SBS in the FieldCase Studies
One of the best ways to understand the impact of SBS on a small business is to read about how SBS is being used at a few different small businesses. The following case studies give a bit of overview on a company and the main features that meet the needs of that business.
Since 1995 Calvert Technologies has been one of Adelaide, Australia's, leading network infrastructure specialists, implementing and supporting IT solutions for the small to medium business space throughout South Australia. At Calvert Technologies staff members can spend several days at a time out of the office, providing services to clients all over the city. In addition, Dean Calvert, managing director, often travels interstate and overseas, which is only possible if he can keep in touch with fellow staff members, clients, and company information efficiently. The implementation of Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 Premium in early 2004 provided the staff of Calvert Technologies with all the right pieces to be able to keep in touch with each other and their clients efficiently. Calvert Technologies uses Outlook Web Access (OWA) for email, which is securely and readily available, whereas outside the office Outlook Mobile Access and the RCP/HTTPS features that SBS 2003 provide are used. This means, no matter where in the city, country, or world staff members happen to be, they can communicate with clients as simply as if they were in the office. The Remote Web Workplace (RWW) feature means secure and simple access to the company's terminal services server, providing access to key company applications from almost anywhere. The end result is seamless communication and access to the data necessary to provide award winning support to clients and business partners. It also serves as a great testimony to their clients that Calvert Technologies "eat their own dog food."
Needs Met by SBS:
HeadNETWORKS, LLC, offers Telco and PBX engineering, voice and data convergence, project management, and independent consulting services for designing, implementing, and managing high-bandwidth, state-of-the-art, and voice and data telecommunications networks. HeadNETWORKS specializes in the converging telecommunications industry and works with many independent telephone companies and associations around New England. In addition to client work, the president of HeadNETWORKS, LLC, Steve Head, is involved in numerous associations including the Maine Telecomm Association (MTUG).
An advantage for HeadNETWORKS in using SBS is the provided consolidation of files and collaborative services that allows the teams to share files in an organized manner. Another big advantage of SBS for HeadNETWORKS is added protection and disaster recovery. HeadNETWORKS offers disaster recovery services for its clients, and being able to have a good internal disaster recovery system using SBS is important. If a team member has a laptop in the field and it crashes or is compromised, having all the data available on the server for a quick recovery saves time. Having the data on a common server that adheres to a strict backup policy becomes one of the key assets for HeadNETWORKS. SBS also provides HeadNETWORKS with a layered set of security and firewall protection for the internal network. Having SBS collect all emails for the team and then building an email retention policy keeps the file sizes to a manageable level.
Needs Met by SBS:
Interprom Computer Technologies
Interprom utilizes specialized skills to serve small to medium-sized organizations that depend on reliable technology to perform. Customers benefit from strategically designed and supported technology solutions that help them succeed. Interprom Computer Technologies is the trusted Business Technology Department for hundreds of people. SBS 2003 has enabled Interprom to move from a disorganized ad hoc method of working, into a well-organized, efficient workflow process that enables Interprom to get more done with less wasted effort, expense, and difficulty.
Before SBS, Interprom had to rely on printed paper, the office support staff, and phone calls to stay in touch, manage schedules, and access information. If something was forgotten at the office or needed to be modified, the staff of Interprom could nobly rely on trips back to the office or a courier, which were both expensive and inefficient. Today, thanks to SBS, the Interprom staff has simple secure access to all the company information where and when they need it. RWW provides a secure easy portal that, from almost any Internet browser in the world, provides access to real-time email, schedules, private and company shared contacts, documents, and the company intranet. It also provides the ability to work directly on the desktops from outside the office.
Mobile technology such as Pocket PC and Smartphones coupled with a wireless account from a wireless service provider enable access to all the information mentioned previously even when not hard-wired to the Internet. The staff and president of Interprom, Gavin Steiner, can literally pull over in their cars, turn on their PDAs or Smartphones, and access any information back at the office instantly. Mobility features built into SBS 2003 make providing up-to-date information to a client or prospect not only possible but also impressive. Interprom clients want to deal with a company that can prove it is "on the ball," and SBS 2003 allows Interprom to be that company.
Needs Met by SBS:
Rehab Designs, Inc
Rehab Designs, Inc., is a 14-year old medical equipment company that specializes in custom wheelchairs for the disabled. The wheelchair designs range from titanium three-wheeled tennis chairs, to pediatric tilt-in-space frames, to $20,000 power wheelchairs that stand up. Processing the necessary documentation to order, build, and get paid for these wheelchairs requires an enormous amount of information. Because Rehab Designs purchases frames, materials, and seating components from more than 120 different manufacturers, it has more than 1,000 price lists and order forms that must be accessible to all employees. These documents must also be kept up-to-date through price changes or coding updates, which may occur several times each year.
Before SBS, each time one of the distributors or manufacturers had a price change or order form update, copies would have to be mailed or faxed to the company, distributed to each employee, and placed in a binder; then the outdated versions would need to be destroyed. Invariably, outdated pricing or specification information would creep back into the system from time to time, and often employees would accidentally mark up an original order form in their binder, so keeping the binders complete was a challenge.
