Ingenium Nonprofit to Save an Estimated $60,000 with Cloud Productivity Solution

“With the money we save by not buying a server, we can improve member services. If I’m spending approximately a day a week managing a server, that’s time I’m not spending on members.”

Angela Tempest, Business Operations Manager, INGENIUM

Nonprofit INGENIUM supports New Zealand Local Government engineers with education and resources, has been in existence in various forms since 1961. Scattered across the country, staff work flexible hours, so robust communication tools and high availability of IT resources are vital.

Its staff could not always log on to the server to use documents and applications, and spent around a day a week on manual server issues and maintenance. With Microsoft Office 365, INGENIUM gains uptime and cuts hardware overhead, to save approximately eight hours weekly and $60,000 in estimated costs.

Situation
INGENIUM kept documents and applications on an aging server in Wellington, which staff accessed through a virtual private network (VPN). Only three employees could log on at one time, and applications often stopped responding under the traffic strain. The server needed to be restarted two or three times weekly which was problematic if Angela Tempest, Business Operations Manager at INGENIUM, was away from her desk, as she is the only employee in Wellington and thus the only one with easy physical access to the server. Tempest spent about 15 minutes a day handling server log-on issues. And at 10 minutes each time and six employees, this meant an hour’s worth of lost productivity per server restart.

“We work flexible hours and want applicatiosn to be available constantly. With our old server, that was difficult. With Office 365, we dont worry about downtime.”

Angela Tempest
Business Operations Manager
INGENIUM


For collaboration, employees exchanged documents by email, which was slow and led to version control issues. In a typical example of task coordination, the accountant reminded employees by phone or email to submit their invoice-approval spreadsheets, then manually collated all five documents into a master version.

When it came to communication and work pace, the geographically dispersed staff did not often talk in person. For member communications, INGENIUM mainly used print and email newsletters. Though the organisation announced its seminars on its website, members submitted registration by postal mail.

Finally, locating files could be a challenge, as employees stored documents on portable computers and on the server.

Tempest’s enquiries showed that a new server would cost around $84,000 over five years for acquisition, setup, and maintenance, so she decided to search for a more affordable alternative.

Solution

Tempest considered Google Applications. But, she says, it took three weeks to get permissions to open a Google Applications spreadsheet someone sent her, and “the service itself seemed quite hard to set up.” Tempest chose Microsoft Office 365, adding, “We find Office 365 easier to use, and it has the functionality and interface we’re used to. This familiarity made us more confident than with Google.”

INGENIUM worked with its Microsoft Certified IT Partner, Quay Corporate, to ensure that the Microsoft Office 365 solution was the right fit: INGENIUM undertook a successful 30-day trial, after which Quay Corporate quickly and easily deployed the solution.

Without the need for an on-premises server, staff log on to their computers and use an Internet connection to access Microsoft Lync Online and SharePoint Online, which are Microsoft Cloud Services hosted in Microsoft data centers. These services come with a 99.9-percent uptime guarantee. Microsoft data centers are also certified to meet several certifications for security, including the ISO 27001 certification.

Now, INGENIUM staff can use video conferencing in Lync Online to meet as if they are in the same room together, to improve communication. With SharePoint Online, during these video conferences, employees can collaborate on files that are stored in document libraries, complete with version control.

With centralised document libraries, staff can find files more easily. The organisation can hold weekly video conference staff meetings, and work on complex budget documents in real time, without the back-and-forth of email collaboration. Employees can even share their desktops with colleagues using Lync Online.

Instead of making a large initial investment in a server, INGENIUM gets pay-as-you-go subscription pricing with Office 365.

Benefits

INGENIUM improved productivity, collaboration, and member services with Microsoft Office 365.

More Uptime

With greater document and application availability, INGENIUM staff work when and where they want to. The company saves almost eight hours a week, or 18 percent of the work week, now that there is no need to restart or maintain the server or assist users with logging on. Tempest says, “We work flexible hours and want applications to be available constantly. With our old server, that was difficult. With Office 365, we don’t worry about downtime.” Staff can concentrate instead on serving members.

“Every week I’m finding some new way Office 365 can help us.”

Angela Tempest
Business Operations Manager
INGENIUM


Tempest recalls arriving at a crucial meeting with an outdated budget document. But now, “The chief executive and I can work on a big document at the same time a huge time-saver. And our important documents are now in the cloud where we can centrally access one master copy with version control, from almost anywhere. We don’t waste time looking in three places for it.”

