Carr-Gomm is a Scottish charity supporting vulnerable people living in the community across Scotland. Since its registration in 2002, the charity helps people with a wide range of needs including; physical disabilities, mental health, learning disabilities, addictions and other support needs. The main focus is supporting people so they can fully lead their lives, access services and achieve their hopes and dreams.
The daily operations of the charity rely on the smooth running of a core IT infrastructure, which is based at our Edinburgh headquarters and regional centres across the country.
The majority of our 1200 employees are carers, managers and supervisors who work remotely and they need easy access to the IT systems.
Following a period of rapid growth, where we relied on a single member of staff to support the entire IT environment, we realised that this in- house approach was no longer sustainable. To keep pace with our growth objectives, it was clear that we needed more help to deliver effective, user support services – on a daily basis. We also wanted to free up time for our team to work on more strategic, business transformation projects.
We determined that the best route forward was to opt for a third party, IT Helpdesk-style offering, providing IT support and managed services.
We envisaged that all aspects of our IT environment would be supported via phone, email and remote access – so a swift resolution to software or hardware problems, internet faults and general “how-to” staff queries could be achieved.
We chose MCSA to provide end-to-end, IT support across our office locations – directly from its Glasgow-based service centre. An initial 2 year contract was awarded in 2013 following an open tender process, where they scored highly on quality and was ultimately selected on a best value basis. MCSA was also chosen as it possessed an excellent track record of delivering best-in-class technology support across UK public sector organisations. They retained the contract for a further 3 years when it went back out to tender in 2015.
To cater for our critical IT infrastructure, MCSA deliver a dedicated 1st/2nd line helpdesk service providing our staff with support on all IT issues, including remote monitoring, access to a technical support team and on-site, server maintenance. They ensure that helpdesk analysts’ response time to issues and incidents is fast and manage site visits to quickly resolve issues. The service also includes product supply, including procurement, warehousing, system build and deployment.
Looking forward, we are also aiming to implement remote server monitoring, bring remote users from stand-alone PCs to within the domain, and expand on the utilisation of cloud services.
MCSA is enabling us to experience savings, compared to the cost of maintaining a significant in-house IT team. As they deal with the vast majority of our daily IT support needs, this allows our internal IT resources to work on forward-looking initiatives and strategic projects – including an Office 365 upgrade.
Ultimately, this IT partnership is helping to facilitate the growth and continued success of our charity.
The Lessons learned
My advice for other charities, on choosing an IT partner, is to fully investigate the company behind the sales and marketing façade – and make sure they possess the appropriate technical expertise to support their claims. Look for testimonials to prove this. Examine a provider’s ability to meet the SLAs you have in mind.
Establish how flexible they are prepared to be – are they happy to make extra site visits – when their assistance is required.
I believe that service providers should deliver advice first, then provide a solution that results from a clear understanding of business needs. Having MCSA’s dedicated helpdesk engineers working solely for us, has allowed them to develop an in-depth understanding of our environment and build strong, relationships with users. This means that we gain a lot of invaluable IT advice from them – which builds staff confidence and also ensures that issues can be quickly resolved.
Investing in time to visit the service provider’s HQ and its engineering offices will help you get a real feel for the company and its people. In summary, if you do your selection process thoroughly, you’ll then be assured – like us – that whatever IT problems you face in the future, the support partner will be there to swiftly resolve them.
Kevin Calder – IT Manager