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FIT’s deployment of Office 365 has not only improved efficiency at the NGO organisation, it has also spawned a fresh business opportunity that can create sustainable jobs.

Published: June 2011


FIT, fastrack to IT, is a not for profit organisation that develops and promotes technology-based programmes and career development opportunities for the unemployed. An industry-led initiative, it works in close collaboration with Government departments and training agencies. Since its inception in 1999, some 11,000 people have completed FIT training programmes and of these over 7,500 have secured employment.

Microsoft has partnered closely with FIT over the years, providing financal donations, knowledge, technical resources and people, in support of this worthwhile initiative. Microsoft has also provided work experience opportunities for graduates of FiT programmes.

FIT’s mission is to promote an inclusive smart economy by building marketable skills for those at risk of long-term unemployment. “I have always liked the Microsoft philosophy of unlimited potential and the idea of bringing technology to everyone. Nobody should be marginalised from the digital world,” says Peter Davitt, Chief Executive of FIT.

At a time of record unemployment in Ireland, the demand for FiT’s services has grown substantially. Ironically, the IT industry is also experiencing skills shortages in key areas. Matching these two requirements is now central to the work of FIT ““There’s a huge need for smart people with smart skills in this industry and there are great opportunities if we stay ahead of the ball,” he says.

Microsoft’s involvement with FIT has a number of dimensions. Firstly, there is the corporate social responsibility aspect of helping the long-term unemployed gain marketable skills for the workplace. Secondly, there is the opportunity to demonstrate and apply software solutions for the not for profit sector. Thirdly, working with FIT, Microsoft is helping to create a pipeline of talent in areas where real skills shortages have been identified within the IT industry.

“FIT is a creative and innovative organisation that is doing great work. It is also very responsive to the changing needs of the market and has demonstrated the ability to think outside the box which is why Microsoft is delighted to work closely with it,” says Orla Hogan, Head of Communications at Microsoft.

How Office 365 has helped FiT

With increasing demand for its services, FIT is constantly looking at ways in which it can operate more efficiency and cost effectively. Earlier this year, FIT deployed Microsoft’s Office 365. It has already resulted in significant savings and productivity improvements for the organisation. “I am not generally easily enthused about new technology launches but I am hugely impressed with Office365,” says Peter Davitt. “For example, we have offices in Dublin, Cork and Belfast and we can meet and collaborate very effectively using Sharepoint within Office 365. We can upload files that everyone can share and work on during these meetings, regardless of their location,” he says.

Using this technology, colleagues are now collaborating on a daily basis, sharing and editing information in real time, confident in the knowledge they are working on the latest version of documents. Diaries can also be accessed instantly and meetings can be scheduled with ease.

Moreover, Peter Davitt says that real cost savings have been achieved through the use of Office 365 in areas such as paper, postage and telephone calls. “It’s been a very cost effective technology for us to deploy. We calculate that the cost is equivalent to 4 per user, per week,” he says. “It’s also been a very easy technology platform to migrate to with a very intuitive feel. Within days we were seeing real benefits,’ he adds.

FIT is also currently transferring all of its technology solutions to the cloud. This will enable it to access the latest versions of all of the software it needs to run its business, without the heavy on-going investment associated with buying and maintaining its own IT servers and maintenance.

Spawning a business opportunity

Having integrated the Office 365 solution and begun migrating to the cloud, FIT quickly saw how other not-for-profit organisations, start-ups and small businesses could benefit from deploying the same solutions. Peter Davit now sees the potential to launch a business where FIT graduates help these smaller organisations achieve savings.

“Some traditional IT solutions can be very general in nature and it’s hard for clients to see specific benefits. Here, it is very easy to create demonstrations of how not-for-profits or start-ups can save money in areas such as invoicing and postage, for example. There’s a really compelling business case with this technology,” he says.

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:

Solution Overview

FIT, Fastrack to IT

Microsoft Software
Microsoft Office 365


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About Microsoft in Ireland:
The Irish Sales, Services and Marketing Operation of Microsoft was established in 1991. The full-time team market all Microsoft products and services in the island of Ireland, targeting customers both North and South. The team services customers across all segments including enterprise, small and medium sized businesses and home computer users. In addition to developing desktop products, Microsoft provides tailored consultancy services and solutions to suit enterprise businesses. Microsoft is continuing to concentrate on its relationship with the Irish enterprise market - the top 100 companies in the island of Ireland. Enterprise customers of Microsoft include the Department of Education in Northern Ireland and the Civil Service Commission, Dublin.
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