PSI Solutions, a firm that acts as the sales arm for various manufacturers, wanted to improve its messaging system and document-sharing capabilities for increased agility. The firm adopted Microsoft Office 365 and now has email that syncs across multiple devices, better document sharing, and additional communication capabilities, all of which give employees the ability to work more effectively from anywhere, ultimately improving customer service.
PSI Solutions is a regional sales and marketing firm that represents companies that build world-class test and measurement, imaging, and embedded solutions and sells their products to engineering, technology, and manufacturing customers. PSI Solutions has nine employees that are spread between its Tacoma, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, offices.
Five of those employees handle sales and need to spend as much time as possible with customers. “We discuss product needs in person at customer labs and communicate by phone from home or office,” says Doug Green, Sales Engineer and Marketing Manager at PSI Solutions. “Email is also a main means of communication because we often need to share product specifications and other pieces of heavily detailed information.”
However, the firm’s Post Office Protocol 3 (POP3) email service was unreliable. “It was difficult to sync our email—each message was only available on the particular device that we originally used to download it,” explains Tad Papineau, President of PSI Solutions. “To get around the problem, we left email on the POP3 server, which filled up all our storage and slowed mail delivery to a crawl, making it unreliable.”
The firm encountered other issues with email. “We experienced situations where we received duplicate email messages, where email came in bunches for multiple days, and where we received no email at all,” recalls Green. “Responsiveness to customers is an imperative, but email delays compromised the process.”
||By using Office 365, we have access to complete information from wherever we are, which helps us deliver better service both to the companies we represent and the customers who need their products.
President, PSI Solutions
PSI Solutions also wanted a better way to manage and share documents, such as product specifications sheets and sales information. Employees used shared files on a server computer, but only one person could work on a document at a time.
The firm used a Cisco WebEx system for presentations and trainings and Skype for internal communications, and it also experimented with Google Docs for collaboration. “We needed an integrated way to run our business,” says Green.Solution
PSI Solutions considered purchasing its own messaging server, but the firm lacked a dedicated IT administrator and had concerns about the amount of infrastructure that it would need to support that server. “We are a small firm, so we wanted to find a way to improve our messaging capabilities without adding to our management overhead,” says Papineau.
The firm opted to participate in a beta program to test Microsoft Office 365 hosted productivity software, which includes such capabilities as cloud-based email, collaboration, and conferencing. “We were excited about having enterprise-class messaging capabilities through Microsoft Exchange Online and about Microsoft providing the management,” says Green.
With Office 365, PSI Solutions has Exchange Online for email and calendaring that employees can use with Microsoft Outlook on multiple devices. The firm also uses Microsoft Lync Online to handle instant messaging, remote technical support for PCs, and web conferencing, eliminating the need for Skype and WebEx. PSI Solutions plans to also take advantage of Microsoft SharePoint Online for internal collaboration on marketing campaigns and for external collaboration on large capital-equipment projects, thus removing the need for Google Docs. “We need tools that promote a more professional environment than Google Docs can, and we get those with Office 365,” says Green.Benefits
PSI Solutions plans to subscribe to Office 365 at the end of the beta program to take advantage of reliable technology tools that help the firm run more effectively at lower costs. “By using Office 365, we have access to complete information from wherever we are, which helps us deliver better service both to the companies we represent and the customers who need their products,” says Papineau. Benefits for PSI Solutions from using Office 365 include:
Increased reliability. PSI Solutions no longer experiences email delays, and employees have full, consistent communications capabilities. “We don’t have any more days-long email outages because there are service-level agreements that come with Office 365,” says Green. “As a result, we can have greater trust in the timeliness of the email messages that we receive.”
Enhanced productivity. The firm’s employees can use their time more efficiently because they have access to information from anywhere. “We don’t have to return to the office for specific email and other information because it is synced among all our devices,” says Papineau. “Also, multiple people now can work simultaneously on documents, with historical traceability and version control, so we can make better use of our time.”
Improved supportability. PSI Solutions enjoys peace of mind in knowing that Microsoft is taking care of system management. “There’s a real difference in the availability of support with Office 365 and other cloud services,” says Green. “If I had a problem with Google Docs, I had to hunt down answers myself, but with Office 365, issues get quickly resolved by Microsoft professionals and the extensive online Office 365 community.”
Greater level of responsiveness. Because information is synced properly, PSI Solutions employees have confidence that responding to customers from anywhere will not result in difficulties later. “In the past, I was reluctant to start an email thread from my mobile phone because I would have no record of it on my PC, but now there is no hesitation,” says Green. “All of us can be highly responsive to our customers now, which gives us a competitive advantage.”
- Reduced costs. The firm can eliminate its annual WebEx license and will eventually host its website using Office 365, reducing costs and avoiding infrastructure investments. “By using Office 365, we get tremendous productivity benefits while maintaining predictable monthly IT costs and removing worries about software upgrades,” says Papineau.
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