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.
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.”
Business Operations Manager
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.
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.
INGENIUM improved productivity, collaboration, and member services with Microsoft Office 365.
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.”
Business Operations Manager
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.”
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.”
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.