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Today's post was written by Office 365 customer Robert Madsen, studio director, SynapticSwitch.
I founded SynapticSwitch in September of 2010. I've been a developer all my life, but got into game development in the last five years. I might run a small studio, but I get to work with programmers, game designers and artists from all over the United States with a shared purpose: to make games that entertain your brain and engage your adrenaline. I live and work in the small town of Alamosa, Colorado, so staying in touch with my contractors is essential to keeping the business running.
As a small business owner running a virtual team, I rely on digital communication and collaboration to keep us working productively together. In addition to creating our own games, we do a lot of contract work for customers. The first year we were in business, we used Google for email and calendaring-but it didn't meet a lot of our small company's needs. For example, I wanted everyone on the team to have the same email domain as my business in order to present a more professional image to our customers. And when your team is as far-flung as ours is, you need to be able to share calendars, which was difficult using Google. However, I couldn't afford to purchase an on-premises solution, like Microsoft Exchange Server. For my entire working life, I've used Microsoft products. For me, Microsoft Outlook is more than just email; it's an information repository of everything I know and everything I've done that relates to my work. I use it to search old project folders for one thing or another. So when I traveled, I had to upload these project files to Dropbox just in case I needed them. This was a cumbersome workaround. I wanted easy access to my Outlook files from anywhere.
Fortunately, along came Microsoft Office 365. With Microsoft Exchange Online, the flexible subscription model allows me to add or remove team members as the business requires. And I can easily assign @synapticswitch.com email addresses to colleagues, which adds a level of professionalism when working with our customers. Since we work as a virtual team, we've gained efficiency by using shared calendars to schedule meetings. But what I like the most about Exchange Online is that I can access all my email messages and Outlook files from anywhere. I am in the process of porting over all my old email files to Exchange Online so I can use them at home or while traveling. Using Outlook Web App is almost like working at your desktop. I really like the way I can organize my messages to follow specific conversations. And thanks to Office 365, I can access my mail and my calendar from my phone, assured that everything is up-to-date. With Exchange Online, I get the benefits of an Exchange Server without the hassle of deployment and maintenance. It has literally saved me $50,000 a year-that's news worth sharing.
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