Inn Public is a chain of three London pubs. Owner Michael Richards wanted to replace the existing email and file server with a more reliable, cost-effective solution. He chose Microsoft Office 365 to provide an email system and create a central file store so managers could upload daily reports and access a shared calendar. Inn Public now has centralised email and documents. This gives the managers up-to-date information and helps them stay in touch with their staff without the worry and expense of buying and maintaining hardware and software.
The three gastro-pubs in the Inn Public group—The Dartmouth Arms, The Dolphin, and The Duke—employ 30 staff and are run by a husband-and-wife team. Since the first pub, owner Michael Richards had been a big fan of technology. For example, he uses Microsoft Excel spreadsheets for tracking daily takings at each location and he creates his own menus daily using Microsoft software.
But for email and file storage he was using a server that dated back to 2004. While it was still going strong, it ran an outdated version of Microsoft Small Business Server software and he worried that it was out of warranty and at risk of hardware failure. He used it as the hub of his business—sharing files and running email. Richards says: “I knew that one day I was going to turn it on and it wouldn’t work.”
Losing the server—and the email and files stored on it—would be a big problem. In looking for a replacement, he wanted to address three basic needs:
Sharing data between employees and locations
Keeping information secure
Ensuring that the system was reliable
At first, he tried to replace the server with another local storage device, but it didn’t hold email and on occasion locked users out. So, in 2010, Richards switched to Microsoft Exchange Online—part of the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite—to take care of email for nine users in the company. “Moving mail off our server was a great success,” he says.
||“The main thing about your data is that you don’t want to lose it. Now I know that it’s on Microsoft servers and that they’re taking care of everything. It’s secure, reliable, and easy to manage.”
Then, in 2011, he got the opportunity to upgrade from Business Productivity Online Standard Suite to Office 365. This added several new features, including the ability to create private team websites and shared calendars. “Now we have a shared calendar and everyone can see what’s going on, plus a document library that everyone can access,” says Richards. The system integrates perfectly with Microsoft Office, including Outlook, so Richards doesn’t need to train people to use it.Benefits
The pub group has seen real benefits from Office 365, including:
Centralised documents. “Now, there’s just one access and one system—this is the best way to share the data,” says Richards. People can log on from any web browser, check email, check the company calendar, and read or edit documents.
Up-to-date business information. The duty managers from each of the pubs log on daily and update the cashing up sheets. Richards says: “I can wake up in the morning and see how much we made the night before.” Similarly, they can update stock records online.
Saving money. Because employees can access Office 365 and work with documents using a web browser, Richards doesn’t need to buy extra software for every PC in the business. Instead, he has bought Microsoft Office software for the PCs he uses to manage the business. Richards says: “It’s a huge saving and it stops staff using our PCs for personal use.”
Less to worry about. With Microsoft taking responsibility for reliability, security, backup, and updates, Richards has less to worry about. He no longer loses sleep over the risk that an in-house server might fail suddenly.
Of course, running a chain of pubs is still a people business. And Office 365 gives Richards more time to see people on-site. But even here, it can help. He says: “A lot of times I left the office without the right documents, but now I can log on to Office 365 and print them out when I get there. It saves me half-hour round trip each time.”
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