Virtualization of its workstations has allowed Correos to modernize its post offices and diversify its range of services
Correos is the main operator in the Spanish postal market and one of the leading companies in the parcel delivery sector, thanks to the quality and reliability of its service. It is also the legally appointed operator for the universal postal service in Spain, providing coverage throughout the country.
As part of a drive to improve the experience of its customers, which includes the public, institutions and businesses, through a closer and personalized service approach following a diversification strategy, Correos allows other companies to use its 2,390 post offices as a sales channel for telephone, internet, electricity, gas and train ticketing services. The company is also a strategic partner for financial entities such as banks and insurance firms and its branches also provide access to the digital administration of over 1,100 universities, local government and state entities.
The project, which has revolutionized the experience of both customers and staff, has been made possible by the company’s drive to modernize its workplace. This has involved migration from dedicated physical workstations for customer service to creating an ecosystem of virtual workstations distributed throughout Correos.
“To diversify our services away from post and parcels, we needed to find a way to standardize and simplify support and reduce the costs of managing a distributed environment. We had to reduce time to market,” explains Francisco Javier Menéndez, Assistant Operations Manager at Correos. “We saw that the best way to do this was through the virtualization of our workstations.”
“When a business unit requested the incorporation of a third-party application to provide new services, such as a prepaid card, we needed to standardize this third-party software for our software base. This was a complicated and time-consuming process,” remarks Daniel López, Head of the Support Department of the Correos Virtual Post Office. “Our business needed to change the way we provide services, emphasizing flexibility and efficiency.”
Correos explored a number of options in the market and ran a public tender for the transformation of its workstations. Scalability was a key aspect of the solution, which needed to support over 8,500 service points spread throughout the country. Another issue was the wide range of peripherals, many of which had software with limited or no support.
Practically all the bids received - including the winner of the tender - incorporated Citrix as a technology solution for the virtualization of workstations. The Correos team behind the project also carried out visits to see a number of Citrix-based solutions in financial entities and public bodies.
“As we are a Priority Plus customer, Citrix and its professional services team supported our implementation of the project at every step of the way, both in designing the architecture and its implementation,” explains López. “We were able to start the implementation immediately, with gradual deployment in regions and branches, and soon had over 20,000 terminals, 8,500 of them virtual and the remainder physical.”
“Citrix allows us to maintain a standardized workplace that we did not have before,” explains Menéndez. “Workstations are now homogenous, meaning staff can work in the same way at any workstation. The time needed to launch new services has been slashed from months to weeks and we can launch new features overnight. Taking into account the third-party components, applications and services, our platform provides over 50 different services and is still growing. We have removed the need to restart terminals, which had been responsible for numerous problems and risks, since they could only be restarted at certain times to avoid outages for customers. The diversity of our communications system meant that sending large software files - some around 100 MB - to certain terminals could cause problems on the network. Systems would need to be rebooted and we had no way of knowing if files had been downloaded.”
“Another important aspect is the peace of mind the Citrix solution provides when it comes to security,” explains López. “It used to be practically impossible to keep all our PCs up to date. Applications can now be updated centrally, ensuring we are protected against any incidents.”
Citrix provides Correos staff with a desktop experience and the required applications on any device and over any network. It removes obstacles to productivity and provides the flexibility to work anywhere while ensuring the security of applications and information, an aspect that has proven its worth during the pandemic.
“The cultural change has been huge for a company like Correos and its staff,” explains Menéndez. “Although initially there was some reluctance to change, the benefits seen by our users have overcome any concerns. We’ve seen this in the case of remote working, where the response has been highly positive.”
Correos had recently launched a remote working pilot project for 40 users with technical-administrative profiles. As the postal service was classed as an essential service during the pandemic, staff continued to be physically present at its post offices. However, all technical-administrative staff - over 2,500 employees - were told to switch to remote working from one day to the next.
“Each access profile had different requirements, but Citrix allows us to configure the solution on the go,” explains Menéndez. “What started out as a test was then able to cover all the staff who needed it within a matter of hours. This was a crucial part of being able to maintain the productivity of the workforce.”
The success of the deployment of the new workstations, together with the restrictions on travel and social contact imposed by the pandemic, has been a key factor in Correos’ push for remote training, allowing staff to continue to receive training at home. “We’ve been able to avoid travel, which has saved costs and time, as well as the potential inconvenience to workers’ personal lives. Training used to be provided for small groups of up to 25 or 30 people. Each training room needed all the required equipment and software, which had to be correctly installed,” explains Menéndez. “Training is now instant and can be delivered to everyone simultaneously. Now all we need is to create the course template. This has delivered savings in maintenance costs, improved efficiency and guarantees that everything is ready.”
The Citrix solution has allowed Correos to extend the useful life of many of its devices by 20%. Citrix allows them to be converted into thin clients, increasing the number of users and the provision of virtualized applications. Not only has this extended the useful life of devices but it has also simplified support, with all the savings it entails,” notes López. “The Citrix platform is flexible, standardized and versatile and has allowed us to optimize numerous resources.”
“The virtualization solution has delivered a wide range of benefits. It’s a strong, robust solution that allows us to focus on the continuous improvement of our IT systems. We are now working on a project focused on service suppliers to allow them to connect to the virtual Correos workstation and have access to all the tools they need to work with us,” concludes Menéndez. “We are extremely happy with Citrix.”
The Citrix virtualization solution is strong, robust and allows us to focus on the continuous improvement of our IT systems.