Village of Schaumburg

Village of Schaumburg Eases Email Integration with Exchange Online

Solution Overview:

Organization Size

600 employees

Organization Profile

The Village of Schaumburg, Illinois, is a major suburban hub neighboring the city of Chicago. The municipal government employs 600 workers to serve 76,000 citizens.

Business Situation

The village has taken leadership role in technology innovation and services. As it became clear that the legacy email environment in some cases made integration impossible, it sought solutions.


The village implemented Microsoft Exchange Online to not only streamline operations, but also to strengthen integration and collaboration across municipal government services.

  • Improved integration
  • Reduced costs
  • Simplified administration
  • Enhanced collaboration
  • Better resource allocation
Software and Services

Microsoft Exchange

Vertical Industries



United States



Company Overview:

With a population of 76,000 and a substantial retail sector, the Village of Schaumburg, Illinois, is a major suburban hub neighboring the city of Chicago. The village’s municipal government employs nearly 600 workers and relies on technology for its operations and delivery of services to citizens.



In 2010, the Village of Schaumburg decided to implement a new email solution to replace a legacy system based on Lotus Notes that often required substantial work from its IT department to integrate with other enterprise applications.

“We found it more and more difficult to integrate other applications — whether it was our own custom-built or off-the-shelf, third-party applications. We found that sometimes we weren’t able to integrate them at all, so we started looking for alternatives,” recalls Peter Schaak, Assistant Director of IT for the Village of Schaumburg.

“We looked at Google Apps and Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Services and Software (BPOS) product. Initially, we thought Google might be the right choice, but the more we investigated, the more concerned we became. Although Google Apps is integrated with Windows Active Directory, we found it cumbersome to administer. BPOS has a tight integration with Windows Active Directory, making administration much easier, Schaak says.”

The development work required to integrate the Village’s legacy email system with its other applications was consuming IT resources that could be used for other projects.

“We have historically taken a leadership role in technology innovation and services,” says Schaak. “We strive to be a leader and set the benchmark. We strive to leverage technology in every aspect of the organization, and email is no exception to that.”

As it became clear that the legacy email environment in some cases made integration impossible – or too cumbersome to be practical – the village found that it wasn’t able to fully utilize the application functions that should otherwise be available. This was inconsistent with the mission to leverage technology to its full advantage in efforts to serve citizens.

“A specific example is the Munis ERP that we use. It has some email functionality that was made to work with Outlook,” notes Chris Westgor, the village’s technical services manager. “And if you don’t have Outlook, it doesn’t work, so we weren’t able to take advantage of some features that we wanted to use, and it was our legacy email system that was holding us back.”


The village’s new email implementation replaced an enterprisewide legacy system with a solution that combines Microsoft Exchange Online as its hosted email service, and Microsoft Outlook as the email client on users’ desktops.

“We run Outlook on everybody’s machine, and we use Exchange Online as the back end, which is off in a cloud instead of running in a server room here,” Westgor explains. “What that means to users is, if they’ve got an application that requires email, that application will find Outlook on their client, fire it up and do whatever it needs to do, and off the email goes.”

Implementing an email solution that would integrate right out of the box with other applications freed up valuable IT resources, but it was even more critical for supporting the productivity of the village’s employees. When integration was not seamless or not possible, workers throughout the organization were forced to share information and documents in more cumbersome ways or not at all. As a result, enabling email integration was important not only for enhancing overall productivity, but also for boosting employee satisfaction.

“Users have gotten savvy enough to know when and how things are supposed to work, and they can tell when they don’t work right. They have an expectation that if an application can email, then it should email, and if it can link out to a document management system, it should do that, too,” Schaak says.

“We started to struggle with that,” he adds, “and the struggles started to get bigger and bigger. We realized that we were spending a lot of time on integration efforts that we wouldn’t have to spend if we were using Exchange.”


Schaumburg’s new email solution now allows its IT developers to easily integrate messaging functionality with its other enterprise applications.

“The key for selecting the Microsoft cloud solution was driven by that whole integration point,” says Schaak.

“We tried another cloud product that also integrates with Outlook, our local client, but we found that it wasn’t as seamless as we would like. Integration with that product required a lot of moving pieces and a lot of one-off skills to administer mail. What we found with Exchange Online is that the integration with Outlook was much tighter and much easier to administer, and they have plans to improve it even more.”

“The integration points were actually easily solved by our developers with one or two phone calls to customer support, to create some of those ties into our data through the local Outlook,” adds Westgor.

“So there were no hurdles about deep integration with the system as long as we could get to it through the email processes or through Outlook.”

Additionally, the organization benefits from having its Exchange Online solution operating in the cloud, rather than housed on its own in-house servers. Deciding to replace its wholly owned legacy system with a cloud-based solution was first seen as a bold step, however.

“We had some experience with cloud-based and Web-based applications in general, so we felt that it would work,” Schaak recalls. “We started dabbling with various products, and there were no red flags. The cloud worked the way it was supposed to work, and we understood the underlying technology well enough to be comfortable with it as an enterprise-class solution.”

“That’s a change that’s really come about for cloud solutions in general,” Schaak adds. “They were kind of a novelty up until recently. Two or three years ago, people knew of them, but they weren’t quite ready to trust them. Now we’re comfortable recommending one as an enterprise-ready solution, especially for an enterprise of this size. It’s one thing for it to work for a handful of users, another for it to work for 500 or 5,000.”

One important component of the village’s email architecture is the combination of a cloud-based service with a local desktop client. Schaak points out that not all cloud-based email products provide seamless integration with desktop clients and their surrounding enterprise applications.

“With a cloud-only solution you really do have issues trying to integrate applications that are assuming a local client,” he says. “We found that Exchange Online gave us the best of both worlds. We’re able to run Outlook locally, and the cost isn’t much greater because we already have Microsoft Office everywhere with Outlook included. And we solved the integration problem by having Outlook running locally and using the cloud environment as the back end to our email.”

Completing its email migration to a cloud-based environment will allow the Village’s IT department to re-allocate resources and personnel that were previously occupied with maintaining and integrating its legacy system.

“We’re anxious to help balance the workload,” Schaak notes. “The government sector is in a ‘do-more-with-less’ economic situation, so we’re hoping to free people up to switch back to a little more proactive IT administration and away from being purely reactive.”

Re-allocating staff to more proactive projects is one of the major returns on investment that Schaak expects to see as the implementation matures.

“Our savings will hopefully come from these freed resources and the ability to get more things done with our current staffing level,” he says. “The cost savings will also be more quantifiable down the line when we don’t have to refresh our servers to keep our environment running. That’s on Microsoft to do now. All we have to worry now about are our clients.”


Microsoft Case Study: Village of Schaumburg

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