During the installation and configuration of SBS, special folders were created for each manufacturer on the company intranet via Windows SharePoint Services. These folders, called document libraries, were then populated with electronic PDF copies of the order forms and price lists. As changes and updates occur, a company employee can easily remove the outdated documents and upload the new ones. There is no need to contact a computer vendor or programmer to make these changes, and all updates are handled through a regular web browser. Now every employee in the company can access the most up-to-date price lists, wheelchair specifications, and medical coding information from any computer, and hard copies are just a mouse click away.
The result is companywide access to the most accurate information. This reduces delays, confusion, and waste. It also provides a cost savings from the reduced administrative burden, as well as paper and postage costs. The customers, managers, and employees all benefit from this streamlined process, thanks to the technology included in SBS.
Needs Met by SBS:
Correct Solutions Pty Ltd
Wayne Small, president of Correct Solutions Pty Ltd., not only sells SBS solutions, but also uses SBS to run the business and benefits in numerous ways. The first feature critical to the success of Correct Solutions Pty Ltd. is RWW, which is a standard feature of all versions of SBS. According to Wayne, the RWW feature is by far the killer feature for Correct Solutions because it allows the engineers full access to resources in the office anywhere, anytime. Wayne says, "The ability to get to a Terminal Services session is critical and is one of the key features we use." Wayne also indicates that second to RWW is the intranet using the Companyweb feature of SBS. This intranet is used to track information about customers and works lists via a SharePoint document library. The versioning feature within SharePoint helps the firm track changes to the documents over time and allows them to look at the history of tasks. These task lists allow Correct Solutions to track and assign specific tasks to group members. The access to information is one of the key ways SBS offers a competitive edge over any firm not using the software. Another killer SBS feature includes Correct Solutions PDA integration to email and the ability to synchronize email over GPRS or wireless. This means that staff can be on the road and still be aware of calendar changes, email changes, and phone messages.
Recently, Wayne was onsite with a customer. Wayne had his tablet PC with an iBurst wireless broadband modem, and as he was walking around the office, he was connected via DSL speeds to the Internet. As meetings and required phone calls occurred, Wayne was able to use Outlook over HTTP to quickly retrieve email required for his discussions; furthermore, when onsite it gave Wayne the chance to download drivers for a network card for a server when the server could not connect to the Internet.
Needs Meet by SBS:
JD Fogg Technology
JD Fogg Technology is a two-year old technology consultancy supporting both enterprise and small to medium-sized business (SMB) customers with its information infrastructure, networking, and IP telephony needs. The mission of the company is to bring the enterprise computing experience to small and medium-sized businesses. JD Fogg Technology serves clients as large as Fortune 500 members and as small as 10 users and has clients in six states on both coasts.
Although JD Fogg Technology supports UNIX and Linux networks, it also supports the full Microsoft product line. The decision to become a Microsoft partner brought with it access to Microsoft products for the company's own internal use. Because JD Fogg Technology needed to become more comfortable with the SMB market, it chose to install and use Microsoft's SBS as the core business system, replacing several UNIX servers and storage systems the company had been using.
JD Fogg Technology knew that it would have been easy to install separate Microsoft servers and applications, but SBS had a compelling bundle of capabilities, some unique to SBS. For JD Fogg Technology, installation and configuration of SBS was without surprise, and yet the company was amazed with the changes the business experienced after implementation. As a small company using "virtual" offices and working with other consultancies, JD Fogg faced the daily struggle of scheduling, communication, document management, and collaboration that haunts many companies both large and small. Microsoft Exchange was the first big improvement. It brought scheduling, file sharing, and simple contact management where Sendmail provided only messaging.
Another important feature of SBS to the company is the ability to store email in a central location and back it up easily. Additionally, Exchange Outlook Web Access (OWA) has made a big difference when people are on the road. Microsoft Internet Mail Filter has also solved many of the spam problems. After learning how to get the most from Exchange/Outlook, James Fogg, President of JD Fogg Technology, began to explore SharePoint. Its value as a central document store and collaboration tool was of interest and has turned out to be great. By allowing everyone involved in a project to see and modify all related documents, project management has become faster and easier. Everyone now knows all the job notes, work orders, and documents regardless of who created them. By authenticating SharePoint users and using Windows security, JD Fogg Technology can decide who should be able to access documents. Integrating Exchange and SharePoint into the business has also greatly improved data management and communications and leaves more time to serve customers. Other capabilities of SBS, such as RWW and monitoring and reporting have also made life easier.
Needs met by SBS:
The Norwich Group
The Norwich Group is a business consulting firm offering business and technology services to accounting and information technology firms around the world. Travel is a requirement for Anne Stanton, president of The Norwich Group, and access to information is paramount for success. The Norwich Group used to get the job done without SBS, but the risks and the vulnerabilities to the company were higher. SBS has offered data redundancy from the traveling laptops to the office server and secure access to email via Outlook Web Access. Furthermore, business alliance relationships around the world have allowed The Norwich Group to get remote advanced SBS support from some of the premier SBS specialists available within their network.
Needs Met by SBS:
SBS in the FieldCase Studies