Office 365—allowing us to focus on what matters most: solving business problems

Today’s Office 365 post was written by Timothy Harris, vice president of global IT shared services at Mylan, a global pharmaceutical company.

Office 365 allowing us to focus on what matters most  1In information technology, it’s tempting to be wowed by a new product or swayed by a charismatic salesperson. But if I’m doing my job well, I actually look beyond the technology itself. I stay focused on solving my company’s business problems. For example, Mylan has been growing so quickly that we’ve found it difficult to establish a cohesive technology suite for our geographically distributed workforce.

In the past several years, we’ve acquired new business units that expanded our capacity to produce life-saving pharmaceuticals, but they also created an IT environment with lots of overlapping products that confused users and made it challenging to work together, especially across business units. In response, our CEO sponsored the Connect, Collaborate, Communicate initiative to help us become a more unified organization—one that reached out to our internal knowledge base to improve operations and that shared best practices across the board. Those of us within IT needed to find and deploy technologies that would fully support this unification effort. Rather than looking at separate tools, we wanted a platform that provided comprehensive capabilities and a consistent experience for all Mylan employees.

We established and now follow three guiding principles: buy instead of build, keep our number of technology vendors to a minimum, and look at the cloud first. Why a cloud-first strategy? We believe that the cloud brings agility to the business, plus the ability to scale. In addition, nearly every one of our cloud migrations ends up with a lower total cost of ownership five years down the line.

Like any good business, we did our due diligence when choosing a cloud services provider. We looked at Google, but we felt that it would have added complexity without answering our business needs. For example, we saw that Google Docs just wasn’t robust enough to replace the Microsoft Office suite, which we use heavily throughout the company. So we still would have needed Office if we’d selected Google cloud services. We work hard to avoid that kind of overlap in functionality and the confusion it causes for employees on which solutions to use when. With Microsoft Office 365, we found the platform we were looking for.

We’ve already migrated our messaging system to Office 365, deployed a new telephony system, and started to standardize our Microsoft Office suite on Office 365 ProPlus. We’re device agnostic, so we appreciate how easy Office 365 ProPlus makes it for us to securely connect almost any employee device. Next, we’ll extend our adoption to include cloud-based document storage and document collaboration capabilities.

As our Office 365 usage expands, we’ll continue to increase productivity simply because it’s easier to connect with one another. For example, we use a follow-the-sun approach to research and development (R&D). R&D staff members in our Pennsylvania and India offices collaborate more closely and continually now that they have the presence functionality in Microsoft Skype for Business to see who’s available to work through an issue. A quick instant message exchange might get the question answered and the research back on track. Furthermore, someone may launch a call or videoconference to address more complex problems. Whatever the method, with these tools, we’re augmenting our pharmaceutical development process. In fact, we anticipate that our employees will be able to travel less because the communications capabilities now open to them make it easier to work together virtually. In the past, employees found our videoconferencing so complicated to set up that many groups just continued to hold physical meetings with printed presentations. But now that they can fire up a Skype meeting with a single click, employees meet virtually and share screens, which saves both time and paper.

Our move to Office 365 definitely helps us get new employees up and running more quickly, both when we acquire whole business units and when we hire new employees individually. This has made us more nimble and scalable as a company, which has reduced our costs for messaging and conferencing alone by half. When we take advantage of the other collaboration and storage capabilities, our cost savings will keep increasing.

Along with shifting our IT financial investment from servers and storage to cloud capacity, we’re shifting our staffing priorities, too. We no longer have to worry about system administration or hardware procurement. Instead, we’re investing our IT dollars in strategic projects that make a difference to our core business, such as exploring enterprise applications to automate our pharmaceutical factories and ensure data integrity. By adopting Office 365, we’re making a positive difference in our ability to grow and make greater strides in our pursuit of better healthcare around the globe.

—Timothy Harris