Swedish charity drives greater collaboration and decreases IT costs by 75 percent with Microsoft 365
Swedish charity Skåne Stadsmission is dedicated to helping those in need, from the homeless to those with family problems. Employees are spread over multiple locations and handle the most sensitive information, but because it is a nonprofit organization, IT must be cost-effective and easy to manage. By adopting Microsoft 365, Skåne Stadsmission has reduced IT spend by 75 percent, while increasing collaboration between employees and improving information sharing in a highly secure, digital environment.
“We help the most vulnerable people in our society,” says Tomas Sehlstedt, IT Manager at Skåne Stadsmission. The Swedish charity provides vital support through homeless shelters, refuges, healthcare clinics, support lines, shops, cafes, and accommodations in the three southern Swedish cities of Malmo, Kristianstad, and Helsingborg. In 2017, it served more than 100,000 meals to those in need and provided social work consultations to 126,000 people, among many other activities.
Supporting those in need through technology
Although Skåne Stadsmission has a broad reach, it is focused on being as efficient and cost-effective as possible. That means that Sehlstedt is a one-person IT department, continually looking to better support firstline workers through technology.
“Our previous IT infrastructure was hosted, and we had different platforms in each city because a single solution was too expensive,” says Sehlstedt. “We needed something that could get the whole organization under the same roof while minimizing costs.”
The charity works with confidential, personal information and knew it needed a highly secure, yet easy to use solution that could be accessed from anywhere. Sehlstedt turned to Microsoft Partner, WeSafe IT and Microsoft 365 Business, which brings together cloud-based services into a solution designed for small and medium-sized organizations. Powered by Office 365 and Windows 10, Microsoft 365 provides device management and security features to help protect company data.
Sehlstedt says, “The founders of WeSafe IT had worked with us before, and we immediately felt that they had a great understanding of what we are doing. They know that we have to be cost efficient at all times and are really easy to work with—that’s vital as I’m the only person in the IT department and need a partner that is proactive in supporting us.”
Skåne Stadsmission implemented Office 365 in 2013, and initially focused on providing email and file storage with Microsoft Exchange Online and Microsoft OneDrive for Business to its 130 employees. Progress then accelerated in 2017, when the organization built an intranet based on SharePoint Online. “At the beginning, we wanted a good backup system for our files and a strong email platform—and we’re now building on that to increase collaboration and to become more digital in how we operate,” says Sehlstedt.
The intranet acts as a one-stop shop for all human resources information, from holiday booking forms to day-to-day processes and procedures. This is helping to further reduce costs. “Before the intranet, much of this information was printed, which was neither efficient nor secure,” says Sehlstedt. It was also difficult for people to be sure they had the latest version of a document, which meant they had to call other team members to confirm, wasting valuable time.”
A key part of the intranet are SharePoint news articles aggregated from across sites that employees are active in, delivering the latest information to all employees to minimize the need to mail or email documents. It also shows what is being posted by the charity to Facebook, allowing internal teams to see exactly what is being shared publicly with supporters.
With a dispersed and mobile workforce, deepening collaboration is a further aim for the charity. Through Microsoft Teams, employees based in different locations can now meet virtually, reducing travel time and making it simpler to exchange information.
Sehlstedt is impressed by the range of activities that the solution supports. “Our partner, WeSafe IT, has built a system for us that manages our agreements with suppliers, automatically flagging when they are up for renewal and managing the entire process digitally. I had no idea that you could create this within Microsoft 365, but you can do almost anything with it!”
Driving greater IT efficiency
By moving to Microsoft 365, Skåne Stadsmission quickly saw IT costs drop dramatically, falling by 75 percent, enabling greater resources to be focused on helping those in need. Sehlstedt says, “We are saving a lot of money by not having our own servers standing around. I also know from the lower toner bills that we are using the printers less and sharing documents online. We are more efficient as it is faster to get information out to everyone—and we can be sure it is the latest version, not an out-of-date paper copy.”
Employees appreciate the ease of use of Microsoft 365. They only need to remember their email address and their password to access information securely, wherever they may be. IT management is equally straightforward—it took less than half a day for the charity’s new SharePoint administrator to learn to run the intranet.
Focusing on the people doing the work
The benefits go much deeper than simply saving money. The team is experiencing greater collaboration and helping to onboard new members quickly. The solution also helps ensure security and compliance with regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), through components such as Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection, Microsoft Intune device management, and hard drive encryption.
“It is now much easier for our different departments to collaborate with each other, rather than being isolated cells,” says Sehlstedt. “Before, we had no way of sharing information quickly and easily between employees in multiple locations. Now it is much simpler for staff to work together to assist those who come to us for help.”
Many of the organization’s projects are short-term and require a large number of new employees to work on them. Using the intranet helps speed up the onboarding process because it provides access to all the materials new employees need, helping the organization remain agile.
“For every project that ends, we usually begin two new ones,” says Sehlstedt. “We’re always looking at different areas—we want to be active wherever there is a need, providing support. Implementing Microsoft 365 means we can now focus on our core mission of helping the vulnerable, knowing that our technology is supporting everything we do.”
Implementing Microsoft 365 means we can now focus on our core mission of helping the vulnerable, knowing that our technology is supporting everything we do.