TechGyan Takes the NGO Route to Digital India
The Mumbai-based SI deployed various Microsoft solutions across four NGOs
Rakesh Wani was a worried man some 12 months back. The administrator of the Mumbai-based NGO Pragatee Foundation was reeling under technology challenges—problems that might have seemed irrelevant to experienced CIOs in more tech-savvy enterprises, but for this NGO with rudimentary IT infrastructure this was an excruciatingly painful situation. Same was the situation with Mukesh Sarve, Director-IT of another bigger NGO, Family Planning Association of India. Or with Anthony Thomas of another NGO, Habitat for Humanity India Trust.
Fortunately, all three of Wani, Sarve and Thomas have found their saviors. They answer by the names of Microsoft India and more emphatically Suresh Ramani of Mumbai-based SI, TechGyan, one of Microsoft’s exclusive cloud partners in India who deals with both Azure and Office 365 practices. Ramani has been working a lot with NGOs (or Not for Profits) and deploying technology solutions for them so that they are more productive. He works closely with NASSCOM Foundation and helps Not For Profits leverage technology in a more efficient and productive manner.
Over past many years, Microsoft has been jointly working with NASSCOM Foundation with the aim to propagate use of Microsoft Products and Services amongst the Not For Profits. NASSCOM has in turn been working with TechGyan and have jointly executed many workshops around the country. As a result of doing workshops, many NGOs have taken donation of Microsoft Software. However one challenge has always been, points out Ramani, that only a small percentage of these donations have actually been implemented. Another challenge was that with the various software packages that were donated, there was no view or instructions on the actual deployment.
Ramani and TechGyan was at pains to address this anomaly and accordingly under the ConnectIT program on 26th June 2015, a full day Workshop was organized for the NGOs at Mumbai Office of Microsoft. Ramani delivered the workshop and post workshop four NGOs signed up for the pilot Implementation which centered around improving productivity and processes with cloud and mobility using Office 365 as the primary platform. These NGOs included Family Planning Association of India (FPAI), Pragatee Foundation, Habitat For Humanity and Balanand.
FAMILY PLANNING ASSOCIATION OF INDIA (FPAI)
Established in 1949, Family Planning Association of India (FPAI) has been recognized as India’s leading and largest reproductive and sexual health organization. FPAI has 44 branches across India. It manages 39 static clinics, 23 urban welfare centers (funded by the Government of India), 78 outreach units and 148 adolescent/youth friendly centers/clinics. Additionally, it is supported by 2,698 CBDs, 563 private practitioners and 196 other agencies at the community level, which are identified and trained by FPA India. Over 3,000 policy level volunteers and 1,000 FPA India staff have received support from community members.
TECHNOLOGY PAIN POINTS
Notwithstanding being one of the fairly large NGOs, their technology infrastructure has been fairly rudimentary. FPAI earlier used on-premise Exchange server 2007 for their mailing system and had 120 mailboxes. Every branch was allocated one mailbox only. And important officials were only given separate email IDs. In addition, FPAI was using GMeet for basic Video Conferencing between all users. The overall cost was Rs. 2.7 lakhs per annum for a total of 44 licenses and each branch had one license. Therefore, communication was a combination of GMeet chat and emails.
Vis-à-vis document management system, the FPAI Head Office had a file server and so the users in head office would access the shared files on the file server and they would store their personal files in the My Documents folder of their PC. At the branch level, the users would create their data on their PC. For periodic reports, they created a report in a document and then the 44 branches would mail the report to HO where it would get consolidated manually.
Mukesh Surve and FPAI had several pain points on their plates. The space on the on-premise server was limited and so the mail box size for the users was very small. Hence the users would usually archive the files on their hard disk as PST .The mail in PST was not available outside the office. Also there were situations when the PST would be lost due to PC crash. There were also instances where the Server IP would be blacklisted and that would lead to E-mail outage. Additionally, there were instances when the Mail Server was down due to hard ware or software issue. With one Email id per branch, when a mail was sent to a branch, a print out would be taken and circulated. This was cumbersome and time consuming. The cost of managing the On Premise Server was quite high due to cost of monitoring and also running cost of Electricity.
