Accelerating our move to the cloud

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Today’s post was written by Tony Striefel, former Lieutenant CCIP, Professional Standards and Technology Division at the Richland Police Department in Richland, Washington.

In law enforcement, the ideals of public service need to stay at the forefront. At the Richland Police Department, we believe in working as a cohesive team to protect and serve, and we don’t think paperwork and red tape should get in the way. We want our police officers to focus on engaging with their communities and remaining visible in order to curb crime.

We decided to invest in technology solutions that would support our officers so that they could spend more time in the field with the public and less time at their desks at the station. We chose Microsoft Office 365 because we saw that it would give us everything we wanted in terms of collaboration, mobility and analytics, while complying with all the law enforcement standards that we knew we’d need to continue to meet.

But making the leap to the cloud presented some challenges for us. We have no dedicated IT workers—the city’s IT staff supports all its departments. We were also under some time pressure to deploy Office 365 before the next budget cycle began. Plus, the city didn’t have a lot of internal expertise with cloud technologies, so there was a degree of hesitation about our ability to succeed.

That’s why we relied on Microsoft FastTrack.* When we talked to the FastTrack team, we were assured that our aggressive timeline was doable. We’d have ongoing help from a FastTrack Architect and several FastTrack Engineers, along with a clear method for breaking down the migration project into digestible pieces. We worked with FastTrack to assess our existing on-premises environment and see which changes needed to be made for future success. The FastTrack team helped us evaluate our Active Directory structure, identify potential firewall issues and make adjustments using best practices. We discovered issues we hadn’t been aware of, things that could have caused real problems in the move to Office 365, so we were really happy to find and resolve those errors ahead of time.

One of the elements of FastTrack that we found especially helpful was the ability to prime our cloud environment for adoption plans and scenarios that we might want to take advantage of both immediately and in the future. For example, we looked at the FastTrack scenarios and the Office 365 project management capabilities and figured out the best way to apply those to law enforcement. We saw how we should set up our Office 365 services so that we can optimize our use of them down the road.

Using FastTrack helped us stay organized as we went through the process, which we particularly appreciated given that our project team included internal police department and city IT staff members. It’s such a well-thought-out service—for instance, we assigned tasks to team members and tracked progress through a Microsoft SharePoint Online site that was created for us. That helped us plan ahead so that our IT team members could fit our department’s migration tasks into their other responsibilities, which was key because they had a lot to juggle citywide throughout our cloud adoption. During the course of the migration, two FastTrack Engineers became valuable virtual members of our project team. They instantly melded with our group because they understood our challenges early on, including the aspects of our environment that we just couldn’t change, and they helped us navigate those challenges.

Perhaps best of all, working with the FastTrack Engineers meant that we could jump right to the cloud without first becoming experts in cloud technology. If we hadn’t used FastTrack, we would have needed to do well over 12 months of research before we could have even begun the actual migration. With FastTrack, we saved at least nine months of valuable time because we could take on the project but keep a flatter learning curve. Our IT team members were amazed by how quickly they were able to deploy Office 365 and how comfortable they felt with it by the time we finished.

Part of that comfort came from all the documentation and training videos that are up on the FastTrack site. Those resources not only supported IT staff knowledge but also provided us with materials to share with our users to speed adoption. We had access to everything from announcement emails to training videos on how to use specific Office 365 tools and services. Having those materials at the ready freed our team up for other work while still ensuring that we could give employees what they needed to be successful with their new Office 365 capabilities.

Overall, we’re confident that working with FastTrack helped us accelerate our transition, optimize our Office 365 environment and position ourselves to stay ahead of the game as new capabilities launch.

—Tony Striefel

Read the full story to learn how the Richland Police Department benefits from using Office 365.

To learn more about FastTrack, visit FastTrack.microsoft.com and become familiar with what our customer success service has to offer.

*FastTrack is available to customers with 50 seats and above with eligible plans. Refer to FastTrack Center Benefit for Office 365 for eligibility details.

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