People, Inc.

The Challenge

Founded in 1970, Williamsville, N.Y.-based People Inc. works with seniors, families, and people with disabilities—from residential help to employment support to health care—to help folks live more healthy, independent, productive lives.  The non-profit agency has grown over the years, and now serves a broad swath of the Western New York region.  That growth includes 180 separate sites and a network of 2,000+ computers that their staff depends on to do their jobs.  Email is one of the most crucial functions.  Email allows the employees to effectivity communicate with one another and enable them to provide the best quality services for the people they serve.  In needs to be dependable and fully functioning 24/7.

“We provide services to the developmentally disabled, so anytime staff has to deal with technology issues, it takes time away from their ability to serve people,” says Dean Gross, People Inc.’s Associate Vice President for Information Technology.

Through 2017, the company had been using an internally hosted Microsoft Exchange environment for email. But the system had become difficult to deal with and unwieldy.

“Our Exchange environment was clustered,” Dean explains. “There was two of everything. All the servers.  Maintenance was a reoccurring and tedious process.”

And then there were storage limitations to deal with.

“We didn’t have unlimited storage, so we had employees contacting us because they exceeded their storage quota.” Dean says.

Between glitches and storage issues, the email system was straining the company’s relatively small IT department.  After a conversation with Innovative Solutions, the answer became clear.

Partner Solution

What People Inc. didn’t know at the time was that the web-based Microsoft Office 365—including its Outlook email system—is available to non-profit companies at no cost. In speaking with Innovative Solutions, making the switch seemed like a no-brainer.   People, Inc. decided to shift their email system away from the Exchange environment to Office 365—a welcome trade for their current system, considering Office 365 includes a substantial 50GB mailbox size per user, features more security certifications and compliance, and comes with the full support of Microsoft Office 365.

Results And Benefits

Since implementing Office 365, People Inc. staff have been able to get more done—and focus more on what they do best. Which makes for happier end users, according Dean.

“It’s clear that we get fewer calls for support and the system is more stable with less interaction,” he says, adding, “The new system is less time-intensive for the staff. Fewer issues of troubleshooting. We don’t have clusters going down. Problems of maintenance are greatly reduced.”  Plus, people aren’t calling with storage issues or file size issues.  “We have fewer support calls coming than we would have had for Exchange-related items,” Dean says. “Each mailbox was originally limited in size, and that limit has been removed for all practical purposes. We don’t receive phone calls anymore from people saying, ‘I can’t send this large file.’”


Willow Domestic Violence Center

The Challenge

Serving the Rochester, N.Y., area for nearly four decades, Willow Domestic Violence Center helps more than 7,000 people annually, including 300 children. It’s the only state-certified domestic violence service provider in Monroe County.  In 2015, this 24/7 facility was planning a major project to relocate from their aging building and separate their administrative offices to a new, confidential location where they serve those affected by violence. At the same time, Willow was looking for more hands-on IT support from an outsourcing partner, and was seeking proposals from providers who could also help them make the transition to new space.  Willow needed a partner capable of making sure they were operational 24/7 because their hotline never sleeps. They have to be ready to meet the needs of domestic violence victims, day and night. And they needed support for everything from ongoing IT maintenance to end user work stations and printers, mobile devices, servers, and the many vendors involved in keeping their technology and connectivity in top condition.

Partner Solution

When reviewing proposed IT Service contracts, Willow reflected on their values and needs from an IT partner. They were looking for a small company feel, with large corporation knowledge.  They needed a small pool of trusted technicians that would know staff by name, and could help maintain confidentiality. When the Innovative team came in and met with Willow’s Operations & Special Projects Manager Amber Lingenfelter, and listened to the company’s needs and goals first hand, the choice was obvious.  After a detailed proposal that captured everything Willow was looking to accomplish, they hired Innovative in June 2015.  The top priority at the time was to support them in their old facility as they prepared to make a move to multiple new, separated facilities. First, Innovative helped Willow plan the elaborate transition to their administrative offices while construction continued on private facilities for their clients. During that time, they needed support keeping their systems running in the midst of change.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for a secret address

As the grand opening of their client facility drew closer—a location intentionally kept private—another challenge presented itself.  Willow wanted to mark the occasion of the opening of their new client facility with a press conference and ribbon-cutting ceremony, but they needed to preserve the privacy of the location. The Willow team orchestrated an event at their public office space and conducted a virtual ribbon cutting remotely—live-streaming it by camera to protect the other location. Innovative Solutions helped them make sure the logistics were well planned so there would be no last-minute technical glitches, such as having enough bandwidth so everything could be live streamed on a big screen.

