4-page Case Study
Posted: 7/26/2012
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Dispute Resolution Services Company Keeps Virtual Doors Open, Despite Natural Disasters, with Cloud-Based Tools

Last week, our office in Christchurch was closed for two days because of snow. But because we use Office 365, people were just able to go home and continue working.

Andy Williams, CIO, Dispute Resolution Services Limited

New Zealand’s Dispute Resolution Services Limited is a forward-thinking company that helps people and organisations stay out of court. But the company hasn’t found a way to stay out of the path of natural disasters. Earthquakes, snowstorms, and the threat of volcanic eruptions was enough to convince DRSL to move its email service to the cloud when it was separated from its parent organisation.

Once on its own, DRSL took advantage of an opportunity to upgrade its current technology and give employees easier access to email and other tools. Microsoft Office 365 delivers mobile access to workers on the go, and provides an excellent contingency plan to keep the company’s virtual doors open in the event of inclement weather or other natural inconveniences. And for a company that fluctuates in size, Office 365’s flexible, monthly subscriptions were a perfect fit.


In New Zealand, nature often serves as a reminder of what forces are really calling the shots. Twice in the last few years, earthquakes have forced Dispute Resolution Services Limited to close their doors for business. The first time, employees had to work from a hotel or home. The second quake shut the company’s doors for good at one of its three main locations. Other times, intense snowstorms can put a damper on operations. So when the company, which helps individuals and groups settle disputes outside of court, was separated from its parent organisation and set up as new Crown-owned company, it decided to explore how cloud-based technology could help staff work in a more flexible manner.

* Office 365 has given us more flexibility and continuity, with less effort.  *

Andy Williams
Dispute Resolution Services Limited

When DRSL was part of its parent organisation, employees were sometimes held back by their email capabilities. Attachments were limited in size, and some workers couldn’t access their email while they were away from the office. And because their emails were automatically archived, they also could not easily retrieve older messages. “About a third of our business operations staff is mobile, and management has remote access requirements as well,” says Andy Williams, CIO with DRSL. “So we wanted to provide better remote access to email and calendars for all staff.”

As the company set out on its own, it wanted to create a plan for growth. With a fluctuating user base and a large percentage of contractor and part-time workers, DRSL wanted a flexible solution that made it easy and cost-effective to add or remove users.

Managing users was already time-consuming enough, and DRSL’s IT staff did not want additional equipment and software to manage. The IT team was interested in using cloud-based software to keep users always up-to-date, as well as avoiding the maintenance of an on-premise solution.


DRSL and its IT architects, PASIS, determined that cloud computing options had matured to the point where the company could progress with a hybrid, cloud-based environment. The firm’s IT partner, Datacom, implemented Microsoft Office 365, an online service which unites familiar Microsoft Office applications with email, calendaring, collaboration, and communication solutions. DRSL also purchased Office Professional Plus 2010 as part of its package, an always up-to-date desktop version of Office paid via monthly subscription. The pay-as-you-go service delivers a complete, enterprise-class experience that ensures DRSL users will always have the latest Office desktop applications.

“One alternative was to build an on-premise solution in Wellington or Auckland,” explains Phil de Greve, Manager of Enterprise Infrastructure Consulting at Datacom. “Wellington is a risk for earthquakes and Auckland has its volcanoes. So having an Exchange server in the cloud and not having to worry about natural circumstances is pretty reassuring, knowing that information will always be available.”'

Datacom and DRSL completed the Office 365 and hybrid cloud environment implementation in just one weekend in January 2012. Employees gained immediate remote access to their email accounts, and Williams says they appreciated the fact that Exchange Online offered better search capabilities. They also liked using better calendar features, such as calendar sharing that made it easier to schedule meetings with each other.

Since Office 365 is cloud-based, DRSL can easily add or reassign licenses to users as needed. This provides flexibility for managing a variety of full-time, part-time, and contract workers. DRSL pays one monthly fee and has access to email, file sharing, conferencing, and the full versions of Microsoft Office applications. As the company evolves, users can be added and removed to make the most efficient use of the company’s money, while providing all the tools employees need.

The simplicity of Office 365 makes it easier for DRSL to manage users. In addition, IT staff use the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT), which saves time by automating large-scale desktop and server deployments. Previously, it took nearly three weeks to prepare a computer for a new employee. Today, it takes about an hour.

* Exchange Online has improved our remote access, therefore the flexibility of our business and our ability to cope with unforeseen circumstances.  *

Andy Williams
Dispute Resolution Services Limited


Williams says employees love the new ways they can work using Office 365. “In the past, one of our major problems has been how to keep working when emergency situations cause our office to shut down,” Williams says. “Last week, our office in Christchurch was closed for two days because of snow. But because we use Office 365, people were just able to go home and continue working.”

Work from Anywhere with Remote Access

DRSL’s adjudicators and mediators sometimes work remotely, up to 50% of the time. Now they can easily get to email and calendars through their laptops, smartphones, or other mobile devices. “Exchange Online has improved our remote access, therefore the flexibility of our business and our ability to cope with unforeseen circumstances,” says Williams.

More Flexibility to Add and Remove Users

Of the roughly 110 people working for DRSL, about 87 are permanent staff. The others are part-time workers or contractors. The monthly, per-user subscription has made it simpler and cost-effective to manage this highly variable workforce. If one employee leaves, his or her license can easily be reassigned to someone else. “Office 365 has given us more flexibility and continuity, with less effort,” Williams says.

Reduce Burden on IT Support

With easy user account management and automatic data backups, DRSL’s IT staff can free up more of their time. “We no longer have to train new users, because Office 365 is intuitive and easy to use,” Williams says. DRSL also uses Windows Intune, which enables PC management and security in the cloud. This ensures even better performance, with less support from the IT department.

Next, DRSL plans to explore other components of Office 365, including Lync Online, a set of virtual collaboration tools Williams expects will reduce costs, and SharePoint Online for file sharing.

“Office 365 improves productivity through a more intuitive user interface. But it’s also boosted our productivity by making it easier to resolve user issues,” Williams says.

Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft Office 365 brings together cloud versions of our most trusted communications and collaboration products—Microsoft SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and Lync Online—with the latest version of our Office desktop suite and companion web applications for businesses of all sizes.

Office 365 helps save time and money, and it frees up valued resources. Simple to use and easy to administer, it is financially backed by a service level agreement guaranteeing 99 percent reliability. Office 365 features robust security, IT-level phone support, geo-redundancy, disaster recovery, and the business-class privacy controls and standards that you expect from a world-class service provider.

For more information about Microsoft Office 365, go to:


For more information about Datacom products and services, visit the website at:


For more information about Dispute Resolution Services products and services, visit the website at:


This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Solution Overview

Organization Size: 110 employees

Organization Profile

Dispute Resolution Services Limited helps people and organisations settle disputes that might otherwise lead to time in the courtroom.

Business Situation

When Dispute Resolution Services Limited separated from its parent company, it took the opportunity to improve its technology, offering workers better remote access and gaining flexible licensing.


Microsoft Office 365 gives employees mobile access to email with Exchange Online, saves time in setting up and managing user accounts, and provides flexibility in terms of licensing software.


  • Mobile email access
  • Less IT administration
  • Flexible licensing

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Exchange Online
  • Lync Online
  • SharePoint Online

Vertical Industries
Professional Services

New Zealand

Business Need
Business Productivity