Team MTN-Qhubeka, Africa's first pro-continental cycling team, is effortlessly taking on the world with the help of cloud software. Through Microsoft Office 365, the team of 22 riders and 35 ground staff has managed to connect nine countries. Douglas Ryder, the team principal and renowned cyclist, discusses how Office 365 has helped manage team logistics across the globe and how the team is supporting Africa’s growing cycling community.
It has been three months since you implemented Microsoft Office 365, what has the impact been not only on the ground staff but also the riders?
Now that we are on a single platform, our team calendaring and scheduling has vastly improved, as has our communication among our 35 staff and 22 riders. It has reduced complexity of our logistics in managing our team across multiple countries as everyone is more informed and has the right information at their fingertips. The staff and team now get notified of where and when they need to be and this has saved us time and money.
With the entire team being based in three different countries, how did the team manage the diaries and other logistics before Office365? How has the software improved this process?
Prior to this implementation we sent spreadsheets via email and often staff and riders were working off previous spreadsheets. With riders and races changing often, it was very difficult to keep everyone on the same version, which often resulted in extra cost as we ended up calling people to make sure they had received the latest information. Now we have a central repository updated in one place and the relevant people get automatic notification of updates and changes; so we have one version of the truth and that has helped a lot.
With time reduced for the ground staff to organise the logistics of the team, where was the saved time invested?
The time savings have helped our sports directors spend more time on race preparation and race analysis to feedback to the riders so that we can prepare better to achieve our goals. This was often only done at an event when the team was already at the race but now this is done prior to events, which mean we are better prepared as a team and can more confidently take on the challenges of each event. Staff and riders are more relaxed and therefore perform better.
Qhubeka is a separate business to the team and is not managed off our infrastructure but the more professionally we manage our operations, the more it feeds off into our other initiatives, of which Qhubeka is a big part. As a team, we race to raise funds and provide exposure to the Qhubeka Foundation and the benefits of providing bicycles to people in South Africa and Africa. The next phase of our rollout will be to include the Qhubeka bike handovers in our calendar so that all staff and riders are aware of when they are happening.
Have you managed to secure interest from more riders by being able to better manage teams remotely?
Using Office 365 has helped our team be more professional, which our riders really enjoy. This is one of the additional benefits of being part of Team MTN-Qhubeka; because riders usually struggle with logistics, our streamlined solution is helping in rider negotiations and attracting new talent to our team.