SaaS Case Studies: Office Productivity to CRM: Page 2

As SaaS adoption accelerates, businesses give testimony about its benefits, including CRM, office productivity tools, sync and storage, and more.


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Land O'Lakes isn't concerned about having software and data residing outside of the company firewall in Microsoft's servers. "I'd be hard pressed to say that I can secure my environment any better than Microsoft does," he says.

Some tips for companies considering moving their email, office productivity apps and collaboration software to the cloud?

"I'd make sure I got all the planning and architecture work done before I sign a contract," he says. "You don't want to be paying for capabilities you're not ready to consume yet."

It's also important to explore the different user identity and access management options, such as directory sync and federated identity. "That takes some planning and understanding of what that means and what the end user experience is for each," he says.

Companies should also make sure that their network can handle the increased traffic and load that'll come with the use of cloud apps, as it may be necessary to upgrade certain components and increase the capacity of the Internet connection.

Oh, and don't stop talking to competing providers. Be aware of what rivals of your SaaS providers are offering. Taylor in particular stays abreast of what's happening in the cloud storage market, even though he's happy with OneDrive.

"I do that just to make sure I can go back to Microsoft if a gap starts to appear and tell them: 'You need to deliver this,'" Taylor says. "It's a good way to keep Microsoft honest."

Children's Miracle Network Hospitals: Despite Office 365, a preference for Dropbox for Business

Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, a non-profit organization based in Utah that raises funds for 170 member hospitals in the U.S. and Canada, employees had a hodgepodge of cloud and on premises storage systems. This situation became worrisome for Nick Ward when he became VP of IT.

"One of my concerns was securing our data," says Ward, who is now the organization's VP of Digital Marketing. "That was one of the responsibilities of the role and our data landscape was all over the place."

People were using personal accounts on Google Drive, Dropbox and Microsoft's OneDrive, then called SkyDrive. They were also storing data locally on their devices, as well as on network drives assigned to them by the IT department.

Ward decided the organization had to move away from the network drives and standardize on one cloud service purchased with enterprise licenses so that it came with the necessary security and user account administration features.

It came down to Dropbox for Business and OneDrive, and it was a tough one, because the organization was already getting the latter as part of its Office 365 subscription. But there was a strong preference towards Dropbox among the staff of 135, who felt that it was easier to use and had better mobile apps.

Then as the IT team struggled with the decision, Microsoft and Dropbox announced late last year a formal partnership to closely integrate their wares.

"That was a nice moment for us to say, yeah, that's the right direction for us," he says. "We love the integration we've seen so far."

And the storage hodgepodge problem has been solved.

"Data loss was a recurring theme: someone's hard drive would crash, or we'd have an employee leave and erase his drive," Ward says. "Now that's just no longer an issue. Our data is in one place: we're able to manage it, secure it, and you get all these great collaboration features."

But Ward cautions against embracing blindly a SaaS product and trying to make it do what it simply isn't good for. Sometimes leaving a specific workload on local servers is the right decision.

That was the case with the organization's creative services team, which produces videos. Those very large files are housed on a local storage system, so that video editors can access them quickly in the on premises servers and collaborate on them.

Once they have been edited, the completed videos are put on Dropbox, where the hospitals can access them. "We have a lot of important things that we need to get to our hospitals and communicating those with Dropbox has been really helpful."

Fix Auto USA franchisee finds affordable, flexible cloud CRM with Zoho 

Fix Auto USA got a taste of the benefits of SaaS CRM with Salesforce.com, but about 3 years ago it started searching for an alternative that was more affordable and that was also easy to integrate with third-party systems.

It eventually settled on Zoho CRM, which is now used by about 20 people in the organization. It also bought Zoho Reports, the company's business intelligence tool for data analysis and reporting, which is used by several managers at Fix Auto USA.

"Zoho CRM and Zoho Reports are very well integrated, so we're able to visualize a lot of things and dig deep into specific items," says Jonathan Herrera, marketing manager at Fix Auto USA.

Zoho CRM also plays very well with Constant Contact, a third-party email and online marketing app Fix Auto USA uses. In the future, Fix Auto USA is considering integrating other apps with Zoho CRM, such as Docusign.  Fix Auto USA has no programmers on staff, but Zoho CRM has proven simple to integrate.

"For us, it was about how connected can we make CRM to our organization," Herrera says.


Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Tags: SaaS, CRM, software as a service

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