- Customer: Power Integration, an electrician services company
- Cloud apps: Google Apps, Box
- Consultant: Rype cloud consultancy
Power Integration faced technical issues and high costs with Hosted Exchange. The electrician company turned to Google Apps for its scheduling and found a much cheaper, flexible and easier to use solution.
Why were you looking to change?
Power Integration were using Microsoft Hosted Exchange but had run into several obstacles that were slowing down the business. The company was dissatisfied with Hosted Exchange because it wasn’t syncing properly with Microsoft Office on the electricians’ Mac computers. This caused problems sharing calendars which the company used as a scheduling tool for electricians on the road.
“Exchange thinks it wants to sync the email inbox as well but we just wanted access to the calendar,” says managing director Glen Powell. “It was overly complicated and there was nothing we could do about it.”
Running a calendar for each employee slowed down the network as they all tried to sync to Powell’s computer. Microsoft Office was trying to update 20 calendars and inboxes, and adding more calendars or changing the setup required paid technical assistance.
One difficult area was letting employees see their own calendar but not everyone else’s. This again required IT support to intervene.
Smaller issues such as emails taking a long time to send or internal emails caught in spam filters increased their frustration.
“The functionality wasn’t what it was meant to be,” Powell says. “It wasn’t a true cloud solution you could view from your browser.”
And at $1,100 a month, Exchange was also expensive.
Powell’s IT adviser wanted him to switch all the Macs over to PCs which were more compatible with Hosted Exchange. The alternative was to run the Windows operating system on the Macs.
“Maybe that’s how it is in enterprise but we said it shouldn’t have to be that way,” Powell says.
How have you used the cloud?
Power Integration had looked at using Google Apps as an alternative to Hosted Exchange but had tried to set it up themselves without success.
Cloud consultancy Rype took one day to migrate the electricians’ business from Hosted Exchange to Google Apps and configure it properly. The cloud-based productivity suite has greatly improved how the business operates, Powell says.
The syncing issues disappeared and the electricians could use Google Calendars on Macs, PCs and iPhones without problems.
“It was simply getting back that plain old functionality with reliable emails. And it was ridiculously cheaper,” Powell says.
Instead of paying $27 a month for a 2GB inbox with Hosted Exchange, Power Integration pays $5 a month for 25GB inbox – or 12 times larger for a fifth of the price.
The maximum size of emails also increased from 2MB to 20MB.
For a while the company juggled the two systems. Power Integration didn’t move all their emails over to Google Apps and for several months some had to re-open Outlook to find archived messages.
But once the electricians had switched to Google Apps they found they no longer needed to spend time deleting emails from their inboxes to stay under quota.
“You were forever archiving emails with the old Exchange system. Then they’re on that computer and not backed up properly,” Powell says. “Reliability has been a lot better.”
One of the greatest benefits of Google Apps is it’s easy to make changes as the business grows, Powell says. He can add a calendar with the correct permissions himself, without having to pay an IT consultant.
“Say my project manager has 10 field staff. We update their calendars on their iPhones, we can invite contractors automatically and drop in new jobs. They add notes to it and provide feedback as well,” Powell says.
Google Apps’ flexible pricing is much more suited to the trades industry. Powell can buy another 10 email accounts for apprentices on a monthly basis and turn them off when they move on. Paying by the month encourages the company to use technology when it is needed rather than plan for future capacity as it had to with Microsoft Exchange’s annual contracts.
Rype also set up the electrician company with cloud accounting software Xero and cloud document storage and management program Box. The company already used SimPro to run its projects. “We use it for scheduling, materials and shooting across invoices to Xero,” Powell says.
How has the cloud changed your business?
The sharp price drop in moving to the cloud is a major benefit, Powell says. Instead of spending $1,100 a month for email and calendar software, the company spends $300 a month for email, calendar, document storage and accounting software.
“We’ve doubled the users and chopped the price by a fifth,” Powell says.
The money spent paying out the Hosted Exchange contract has already been recouped through greater productivity.
“You can’t really put a figure on the productivity benefit,” Powell says. “We’re saving heaps of time with the way we’re working from our iPads.”
The move to cloud software and a reduction in paper processing has helped the company move to a more mobile model. Power Integration downsized from a 200 square-metre warehouse to a 30 square-metre office. “Now our boys have stock in their cars and a bit more self-sufficient rather than having a shed full of rubbish. it makes them more accountable for their work,” Powell says.
There are fewer people in the office doing the same amount of work. The company is heading towards a paperless workflow with staff working from home some of the time.
Flexibility has also been an improvement. Temporary staff such as apprentices can have their own email and calendar account for $5 a month.
We pay $5 a month for something that works properly and not $27.95 a month for something that didn’t work properly,” Powell says. “We were compromising how we wanted to run our business because of the inefficiency of Hosted Exchange.”
Image credit: Power Integration