Better Communication
Weekly staff video conferences have improved knowledge transfer. And, Tempest reports, “We communicate faster using Lync Online, especially being able to share desktops. If people have technical issues they can show me the problem immediately from home or work.”

Controlled Costs
Because Office 365 costs much less than the $84,000 server solution INGENIUM was considering, and Tempest estimates $60,000 in savings over five years. This means that with the money saved, the organisation can update its website and accounting system so members can sign up for seminars and pay registration fees online. “With the money we save by not buying a server, we can improve member services,” says Tempest. “If I’m spending approximately a day a week managing a server, that’s time I’m not spending on members.” The new solution frees up time and money to work in the way INGENIUM is designed to.
“Remote access to the system is much more reliable which means I can work more efficiently even when I’m not in the office.”

Yvonne Desmond, Executive Officer, ASMS

Business Needs

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) is a union of medical professionals with over 3,500 members, who are salaried medical and dental specialists mainly employed in New Zealand’s public hospital system. ASMS employs nine full time staff based in Wellington who represents the interests of union members, providing advice and representation.

As this central Wellington office services the needs of members based all around New Zealand, it is important all systems are up-to-date and running efficiently as the organisation relies on the server to support the majority of communications with members and stakeholders. With a large number of members, the membership database needs to be secure and well supported. ASMS team members often work away from the office so reliable remote access to the server is essential to ensure that staff are able to access information and maintain communications with union members and colleagues.

At the end of 2008, ASMS had outgrown its existing server hardware which had reached memory capacity and was approaching the end of its warranty. ASMS needed a scalable server solution that would provide stability, reliability and secure remote access and support the communications needs of the organisation.

Solution


Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and Small Business Specialists, Quay Corporate, provided ASMS with a solution that would provide greater server capacity and more advanced features with the ability to easily and cost effectively extend the system in future.

Quay Corporate recommended an upgrade to Windows® Small Business Server 2008 which enabled ASMS to move to hardware that supports 64 bit operating systems with larger disk capacity and more RAM, increasing the overall capabilities of the server. ASMS also purchased Microsoft’s Software Assurance at the time of the upgrade to ensure the organisation can continue to extend its server solution cost-effectively and take advantage of ongoing Microsoft training and support and a range of additional benefits.

The move to Windows Small Business Server 2008 meant that ASMS could take advantage of Microsoft®Exchange Server 2007 and Microsoft® SQL Server 2008, providing users with advanced database management, improved remote access and enhanced reliability, manageability and security.

Benefits

The upgrade to Windows Small Business Server 2008 has ensured that ASMS now has a stable and reliable system with the capacity to support future growth and enhance the efficiency of the business through improved communication tools and greater mobility:
  • Greater efficiency. The server is faster and running more efficiently and server booting time has been reduced by 50 per cent.
  • Reliable and stable remote access. “I frequently work from home and have noticed that the system has become much more stable. Remote access to the system is much more reliable, which means I can work more efficiently even when I’m not in the office,” says Yvonne Desmond, ASMS Executive Officer
  • Easier to manage. “I have found system management to be much easier with Small Business Server 2008. Migration was straightforward and problem free and it’s easy for us to administer the system remotely now,” says Greg Wratt, Quaycorp Senior Engineer
  • Increased security. The advanced security features of Windows Small Business Server 2008 ensure that ASMS’ membership data and email servers are protected from security breaches.
  • Enhanced communications tools. Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 provides ASMS with improved communications features such as the ability to easily access e-mail over a dial-up connection or a lowbandwidth mobile network, and enhanced reliability and security

UNICEF

UNICEF is the United Nations Children Fund; they are the leading aid agency dedicated to children. By early 2012, UNICEF New Zealand, based in Wellington, had become frustrated with their ongoing IT challenges, and had daily concerns about the safety of their data systems. Being a not for profit organisation, any expenditure is carefully controlled and scrutinised to receive the best value.

Reasons for IT Update

UNICEF’s IT system essentially consisted of one work station that was being updated by an independent contractor and was being manually backed up by UNICEF employees, onto disks, a time consuming and unreliable solution. Providing additional maintenance and support resulted in daily workflow being interrupted, which was not an efficient use of staff time.

Frustrated employees were looking for change because innovative ideas were being held back by inadequacies with the existing IT. It was not flexible and was unable to change to meet the way UNICEF needed to do business.

Additionally, UNICEF required a secure IT solution. Given that the organisation held donor bank account and credit card data, it was vital that UNICEF complied with PCI standards. It was also important that UNICEF “future proof’ any expenditure on their IT. Obviously, they were also concerned about the need to ensure their capability to recover from any major disaster.

