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When FHI 360 wanted to move to cloud-based business productivity services, the organization decided to implement a Microsoft cloud-based solution. We recently spoke to Douglas Wilkins, Director of IT Infrastructure at FHI 360, to learn how the company is benefiting:
Q: Please tell us about FHI 360.
Douglas Wilkins: FHI 360 is a nonprofit human development organization dedicated to improving lives in lasting ways by advancing integrated, locally driven solutions. Our staff includes experts in health, education, nutrition, environment, economic development, civil society, gender equality, youth, research, technology, communication, and social marketing-creating a unique mix of capabilities to address today’s interrelated development challenges. FHI 360 serves more than 60 countries and all US states and territories.
Q: Why did you want to move to cloud-based services for messaging and collaboration?
Wilkins: We had a diverse IT infrastructure. Employees in the US had different IT toolsets and Internet access than staff in countries like Mozambique. Subscribing employees to a single, cloud-based solution was the most expedient way to ensure that everyone had the same IT tools, to work efficiently regardless of location. Migrating our communication and collaboration technologies to the cloud reduced much of the time required by our IT staff to manage divergent IT infrastructures and connectivity options found around the world.
Q: What criteria did you use to select Microsoft as your vendor for cloud-based business productivity services?
Wilkins: We wanted a vendor that demonstrated a real interest in our mission and goals, and that offered online business productivity tools tailored for the enterprise space. The capabilities of the Microsoft Services Consulting team, and the work of Intellinet, the partner Microsoft introduced us to, provided us with that. We migrated our 4,300 staff members around the world from diverse platforms to a Microsoft Office 365 environment in less than 22 weeks. This would not have been possible without the support of Microsoft and Intellinet. The other important differentiator was the product road map: During the Office 365 Technology Adoption Program, we got concrete evidence of the new features and functionality that’s coming with the next iteration of Office 365.
Q: How has Office 365 changed the way people work at FHI 360?
Wilkins: Now everyone is using the latest business productivity software to work to their best ability. All of our staff can connect using use cloud-based email and calendars, instant messaging, and presence services on their PCs, laptops, and mobile devices. Our ability to share our collective knowledge within an international environment is a great advantage.
Q: What other benefits are you seeing from Office 365?
Wilkins: We are a more agile organization with Office 365. FHI 360 can provision new employees quickly to expedite setting up field projects and handing them over to local stakeholders to benefit communities. Right now we have a project with 170 new employees. Before it would have taken from two to eight weeks, depending on the location, to provision servers and deploy software, but with Office 365 it’s a matter of a couple of hours.
With Office 365, we can reduce IT costs by retiring third-party solutions and decommissioning aging servers. And now we can put an exact number to the cost of supporting an employee with business productivity tools. Another great benefit of Office 365 for a nonprofit organization is that we don’t need large outlays of capital for physical infrastructure.