International team work without boundaries, fully resourced with Office 365
Award-winning global Recruitment Consultancy prepares for ambitious growth with Microsoft Cloud
By Darren Franks, Managing Director, Eutopia Solutions
Eutopia is a leading provider of consulting and human capital solutions to the global technology and telecommunications industry. We have offices in the UK, Middle East and South Africa and to date, we've placed over 2,200+ talented individuals into senior commercial and technology roles in more than 70 countries.
We've built our strong market leadership position through an absolute commitment to customer results and long term relationships. We're a partnership-focused rather than transactional business and, as a core team of 25, we serve a small group of long-term clients. We're passionate about being technology-enabled to keep us at the forefront of our market. Having local presence in each of the countries we serve is also an important part of achieving that. Over the next 18 months, we have an ambitious expansion plan to double the size of the business and increase our presence in existing and newly emerging markets.
Early in 2013, we took the decision to move our business onto Office 365. Prior to that, we'd had a typically traditional IT environment; racks in a third-party data centre and a terminal server for remote access. As the business expanded and grew overseas, our IT environment became more and more unreliable and costly. Our international teams, in the Middle East and Africa, and individuals who traveled regularly, experienced the biggest issues. It was often hard to connect to the terminal server; when we were connected, speeds weren't good and it was hard to pull down content. There were increasing incidents of server outages and any IT support issues arising overseas often incurred inflated 'out of hours' support fees due to differences in time zones and working days. The whole situation was extremely frustrating and was starting to affect our performance and credibility.
A good example of this occurred when I was in Uganda last year. I had just taken a brief and the client wanted to see what resource we had available. I couldn't connect to the server and had to call colleagues to get the right information. Sadly, this wasn't an isolated incident. On occasions we even had to resort to using faxes! When you're pitching to high-tech clients and having to default to old technologies, it doesn't build confidence. Struggling to even access email was not good at all.
The catalyst for change came when we won a new contract with a large Sovereign Wealth Fund in Abu Dhabi. We resourced the project team to build them a Microsoft private cloud environment. It exposed us to the latest Microsoft tools and products and when we asked the consultants how we should address our own challenges, they all said Office 365! They showed us Lync and SharePoint and we were amazed and excited by what we saw. The scalability of the service was impressive and the cost per head was phenomenal, compared to what we were spending at that point.
Cloud technology specialist, Cloudamour, helped us build an Office 365 solution that would be scalable and straightforward; we didn't want servers and complicated networks. It had to be easy to manage, easy to support, cost effective and flexible enough to adapt to our changeable industry conditions. We looked at other cloud solutions but the closest comparison from Google just wasn't robust enough. A Microsoft solution gave us a smooth transition with no complexity for the users.
Cloudamour developed a detailed project plan to prepare us for migration. However, two weeks before our planned start, one of our Exchange servers literally blew up in the datacentre on a Sunday morning, without a back-up. Cloudamour quickly fast-tracked our plans and completed the migration of that server the same day with just 3 hours of downtime. The overall migration process was so much smoother than I had anticipated, completing in just over one week. Cloudamour managed any arising issues and everything executed beautifully. We were really satisfied with it.
Now fully in use, Office 365 continues to exceed all our expectations! It is cost effective, easy to use and scalable; plus it helps us work collaboratively to give our customers the best possible engagement. The user interface and levels of interactivity between Lync, SharePoint, Exchange/Outlook and the other Office applications are faultless. SharePoint has become our single document repository and vehicle for company collaboration, supported by SkyDrive for personal document sites. All team members irrespective of location or work style now enjoy the same unified experience.
Internal feedback has been very positive. We are seeing considerable benefit from being able to work in groups on bids, sharing screens and swiftly developing important content like pitch documents. The overseas teams in particular have really embraced Lync as a way of keeping in touch with colleagues around the world; its boosting morale as well as productivity. From a management perspective, we are able to archive and make management changes, like adding new users, very quickly. This is proving extremely useful as we continue to grow at pace and on-board new team members regularly.
As a business we are saving notable amounts of time every day. As Office 365 closely integrates with our CRM system, users can complete 90% of their regular daily tasks from one screen. And our connectivity issues are gladly a thing of the past; our remote workers are just as productive as those office-based.
Moving to Office 365 is directly saving us over £4,000 per month, cutting out datacentre hosting costs, equipment leasing, hardware to manage the environment, and an expensive support contract. We've reduced our licensing costs and being able to plan for business growth using an 'IT cost per head' model brings immense value. Cloudamour provide us with a first-class support service, levering Windows Intune, with 'out of hours' capability if we have an urgent issue; but it's fair to say with Office 365 issues are few and far between. They have proven to be a very valuable business partner; their knowledge and responsiveness is something we've never experienced as an SME.
Ultimately, Office 365 just really supports our brand. We've now got the leading edge products when we're talking to high-tech clients and that builds our credibility by demonstrating our genuine industry commitment. We're already looking ahead at complementary technologies, like Yammer, which will help us extend our capabilities further, and we're planning a complete refresh of our website which we'll be building on SharePoint.
We'll never look back! Remembering my uncomfortable client meeting in Uganda last year, I cannot believe how different our working life is. Today all I need is a web browser and everything is at my fingertips. Sat in an airport last week, I opened my laptop to respond to an opportunity that had just come up, and I was effectively sitting in my office. I would 100% advocate Office365 to any business.