Chartered insurance broker improves communication and adds flexibility with Microsoft Online Services
Reading-based chartered insurance broker, Macbeth, needed a new, high-performance IT system to ensure that everyone in the company had access to files, email, contacts and diaries wherever they were working, whether teleworking, home-working, on their smartphone or in the office.
Microsoft Exchange Online allowed the company to move its email system to a Microsoft data centre and access messages, diaries and calendars over the internet. Microsoft SharePoint Online gave Macbeth secure, online storage for business-critical files and information.
Now everyone has access to the information they need to get on with their job, wherever they work and the company has a virtually paperless office. Microsoft technology has given Macbeth the advanced technology it needs to continue delivering an efficient personal service.
Macbeth, a Reading-based chartered insurance broker, has two distinct personalities. To its business and private customers, it provides a high quality, personal service. But inside the business, the directors want to run a high-performance company that supports flexible working, paperless offices and IT-enabled collaboration. It’s a modern company with traditional values.
Thanks to Microsoft, everything’s online and we’re completely paperless which is great."
Tony Gibbs, Sales Director, Macbeth
However, their IT systems were holding them back. “The problem was that some of the guys were storing files on their own computers,” says Tony Gibbs, Sales Director. This meant that other people couldn’t easily access them. Worse, if people wanted to work from home, they had no easy way to get hold of files that were stored back in the office. People found it equally difficult to share contacts and diaries.
The second challenge was that the company is growing and needed to become more flexible. For example, it had recently hired people to help with telemarketing and customer service but they wanted to work from home. Similarly, existing staff and directors wanted the option to work from home occasionally. The company needed IT systems that supported this kind of flexibility.
Macbeth switched to the latest technology from Microsoft - SharePoint Online and Exchange Online – to solve these problems.
To sort out document sharing, the company selected SharePoint Online. It lets everyone store, share and edit files on a central, internet-hosted file server. Macbeth’s staff can save files directly to SharePoint from Microsoft Word or Excel or they can access files using any web browser and even edit them online using Microsoft Office Web Apps.
At the same time, they replaced their old email server with the new cloud-hosted system, Exchange Online. Not only does it give the entire company access to their emails from Outlook but it also lets them share diaries and contacts easily. As with SharePoint, they can also access the system from a web browser or even a smartphone.
Macbeth is already benefitting from the new technology. “We made it a policy that people use SharePoint to store files,” says Gibbs, “It’s password-protected on a need-to-know basis and it works really well.” Because all the company’s business files are stored in the same place, everyone who needs access has it. No more hidden files buried on someone’s laptop.
They also use SharePoint’s intranet features to share other information, such as links to insurance companies’ websites and they have also built a basic customer relationship management system that lets the company track leads and sales. Combined with desktop scanners and a cloud-based insurance system, SharePoint Online lets Macbeth operate a completely paper-free office.
Exchange Online has also helped the company enormously. Directors can get their email on smartphones or at home and teleworkers have access to the same systems, email and files as their office-based colleagues.
Without SharePoint and Exchange Online, “we would have been stuck with something that wasn’t really suited to our needs as our business expands.” It would have cost them thousands of pounds to replace their existing server (compared with a predictable monthly per-user fee for Microsoft’s service). Microsoft’s new cloud technology has become an indispensible part of their business. In fact, when their old server died recently after a major hardware failure, the company just decided not to replace it all. Exchange and SharePoint Online were already doing everything they needed.