Urban planning firm increases team collaboration through Microsoft 365 with the help of Cloudwell

Published on July 25, 2019


Topology is a collaborative community and urban planning firm in Newark, New Jersey with a focus on people-centered development and an emphasis on community outreach. With a multitude of different devices on various platforms and an extremely mobile workforce, Topology needed a collaboration suite that could meet all their goals. Using Office 365 and its supporting technologies, Cloudwell was able to centralize and simplify their business practices.


Prior to this engagement, Topology was using the Google Apps suite to accomplish day-to-day collaboration and tasks. This was less than ideal as the governance over file sharing and organization was unmanageable and led to multiple versions of the same files, lost files, and rampant external file sharing. Beyond Google Apps, Topology used various 3rd party tools for standard business practices such as VoIP services, conference calling, timekeeping and task management. None of these tools were through the same provider. Additionally, Topology runs their practice through roughly 90% Apple devices. This led to a dependence on Google Apps as a cross-platform tool that worked well with Mac OS X. The organization was hesitant to consider Office 365 as a solution due to worries that it would be incompatible with most of their hardware. In the end, the structure and management oversight that SharePoint Online affords outweighed the concerns.


Due to the unmanaged file structure and document sharing in Google Drive, the first step for Cloudwell was to identify the locations of all files to be migrated. Once this was complete, Cloudwell migrated all of the organization’s files to SharePoint Online and OneDrive. The migration of all employee emails to Exchange Online went seamlessly thanks to Exchange Online migration tools. With the files migrated to SharePoint, Cloudwell stood up a simple landing page for employees to manage their files. The OneDrive for Mac client was installed on all Apple computers, and users were instructed to sync the folders they use most.

To improve company collaboration, Microsoft Teams was adopted as the primary tool for sharing information among employees. Teams were set up for each client with channels pertaining to specific projects. With teams firmly entrenched in day-to-day activities, the previous VoIP provider was replaced by Microsoft Phone System. All employees were given a new phone number to use with clients. Microsoft Phone conferencing was also enabled to allow for more seamless client calls.

With familiarity to Office 365 growing, Topology became more willing to branch out into other ventures. Another necessity was for a contact management and marketing database. Cloudwell leveraged Microsoft PowerApps with AI and SharePoint Online to develop an App that builds a contact list by taking pictures of business cards. Once this contact list was built, Microsoft Flow was used to run marketing campaigns against the database.


By migrating to the Office 365 suite, Topology was able to fully realize the ability to collaborate in the cloud while also maintaining structure in their document storage. Microsoft Teams and Phone System centralized communication throughout their organization and with clients while their custom application, using PowerApps and SharePoint Online, helped them better track their contacts for use in marketing campaigns.