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How the Missouri Department of Conservation securely collaborates

By Microsoft in Business Team on August 7, 2017

Filed under Microsoft in Business

Focus on: Empower Employees, Optimize Operations, Engage Customers

The dense forests and scenic rivers of Missouri are visited by nature enthusiasts from all over the Midwest looking for serene natural environments to hunt, fish, camp, and explore. The state’s wealth of forest wildlife and diversity of tree and plant species offers visitors an enriching experience that keeps families coming back year after year.

Charged with the preservation of the state’s fish, forest, and wildlife resources, Missouri’s Department of Conservation (MDC) is an organization that impacts every tree-lined corner of the “Show Me State.” The Department manages hunting and fishing in Missouri, including permits and enforcement of MDC’s regulations and permissions. With 1,450 full-time employees, and several hundred hourly workers and volunteers, their total staff population is approximately 1,800.

MDC’s decentralized staff is spread throughout the entire state of Missouri, with some employees working from offices, others from home, and still others in the field. The Missouri Department of Conservation was looking for a digital solution that could support the connectivity, communication, and efficiency needs of their statewide organization. Microsoft’s technology met their needs by providing unparalleled flexibility and access, while maintaining security and compliance standards across the department.

Digital innovation to transform employee experiences

MDC’s IT Infrastructure and Operations Manager Todd Larivee has worked at the Missouri Department of Conservation for the last 20 years. Even though the list of responsibilities associated with managing Missouri’s natural resources grew, MDC’s staff wasn’t expanded to scale with the new workload. As a result, the department’s employees regularly need to find ways to be more productive and efficient. MDC’s IT Unit and agency leadership recognized that a digital transformation would provide better support for the department’s staff while offering a more streamlined and secure platform to support their communication and connectivity needs.

Previously using Windows 7 and Office Suite 2010, MDC updated their technology to Office 365 US Government, giving their staff access to Office 2016, OneDrive, and other cutting-edge apps, tools, and features. In addition to the innovative digital capabilities, the department found that the implementation and migration of Microsoft’s technology was much more manageable and affordable than other competitors. The product facilitated seamless integration, and adopting the enterprise tools didn’t require a lot of resources.

MDC’s digital transformation initially began with an email migration to Exchange Online. To the department’s surprise, in just two weeks they moved 2,300 employee and resource mailboxes over into Microsoft’s platform, and they’re now in the process of migrating the remaining email message archives as well. “It went very smoothly—I would say more smoothly than many of our other migrations, even when it has been an on-premises upgrade to an existing system,” says Larivee.

Driving productivity and flexibility with Office 365 US Government

As a result of the department’s limited resources and staff support, keeping the organization’s technology and digital resources updated was a recurring challenge. With Office 365 US Government, the Missouri Department of Conservation has a digital solution that meets its most pressing needs while being both time- and cost-efficient.

Microsoft’s solution streamlines traditional processes and empowers employees to be efficient, allowing them more time to explore productive collaboration opportunities. The product also provides additional tools that support compliance and includes Microsoft’s self-updating Advanced Threat Protection system for added security.

The department’s email migration to Exchange Online has already transformed employee experience considerably. Because MDC staff members are located across Missouri, the organization relies heavily on email to share documents, information, and updates. With OneDrive, employees can access their files and documents on their mobile devices without needing to rely on a physical desktop or a VPN connection.

With Microsoft’s connectivity features and mobile capabilities, communication is possible for MDC employees while they’re out in the wilderness collecting data, in an office conference room at their headquarter location, or driving across the state toward one of Missouri’s famous underground caves.

“Today, since we’re so geographically distributed around the state, you see a lot of people emailing files back and forth,” explains Larivee. “When we get OneDrive fully deployed, they’re going to be able to share files regardless of where they’re located, and access it from any device.”

Centralizing digital systems and embracing Microsoft’s cloud technology

As the first Missouri state department to adopt cloud technology, MDC welcomes the opportunity to leverage the cloud’s digital advantages as the new standard for consolidating and streamlining government organizations. The department’s cloud-first strategy was developed with an emphasis on accessibility, connectivity, and scalability.

Microsoft’s cloud technology meets these needs, while maintaining security. Cloud technology provides three key benefits for the department:

  • A centralized system that makes documents easily accessible
  • Regular technology updates managed by Microsoft
  • Added mobility for employees working remotely or using portable devices

Cloud technology also provides opportunities for inter-agency collaboration and expanding partnerships between the Missouri Department of Conservation and other organizations. “I think collaboration between our departments and other agencies will have a major impact and will be an advantage for us so we can better share information with other government organizations, like the Department of Natural Resources,” Larivee explains.

MDC’s digital future

As the department completes its full migration to Office 365, MDC is also in the beginning stages of deploying Windows 10 across the entire organization. In addition, the department plans to embark on a SharePoint migration in the future, with the purpose of leveraging tools to increase collaborative opportunities and strengthen partnerships with other state and federal agencies.

As the Missouri Department of Conservation continues its digital transformation, the agency’s employees are looking forward to their enhanced mobility and access and making an even greater impact through collaboration.

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