Transitioning to Office 365 Enables Small Business to Control Costs and Increase Efficiency
Brown Metals is a small, family-owned business that provides stainless steel distribution and other value-added services like slitting, cut-to-length, edge conditioning and oscillate winding to customers around the world. The company looked to Office 365 to help control and reduce costs, upgrade the company’s existing Office Suite, help minimize technology training time and increase efficiency.
Brown Metals has the largest inventory of thin-gauge stainless steel coil on the West Coast and needs to quickly process orders of various sizes. As with many of their small business counterparts, all areas of IT at Brown Metals fall under the auspices of one person. “I’m a one-man IT shop, in addition to other responsibilities, and our IT infrastructure has basically been built from the ground up,” said Justin Lasley, CIO of Brown Metals.
With Small Business Server powering the company IT infrastructure for a number of years, migrating from one hardware platform to another as the technology aged was time consuming, as was managing updates and migrating to newer versions of software. “Not only do I need to be a one-man IT shop, I need to know Exchange, Active Directory, server-side, client-side and how to configure all of those,” Lasley said. “As iterations of Exchange keep advancing, there’s changes in each iteration that make it more challenging to run. I just don’t have the time to continually spend time in the classroom learning all of the new features and being able to take advantage of all of them.”
One of the other challenges of being a small business was when an employee was out of the office, his/her e-mails would need to be forwarded to someone else in order to make sure orders were fulfilled quickly. With users unable to action this for themselves, responsibility for managing out of office users fell on Lasley. Although a relatively short process for each user, the cumulative effect was a loss of several hours. Brown Metals needed a platform that required minimal administrative intervention and that users could take more control with.
[three_fourth]Brown Metals identified Office 365 as providing the solution to their problems. With servers and applications all being managed by Microsoft, businesses no longer face the challenges of keeping hardware and applications up to date.
Brown Metals reached out to Agile IT to help in migrating their 13 users to Office 365. According to Lasley, “One of the great advantages of using Agile IT is that I was able to outsource a lot of the IT planning to a company that was completely capable of taking care of those needs for us.”
Agile IT worked with Brown Metals to plan the migration, which took place over a single weekend. Even with such a small number of users, the project was not without challenges. In particular, a couple of desktops running XP and Remote Desktop Services presented their own unique challenges but with the help of Agile IT, Brown Metals was able to overcome the challenges and find a reasonable solution in a timely fashion.
Throughout the project, Brown Metals received regular updates so key people knew exactly where things were at during the process. “I was really impressed with the level of detail and the questions that were asked up front, and the process and communication across the entire project was fantastic,” said Lasley. “If I had a question during the process or if I wasn’t sure about something, Agile IT was available via phone and e-mail – it was nice to have someone available outside of what I would consider normal business hours.”[/three_fourth]
“One of the great advantages of using Agile IT is that I was able to outsource a lot of the IT planning to a company that was completely capable of taking care of those needs for us.”
Justin Lasley, CIO[/one_fourth_last]
Migrating to Office 365 helped Brown Metals maintain uptime with minimal intervention. Users are now able to easily manage their own out of office settings via the web interface to Exchange Online, and upgrades and new features are applied automatically with minimal intervention.
“Office 365 was the perfect fit for us – it was cost effective, easy to manage, my users were already familiar with Outlook, and we were able to upgrade during the process,” said Lasley. “It gives us an opportunity to control or even reduce costs, and I can spend more time on activities that actually help our business grow, rather than troubleshooting IT infrastructure.”
For more information about Brown Metals, visit BrownMetals.com.
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