Creative United required email and office applications, with remote access from home and from mobile devices. It chose Total Computers to implement and support Microsoft Office 365 and now has a reliable, cost-effective and easy to use solution with ongoing support.
Creative United is a community interest company, which specialises in helping creative businesses and cultural organisations to develop and grow. It does this by enabling them to access the finance, commercial tools, business skills and marketing channels they need.
Creative United was launched as a new business following a spin-off from an existing public sector organisation. But without an IT function it needed an easy way of implementing and supporting the IT infrastructure, including email and office applications, which its staff required.
Creative United turned to Total Computers to meet these needs.
“I talked to a number of contacts in other organisations and one of them recommended Total to me,” says Mary-Alice Stack, Chief Executive at Creative United. “We looked at several possible IT suppliers and chose Total because of their competitive pricing and reasonable approach to dealing with smaller clients such as ourselves.”
Total recommended a solution based on Microsoft Office 365, which includes email, office applications, and cloud-based file storage and sharing.
“We were all familiar with Microsoft Office, wanted to carry on using it and we knew that we would be using PCs not Macs,” says Mary-Alice.
“Office 365’s annual subscription model was financially appealing and its ability to provide remote working through cloud-based file storage was attractive,” continues Mary-Alice.
Total Computers provided Creative United with a complete solution: creating and configuring its Office 365 environment, providing hardware, including desktops and laptops, and on-going support.
Total helped Creative United to migrate data from the Google Gmail service that they had been using while setting up the business. Mary-Alice says, “The migration went smoothly – Total handled the importing and set-up very well.”
Office 365 provides Creative United-branded email addresses and shared access to data for the company’s core team of 8 office-based staff, as well as 20 associates who work on a contract basis. Mary-Alice comments, “Office 365 gives us the flexibility to re-assign licenses to new consultants and to cancel or add new licenses as the team changes.”
“Office 365 enables us to use shared mailboxes for a team, which is very helpful, and to share our calendars,” says Mary-Alice. “It’s also great to be able to access email, calendars and documents on multiple devices: office PCs, our laptops at home and our mobile phones.”
“We don’t have an in-house IT resource, so if we have an IT issue we need outside help most of the time,” says Mary-Alice. “It’s really important for us to have good support, that’s appropriate for a company of our scale.”
“The support provided by Total has been superb and our contact has been quick to respond even at evenings and weekends,” says Mary-Alice. “His approach is excellent, he’s got a great manner and is very competent.”
“When we purchased a photocopier, even though it wasn’t from Total, they helped us to set it up and made sure that it worked with Outlook,” says Mary-Alice. “Total went that extra mile to make it easy for us – nothing was too much trouble for them.”
“As with any small, growing business, there is a learning curve for us,” says Mary-Alice. “I’m conscious we will make mistakes along the way, so having a trusted advisor like Total is enormously important.”
“The support contract with Total is our lifeline,” concludes Mary-Alice. “When and if I need support, I know that it is there.”
After providing initial advice on the best subscription option and discussion of Creative United’s requirements, Total created and configured the new Office 365 environment. This stage included managing several existing domains within Office 365 and making the necessary DNS changes to the primary domain. Total then set up user accounts and migrated data across from Gmail, which involved downloading and re-installing contacts and calendar entries.
After several months, Total helped Creative United to adapt its solution by adding a local file server. This ensured that it could quickly synchronise large files, including images. While it now has the added benefits of a local server, Creative United also retained the convenience of sharing documents and working remotely with Microsoft’s OneDrive.
Creative United’s support contract with Total provides a single point of contact to manage and resolve any issues with Office 365. This includes changing accounts and reassigning licenses, resolving user synchronization problems and dealing with Microsoft support to resolve issues with Office 365’s cloud infrastructure.