First Choice Homes Oldham’s head of ICT, Stephen Repton, reports on how the housing provider embarked on a procurement exercise beginning in 2013 to replace its entire ICT infrastructure (including telephony) and re-procure infrastructure support provision to support key business transformation activities.
Board approval and significant investment resulted in an eight-month project from June 2014 to January 2015; the scope of the project covered the implementation of cutting-edge technologies, a new managed infrastructure support contract being put in place and a newly-restructured in-house team delivering ICT support services and development projects. Running in parallel to this project, we also built and moved to brand new state-of-the-art headquarters and rationalised our office space.
The new infrastructure comprises a cloud data centre with Cisco FlexPod, NetApp and VMWare, on which core systems and Mitel telephony are hosted and wireless technologies for WAN provision. The wired and wi-fi LAN infrastructure is designed around a resilient Cisco Meraki core stack. Business continuity was also improved through the implementation of DRaaS and BaaS services. All computing devices were replaced with iGel thin client; these, coupled with ‘follow-me’ printing and Mitel hot-desk telephony, have enabled us to realise the benefits of a truly agile workforce.
The project was a huge success and has resulted in an overall improvement in the way ICT services are delivered; it has resulted in a greatly improved user experience and more front-line services being delivered direct to customers through the use of technology. Repairs operatives can now complete works orders on mobile devices and neighbourhood teams can deal with customer enquires directly while out in the field. Efficiencies have been realised though greener, smarter technologies that use less power and cloud-based printing has greatly reduced our print costs.
As Sheena McDonnel, our business transformation director, said, “This is the transformation that the business needed in order to lay the foundations for improvements to the services we provide to our customers. We have been able to bring our ICT infrastructure up to date and provide the tools our staff need to operate in a digital environment.”
Stephen Repton (Twitter: @stephen_repton) is head of ICT at First Choice Homes Oldham.