By Marcus Harvey, Consulting & ICT Services Manager, Infoxchange
This post is part of a series offering technology tips and tricks to help you work more efficiently, and help people and organisations get the most out of IT.
Over the past year, I have had the good fortune to work with non-profits across Australian and New Zealand to help them improve their Information Technology (IT) environments. Reliable, cost effective technology improves staff productivity, enables easy monitoring of client outcomes and ultimately helps organisations more effectively support their clients and community.
Almost everyone we work with wants to know how they can do more with less. Staff need to be able to work efficiently, stay connected and feel part of the organisation no matter where they are – at home, with clients or on the road. I’ve seen the benefits of Office 365 as a result of more than 50 implementations and believe that Microsoft’s decision to make Office 365 available free of charge to eligible non-profits in 41 countries is a game-changer.
Office 365 allows the sector to reduce technology costs and provides access to innovative tools and systems that allow staff to focus more the on activities that make a real difference to communities. The Office 365 donation/E1 plan is now free for eligible non-profits and includes:
Outlook and Exchange Online for email and shared calendaring (50 Gb/user);
Lync for instant messaging, high definition audio/video conferencing and screen sharing;
SharePoint for online storage, collaboration and document management;
SkyDrive for local file synchronisation, allowing staff to work anywhere; and
Access to online versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint, so staff and volunteers can easily work anywhere with an Internet connection.
Note: I generally recommend organisations also take advantage of the TechSoup donation program to purchase local versions of Microsoft Office 2013 for a small investment.
Office 365 allows people to work effectively and access information anywhere that you have an Internet connection through a wide variety of devices. It doesn’t matter if you use a Windows phone, iPhone, Android phone, tablet or laptop – you can use almost any device to stay connected, manage your emails, message your contacts and access information in SharePoint.
The real benefit of Office 365 is that it allows organisations to forget about technology and focus on their clients and community, offering
Lowered technology costs – reducing or eliminating the need for servers that must be upgraded and replaced every 3-5 years.
Inbuilt, automated backup with data replicated across multiple data centres – gone are the days of daily reviewing of backup success emails and changing tapes or disks!
Flexibility to readily scale up or down as funding and opportunities arise without significant capital infrastructure costs.
99.9 percent guaranteed availability.
Effective collaboration tools to work on documents and videoconferencing, independent of location, enabling teleworking, providing flexibility and reduced travel costs.
In the Asia Pacific region, information is stored securely in Hong Kong and Singapore and the environment is accredited to a raft of international security standards. While offshore data storage may not be appropriate for every organisation (depending on the type of information you keep), the fact that Office 365 offers non-profits the opportunity to reduce costs, simplify technology support and improve staff productivity means that it should be considered as part of your organisation’s IT plan.
In the words of the CEO from non-profit Leisure Networks, “Office 365 has enabled us to future proof our investment and provide a secure, easily accessible way to bring together our information and communication systems. What is important to us is to have an easy to use system and central place for all the information we need when we are working from our main office, at home or somewhere around regional Victoria.”
Further information about Office 365 can be found in the links below. I am also always happy to assist and provide further information to any non-profit that wants to make the most of their technology. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Office 365 for nonprofits: www.microsoft.com/office365nonprofits (including information on rollout, learning to use it, eligibility, the countries where it is available, and more)
Find an Office 365 partner in your country: pinpoint.microsoft.com and search for ‘Cloud’
Office 365 privacy and security information (the Microsoft Trust Centre): http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/business/office-365-trust-center-cloud-computing-security-FX103030390.aspx
Marcus Harvey, Consulting & ICT Services Manager, Infoxchange is one of my favorite trainers ever! His excitement about the cloud is infectious.
It's hard not to be excited about a solution that can help non-profits spend less time and money on technology, and focus instead on helping their clients and communities - and Office 365 for NFPs allows this. Glad my enthusiasm can encourage other non-profits
to make the effort to improve their ICT :-)