Netherlands-based financial services provider Accounting Plaza wanted to develop a solution to support the management of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementation project. Microsoft Certified Partner ARC Consulting recommended the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite to simplify and improve collaboration between the different parties involved in one of its customer’s ERP migration schemes. Through cloud computing with Microsoft Online Services, the costs associated with purchasing individual licences are lowered because the service is available on a subscription model. All project information can be found in one location, which streamlines project management, decision making, and monitoring of task fulfilment. Time and costs associated with travelling for meetings have been cut, and the Business Productivity Online Standard Suite licences can be reused at the end of the project if required for other work.Situation
Founded in 2000, Accounting Plaza is one of the largest independent financial services companies in the Netherlands. It has branches in Poland, the Czech Republic, and India, and provides outsourced accountancy and human resources, as well as business process consultancy. The firm also offers project management services, operational support, and enterprise resource planning (ERP) backup.
One Accounting Plaza customer wanted to migrate its ERP solution to the latest version of the software, making the company more efficient and improving business processes. The project has involved Microsoft Certified Partner ARC Consulting, which specialises in business consulting services, project management, process analysis, and ERP implementation.
The migration project is complex, and will take more than a year to complete. It involves the Accounting Plaza customer, employees from Accounting Plaza departments in two countries, ARC Consulting, and the ERP system vendor. Krzysztof Czeczot, Project Manager at ARC Consulting, says: “This involved the creation of an internet platform that could be set up and configured quickly.
||"The solutions needed to provide easy access to project information and simplify communication among all participants.”
ARC Consulting specialises in offering services that involve the use of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server collaboration technology and Microsoft Online Services solutions. For Accounting Plaza, it suggested a cloud-based solution using Microsoft Online Services—the software-plus-services approach.
The Accounting Plaza ERP customer decided to deploy Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite, which includes Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online, Microsoft Office Communications Online, and Microsoft Office Live Meeting tools. With this model, the company doesn’t need to worry about maintenance or physical infrastructure—it simply pays a monthly subscription for 50 users, all of whom enjoy the latest versions of the software.
SharePoint Online was used to develop a portal for the project, including a document archive, project calendar, and mechanisms for informing users about events. A spokesperson for Accounting Plaza says: “The portal holds all the information users need. Documents, document templates, minutes of meetings—they’re all available in one location, accessible to the people involved in the project.”
Documents are created using applications forming part of the Microsoft Office suite of products. This makes it possible, for example, to take advantage of metadata saved in Word or Excel documents to organise the document library. Integration of SharePoint Online with the client’s Microsoft Office Outlook messaging and collaboration client means that all project deadlines are entered automatically into participants’ calendars. For most of them, this is not the only project that they’re working on, so with this synchronisation of the project calendar with individual calendars, managers can easily find out if the tasks for different projects conflict.
SharePoint Online helps employees manage tasks. The portal also has a list of problems—if a critical problem is published, information about it is sent automatically to all participants, using the distribution list. Another feature of Business Productivity Online Standard Suite—Exchange Online—is used to look after distribution lists and contacts.
The Office Live Meeting service provides the environment to conduct virtual meetings for project teams and groups, where face-to-face meetings would be difficult. Microsoft Office Communications Online is also used. With this tool, project participants can access real-time information about the availability of their colleagues—and how best to contact them.Benefits
The solution developed by ARC Consulting using Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite has been working effectively. All project information can be found in one location, which speeds up and simplifies project management, decision making, and monitoring of task fulfilment. The system fully supports the introduction of new document versions and is responsible for archiving them. The integration of calendars and notification of users about approaching deadlines—as well as about tasks that have been completed or delayed—helps employees manage the project more effectively.
Business Productivity Online Standard Suite Ensures Rapid Project Initiation
The use of Business Productivity Online Standard Suite helped to configure the solution required for the project quickly. Czeczot says: “From the time I requested the service, it took three days for the first functions to be available to users.
Subscription Licensing Eases Cash Flow
||"After two weeks, the solution was complete. Now we’re just fine-tuning it. Only Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite could make it possible to develop a solution in such a short time.”
With Microsoft Online Services and the pay-as-you-go model, the costs associated with purchasing licences were significantly reduced. Usually, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server can only be used by one organisation, but with Business Productivity Online Standard Suite, users from all companies can access it. In addition, the suite also makes organisation easier for Accounting Plaza. Senior managers no longer need to decide which companies should buy the servers and licences, where the solution should be located, and who should manage it.
Productivity Boost Through Virtual Meetings
Virtual meetings have replaced face-to-face talks in many cases, which is increasing productivity and cutting the costs associated with business trips. Project-related communications can take place over the internet. “With Business Productivity Online Standard Suite, we’ve significantly reduced our telephone bills, particularly roaming costs. We now have full control over projects. There’s easy access to a complete archive of documents, and we can organise team meetings without having to bring the entire team together at one location,” says an Accounting Plaza spokesperson.
Licences Available for Reuse on Other Projects
Specialists at Microsoft data centres take care of the operation and maintenance of Business Productivity Online Standard Suite. This frees its customers’ IT staff for other tasks. An important consideration for Accounting Plaza is that after completing the project it can stop using the Business Productivity Online Standard Suite licences or use some or all of them to develop another solution.Microsoft Online Services
Microsoft Online Services are business-class communication and collaboration solutions delivered as a subscription service and hosted by Microsoft. With these offerings, customers can cost-effectively access the most up-to-date technologies and immediately benefit from streamlined communications, simplified management, and business-class reliability and security features. For IT staffers, Microsoft Online Services are backed by strong service level agreements and help reduce the burden of performing routine IT management, freeing up time to focus on core business initiatives.
For more information, visit:
For More Information
For further information about Microsoft products and services, please visit:
or call 0870 60 10 100*
For hearing impaired customers with a Minicom, contact: 0870 50 30 400*
*Lines are open 8am–6pm, Monday to Friday. Please note, numbers prefixed 0870 will be charged at national call rates. For details of national call rate charges, please contact your telecommunications provider.
For more information about ARC Consulting products and services, call or visit the website at:
For more information about Accounting Plaza products and services, call or visit the website at:
This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.