Cowgill Holloway

Learn how this UK Top 100 accountancy firm fully aligned their teams whilst reducing cost

Office 365 Implementation | Licensing


About Cowgill Holloway

Cowgill Holloway is a leading independent firm of chartered accountants and business advisers, with over 120 staff based in offices throughout Bolton, Manchester, and Liverpool, and a national client base. Established over 30 years ago, Cowgill Holloway is an award-winning North West adviser to the entrepreneurial marketplace and is ranked as a UK Top 100 accountancy practice.


The Challenge

The IT team were struggling to align Microsoft Office across the whole business. The team found that, over time, multiple versions of packaged Microsoft Office had been assigned across the different locations and machines.

The impact of this was:

  • Staff could not work effectively with each other due to file incompatibility
  • IT support staff had to undergo time-consuming training in all versions of Office
  • Licensing was difficult to manage.

The company’s exchange server had issues too:

  • The single server with remote backup did not provide the level of resilience required by the business
  • Mailbox sizes were restricted, leading to unmanaged PST files being created offline
  • Support was only available during office hours, which didn’t suit the flexible time requirements of the business.


The Solution

Cowgill Holloway knew they needed to align all users to one version of Office and provide them with an Enterprise Grade email service. They considered an on-premise server for email, as well as a cloud-based solution, but the more they researched, the more they wondered if Office 365 would be a good fit for them.

Cowgill Holloway wanted to understand which solution would work best for their needs so the company’s IT Services Director, Chris Leigh, looked for a reputable Microsoft partner that was experienced in Office 365. “We initially looked for a partner with good Office 365 credentials, turning to Microsoft Pinpoint to help us locate the right partner. We did originally look for a local supplier but found that the partner with the best credentials and customer reviews was not based near us, and after talking with Perspicuity, we realised that most of the work could be carried out remotely – so we were more than happy to proceed.”


Perspicuity proposed the Office 365 E3 plan for the following reasons:

  • Exchange Online

Plan E3 includes Legal Hold, which ensures that all emails are kept for life, fully meeting compliance requirements. Public folders are supported too. Plan E3 includes Legal Hold, which ensures that all emails are kept for life, fully meeting compliance requirements. Public folders are supported too.

  • Office Pro Plus

All future upgrades are taken care of to ensure that the business always remains up-to-date and there are no big upgrade bills to budget for.


Managing the migration

Timing was critical; Cowgill Holloway were advised to wait until Microsoft could provide them with the required public folder functionality.

Being early adopters, some issues surfaced, meaning it was not an easy data transfer as expected. However, Perspicuity spent time liaising with Microsoft on behalf of Cowgill Holloway, working to resolve the issue by managing the process manually. Now, the public folders are in place and the client team have access to their shared Outlook email folders.

Realising the benefits of moving to Office 365

Cowgill Holloway set out to simplify their licensing for Office, and since implementation, have benefitted from many of the standard features of Office 365.

In their own words, they say they’re particularly enjoying:

  • A significant reduction in licensing costs; Office 365 is more cost-effective and it is easier for us to be licence compliant. We’re neither under nor over licensed, and it is easy for us to understand who has what licence, and add or remove users as needed.
  • The working experience is greatly improved for users. Users can self-connect their mobile or business devices under our Office 365 licensing. Also, our workforce can spend up to 25% of their time at client side because Office 365 allows users to connect back onto the network for emails and calendars, enabling them to stay in touch and continue working easily whilst off-site.
  • Increased mailbox size for users. Each user gets a 50GB mailbox, which has eliminated the need for email archiving and reduced the time users spend looking for old emails in archives. The typical user mailbox used to be a mere 1GB.
  • Exchange Online is easier for us to use than running and managing an Exchange server.
  • Managing leavers’ mailboxes is now easy, as we can move them to a shared location that can still be accessed.
  • No need to budget for the next upgrade – now, we’re always on the latest version of Office.


Taking IT forward with Office 365

Using Office 365, Cowgill Holloway has implemented a robust disaster recovery programme for the business. Now, if a PC or device fails, they can retain access to that mailbox because their email is in the cloud.

They are also using OneDrive for Business for individual use, guiding users away from saving in My Documents or through unmanaged consumer file sharing solutions. This ensures that company data remains within the company domain and is securely backed up.

IT Services Director, Chris Leigh, commented, “The cost savings of moving to the Office 365 platform are significant. On-premise Office licensing was more expensive and far more difficult for us to audit and ensure we were compliant. In many cases, we were over licensing. For us, Office 365 simplified that process; now we know we are licence compliant, plus Office 365 offers our staff the opportunity to use the 5 device benefit, so they can use Office on their iPads or home PCs.”

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