The Akshaya Patra Foundation serves midday meals to underprivileged children. It uses technology to maximize efficiency and minimize costs. To accommodate more users, improve communication, increase uptime and decrease costs, it transitioned
from the existing on-premise Microsoft Exchange Server to Microsoft Office 365, the cloud-based service. In addition, it deployed Dynamics AX to improve financial management and bring transparency to its operations. With these, Akshaya Patrahas benefited from
better communication and collaboration, and messaging with Exchange Online and Lync Online. It will soon facilitate sharing of documents and reports using SharePoint Online. The new, hosted service reduces the administrative burden on the IT team. The solution
improves uptime from 75 percent to 100 percent and reduces the operating cost by 50 percent.
||We have acquired the combined power of email, calendaring, collaboration and communication solutions….an improved level of efficiency and better coordination using Microsoft solutions.
| Shridhar Venkat
Executive Director, The Akshaya Patra Foundation
In 2000, ISKCON Bangalore founded The Akshaya Patra Foundation. Its initial motivation was to provide midday meals to 1,500 disadvantaged children in five government schools. In 2003, it partnered with the Karnataka Government under the midday meal scheme.
Today, it has 20 branches across India. It works with central and state governments in 10 states. The organization distributes freshly cooked, healthy meals to 1.3 million underprivileged children in 9,000 government schools each day.
Akshaya Patra uses technology to maximize efficiency and minimize costs, time and labor in both cooking and delivery. It has kitchens in 20 locations and an on-ground team of 5,800 people. Another 400 members manage the operations. Built on a public-private
partnership, Akshaya Patra also has supporting chapters in the United States and United Kingdom. These chapters raise money through donations and contributions.
Until the organization had a few locations within Karnataka, it was using a Linux-based, POP3 email service, along with a free instant messaging solution. With growth, branch operations and activities expanded across the country. Continuing with unstructured
communication solutions was not advisable. As a first step to improve the scenario, the organization deployed Microsoft Exchange Server in 2008 at its Bangalore head office to streamline and monitor emails.
Several factors led to the rapid growth of the foundation: government partnership, better fund raising, and setting up of new centers within India and abroad. For more structured and transparent processes and better management, Akshaya Patra also deployed
an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution.
Solution Finding the Right ERP
In 2009, The Akshaya Patra Foundation decided to deploy Microsoft Dynamics AX. “We wanted to consolidate all our data, and centralize information management and reporting. We found Dynamics AX to be an ideal solution.”
Most of the members donate time and money. There are also full-time employees. These people are not IT-savvy, but with a simple and familiar user interface, akin to Microsoft Office, the ERP adoption grew manifold.
Upgrading to Microsoft Office 365
With newer locations coming up and many more active members accessing the computer systems to update data in ERP, the need for email also grew exponentially to550 users. To meet this challenge, Akshaya Patra had to make some stop-gap arrangements. Says Vijaya
Kumar, Assistant Manager IT, The Akshaya Patra Foundation, “We initially reduced the mailbox size from 250MB to 100MB. We also encouraged people to store data in Outlook Personal Folders. But, smaller mailboxes meant more frequent back-ups that put additional
pressure on our IT support team.”
Since Akshaya Patra is a charitable organization with a very small IT set-up, maintaining uptime of an on-premise solution was one of its biggest challenges. Microsoft Partners trained the IT team to monitor and release emails but when there were server
issues, the team would face problems. Vijaya Kumar continues, “Due to an increasing number of users, the server was working at maximum capacity, leading to frequent outages and server failures. Thus, we were maintaining uptime as low as 75 percent.”
The management then decided to upgrade the system. Instead of merely upgrading the existing on-premise solution, it devised a long-term strategy to migrate to a flexible, yet scalable online solution. Since Akshaya Patra depends upon its donors and therefore
cannot predict growth with surety, it opted for the subscription-based Microsoft Office 365 online solution.
“We already had on-premise Microsoft Exchange Server, so migrating to online Microsoft was not only pocket-friendly but also easier for users already familiar with the interface,” says Somashekar Manjunath, General Manager ─ Finance, The Akshaya Patra Foundation.
It promised a simple transition, high uptime and scalability to meet growth prospects.
