are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at . The information contained in this documentation is provided for informational purposes only. While efforts were made to verify the completeness and accuracy of the information contained in this documentation, it is provided “as is” without warranty of any kind, express or implied. In addition, this information is based on IBM’s current product plans and strategy, which are subject to change by IBM without notice. IBM shall not be responsible for any damages arising out of the use of, or otherwise related to, this documentation or any other documentation. Nothing contained in this documentation is intended to, nor shall have the effect of, creating any warranties or representations from IBM (or its suppliers or licensors), or altering the terms and conditions of the applicable license agreement governing the use of IBM software.