Case Studies

Fish Don't Know They're In Water

Todd Herman

Have you ever heard someone quip "Fish don't know they're in water" to illustrate how something so obvious to one person can be so unapparent to another?  This saying came to mind recently, while having lunch with the Chief Financial Officer of a client.

Office 365 – An Unexpected Benefit

We were helping this company migrate to Office 365 and the CFO told me his biggest benefit would come from having EVERYONE in the company on the same version of Microsoft Office.  His comment took me aback, so I asked if he would explain this further: 

"Sure, happy to explain – having everyone on the same version of Office means everyone can go to the same training class, and users can begin to help answer each other's questions, rather than coming to ME all the time."

This benefit had NEVER occurred to me.  Why?  Because we're a business technology consulting firm!  Everyone in the firm is capable of switching back and forth among various versions of Microsoft Office because we have to do that when working with our clients.  

To us, different versions of Office are no big deal  we live with that issue all the time.  We have learned to deal with different functionality, different user interfaces, and different file formats.  Our successful adaptation to all these differences made us like fish who don't know they're in water.

Involuntary IT Manager  Are You One?

image of stairs leading to the sky

This CFO had become the "Involuntary IT Manager" for his company – although fielding technology questions was not officially in his job description, he knew more about Office and information systems in general than anyone else in the company.  Thus, he was frequently interrupted to answer questions about Excel or Word, and these interruptions WERE a big deal because they diluted his productivity.

Microsoft Intune  Making Life Easier "Behind the Scenes"

This month's case study discusses only the Office 365 portion of our engagement. We also helped our client implement the cloud-based version of Microsoft Intune, an integrated collection of system administration tools and services.

Microsoft Intune consists of security and administrative software and services, used to simplify managing Windows-based laptops and desktops. Read more on Intune's features and benefits.

While Intune goes about its tasks very quietly and efficiently, it provides a big benefit to our client – the CFO no longer has to personally handle security and administrative tasks. Now, the CFO can oversee and review these tasks, leaving more time for his REAL job.

In Closing ...

To this fish, I'm very glad my client educated me on his REAL pain – I now see I was a fish unaware of being in water.  Thankfully, I now know to look for this pain and thus help other clients with the same issue.

Todd L. Herman

Todd L. Herman


Case Study: Software Configuration and Support by Implementing Office 365

Situation: Lack of Standardized Software

This client in the commercial construction industry had, like most entrepreneurial companies, built its information systems infrastructure  including hardware and software on servers, desktops and laptops  over many years. This approach led to a wide mix of software versions in use.

Problem: CFO says "I'm Not Tech Support"

Diagram of System before Office 365



Multiple versions of Windows operating systems (including XP and Windows 7) and Microsoft Office (XP, 2003, 2007, and 2010) made troubleshooting and support difficult.  Newer versions of Office no longer supported the file formats of older versions.  The main server hosted an outdated bundle of server applications, running on a very old operating system, and the mail files were quickly approaching the email server's unchangeable
storage limit.


The Chief Financial Officer had become the implicit "Help Desk" for his company, receiving many user questions and handling mundane support tasks – which consumed a significant portion of his day.



Image of a Legend



Solution: Move to the Cloud with Office 365

Diagram of System after Office 365


Our client saw a cloud-based solution as the way to alleviate their various issues, and Microsoft Office 365 met all their essential needs.  Thus, we planned their Office 365 implementation, then guided our client in rolling out this software and services subscription, and in troubleshooting issues. 

Implementing Office 365 also required a number of small, yet long-overdue, infrastructure improvements, including:

•   Recycling a number of outdated or under-powered desktops and laptops by upgrading memory, video card, and other components, when this made sense.

•   Buying a small number of new desktops and laptops.

•   Getting all computers to at least Windows 7, the minimum required to run Office 2013, and thus Office 365.

•   Cleaning up several system and user group policies on the domain server, allowing it to push security and software upgrade policies to users.



Results & Benefits...

Implementing Office 365 solved the Microsoft Office support issues – every user now has the same version of Office, which is automatically kept current, meaning:

•   Everyone can now attend the same training classes and help support each other.

•   Everyone can use each others' Office files without having to worry about incompatible file formats.

System administration was also simplified:

•   Every computer running Office 365 will update its Office software automatically.

•   Removing the email processing load and large user email files from the main server allowed it to be repurposed for better business uses.

•   Since all computers are now at a version of Windows capable of running automated tasks, security and update tasks can be pushed out and run, virtually eliminating visits to individual computers.

•   The email server and files are now in the cloud, and with up to 25 GB of email storage per user.

•   Documents created and edited on a local computer – or on a variety of mobile devices – are now automatically synced to a user's storage folders in the cloud, and can be made available for other users to review and edit.

Get Office 365 & Intune

Our client has found Office 365 delivered:

•   Fewer headaches, for both managers and staff.

•   More manageable cash outlays, versus the periodic large cash outlays in the past for new software, user computers, and servers.

•   Easy sharing of files with other employees.

•   Improved user productivity.

•   More time for the CFO to work on strategic issues, because interruptions to answer questions and handle tasks have been greatly reduced.

Would you like to enjoy benefits like our client did? If so, contact Todd now (336.297.4200) about Office 365, and read more about Office 365 in our services section.

See what is included in Office 365

Read "10 Things to Consider Before Implementing Office 365"

Learn more about Microsoft Intune

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Interested in reading past case studies? Visit the Case Study Archive.

Todd Herman Associates


620 Green Valley Road
Suite 104
Greensboro, NC 27408

About Todd Herman Associates

Todd Herman Associates is a business technology consulting firm focused on non-routine technology issues such as replacing QuickBooks, getting two systems to "talk" to each other, shrinking process cycle time, and taming large volumes of data.