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Meet Our First Golden Ninja Award Winner

3 minute read

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The Golden Ninja Award is presented to IT professionals who embody the same qualities that make Office 365 great for business: innovation, productivity, and insightfulness.

Our first award winner, Steve Baria, is the IT manager for Number TEN Architectural Group, a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist.

Steve led his company’s migration to Office 365 earlier this year–not an easy task–and quickly realized how much he wanted to teach his users. He takes advantage of the available Office 365 informational resources and keeps in touch with other IT admins in his industry (architecture/construction) to stay ahead of the curve. While keeping himself informed and managing his office’s cloud-based infrastructure, he continues to prioritize his users’ needs, introducing each new Office 365 feature as it made sense.

And he’s reaped the benefits of the switch to Office 365, even calling a recent Microsoft audit “a breeze.”

As a Ninja Insider subscriber, Steve has communicated with us and provided many of his own ideas for posts, everything from changing the size limits of Exchange Online mailboxes with PowerShell, to finding Clippy in Office 2013–that was his idea!

We spoke with him to discover more about how Office 365, in conjunction with 365 Ninja, has transformed his business–check out our interview below.

What did your organization use before Office 365?

Steve: We are a medium-sized architecture firm. Before Office 365, our use of Office was mostly limited to Outlook, Word, and Excel. When looking at pricing for Office it didn’t make sense to spend the money on Office Pro Plus. For years we would buy an OEM (single-use) license that would be tied to the system it was installed on. This meant we would have a heterogeneous mix of Office versions and a stack of license keys that had to be documented and maintained.

How has Office 365 changed your business?

Steve: Being on Office 365 has cut documentation time in half, as I only need to create one document. Moving our email server up to Office 365 has also allowed staff to stay in constant contact with our clients.

Once people became comfortable with the email portal we decided to leverage SharePoint and OneDrive. We are in the process of replacing some of our network drives with a SharePoint site. Reviews from staff so far have been favorable.

Some of our staff that work at home often or do off-site presentations have found OneDrive to be a real lifesaver. We are now looking at better ways to use OneDrive collaboratively for those people working on large multidisciplinary presentations.

What’s your favorite part of Office 365?

Steve: Knowing that all the systems in my company are updated regularly and with the same version of Office makes troubleshooting much easier. My support time has been reduced to almost zero when office software is concerned.

Does Number TEN use any third-party applications that integrate with Office 365? How do they benefit you or the business?

We use a program called Newforma, a document management software used in the architecture/construction industry. Newforma allows us to “file” emails into project folder to allow for easy searching in the context of a project. It is also used to track issue requests, contracts, and various other project-related workflows. Our Administrative staff and Contract Administrators spend most of their day tracking project details in Newforma. Transitioning from Newforma’s integration with our in-house Exchange server to integration with Office 365 was challenging at first but has improved quickly.

How has 365 Ninja made your job easier and/or helped people at Number TEN?

Steve: After being subscribed to 365 Ninja for about three days I sent the link out to all of my staff. The tips have been excellent. Out of sheer coincidence I get tips for issues I’m investigating within a day. It makes me wonder if the ninja is watching over my shoulder.

365 Ninja has also been great about letting me know about new updates to Office 365 like Mobile Device Management and Delve.

Don’t tell my boss, but in some situations I have simply copied and pasted the tips right from the 365 Ninja site into my documentation. I often put in links directly to the videos as well.

Thanks to Steve for being our first award winner and an awesome professional in the world of Office 365!


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