“The ribbon-cutting ceremony was a time for Willow to celebrate and communicate with the public, and we wanted that to come off without a hitch, but the work they do every single day is even more crucial,” says Alex Wiater, Account Manager / System Administrator for Innovative Solutions. “Making sure everything’s working, from phones to security systems—anything internet based. Having information flow between Willow’s two locations. Making sure people when people answer Willow’s hotline phones that their internet is always working, so they can look up resources they need to help people. It’s vital that they be up and running for the clients they serve.”

That includes other outposts for Willow. Willow Center Court Advocates are on-site at Monroe County Family Court, in a separate and secure waiting room, to assist you in obtaining an Order of Protection. In a typical year, Willow assists more than 2,000 individuals at Family Court. Willow also has staff who work at local hospitals, and mobile advocates too. Having reliable remote connectivity is imperative to supporting survivors on the road, at coffee houses, at partner agencies- wherever services are needed and accessible. It all has to be connected and operational.

Results And Benefits

The partnership between Willow and Innovative Solutions has solved multiple problems for the organization—and created new opportunities, including:

  • Reliable, 24/7 uptime for their systems and their Hotline (222-SAFE)
  • Prevention of, rather than reaction to, security breaches
  • Consistent, efficient employee training
  • Security awareness tools for Willow clients
  • Better communications among staff through a Facebook Workplace platform

Innovative Solutions recently helped Willow set up Facebook Workplace as a more dynamic environment for internal communication. It’s an engaging, intuitive way to share information privately within the office, and interact socially online in much the same way Facebook users are already accustomed to doing, which has helped make the office staff closer and more communicative across their multiple spaces and outposts.  Since beginning their relationship with Innovative Solutions, Willow has also hired a full-time Director of Operations as a direct contact for Innovative—and the combination of a dedicated staffer and a partner who keeps things humming along has enabled Amber Lingenfelter to focus more on special projects, undistracted by IT issues.



The Challenge

Until recently, the relationship between Innovative Solutions and Derigo was like one you might keep with a childhood friend—we’re there when they need us, and only a phone call away. But recently, the folks at Derigo knew they needed a little more. Their server, which was running all of their back-end equipment, was old, run down and needed to be replaced. Enter Innovative Solutions.  We took one look at the server and immediately knew they needed a new piece of hardware—or better yet, an entirely new solution. We asked ourselves: Can we eliminate that hardware cost altogether and still give them an efficient, cost-effective, reliable solution? The answer? Absolutely.

Partner Solution

With Office 365—Microsoft’s suite of cloud solutions—we knew we could give Derigo exactly what they needed, without the cost of a new on-site server. By placing them “in the cloud,” the organization would reap the benefits of new and improved email and communication, collaboration, file sharing, and much more.  We also implemented InTune for device management, which is not part of the Office 365 suite, but is part of Microsoft’s cloud offerings. It’s a solution to manage things like antivirus and updates across devices—a great tool and perfect complement to the Office 365 solution.  We upgraded all of Derigo’s endpoints by updating their PCs to Windows 10, which is optimized for Office 365 and cloud management. We also implemented additional solutions like Quickbooks Online to help maximize efficiency and put in new firewalls and switches for added security and reliability.  When we’re presented with a problem, we look at the big picture. We provide solutions that are innovative, well thought-out, and effective. And that’s exactly what we delivered for Derigo.

A Higher Level

There’s something to be said for a willingness to try something new. Derigo trusted Innovative Solutions to take over—to give them a new solution that would save time and money, increase efficiency, and improve cycle time. We knew Office 365 was the answer and went for it. Now, everything is newer, faster, and more secure. Derigo is operating at a higher level, and we’re proud to have helped bring them there.



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