UNICEF booked an initial IT evaluation with IT Engine to clarify what they had, determine their existing IT capacity and identify what they needed to have in place moving forward. They had also really outgrown their base infrastructure which had not been designed to meet the demands of up to 40 users nationwide, who were also travelling internationally. And, the existing system was resulting in time and cost inefficiencies.

To address their concerns of security, collaboration and workflow, UNICEF initially approached IT Engine to find out if a cloud solution was the answer.

Solutions and Benefits

“After an initial consultation with UNICEF, one of our engineers undertook a complete audit to take stock of hardware, configurations and other assessment criteria, then we developed a solution similar to that of other not for profit clients, but also customised to the unique user environment,” explains Roland Tuck of IT Engine. Due to the size of the files UNICEF deals with and their existing database, IT Engine recommended Windows Small Business Server 2011 instead of a cloud solution.

The installation has improved UNICEF’s remote access and given the organisation peace of mind when it comes to security, reliability and disaster recovery. UNICEF Executive Director, Dennis McKinlay explains, “The new system greatly improves our risk management because less work is required of Wellington based staff and there is remote access outside of Wellington that is backed up each day.” Windows Small Business Server 2011 is a seamless solution, particularly where users are working on different equipment.

Office based and remote staff can now access email and share their calendars with full collaboration, using an industry recognised package. And, the recently opened Auckland office has a platform to access and store files without having to resort to their own backup system. All employees have access worldwide to a consistent platform that they back up daily in house and can be easily recovered in the event of a disaster.

UNICEF also utilise EngineCare for around the clock support and technical assistance. IT Engine provides a complete outsourced IT team that deals directly with the employees who need assistance, which is welcome relief for UNICEF management, and eliminates the interruptions to daily workflow.

Getting IT Engine on Board

When Yasanthi Nugawela, Database Coordinator at UNICEF, was looking for an IT provider that had experience with ‘not for profit’ organisations, she approached Microsoft, who then recommended IT Engine. Another company known to UNICEF was also considered.

“We knew that IT Engine was a company with a track record for good customer service and client relationships, also, they had proven experience with our type of organisation. In the end we chose IT Engine because they offered the ‘right match’, communicated every thing really well, and also we felt like we’d already built a relationship with them before the work had even begun!” explained Yasanthi.

“When deciding which company to use, what really stood out was that IT Engine was easy to get in touch with and always willing to help.” That help included IT Engine Managing Director, Delia Gill, completing an extensive review of UNICEF’s PCI documentation during the proposal stage for inclusion in the final solution.

“IT Engine understood us as a charitable organisation. And, we got just what we needed from them. They were flexible when our brief had to change to incorporate iPads and when we had to move our dates around, but their promises and budget didn’t change” said Sue Chisnall, UNICEF Accountant. Yasanthi adds, “we were also impressed when Kelvin, from IT Engine, suggested TechSoup as a source for software priced for non-profits.”

Dennis McKinlay Executive Director of UNICEF summarises by saying, “UNICEF chose IT Engine after investigating several suppliers and we settled on them because of the size of the business, longevity in the market and referee checks. We were looking for a reliable partner with a strong track record of delivering on their promises.”

The Installation & Ongoing Support

UNICEF’s new solution was operational within a month, and most of the work was done offsite.

“Installation day was a complete anticlimax, IT Engine exceeded all our expectations, the transition was seamless and Phil Leigh, our on site support, didn’t have much to do because everything went so smoothly,” says Yasanthi. “We were really impressed when he attended a staff meeting to brief us on better security practices and how to get the most out of our new IT solution.”

Sue added, “We signed up for EngineCare, as we really needed that peace of mind that any problems we had, could be dealt with quickly and at an agreed cost. One of the benefits again, is savings in time as we do not have to get involved with any questions; we just log our service request and the end user deals direct with IT Engine.

Yasanthi is excited that “now our staff are starting to get really creative with tweaks to their individual user experience that are a breeze for IT Engine, which wouldn’t have even been possible before. Also, they are not encountering frustrations with our IT system, which makes everyone happier. We can also relax as all our data is safe.”

“We definitely would not hesitate in recommending IT Engine to anyone-you can trust them to deliver what they promise. Their long serving team of people are a real asset to their organisation, and now to ours as well. We can be reassured that we have a reliable, collaborative and future proof IT solution that matches our organisation’s size and goals. And plenty more time and resources to put towards what we do best.”

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