On the communication front, the annual cost of Rs. 2, 70,000 was quite high for GMeet Video Conferencing. In terms of features too, it had limited functionality as compared to Skype For Business Since each branch had one license, it was cumbersome to use just one PC per branch for communication. Regarding Document Management System, at the Head Office, with the shared files being stored on the File Server, there was no access to these files from outside the office .There was lot of duplication when these files were needed at the branches. It meant that they had to be emailed thus leading to lot of traffic and multiple file versions. The local users at the HO kept their files on their PC. These were rarely backed up as the backup policy was put only on the Server. At branches, there was minimal backup of documents since users created documents and stored them on their PC. This was becoming a huge compliance issue.
DEPLOYMENT AND BENEFITS
TechGyan migrated FPAI’s Email system to Office 365 with minimum disruption. And all users got access to all their mails. The following work loads were implemented:
• MS Exchange of 600+ users. With this all users got an email
• MS SharePoint was used for Document Management and Team Sites.
Over 13 Team Sites were created for FPAI.
• One Drive for Business rollout is on. The aim is to ensure that every user makes use of this service and all user created data is done only on One Drive
• Skype for Business roll out is also on. The aim is to make it de facto mode of communication across 600 users.
• Yammer roll out has just started. The First off the blocks has been the IT Team.
• Office 2016 has been setup for many users. This was taken as part of E3 SKU for 35 users.
Accordingly the following services were delivered:
• Getting 600 licenses from Microsoft of the NGO plan and 35 E3 paid plan
• Domain verification on the portal
• Mail migration from MS Exchange 2007 Server to Office 365
• Setup look on PCs
• Setup Mobiles
• Setup Skype for Business
• Setup 13 Team sites in SharePoint
• Customized SharePoint branding
• Design Infopath Forms in SharePoint
• Setup One Drive for Business
On the e-mail front, with 50 GB mailbox per user, the need to locally archive mails was removed. And the new Online Archive feature of Office 365 meant that even the archived mails were online. So now there is no loss of mails. And ZERO mails on hard disk. With Microsoft providing 99.99% Uptime, Email outage is now history. With Emails being delivered as a Cloud Service, the local Mail Server and Mail Software was now redundant. FPAI now has 600+ email id’s. Each person has one id giving strong sense of identity to all. Number of print outs has come down dramatically saving cost and time.
On the communication front, With Skype for Business roll out to all users, the aim is to use it as Communication Platform. When that happens, the current Platform will be discontinued leading to huge savings. Skype for Business integrates very well with other components of Office 365 thus improving Productivity. Now each user has Skype for Business. The communication via Skype is projected to explode reducing overall costs and increasing Productivity.
Ditto on advantages with the Document Management System. Today 13 Team Sites have been deployed on SharePoint .Once fully deployed; users can access it from outside office too. Branch users have been integrated into Team Sites. So there will be one file version for any user. All users are being encouraged to create and store their files in One Drive for Business. So at any time data will always be in sync. Combination of SharePoint Team Sites and One Drive for Business will solve the compliance issue for ever.
In terms of additional functionality benefits, FPAI gets a Customized SharePoint page branding. As soon as anyone logs into SharePoint, instead of a Standard SharePoint screen, they get a FPAI branded page . This increases ownership File access on Phones and Tablets. This is mobility at its best. For data collection from branches, TechGyan has deployed a Infopath form on SharePoint. So users just go to the form and update the same. At the HO, the data from all branches is available in one consolidated view. The same can then be analyzed using Excel.
Asserts Mukesh Surve, Director-IT, “We (FPAIndia) are on O365 platform from more than 6 months. It has gigantically impacted our daily work as capability and potential of this Office 365 cloud is enormous. This has impacted our routine work by contributing 50GB mailbox storage(Mail), 1TB of personal storage (one drive where data can be sync), SharePoint for Collaboration and Document Management, Yammer for organisational private tool for expressing their views and SKYPE
Rakesh Wani, Mukesh Sarve and Anthoy Thomas have found their saviors. They answer by the names of Microsoft India and more emphatically Suresh Ramani of Mumbai-based SI, TechGyan, one of Microsoft’s exclusive cloud partners in India who deals with both Azure and Office 365 practices. Ramani has been working a lot with NGOs (or Not for Profits) and deploying technology solutions for them so that they are more productive. He works closely with NASSCOM Foundation and helps Not For Profits leverage technology in a more efficient and productive manner.
for Business for complete communications (which also enabled us to support technically our branches by RDP). This would be unimaginable without commitment from Microsoft and NASSCOM to non-profits like us. Special thanks to TechGyan for providing incredible and patient support which has ensured that we could able extract all features of O365 cloud to our benefit.”
