The Discovery Center, a non-profit organization focused on working with schools, youth, families and communities to create opportunities to challenge systemic racism and oppression, was struggling with document sharing and storage for their largely remote workforce. Find out how BlumShapiro Consulting was able to use the Microsoft Office 365 suite of products to help the Discovery Center accomplish their technology goals.

The Challenge

The Discovery Center has a largely remote workforce, as a result, communication, collaboration and document sharing is key for the organization’s success. With this type of workforce, it is important for documents and files to be able to be accessed anytime and anywhere. The Discovery Center was also running on an on-premises server and back-up based in their office, resulting in additional maintenance costs and downtime caused by system issues. All of their files were saved on a network drive that was hard to access remotely due to an inconsistently working VPN system.

The Solution

When analyzing the situation at the Discovery Center, BlumShapiro recommended migrating their systems to the Microsoft Office 365 suite of products. At the time of the engagement, email was the only service being used on Office 365 with Outlook. Given our expertise with the platform and our Microsoft Partner relationship, the team procured the proper licenses for Office 365 that would best fit the organization’s needs. With a mainly remote workforce, enabling more of the Office 365 platform eliminated the need for an on-premises server and VPN, and introduced them to cloud computing. Previously, remote employees had difficulty accessing information—documents were being saved in many different places, using various programs. The addition of SharePoint and OneDrive for Business to the Discovery Center’s suite of products was a key part of the solutions presented, as it provided a user-friendly way to store and save documents that can be accessed by remote employees anywhere and anytime.

The Benefits

Upon implementation, a wide range of benefits were seen immediately for The Discovery Center. The organization now had access to all of Microsoft Office 365—not just email for almost the same cost. Specifically, using OneDrive for Business and SharePoint, the organization was able to drastically improve the accessibility of documents. With the documents now based in the cloud, employees no longer needed to go through the hassle of accessing the network drive and VPN to access needed documents. For items previously saved on the network drive, BlumShapiro Consulting was able to migrate the content to new SharePoint sites in Office 365. Ultimately, the use of SharePoint provided the end users with a host of benefits including:

  • The ability to work and access documents remotely
  • Access to documents anytime, anywhere, and on any device (computer, smartphone, tablet, etc.)
  • Co-authoring capability that allows for multiple employees to work on the same document at the same time
  • Access to previous versions of documents in the cloud

Another key feature available to the Discovery Center through the Office 365 platform is Skype for Business. This program’s easy-to-use instant messaging and video conferencing system is used nearly every day by the organization – keeping everyone in constant contact. Along with creating the internal SharePoint site, the software can also provide the capability for a separate SharePoint site to store and share documents and other content with external users such as board members and auditors—providing a one-stop destination for all of the documents they need to see.

“The ability to work collaboratively is a Discovery Center value. We were also seeking to reduce our administrative overhead so we could focus more of our resources on building our programs. BlumShapiro Consulting understood our needs and provided solutions that work for a small company with a mostly non-technical staff.”

-Kate Busch Gervais, The Discovery Center

Upon completion of the engagement, BlumShapiro Consulting was able to help The Discovery Center accomplish their goals of improving communication, collaboration and providing an easy way to store and share documents, along with eliminating the need for an on-premises server. The organization now has easy access to content and data, along with a host of industry-leading programs at their fingertips to help them focus on their mission. For more information about The Discovery Center visit their website.

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