To support efficient email communication and increase productivity, educational service provider Educativa adopted the Google Mail cloud-based messaging service—but quickly decided that Google was not agile enough to integrate with the existing
infrastructure. When Educativa switched from Google to Microsoft Office 365, it doubled employee productivity, unified communications, and reduced IT budget, which was reallocated to higher-value projects.
In 2004, a group of Bucharest-based entrepreneurs formed Educativa, an organization with a mission to transform the Romanian educational system. By providing students with the information, skills, and connections they need to successfully gain admission
to institutions of higher learning, Educativa has become one of the most respected educational service providers in Romania. The organization’s 20 employees manage a network that includes more than 60 partner universities in Europe and the United States, 380
Romanian high schools that actively promote the company’s products and services, and 30,000 Romanian students a year.
Educativa employees communicate with this dynamic network primarily through email correspondence and electronic newsletters. To support this large volume of email traffic, the organization tested several messaging and collaboration solutions, including a
Linux-based email server. Educativa quickly discovered that this solution was not scalable or reliable.
“We were losing important leads because a considerable amount of correspondence was classified as spam and got caught in email filters,” says Bogdan Kochesch, Business Manager at Educativa. “Students, parents, and professors thought that we weren’t responding
to their requests because our messages didn’t reach their inboxes. It was frustrating because we were working hard to collect data and identify potential leads. It also had a negative effect on our reputation.”
||Before Office 365, I wasted 30 percent of my time managing Google Apps and the problems that it generated. Now, I can focus on developing new products that increase the company’s revenue.
| Bogdan Kochesch
Business Manager, Educativa
Educativa decided that a cloud-based solution would be more cost-effective than an on-premises option, and after a brief cost analysis, opted for Google Apps cloud services. The organization integrated its existing Microsoft Outlook 2010 messaging and collaboration
client with the Google Mail cloud-based messaging service. The implementation was completed quickly, but Educativa soon realized that this solution only made its problems worse, with synchronization problems developing between the client application and the
online service. “Not only were some messages never delivered, others appeared to remain stuck in the outbox and employees ended up sending the same message multiple times,” Kochesch explains. “We even tried using the Google Mail web interface and Office Outlook
separately, but that reduced our productivity even more.”
After struggling with Google Apps for 10 months, Educativa abandoned the solution and adopted Microsoft Office 365—a subscription-based offering of Microsoft cloud services—which includes Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft
Lync Online, and Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010. After a one-month trial in July 2011—as soon as Office 365 became available in Romania—Educativa began working with PRAS Consulting, a member of the Microsoft Partner Network, to complete the migration.
Within one month, the solution was available to all Educativa employees.
“The integration between Exchange Online and our existing Outlook client is seamless,” says Kochesch. “And not only do we finally have a reliable email solution, we have access to other tools that help us manage documents and effectively organize internal
collaboration.” Educativa uses SharePoint Online to provide employees with “anytime, anywhere” access—they can now collaborate remotely without synchronization errors, and can even view and edit Microsoft Office documents directly in their browsers.
By switching from Google to Microsoft Office 365, Educativa increased productivity, reduced IT costs, and improved communication with stakeholders.
Unified Communications Boost Productivity
By using Office 365, Educativa employees efficiently responded to more than 25,000 email requests for information about its products and services, and provided educational counseling services to 3,200 students during the 2011–2012 academic year. By
eliminating inefficiencies in email management with Exchange Online and improving knowledge-sharing with SharePoint Online, each Educativa consultant can now support 600 students—twice as many as before adopting Office 365.
This increased productivity has been noted companywide. “Before Office 365, I wasted 30 percent of my time managing Google Apps and the problems that it generated,” Kochesch says. “Now, I can focus on developing new products that increase the company’s revenue.”
Lower IT Costs Mean More Budget for Value-Added Investments
Because Office 365 is subscription based, Educativa has eliminated server infrastructure costs and reallocated IT budget to other technology projects. “We are a small company and cannot afford major IT costs,” Kochesch explains. “Office 365 doesn’t
involve an initial investment, but monthly payments instead, so we avoided [US]$3,000 in infrastructure costs and another $300 each month by not having to invest in large Internet packages. Now we can invest these funds in other projects.”
Better Communication Fosters Improved Reputation
By ensuring effective and rapid communication with all stakeholders, Educativa has elevated its reputation in the industry. “The communication gaps that occurred with Google Apps affected how students viewed us,” Kochesch says. “By adopting Office
365, we eliminated these situations and have reestablished our reputation, which is important in differentiating ourselves from the competition and increasing our market share.
“We are a small company and every expense counts,” Kochesch concludes. “We keep a close eye on whether our investments and operational expenses add to or reduce productivity and business growth. The price of Google Apps may have been less, but the true cost
in terms of lost productivity and the effect on our reputation was much too high.”
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