Pragatee started operations in 2005 primarily in three verticals, viz., education (It runs 150 Technology Education Centers for under privileged in Maharashtra. One co-ordinator per 10 cente; Medical (Free Medical, Diabetes, Eye Testing Camps); Social (Women’s programs like Beauty Parlor training, Nursing & Medical training).
Pragatee had very basic infrastructure including 20 email IDs being a mix of gmail and pop IDs. The rudimentary IT Infrastructure meant that there was chaos. Official communication was done using Gmail and pop account with no track of who sent what. Tracking of official mails was not possible as the whole effort was arbitrary. Independent centers used email id of center in charge. When this person left, all mails left with him since he used his personal account. Document Management was nonexistent. And Communication was using Mobile calls.
OFFICE 365 IMPLEMENTATION AND ADRESSING PAIN POINTS
Before the implementation, the TechGyan Team spent some time to explain to the Customer the many draw backs of their current style of working. It was emphasized to them that they should shift complete Email to Corporate Email system. So as first step TechGyan helped them to get 200 licenses of Office 365. The aim was to give one email to each center. Remaining 50 licenses could then be used by the training staff and Management.
Following services were delivered: • Getting 200 licenses from Microsoft • Domain verification on the portal • Mail migration from Gmail and POP mail to Office 365 • Setup look on PCs • Setup Mobiles • Setup Skype for Business • Setup 5 Team sites in SharePoint • Setup One Drive for Business • Training
With Office 365, Pragatee has got a Corporate identity. All the existing users of Email who were using a mix of Gmail and POP mail now are on One Platform .This has hugely improved the Mail tracking. With every center using official mail id, a common sense of identity is established. And if a center coordinator leaves, the mails remain with Pragatee. That is huge. A slow roll out of SharePoint and One Drive for Business is on. Once complete, all the documents of the Organizations will be at one place. Today these are scattered over 100 systems which is chaotic.
With increased Skype for Business roll out it is expected that it will become one common platform for Communication.
In addition, TechGyan has also delivered additional system including Organizational Calendar and Task Assignment system based in SharePoint. This has have had tremendous Societal Impact. It runs 150 Technology Education Centers for under privileged in State of Maharashtra. Once the roll out is complete, the courseware design will be done using SharePoint Team site with MS Office co-authoring. More fundamental will be the fact that the Best Teachers will deliver lectures using Skype for Business making fundamental
difference in the quality of teaching. And opening a new Education Center would just need provision for a PC and a screen to project the Teacher and Course which will cut down the cost of new center by 40%. So with 40% reduction in cost of new center coupled with a major increase in quality of the teaching due to few good teachers reaching out to more students, this is a potential game changer.
“We have recently implemented Office 365 in our Organization. It’s a fantastic Platform for Productivity covering our complete needs in the area of Email, Collaboration, Document Management , Communication, Video Conferencing and Personal File Storage and Sync. It is very useful to all our employee, management team and volunteers. The best productivity part is SharePoint that makes online collaboration easily with sufficient cloud storage. We would like to express our thanks to Microsoft and NASSCOM for providing us this Service and Thank You TechGyan for ensuring that we use this wonderful service in a Productive manner. Without your hand holding, we would not have been able to use it productively.” Says Rakesh Wani, Administrator, Pragatee Foundation.
HABITAT FOR HUMANITY
Habitat for Humanity is an International NGO involved in delivering Houses for the Poor. Habitat was using Office 365 for basic Email. Consumer Skype was used for Communication. The Head Office used a File Server. So users in Head Office would access the shared files on the File Server. They would store their personal files in the My Documents folder of their PC. At the branch level, users would create their data on their PC.
PAIN POINTS AND DEPLOYMENT BENEFITS
The rich functionality provided by MS Exchange Online was not used by Customer as he had only implemented a basic Email. Task allocation and monitoring was a major issue. Customer wanted to understand how to share mailboxes between multiple users. Customer also wanted a provision by which he could have copies of emails sent and received by users. Since Document usage and Management was nonexistent, Customer wanted to know how he could streamline documents.
