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UrbanDaddy – A FlashPanel Enterprise Case Study

BetterCloud Monitor

June 19, 2014

5 minute read

Urban-Daddy-Logo

Employees: 150
Founded: 2005
Industry: Media & Lifestyle
Website: www.urbandaddy.com
Urban-Daddy-Logo

“Before FlashPanel Enterprise, we were trying to use point solutions to solve various pain points. But, now FlashPanel Enterprise allows us to essentially solve all of these pain points with just one solution.”
JR Lanteri
Director of IT

UrbanDaddy is a digital media company creating diverse lifestyle content nationally and targeted to hyper-local geolocated contexts for a number of different audiences. Founded in 2005, UD Media publishes several titles including UrbanDaddy, Kempt, Driven, Perks and Manero. UD Media and its various publications have been leading pioneers of the native ad industry, creating award-winning native programs for Fortune 100 brands across multiple channels including email, mobile, video, commerce, online and offline.

Leaving Behind Hosted Exchange for Google Apps

After operating on Hosted Exchange for several years, UrbanDaddy realized their forward thinking brand needed an equally revolutionary messaging and collaboration provider. So, in the Spring of 2012, UrbanDaddy made the move from Exchange to Google Apps. According to UrbanDaddy’s Director of IT, JR Lanteri, “cloud was becoming more prevalent – it is more flexible, agile, scalable and above all, with the cloud we wouldn’t have to worry about storage space. We could also seamlessly integrate most of our systems pretty much out of the box leveraging APIs. Cloud allowed us to move fast.” (In addition to Google Apps, UrbanDaddy relies on Salesforce, Box, Megento and Netsuite to run their business.)

As for the Hosted Exchange system UrbanDaddy left behind, Lanteri added that, “Exchange is only scalable when it comes to mail – it’s a one trick pony. Beyond mail, you’re taxed for every option. But with Apps, we got more value for our money. We not only got mail, but an entire productivity suite that’s accessible from any device with an internet connection.” With Google, UrbanDaddy employees could suddenly collaborate across teams in real time while achieving business continuity above and beyond what their on-premises system could. UrbanDaddy wanted to avoid points of failure like power outages and natural disasters, “email is just too crucial to our business,” added Lanteri.

Lanteri also noted their move to Google had a lot to do with brand. “Microsoft hasn’t done a great job in the last decade depicting that they’re innovative or listening to their customers. From my perspective, even Office 365 ties into an ecosystem we’re trying to get away from – Sharepoint and other enterprise server products are cost centers and we want to be able to operate without having connections to either. Google is the future and we want to work with a brand and company that can innovate and scale with the times.”

Building on Google Apps with FlashPanel Enterprise

While Google provided UrbanDaddy with incredible functionality, from an administrative perspective, there were certain areas where JR and his team needed a bit more granularity and functionality. The company turned to FlashPanel Enterprise to provide those missing capabilities.

Directory

Back when UrbanDaddy ran on Exchange, they could tie their Active Directory database to a user’s phone number, address and so forth, but with Google, there was no detailed Global Address List. As a work-around, UrbanDaddy referred to a Google Doc for their employee directory. “Unfortunately,” said JR, “this system wasn’t dynamic. People would move, their numbers would change and our system would become out of date.” JR wanted a service that would provide up to date employee information on the go and FlashPanel Enterprise was just the solution.

FlashPanel Enterprise’s bulk editing and profile self-edit features added tremendous value when maintaining the company’s Global Address List. In fact, the ability to update contacts in bulk eliminated the need for UrbanDaddy to sync their GAL with Active Directory.

Email Signature Management

In addition to directory and contacts management, UrbanDaddy uses FlashPanel Enterprise’s email signature tool for standardization and for centralized management. Since UrbanDaddy operates multiple consumer media brands across four key curated lifestyle platforms, it was crucial for their team to have the ability to push out a custom signature template that correlated to the brand. Lanteri noted that, “when a new campaign is running, we want to have the ability to promote that campaign in an email signature. Before FlashPanel Enterprise, everyone was doing this independently, there was no way to standardize, fonts were different, images didn’t look right.” FlashPanel Enterprise allowed UrbanDaddy to standardize, customize per campaign and / or department and push out email signatures to the right users.

Moreover, JR is able to delegate signature management to the marketing team. “FlashPanel Enterprise is so simple, employees outside of the IT department can use it.”

Access Control

Another driver propelling UrbanDaddy to install FlashPanel Enterprise was the application’s Access Control feature. The business needed the ability to delegate granular administrative access to other members of the IT team without making them super administrators in Google Apps. “FlashPanel Enterprise bridged this gap by allowing us to easily assign access controls to the appropriate members of our team.”

Calendar Management

The IT department also relies on FlashPanel Enterprise’s calendar management tools. “With Google, the process of finding a calendar and especially making someone a calendar owner is cumbersome. This is especially concerning when an employee is off-boarded. But with FlashPanel Enterprise, I can search for a calendar and edit rights easily and quickly.”

User Deprovisioning

And to make the off-boarding process simpler overall, The IT Team uses FlashPanel Enterprise’s step-by-step deprovisioning workflow, which gives him the ability to transfer document ownership, assign an account executor, delegate mail and much more. According to JR, “the workflow also helps with change management among our own IT staff. It’s hard to keep track of all the steps you need to take when someone leaves, but the deprovisioning workflow lays it out simply.”

End User View

To empower end users, UrbanDaddy has also enabled FlashPanel Enterprise’s end user view, which “allows the user to take control back and help eliminate unnecessary feedback to helpdesk,” says JR. “Users can view who is in what groups, find contact information and even determine who someone’s manager is. It gives the staff more connectivity within the company.”

Automated Reporting

To keep track of every action occurring within the UrbanDaddy domain, the IT team relies on FlashPanel Enterprise’s dashboard which, with just one glance, gives an overview of domain activity. “From a checks and balances standpoint, audit activity and logging help us remain compliant and honest while giving insight into how the system is being used.”

In addition to FlashPanel Enterprise’s dashboard, JR uses automated reporting to see how many users are forwarding their email and to see if users have reached or are nearing storage quotas. Automation means JR doesn’t have to take time out of his day to set up and run a report manually, “We’re trying to turn on as much automation as possible since we’re a small team – we’re trying to work smarter versus harder,” JR adds.

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