As new and improved technology solutions are introduced, local officials have many difficult decisions to make about implementing new technologies, sometimes at a sizeable investment, or stay with the status-quo and squeak out another year with their current software and hardware. Don’t be fooled, both decisions have costs associated with them, and sometime staying with the status-quo will not save time or money.
So what is your community’s IT forecast? Right now is the perfect time for you to look at cloud-based solutions for your community’s day-to-day operations. Today, the cloud levels the playing field in terms of access to enterprise class hardware and software for communities of all sizes. No longer do you need huge IT budgets and numerous IT staff to have the latest and greatest.
One solution that you can implement right away, is to look at moving your e-mail and office productivity applications to the cloud. When I talk to different communities throughout Michigan, I find most are using Microsoft Office for their productivity suite of software (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) and Microsoft Exchange for their e-mail server. I also hear that costs associated with staying current with the newest versions of the applications are too high to implement across the board. This leads to some city staff having different versions of the software and having to play the “Save As” game so that all documents can be shared. This is a waste of time and can cause many problems.
Microsoft now offers Office 365, which is their cloud-based solution that combines the best of both worlds (desktop and cloud). You only pay for what you need, which can be determined by a per user basis, through subscription-based access. It is easy to setup and use, your staff are already familiar with the applications. Office 365 allows your staff to work from virtually anywhere, with any device. Office 365 for government can cost as little as $3.50 per user, per month. All this while having your e-mail server protected and monitored 24/7 by a team of Microsoft specialists in a state of the art data warehouse.
Recently the Michigan Municipal League implemented Microsoft Office 365. With Exchange online, we’ve moved our e-mail to the cloud and no longer have to spend resources keeping our on premise server patched, protected, backed up and monitored. The League’s plan includes the current Microsoft Office desktop applications. By combining Office with Office 365, we have anytime, anywhere access to our applications, data and communications.
Discover Office 365 for yourself with this short video: