Tailoring Office 365 to fit
Even software that has been designed for small businesses doesn’t just plug in and play. You have to make it work for you, as online marketing company Zanzi Digital found out.
Zanzi is a busy digital marketing agency that specialises in helping medium-sized organisations, particularly in the tech, engineering, and science fields.
Located in Wallingford, it has six members of staff as well as a roster of trusted freelancers. Everyone is based in the office, but it’s all quite flexible: one person works from home regularly one day a week, for example, while another leaves early but carries on working in the evening.
Directors Jayne Reddyhoff and Ned Wells both discovered Dropbox some years ago, while they were running their previous companies. And when Zanzi was formed, it was natural to continue using it in the same way. ‘We have a rule that all work has to be shared to Dropbox,’ Jayne explained. ‘It is great to be able to store files centrally so that we can always work from the latest version, and if anyone is off sick or on holiday we can always take over seamlessly from where they had got to.’
Moving to Microsoft Office 365
But Zanzi’s traditional email system, run from a small server in the office, had been lagging behind – until they bought Office 365 and ‘suddenly everything made sense’. Jayne said, ‘We have email, Outlook, and office tools such as calendars that are totally synchronised. It no longer matters where we work from – we can genuinely work from anywhere. We also love the fact that Skype is part of the package and we are increasingly using it to talk to our customers’.
The only problem was that Office 365 comes with its own inbuilt file-sharing system. Having become used to Dropbox, Zanzi found it difficult to adjust to Microsoft’s alternatives.
‘I’m normally quite good technically, but I found Sharepoint absolutely incomprehensible,’ said Jayne. ‘I think it’s designed for much larger companies than ours, presumably with full-time IT departments that devote all their time to keeping it running. But we do have a lot of data – much too much, as far as we could make out, for Microsoft’s One Drive.’
The right solution
So Zanzi got in touch with First Line, and asked them to look at ways of making Office 365 work for them in terms of file-sharing – or to suggest alternatives. Theoretically, this is something that Jayne could probably have done herself but it wouldn’t have left much time for her to do the ‘day job’ of actually running the company and looking after Zanzi’s own clients! In addition, it’s part of First Line’s ‘day job’ that they keep really up to date with business IT solutions; as a team, they have much more knowledge than an individual ever could. As Jayne said, ‘They knew who to ask and where to look, and set up trials to see what would happen if we tried different products and systems.’
In the end, Firstlineand Zanzi decided that the best solution in this case was to use Office 365 for email and as a means of buying all the Office products (Word, PowerPoint, etc.) on subscription. But they have kept Dropbox as their file-sharing tool.
‘It’s probably a bit more expensive,’ said Jayne, ‘and ideally I suppose we would have all our products from the same supplier. But this is what works for us. And Firstlinewere flexible enough to see it, and to help us configure the system that we wanted.’