In October 2012,the organization migrated to Office 365. The services included Microsoft Exchange Online cloud-based email service with calendaring and Outlook Web App, SharePoint Online, an enterprise-level collaboration framework and Lync Online for instant
The organization procured 230 E1 licenses for executive users, who would also benefit from Lync and SharePoint. Simultaneously, it obtained 320 P1 licenses for users who need only email service. “Besides paying for a per-user-basis model, obtaining two types
of licenses is more cost effective,” says Somashekar Manjunath.
The migration process took only two days. The transition was seamless. During the migration process, users accessed their emails via Outlook Web Access to avoid any interruption in work. Simultaneously, a 10-member team worked to archive old emails. Users
continued using Microsoft Office Outlook, including e-mail, calendar, contacts, and personal archive, with the advantage of a 25GB mailbox. ”With 25 GB mailboxes, we no longer worry about mailbox size or impact on storage costs or archiving,” says Janaki Vallabha
Dasa, Division Head─IT.
Deploying Online Collaboration Tools
||Since we have moved to Office 365, we have not yet experienced any email downtime.
| Jayaganesh G
Manager ─ IT,
The Akshaya Patra Foundation
SharePoint Online and integration of Active Directory with Office 365 is underway. The SharePoint portal will allow access to documents and will publish reports generated by Dynamics AX. “We will be able to share information across the Foundation from the
portal. Besides, we will use the intranet to conduct surveys, fill and update forms, and create workflows,” says Vinay N Kumar, General Manager – Operations, The Akshaya Patra Foundation.
More importantly, SharePoint Online will simplify library management and enable the Human Resources team to efficiently disperse information and manage the workforce and volunteers dispersed across 20 locations.
With Lync Online, the marketing and fund raising teams will enhance information sharing and bring simplicity. This will facilitate collaboration across the teams in India and abroad.
Akshaya Patra has seen an improvement in email reliability and collaboration services accompanied with reduced IT expenses and better information sharing and reporting.
Improves Uptime, Reduces IT Burden
Prior to Office 365, the downtime was as high as 25 percent. The IT team was always on its toes due to frequent outages, server down time, and poor storage capacity. “Since we have moved to Office 365, we have not experienced any email downtime,” states
Jayaganesh G, Manager ─ IT, The Akshaya Patra Foundation. “Microsoft takes cares of all upgrades and maintenance issues and assures 99.99 percent uptime. We need not worry about IT infrastructure to manage the same.”
Besides reducing the IT burden, the organization has observed a significant reduction in support costs after deploying cloud-based services.
Reduces Costs, Simplifies Licensing
The economics of Office 365 is a huge advantage for us. With the subscription model, the organization can easily increase or decrease the number of users/licenses, depending upon growth. The team is no longer dependent on IT infrastructure and storage capacity
to increase users.
At the same time, options to use different types of licenses as per users’ requirements further save costs. “We are paying much less for 25GB mailboxes as compared to what we were paying for 250 MB mailboxes in an on-premise set- up. We thus save approximately
INR 1,200 per mail box annually,” calculates Janaki Vallabha Dasa, Division Head IT, The Akshaya Patra Foundation.
Saves Time, Ensures Collaboration
With regular, on time, updated accounts from the 20 centers, the ability to bring transparency, plan funding and manage operating expenses has become simple.
Lync Online has become a favorite amongst the senior management and international team responsible for fund raising. It helps Akshaya Patra members connect across locations, share instant messages, conduct online meetings, and enjoy a rich set of communication
and collaboration tools.
After SharePoint deployment, document sharing will not only ease working but will save time by 10 person-hours per day. Users can remain up-to-date with the latest business. They can collaborate on documents, even when they are offline.
Improves Efficiency with Better Tools
The organization has acquired a suite of productivity tools along with a robust ERP backbone for the organization. This matches its long- term growth patterns, supports productivity, and reduces business disruption.“With Office 365, we have acquired the
combined power of email, calendaring, collaboration and communication solutions,” says Shridhar Venkat, Executive Director, The Akshaya Patra Foundation. The organization runs efficiently and coordinates with employees, donors, volunteers, and beneficiaries.“We
have achieved an improved level of efficiency and better coordination using Microsoft solutions.”
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
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For more information about The Akshaya Patra Foundation products and services, call (91)(80)(30143400) or visit the website at:www.akshayapatra.org
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