Autry Museum improves support, reduces costs with cloud solutions

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If you’re fascinated by the American West, you can’t do better than a visit to Autry Museum. Through exhibitions, lectures, events, film, research and educational outreach programs, the Autry tells the stories of the diverse people, art, history and cultures of the region.

The Autry welcomes more than 200,000 visitors each year to its three sites in and around Los Angeles, a main campus in Griffith Park, the historic Southwest Museum in Mt. Washington, and a research and education facility in Burbank. When Autry staff work to manage exhibitions, special events or outreach programs, they need mobile tools to coordinate efforts across museum facilities.

“With public events throughout our campuses, we rely heavily on laptops, tablets and smartphones,” says Maren Dougherty, director of Communications and Marketing at the Autry Museum.

Prior to deploying Office 365 in 2014, the organization had been using Microsoft Office, and employees liked the Microsoft Outlook on the web app for email. But they couldn’t download attachments, share calendars or reserve campus event space easily on their mobile devices, which made it harder to coordinate events efficiently or collaborate on the fly. At the same time, the museum’s on-premises Microsoft Exchange Server was costing more to maintain while limiting inbox capacity—and staff productivity.

The right tools for the job

To provide museumgoers with the best possible experience, enhance employee collaboration and reduce IT maintenance, the Autry initially compared cloud-based Office 365 and Google Apps, ultimately deciding on Office 365. “We chose Office 365 for consistency, but also because employees use it to search and sort information in a variety of ways that are very useful for organizing their work,” says Rebecca Menendez, director of Information Services and Technology at Autry Museum.

In November 2014, the Autry IT team migrated 130 staff email accounts to Office 365. They started on Friday and completed the move by the time employees returned to work on Monday morning. “The transition was so smooth that I think a lot of people barely noticed the difference,” says Dougherty.

A mobile-productivity roundup

Since the Autry adopted Office 365, more staff have been responding to email, retrieving attachments, scheduling meetings and managing their calendars remotely. “Once we got to Office 365, everyone was thrilled to see that the calendars work seamlessly on mobile devices,” says Menendez.

Now employees can maintain their productivity whether they’re on the main museum campus, staffing special events or working from off-campus locations. They use Office 365 calendar features to help manage events and venue rentals, designate event rooms and assign permissions so users can view the calendar and make reservations. “It is much easier now to set up remotely with an outside table and a couple of laptops,” says Dougherty. “Employees just send an email to add people to the guest list.”

Using OneDrive for Business for file storage and Skype for Business Online for calls and teleconferencing, Autry employees can communicate more easily, from sharing files with colleagues to responding to press requests for high-resolution images. “Sending files was difficult for my team because it took a lot of time,” says Dougherty. “Now we don’t have those kinds of restrictions.”

Fewer headaches, better collaboration, easier growth

With Office 365, the Autry IT team no longer suffers the headaches of server maintenance and email support, and the museum is saving 85 percent in monthly IT maintenance costs. “Anytime I can take money away from back-end administrative costs to put toward the way we communicate, it’s a real positive for the organization as a whole,” says Menendez.

Transitioning to Office 365 has helped the Autry increase mobile productivity, improve collaboration and reduce IT costs. The museum is now better equipped to meet the needs of visitors—and continue to grow.

The Los Angeles–based Autry Museum of the American West showcases the art, history and cultures of the region. To learn more about how the Autry uses Office 365 to enhance mobile productivity, read the full case study.

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