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By Jennifer Freeman, Executive Director, Colorado Youth Corps Association
I've been working with the Colorado Youth Corps Association for 12 years and our job is to support Colorado youth corps through fund raising, contract management, lobbying, and communications with stakeholders and funders. There are just five of us on the staff and we are passionate about the value of youth corps programs, which, in Colorado, provide more than 1,600 young people each year with work opportunities on local conservation projects, and with job training and education. Before our move to Office 365, we were unable to find affordable business technology that met our needs. We require reliable email to do our work at the office, at home, or on the road, but until recently our email service was more of a hassle than a help.
We used a local IT provider for our website and to store our email and business data, and another third-party VPN solution to access our email. This bolted together solution was difficult to use, and our email didn't sync to our phones. It was difficult to keep track of old email, and trying to keep everything synced between our computer and phone was a challenge-not to mention time-consuming. Plus, the service was so slow that it was painful to access email and work from home. We couldn't even share calendars or send targeted email to specific groups. It felt like we were working with Band-aid solutions, and the communication gaps meant that we weren't as responsive to donors and stakeholders as we would have liked. Then one day, as I was complaining about this situation to Lance, our contact at Denver Desktop Support, he told me about Microsoft Office 365.
I saw the benefits of moving to Office 365 right away. The flexible pricing is right for us, we're familiar with Microsoft technologies, and we trust the Microsoft commitment to security and reliability, so we subscribed to Microsoft Office 365 for our email and calendaring. The migration was seamless; within 24 hours we were up and running and we could all keep our email addresses. Suddenly everything at work- not to mention at home and on the road-is so much easier!
I can't overestimate the difference that letting Microsoft run our email has made for everyone at the association. Now we have reliable email that is accessible and automatically synched on any of our devices, anywhere, at any time, without a VPN. I love our newfound consistency in email communication!
And even better, Office 365 fits our flexible work style. My contract manager doesn't have a laptop, but if she has to work from home, she can use her home computer and Outlook Web App to keep on top of her email. But my favorite feature is the ability to share calendars. We are more efficient about setting up meetings and ensuring that everyone will be there, and I can hide my private appointments on my calendar, which helps me keep work and home life organized. Honestly, I would have to say, you can't afford not to move to Office 365.
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