Today’s post was written by Trever Kalan, IT Coordinator, Play and Learn.
Over the last 30 years, Play and Learn has grown to support 10 early childhood learning centers that now serve 1,200 children in southeastern Pennsylvania.
One of the biggest difficulties I’ve faced is helping our learning centers stay in sync to provide the best possible service to families. We used to rely on a paper-based system for coordinating schedules. But as you can imagine, it was tedious work to keep the hard-copy calendar updated. Another persistent challenge was taking the time to do all of the necessary tasks that go along with maintaining servers onsite at our office. I even occasionally needed to head into the office in the middle of the night to reset a server or troubleshoot some other critical issue.
I knew we needed to make a change. With help from Microsoft partner BlueEdge Consulting, we made the switch to Office 365 in October 2012. Now, with features like shared calendaring through Exchange Online and Lync Online for video conferencing and instant messaging, our people can always stay on the same page. And the savings, both in time and money, have been tremendous. In fact, we’ll save about $10,000 over the next three years by not having to maintain servers. We can put that savings right back into our programming to improve the services we offer to children and families. And once SharePoint Online is up and running, managing our internal documents will be even easier.
But for me, the biggest benefits are greater flexibility and more peace of mind. Office 365 is completely supported by Microsoft, which takes 99 percent of the administrative work off my plate. Through our subscription, we also gain enterprise-grade reliability and disaster recovery capabilities. Even as Hurricane Sandy was ripping through our region, Play and Learn never lost connectivity to Exchange Online or the other Office 365 applications we use. We obviously can’t control the weather, but it was extremely gratifying to be able to provide seamless service to our families in the midst of a challenging situation. It’s just one of the many reasons I know we made the right call by choosing Office 365.