A relationship built on trust, not contract terms
HW Fisher prides itself on being one of the UK’s leading independent accountancy firms. As such a dynamic and forward thinking company, it soon became apparent that a traditional outsourcing company, with the limitations of rigid Service Level Agreements (SLAs) would not be the way forward in maintaining its accountancy IT systems. Fast-forward 15 years and discover the secret of success behind a highly effective partnership with independent IT services provider CCE, providing HW Fisher with the flexibility to support its growth and aspirations.
Over the last 15 years, CCE has built a strong relationship with HW Fisher, based on trust and confidence, not one constrained by contract terms. From the outset, CCE demonstrated that it had a true understanding of HW Fisher’s business needs. As a result of working closely with CCE, Tony Blonk, IT Director for HW Fisher has been able to create a highly flexible accountancy IT systems infrastructure to enable the company to evolve, remain competitive and accommodate new applications and devices (BYOD) to suit the needs of its staff.
Finding the right IT partner
Founded in 1933, HW Fisher has built a reputation on delivering premium advisory services efficiently and cost effectively. The practice supplies a range of services including audit, corporate taxation, business recovery and forensic accounting and employs approximately 310 staff. In recent years, more demands were put upon its accountancy IT systems and infrastructure and business continuity was more critical than ever before. It was clear that outsourcing the maintenance of its printers, switches and network server hardware was the most effective and economic option. The most pressing issue was to find the right partner that would instill confidence and take the burden away from the IT Director.
Tony Blonk, commenting on the partnership with CCE said:
“Like many companies looking to reduce costs and minimise risks, outsourcing was the right direction to take, but finding the right provider was proving to be a challenge. We needed a partner that was dedicated to building a business relationship with us, keeping us operational in times of networking and hardware failure. On top of this, the design and consultancy element was of paramount importance to us as we continue to invest to cope with growing demands of the company.”
Qualities of a winning IT services partner
What made CCE’s proposition so attractive was a combination of key elements: flexibility in terms of its service provision to guarantee business continuity; an open and honest approach; ability to act as a consultancy with the best interests of the client at heart; the provision of necessary skills when issues arise; and the ability to look outside the organisation when the solution was not available in house. What Tony Blonk wanted to avoid was partnering with a more traditional IT services company where he could be inhibited by rigid and specific measures drawn up in the SLA.
Leading edge, not bleeding edge
CCE demonstrated a highly flexible approach to the initial remit, servicing 70 printers, 20 servers and 15 switches. Tony Blonk was not only struggling with running an increasingly complex infrastructure, but also with a less than positive perception of IT among employees.
Commenting on this aspect, he said:
“What I wanted to do was to change the perception of IT within the company. For so long, it had been seen by employees as a barrier for the adoption of new services. With CCE on board, we were able to work on the technical framework and build out new applications, adopting new technology only when there was a real need to be ‘leading edge’ but not ‘bleeding edge’. As an independent, vendor-neutral company, I knew I could trust CCE’s advice to be objective, unlike printer copier contracts that are based on specific measures such as volume of printing and number of machines serviced.”
As a result of the improvements, HW Fisher expanded CCE’s remit to cover all three sites. CCE has acted as a consultancy in terms of the best hardware to use to service the company’s growing operation. Thanks to CCE’s advice, the accountancy firm is now able to operate with increased efficiency, running with a reduced number of 50 printers.
It is HW Fisher’s intention to reduce its number of printers by 20 – 25% in the coming years and apply the rules of managed print services. Coupled with this, it also intends to reduce printer usage by 20 – 25% and toner usage by 20%; the organisation has already made a substantial reduction in terms of print volume, from five million to four million pieces of paper, meeting the company’s sustainability aims.
Streamlining software applications and future direction
With a strong, flexible IT backbone in place, Tony Blonk is in the process of a software review. Not only is he challenged by running over 45 core and 100 secondary applications, but he has to manage a number of different versions of the software, making upgrades complicated and time consuming. He sees that visualization is the way forward for the company, making business continuity easier and is already speaking to CCE regarding hosting the platform. Commenting on future direction of HW Fisher’s IT provision, he said he would like to be in a position to adopt technologies only when there is a real business case for it, not just for the sake of following a trend. He is aiming for a more flexible approach in the future, either by continuing to provide people with devices or adopting BYOD. This would make it easier for the workforce to adopt new services and applications to enable them to keep ahead of the competition.
He sees the importance of embracing cloud-based computing as the future of the organisation where the company can move to a pay-per-use basis. It could be used initially for business continuity and then for primary and internal systems back up.
“In the long term, no application should have to stay in the building. Some of our applications would be harder than others to use in a visualized environment, but where possible I would like to see us use more shared applications such as accounting software, like Xero. HW Fisher could then provide value-added services on top of these applications and services. I envisage that the future could resemble something like the Apple AppStore, where customers select the technology they want and allow a company like HW Fisher to provide value-added services on top.”
Deepening and extending the relationship between CCE and HW Fisher
By understanding the business issues and not just the accountancy IT systems and infrastructure problems faced by HW Fisher, CCE has built a strong foundation which has proved beneficial to both companies. It is the demonstration of this willingness to solve a client’s business problem which underpins a long-term, loyal customer relationship and has led to CCE being consulted to supply managed print services hosted business continuity.
Ultimately, the confidence and trust that service ‘beyond the call’ delivers has enabled FW Fisher to concentrate on its business and allowed its IT Director to innovate and plan more strategically for the future. With solid, reliable foundations in place, HW Fisher has the head space to think about how to use IT to mainstay its position as a forward thinking consultancy.