Office 365: A lottery ticket to enhanced productivity, efficiency and success

Philip Anthony, Director at Co-Operative Systems, discusses how Office 365 can be used by charities to boost efficiency, productivity and communication, and outlines the key points that need to be thought about if its full benefits are to be successfully realised.

For most organisations, including charities, Microsoft’s Office 365 product is the next logical step in the development of their IT offering. Most of us are familiar with and have probably used Microsoft Office, so we’re comfy and familiar with it. 365 provides everything we’re used to, plus it moves data storage and the apps into the cloud, providing a lot more flexibility, security, robustness and compliance. The other thing Office 365 does is allow email and apps to be used across smartphones and tablets – which everybody wants to do.

All of those points are generally hard to address, especially for smaller organisations. For example, your data is supposed to be encrypted when it’s at rest, which traditional servers don’t tend to do. Office 365 removes the headache. Last year, one of our clients suffered a fire in their Holborn office. They had on-premise kit and the fire took out their whole office. If they had Office 365 data, information and, most importantly, emails, would have been protected. And business could have carried on with little disruption as staff could have accessed their work wherever they were.

 

Successful migration

The benefits Office 365 can bring are wide reaching – more information can be found here – but it does require some careful management and there are some rules charities need to be aware of. For example, those looking to comply with the Cyber Essentials programme need a way of remotely erasing a user’s device. People don’t like handing control to their employer, so some compromise is required.

In our work to migrate charities to Office 365 (we’re now working with 75 organisations in the sector with 2,500 users) we’ve found that compromise is needed when it comes to initiating the culture shift required for a charity to fully realise the benefits of Office 365.

Licenses are really inexpensive thanks to the donation programme run by Tech Trust. However, the migration of an existing data set is not a trivial task and there are rules that have to be followed in terms of file sizes and what can be migrated, and decisions on migrating mail en masse. Most people want that to happen, but the reality is that most people have unwieldy mailboxes full of ephemeral communications. Our job at Co-Operative Systems is to work with individuals to encourage them to only take what’s needed. There are also rules about email format and that we can advise on, as is also the case with legacy systems.

 

Ongoing support

Another area charities need to be aware of is ongoing support. For those who want to just use standard mail functions it’s pretty straightforward, but if you’re going to unlock the power of Office 365, more handholding is required.

And it’s the full range of apps and features that really make Office 365 powerful. We always encourage organisations to take up new features like Skype and the video functions. That’s because we see early embracers of the full suite of features accelerating away from their peers. Some chief executives we see say – with a little wink in their eye – that they get another hour a day of productivity out of their staff where it’s fully embraced!

And that leads me on to the final point I want to make – there can be a cost benefit linked to migrating across to Office 365. The software costs a few pounds per month. Even if you add in the IT support that is necessary to maximise the benefits, it costs around £10 per user per month. If you look at that versus the cost of staff time, it’s a lottery ticket to an improved organisation that’s more efficient, more productive and more successful.

Co-operative Systems is giving all charities the opportunity to trial Office 365 for free. As well as free trial software, set-up and assessment will also be provided free of charge. Workshops can also be arranged to give staff a taste of what’s possible. To take advantage of this offer – and to get your hands on a free guide to Office 365 – email team@coopsys.net.

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