CUSTOMER'S BUSINESS: Web-based, commercial lending workflow software
CHALLENGES: Decrease time spent managing Exchange and find a solution for team collaboration
BUSINESS OUTCOME: Unified solution saved thousands after just a few months of service
Nearly 13 years ago, Jay Kiley, President of Commflo, was recruiting investors and overseeing development of innovative software for the commercial lending industry. He was also dealing with maintaining an on-premises Exchange server. "My time was better spent working on the business, not troubleshooting Exchange or figuring out how to set up our iPhones. The complexities of Exchange can be overwhelming. With so many options, it was hard not to dive into the details and lose focus," says Jay.
Jay sees Commflo eventually adopting Microsoft Dynamics. As a result, he wanted to find a solution that would both alleviate the Exchange burden and integrate with the forthcoming upgrade. He was also looking for a better way to manage document collaboration and team communication. Most importantly, he wanted to build out enterprise-grade IT capabilities without investing in hardware, software, and the resources to support it all. "Even when I had a full-time employee managing the server, I wondered if I was getting my money's worth, and if they really knew all of the intricacies and capabilities of Exchange. The focus was on moving forward with the capabilities of Exchange and one individual is limited vs. an entire team like Rackspace. We wanted a cloud-based solution. Our company is built on our own cloud-based software that we license, as well as internal solutions. I wanted to utilize the benefits of the cloud so I could focus on growing the business," he explains.
Acting on a referral, Jay investigated Rackspace’s hosted Microsoft Exchange service. I was sold based on Fanatical Support, but Rackspace releasing SharePoint® was the tipping point. “That’s what made me go with Rackspace. There’s nothing else out there like SharePoint, it trumped all the other solutions we looked at,” according to Jay. With the SharePoint and Microsoft® Exchange combination, Commflo gets both an enterprise-level email service and a corporate portal. The cost to implement expensive, complex systems, like SharePoint and Exchange can run thousands of dollars upfront with ongoing maintenance costs that seem overwhelming. The cost and long-term management commitment can make it a cost-prohibitive proposition for businesses wanting to take full advantage of team collaboration for focus, expertise, and support, while implementing new solutions going forward. With Rackspace’s cloud-based delivery model, Commflo was up and running quickly without spending thousands or undertaking the ongoing expense of systems management.
With SharePoint, they can store, collaborate, and track shared documents. “We just stood up SharePoint and are experimenting with templates and setting up team sites. So far, we use it mainly for version control on documents, announcements, team discussions and links.,” says Jay. SharePoint’s document versioning features allow multiple users to “check-in” and then “check-out” a document, which prevents more than one person from working a document at the same time. Each change or update made to the shared document is tracked. SharePoint also includes file storage, content management, and enterprise search capabilities. Because SharePoint offers seamless integration with Office® programs, like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, users can open Office documents from SharePoint, as well as save documents directly from Office applications into SharePoint.
With Rackspace, each email account includes a free 250MB SharePoint site with additional storage available as needed. This allows businesses to experiment with SharePoint and find out how to best use it in their business with no obligation.
"The biggest benefit is unlimited 24/7 tech support. The service is really more about the relationship. For us, Rackspace's responsiveness was the biggest selling point," says Jay. The Fanatical Support promise gives companies, like Commflo, the comfort of knowing that they can reach technical expertise whenever they need it via phone, live chat, or email. "Your support representatives have given me their personal phone numbers and email addresses giving me the confidence of knowing how you guys react when we need you. That confidence also adds to our ability to ramp up quickly without turning back to figure out how to get new employees set up or buying more hardware. We can plan for the future and trust that the infrastructure will be there without investing more time and money."
Since moving his email to Rackspace and adding SharePoint, Jay identifies multiple benefits. "We've saved thousands of dollars in just the past sixty days. Paying a full-time tech an average of $100 an hour alone has saved us money. The biggest savings was energy. Instead of focusing on delivering another IT system, we can focus on optimizing SharePoint and Exchange as business tools." Another benefit with Rackspace is the ability to consolidate services. For providers only offering email, customers are forced to enlist a bevy of supplemental providers for archiving, backup, or mobile. With Rackspace, Jay can get his email and SharePoint from one provider, on one bill making vendor management and support easier.
On a scale of 1-10, Jay gives Rackspace a 12. "It so much easier to pick up the phone and get new accounts setup, and the features are easy for users to figure out," he reports. Of his overall experience, Jay says, "Having the Rackspace team approach is much better than being the single guy handling it all. There's no going back."
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