How Good Seed Trust harnessed Microsoft Azure, SharePoint and Office 365 to boost efficiency.
The team at Auckland’s Good Seed Trust spend their days working with lively, active youngsters. Until recently however, their computer system was anything but lively. Instead the old server was rapidly nearing end of life, clunky, slow, at capacity and temperamental to access remotely.
The Trust’s forty staff spend their day-to-day work coaching and guiding New Zealand’s young minds, providing programmes that strengthen families and transform communities. But like any business, there’s also a heavy admin component to the work.
“We have an online management system connected to the Government systems to record data and attendance, and we have to maintain health and safety records, contracts, there are regulations, reconciliation statements, funding applications and lots of paperwork,” says CEO Grace Ikiua.
Appraisals and pictorial ‘storybooks’ (which are photographic and are provided regularly to parents of participating children) are also part of the team’s regular workload.
- The ageing server meant downloading photos for storybooks was time consuming, taking up to 10 minutes for staff at outlying offices to download a photo.
- Duplicate files were also causing an issue, with up to five copies of the same document spread across the network.
- Due to frustrating server issues staff were saving everything onto PCs, (rather than the server). Not only were the computer hard drives filling up, but staff were struggling to locate their information as they moved between PCs.
GOING 100% CLOUD
- “We want everything saved in one safe place – not on the PCs. So it makes sense to go to the cloud. We’re trying to change behaviour” Grace says.
- “It’s important to be forward thinking and to take us into the 21st century. Good systems, less paper, less files and folders is part of that.”
- While many Kiwi companies still prefer to keep a foot in both camps, with some equipment on premise and some in the cloud, on the advice of iT360, Good Seeds embraced cloud 100%.
- “We had to either get a new server or go to the cloud. The cloud was cheaper, safe and it just made sense,” Grace says.
- Dave Wilson, iT360 General Manager, says “It was obvious to us that the best solution was depreciating the old server infrastructure and moving it to Microsoft Azure Cloud, with SharePoint and Office 365.”
THE MIGRATION PATHWAY
While the migration to the new platform would only take a couple of weeks, there was plenty of upfront planning.
“I’d say it was 80% planning and 20% implementation,” Dave (iT360) says of the project. “We assessed every part of their system and network to ensure the best migration path. But we also did three sessions with Good Seed Trust’s management to show demo sites, get them involved and listen to their pain points, understand their needs and roadmap the solution.”
This process helped build their faith and trust in the Microsoft ecosystem and ensured they were confident it was something they could leverage and use to maximise their business.” At the end of the day, this is the lifeblood of their business. It’s what they use every day and if they don’t have buy-in the project doesn’t go anywhere.
Once the planning was completed, the implementation kicked in, with iT360 completing the file and email migration and setup of Microsoft Azure, SharePoint and Office 365 within two weeks.
An added benefit for Grace has been the ability to access work from anywhere. While access to the old server from outside the office was possible, Grace admits it was arduous and didn’t always work.
“With SharePoint and Office 365 I can work anywhere and I’m finding that great. When I was in Sydney recently I could easily access my files and do work as easily as if I was in the office.” Grace says the new system has also solved the problem of backups and disaster recovery. As the organisation had already discovered to its cost, the task of running regular disk backups and removing them offsite was arduous and sometimes forgotten in the day to day rush of business.
MORE COLLABORATION, LESS PAPER
While it’s early days, and Good Seed is still working to ensure its team are comfortable with the new system, the organisation is already preparing for the next evolution: A move to Microsoft Teams.
Part of the Office 365 suite, Teams is the hub for teamwork in Office 365, providing an integrated chat and online meetings solution to enable teams to host audio, video and web conferences, chat with people both inside and outside an organisation, and collaborate together on Office 365 files. The new system is also allowing Good Seed to forge ahead with another goal – the (nearly) paperless office.
“We want to use less paper, and not have to store so many files, and also make use of everything that we’re paying for.” Grace says of the move to Teams and the paperless push.
THE iT360 ADVANTAGE
For Grace, iT360 is an easy choice. “We’ve been working with them since 2010. It’s a relationship, rather than just being our IT provider, and I really like that. I build relationships with people, so I want to have more than a cold, hard conversation about the business.”
Grace says iT360 has also proved cost effective. “We looked at other people and they were dearer. iT360 prides itself on providing people-focused IT support, has a wealth of experience with Microsoft installations, having been a partner for over a decade. Dave wraps up, “We really believe in Azure. Cloud is a great way for many New Zealand companies to move to more robust, secure and up-to-date systems and avoid the need for expensive on-premise infrastructure. Through Microsoft technology we are a business enabler for our customers.”
And for Grace and the team at Good Seed Trust, that means technology is no longer a barrier, freeing the organisation up to explore new opportunities for the business – and their work with New Zealand’s children.
Video source: Good Seed Trust
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