The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal labor union, representing close to 650,000 federal government employees. Since the organization was looking for a cost-effective solution to upgrade its mail system and communication environment, and its users were already familiar with Microsoft programs, the organization looked to migrate to Microsoft Office 365 with the help of Agile IT.
Like many organizations, AFGE is a “9 to 5 shop” but a 24-hour operation. Its staff of 300 heavily uses and relies on technology on a daily basis. The organization was looking for a stable, less time-intensive system for its employees to be able to communicate and share information with one another. “We looked at Google, but the No. 1 reason we went with Microsoft Office 365 for this project was familiarity,” said Taylor Higley, director of information services at AFGE. “We have a lot invested in our Microsoft environment, our users understand Microsoft, and moving forward on that path was the least friction and the least soft costs in terms of lost productivity.”
The organization needed to decide if it wanted to do a major overhaul or a smaller, rolling upgrade. It opted for the latter with Office 365 because of its seamlessness and ease of implementation, and because the cost was right. “Our internal decision-making was quite quick – a matter of weeks, if not shorter – once we really saw that the pricing was there.”
To implement the migration and help accomplish its organizational goals, AFGE needed an IT technology partner who had a proven track record. “We were looking for the people who had the most success and experience with this type of migration,” said Higley. “From signing on with them in the beginning, our working relationship with Agile IT was frictionless.”
With the help of Agile IT, AFGE implemented a gradual migration to Office 365, and the process moved quickly and seamlessly for its users. “There’s always friction with any upgrade, but with this migration, the most common question we received from employees was, ‘Did my migration go through? I didn’t notice anything,’” said Higley. “To us, that was a success. There were no major problems – they’re in the Cloud and they didn’t even have to necessarily know.“
A week after AFGE migrated to Microsoft Office 365, its old exchange servers went down. Instead of panicking, however, Higley and his team were able to still send e-mails and continue working while the problem was resolved, thanks to its new system. “Any time we talk about enterprise IT and some of our challenges, especially with some of our sister unions, I really can’t shut up about Office 365,” said Higley. “Having these new features each month – upgrades to things like real-time editing and video conferencing – is great.”
The process of doing a larger overhaul with less familiarity and more training required would’ve required AFGE to hire another engineer. “That cost didn’t have to occur because of Microsoft Office 365,” said Higley. The organization also had less time being booked for comp or overtime, as well as a better balance, due to implementing the new platform.
With Microsoft Lync, AFGE is seeing, on average, 30-40% more conversations happening each month – conversations that may not have happened across the organization prior to implementing Microsoft Office 365. Some of AFGE’s districts, or office branches, have now even gone virtual – potentially saving the organization even more money down the road.
AFGE was so happy with the new Microsoft services, the benefits of the Cloud and how Agile IT handled its migration, it now has several other projects in the works.
For more information about AFGE, visit AFGE.org.