Social service organizations are in the business of doing more with less, and that includes getting the most from their IT solutions. Australia’s Playgroup Queensland, an organization serving families throughout the state,
was struggling to run its complex operation on slow, costly, aging technology. The organization enlisted Telstra to upgrade its infrastructure to Microsoft Office 365, helping it focus less on IT and more on providing valuable services for families.
A Focus on Giving Back, Not Struggling with IT
One of Queensland’s largest nonprofits, Playgroup Queensland devotes itself to strengthening families, including those with special needs. Its staff of 90 provides playgroup and early intervention programs to more than 14,000 families, including 17,000 children,
throughout metropolitan and remote locations. Playgroup subsists on a combination of federal and state funding, donations, fundraising proceeds, and membership fees.
||Moving to the cloud has been a really positive experience. It's saved us a lot of money, it's increased our productivity, and the staff love it.
| Jennifer Mobbs
Chief Executive Officer
Playgroup relies on IT for day-to-day operations and service delivery as well as advocacy and fundraising efforts—but has a limited IT budget. Playgroup needed to replace its five aging servers to support organizational growth and maintain the quick responsiveness
it was known for. According to Rose O’Neill, Playgroup’s business services manager, the servers were slow to the point of blocking work. “It was almost impossible to access files, and really slow to send email,” she said.
The mounting cost of maintaining the failing servers was also a problem. Playgroup needed a cost-effective solution that would be “easy to use, easy to maintain, cost-efficient to manage, and, above all, easy to deploy,” said O’Neill. It also needed to serve
the 50 percent of employees who were connecting remotely.
Telstra Selected to Deploy Office 365 Solution That Aligns with Playgroup’s Funding Priorities
Playgroup investigated its options. Various specialists recommended buying a new server, but this idea didn’t sit well for Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Mobbs. She predicted the ongoing expenses related to server upkeep would be difficult to manage against
the company’s other program-related expenses.
Playgroup discovered that moving to the cloud provided a fast and easy solution for their technology, cost, and management issues. “It looked simple and cost-efficient for our needs,” Mobbs said. She also liked that working with a single service provider
would mean easier management down the line.
Playgroup chose Telstra to deploy Microsoft Office 365, an integrated, cloud-based suite of Microsoft Office applications based on familiar Microsoft technology the staff knew and trusted. The solution consisted of Microsoft Exchange for email, Microsoft
SharePoint for secure file sharing, and Microsoft Lync for collaboration through web conferencing, desktop sharing, and instant messaging.
Telstra’s expertise made it possible for Playgroup Queensland to deploy Office 365 quickly and without issues—allowing the organization to focus on families in need, rather than the new technology.
Playgroup Passed the Benefits Along to Families with Faster, More Responsive Service
O’Neill described the transition to Office 365 as “seamless” and the benefits were noticeable from day one. Email and company files were easy to access with a single log-on, and Outlook email looked the same—“so there was no learning curve,” O’Neill said.
Overall, the benefits of Telstra’s Office 365 solution translated to more time and resources left to devote to programs.
Productivity up by 50 Percent
With users throughout Queensland, anywhere access is a “must-have” for Playgroup. Office 365 gives users everywhere the same continuous email, web conferencing, and file sharing speed and reliability from any Internet-connected device, just about anywhere.
Playgroup estimates its productivity has increased by 50 percent since implementing the Telstra solution.
Simplified, Scalable IT That’s Kind to the Coffers
By deploying Office 365, Playgroup avoided upfront server expenditures. “We worked out that by the time we bought a new server and stored it, and had somebody manage it, it was going to cost us AU$46,000 a year,” said Mobbs. As it turned out, the solution
helped Playgroup reduce annual IT costs by over one third of Mobbs’ calculation. And with the solution’s simple-to-use, web-based tools and Telstra’s support, Playgroup was able to avoid the cost of employing an in-house IT specialist.
Over the long term, Playgroup stands to benefit from Telstra’s single-provider services and easy monthly payment, which help minimize costs and simplify management. And the solution will scale alongside the organization’s growth: Adding and changing services
and adding accounts is easy to do via the Office 365 online admin console.
The Cloud Pays Off in Professionalism, Better Service to Families
Moving operations to the cloud has profited Playgroup not just in savings but in high standards the organization can be proud of—and that will benefit the families it serves.
“With Office 365, we’re online all the time,” said O’Neill. “We’re able to communicate with our members, our staff, and our stakeholders, and provide the professional service that a professional business should be providing,” said O’Neill.
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Document published April 2013