Office 365 Implementation: • Setup Shared Mailbox • Setup Supervisor Mailbox where a copy of all sent and received
mails would go • Setup Allow specific Phones • Setup Organizational Calendar • Setup Skype for Business • Setup Team sites in SharePoint • Setup SharePoint Tasks • Setup Picture Library in SharePoint • Setup One Drive for Business • Setup Yammer • Training
TechGyan implemented Shared mailbox and Supervisor Mailbox. Also gave Mobile Device Management. Implemented Task Allocation is now in SharePoint. SharePoint Team Sites and One Drive for Business was implemented too.
“We wish to put on record our appreciation to Microsoft and NASSCOM for providing us with Office 365 Cloud Services. And we truly appreciate the role played by TechGyan, who have ensured that we make optimum utilization of this Wonderful Technology Platform,” says Anthony Thomas, Habitat for Humanity India Trust.
Balanandis a licensed NGO registered under Bombay Public Trust Act, 1950, Orphanages and other Charitable Homes (Supervision and Controls) Act, 1960 and Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000. Set up in 1984 to receive shelter and rehabilitate orphaned, abandoned and destitute minors by way of adoption.
Balanand had a very basic IT Infrastructure with only 10 active users. For Email, they were using a few POP boxes which were configured with the Outlook of the PC’s. So Outlook would download the mails from the POP box. However, post the download, there was no backup of mails. And there was rudimentary Mobile access. Collaboration was via Email attachments. Communication between 2 locations of Balanand was done via phone. Document creation was done on the individual hard disks of the users with no backups.
PAIN POINTS AND DEPLOYMENT BENEFITS
Email management was nonexistent. A few users had setup personal archive. But there was no check on PST backup and whether it was working. So searching for a particular Email was a task in itself. Cost of Communication was high and inefficient. With no backup Policy, there was a Compliance gap. Due to frequent Email attachments, there were multiple versions of files floating around adding to confusion. As the User data was tied to his PC, in case of a crash, the User had to waste a lot of time.
A 20 user Office 365 was implemented. Every user got a 50 GB mailbox. TechGyan migrated all old mails which were scattered in various PSTs and also Gmail account and centralized them in Office 365. Shared Calendars were setup to improve Collaboration. Next Skype for Business was implemented. This improved the communication between their 2 locations to a great extent. SharePoint was setup with 6 Team Sites and extensive Document Collaboration and co-authoring. All Users were trained on One Drive for Business. So their personal Documents were transferred to One Drive. This ensured that at any given time, their data was in sync with the Cloud since they had the local sync also setup. The Following services were delivered:
• Getting 20 licenses from Microsoft of the NGO plan
• Domain verification on the portal
• Mail migration from POP boxes and Gmail to Office 365
• Setup look on PCs
• Setup Mobiles
• Setup Skype for Business
• Setup 6 Team sites in SharePoint
• Setup Shared Calendars
• Real time co-authoring of documents
• Setup One Drive for Business
All the stated and unstated Pain points were totally addressed with Office 365. And being a Cloud Service, the local management was also minimized. This was important for a Small Organization like Balanand with little Admin bandwidth. Shared Calendars gave a new meaning to Collaboration. The Document co-authoring in Real Time was highly appreciated by Balanand. With documents now in Team Sites and One Drive for Business, a User was productive from any device.
All the 4 NGO’s have expressed their complete satisfaction with the Deployment and Support. The Deployment of all workloads is steadily increasing. When this situation is compared to earlier efforts, the stark difference is apparent. In the earlier model, Microsoft and Nasscom would donate the Software and hope that the NGOs would use the same. But the deployment in realistic terms was never more than 10%. However this Pilot has conclusively proved that a combination of Software Donation with Deployment hand holding tremendously increases the usability.
The NGOs are doing wonderful work in their domain. With Cloud Services like Office 365, Microsoft and Techgyan along with NASSCOM Foundation can work towards improving the Productivity and Business Processes of the NGOs by 25 to 40%. This in turn will make a huge impact as the NGOs can then touch lives of increased number of people. That will be our contribution to Digital India.
Suresh Ramani, TechGyan