West London Action for Children
Who are West London for Children?
West London Action for Children (WLAC) is a registered charity offering a range of counselling and therapy services for children in need, and their families, in the London boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea. The charity focuses on supporting families under stress to develop their confidence and skills to cope with the ordinary and extraordinary challenges of family life.
Overly complex legacy system
ramsac have worked with WLAC in supporting their IT needs and providing best practice guidance since 2009 allowing WLAC to focus on promoting the wellbeing of children in need, working with them, their families and carers to help them achieve positive change. Prior to migrating to Office 365 WLAC were using a mix of a Microsoft Exchange and POP accounts, through the Microsoft Outlook interface, to manage their email. A big limitation of this was it was an overly complex system, when problems arose they tended to be unnecessarily difficult to resolve, especially when communicating with 3rd parties.
Migrating to Office 365 during infrastructure upgrade
WLAC’s existing infrastructure was reaching the end of its supportable life and was in need of upgrading. After reviewing all the options and recommendations from ramsac, it was decided WLAC would take the opportunity to migrate to Office 365. As well as being able to benefit from the many enhanced features of Office 365; the accessibility from anywhere, anytime coupled with unprecedented reliability, the seamless integration of applications, the simplified admin controls and the ability to collaborate across teams from within Office 365. Office 365 offered a modern solution to the issues WLAC struggled with in the old system. It also offered less problems with compatibility moving forward. Sam Garbett from West London Action for Children, commented “As a charity, moving to a Microsoft-only system enabled us to take advantage of other offers like heavily discounted software licenses from TT-Exchange and donated software from Microsoft directly which will save us a great deal in the long run.” In addition to the discounted software, WLAC hardware costs would also be reduced because they could remove Exchange from their on premise servers thus reducing the overall server hardware requirements. Finally the WLAC employees would be able to benefit from Office 365’s ‘5 devices per user licence’, allowing them to use Office 365 on their own devices, tablets, phone and laptops.
“Having worked with ramsac since 2009, we knew ramsac was the obvious choice in making the migration to Office 365 a reality. They have a good structure and ethos and this has enabled them to maintain a good relationship with our charity by ensuring continuity in staff involvement.” Sam Garbett from West London Action for Children commented “ramsac’s relationship manager has got to know our staff and our services and is aware of our specific needs, for example in relationship to costs and confidentiality. Our relationship manager was able to directly assist us in transferring away from our old system through conference calls to Microsoft and BT. He was also able to oversee – rather than dominate – the software we purchased. It was good to feel in control of the project and have ramsac’s expertise available at the same time.”
In preparation for migrating, a close eye was kept on costs, as a small charity it was important to WLAC that upgrading to Office 365 didn’t fall outside the original budget of the Server upgrade. Sam Garbett said “The implementation by ramsac went very smoothly it was completed ahead of schedule and therefore under the anticipated cost.”
Highly secure Microsoft servers
WLAC were particular pleased with the fact that post the migration, the interface of key software (Word, Outlook, Excel) didn’t really change which meant little time or energy was needed to re-train staff. Emails are now stored off-site on the secure Microsoft servers. Initially WLAC were concerned about having emails stored off-site, however the level of security used on Microsoft servers far exceeds the level of security the onsite servers had. The downside to having emails stored off site is the impact on internet speeds. Sam Garbett commented “This has affected our internet speed negatively but ramsac made us aware of this during the planning of the project several months ago – we didn’t want to change our internet due to cost and ramsac were flexible enough to tailor options to help us manage this. They have kept options open to see if internet speed upgrade is necessary and it’s been good to have this dialogue and understanding.”
WLAC are already looking to the future and thinking about how to further utilise Office 365, with a planned project to invest in some tablets to assist with new reporting software and they have already engaged their ramsac relationship manager to provide guidance with this scheme.