Health Benefits Company Reduces Operating Costs with Online Collaboration Tools

Solution Overview:

Organization Size

37000 employees

Organization Profile

Headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, WellPoint delivers health benefits solutions and related services to more than 34 million members in the United States.

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Microsoft Exchange Online
  • Microsoft Lync Online
  • Microsoft SharePoint Online
Vertical Industries



United States

Business Need
  • Business Productivity
  • Cloud & Server Platform
IT Issue

Cloud Services



Company Overview:

Health benefits company, WellPoint, wanted to provide employees with better communication and collaboration tools to help it compete in today’s healthcare marketplace. It chose Microsoft Office 365 to gain access to the latest cloud-based collaboration and communication tools. WellPoint has reduced operating costs and employees can better coordinate the delivery of its services for the 34 million members in its affiliated health plans.

WELLPOINT-Case-Study-Foetron Inc.

Business Needs:

With 34 million members in its affiliated health plans, WellPoint is one of the largest health benefits companies in the United States. Its 37,000 employees work across the country to provide a myriad of health plan benefits and services. Like many health benefits companies, WellPoint faces the challenge of adapting to an increasing number of government mandates, an aging population, and shrinking operational budgets. Today’s patient-centric healthcare delivery requires a coordinated effort among a team of professionals. As part of that team, WellPoint needs reliable, secure, and up-to-date communication and collaboration tools to empower employees to work productively and deliver exceptional customer service. “WellPoint is becoming more of a consumer-based company,” says George Zaruba, Vice President of Infrastructure at WellPoint. “This changes how we work together and how we communicate with our customers. We need technology that keeps us connected with each other and our customers. At the same time, affordability is an important part of the services that we deliver.”

Microsoft Office 365 gave us capabilities that we needed and didn’t have in WellPoint. Larger mailboxes. Integrated collaboration tools. Great support from Microsoft. I’d recommend Office 365 to anyone.

– George Zaruba
Vice President of Infrastructure, WellPoint.

“WellPoint had on-premises messaging and collaboration solutions that experienced service outages and required IT resources to resolve,” says Kelly Woodward, Director of Technology at WellPoint. “Inadequate mailbox size inconvenienced our associates. Employees wanted modern, integrated collaboration and communication tools they could use on all their PCs and mobile devices. We wanted to help them be more productive. It was time to find a more integrated, cost-effective solution that didn’t involve spending money on servers.”


WellPoint turned to Microsoft Office 365, a set of collaboration and productivity tools delivered as a cloud service that brings together Microsoft Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and Lync Online. WellPoint saw that these email, collaboration, and web conferencing services, available through a flexible, per-user, per-month subscription, offered a cost-effective way to provide employees with the productivity tools they needed. “Office 365 is perfect for us because we only consume and pay for what we use,” says Zaruba. “We really have the ability to scale up and scale down and support our customers. That’s important for us because we are working very closely to keep a ceiling on our costs so that we can keep our customers’ costs down.”

WellPoint also chose Microsoft cloud services because it saw that moving to Office 365 would not compromise its security and privacy policies. “This was our first experience with cloud-based services, and we were concerned about data security,” says Woodward. “Microsoft reassured us. They provided a dedicated online environment and worked with our security department to meet our requirements.”

From September 2011 to April 2012, the WellPoint team completed a nearly flawless, large-scale migration to Exchange Online. The company achieved an error rate that was below 1 percent, significantly lower than the industry standard. Woodward cites extensive preparations and careful migration scheduling for the company’s 37,000 employees as a key success factor.

“By January 2012, we reached velocity migrations, moving more than 1,000 mailboxes a night,” says Woodward. “In total, we moved 65,000 mailboxes and the project encompassed 50,000 PCs and 7,000 Blackberry devices. Microsoft was there the entire way and helped us through. We had minimal outages and impact to our users. It’s been like a dream come true.”

Employees use Lync Online for instant messaging and presence functionality, and they will adopt web conferencing, desktop sharing, and PC-to-PC calls. WellPoint is migrating 3,000 gigabytes of data to the SharePoint Online environment and encouraging employees to use My Sites as a point of contact for colleagues and as a place to talk about their skill sets and collaborate on documents.


With Office 365, WellPoint enjoys all the benefits of Microsoft cloud services—continual updates to the latest versions of business productivity software, minimal IT administration, enhanced data security, and business continuity—at a reduced cost. “Microsoft Office 365 gave us capabilities that we needed and didn’t have in WellPoint,” says Zaruba. “Larger mailboxes. Integrated collaboration tools. Great support from Microsoft. I’d recommend Office 365 to anyone.”

  • Reduced costs. By moving to Office 365, WellPoint decommissioned more than 270 servers, reducing operating costs related to providing email and collaboration tools.
  • Simplified IT management. IT staff spends less time administrating servers, updating software, and deploying security upgrades, tasks that are all automated through the Office 365 service. “Microsoft gets the job done in days, with little disruption,” says Woodward. “Now we have more time to work on strategic projects.”
  • Improved business continuity. WellPoint has increased reliability from 95 to 99.99 percent and increased availability from 98 to 99.999 percent. “Having multiple, redundant dedicated data centers within the Office 365 environment in two different locations gives us the business continuity that we never had, and that’s exciting,” Woodward says.
  • Increased productivity. With larger mailbox quotas, employees are no longer wasting time cleaning out their inboxes. They are able to use the intuitive, click-to-communicate tools in Lync Online and the collaboration sites within SharePoint Online to work together more productively and help improve coordinated service for customers.“Office 365 gives us the opportunity to change the way we collaborate with our internal associates,” concludes Zaruba. “It really brings the company closer together. More importantly, it presents a foundation for us to move forward with enhanced collaboration with our customers and membership.”


Microsoft Case Study: WellPoint

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