The Education Business Partnership (EBP) is an award-winning social enterprise that develops the skills of thousands of young people across Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Norfolk. They do this through offering a range of 20 programmes to support education settings to meet Ofsted requirements, the National Curriculum, Gatsby Benchmarks and current educational priorities. Their programmes focus on Careers, STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts and Maths) and Resilience, work experience and the delivery of the National Citizenship Service (NCS). The EBP works tirelessly to champion young people and has done since 2001.
Through their support network, the EBP provides opportunities to hone the essential skills required to join the workforce. Furthermore, they offer support through the subsequent steps of the journey, whether it be further education or employment.
A very traditional style of networking and IT infrastructure was being used by the EBP, with most staff using fixed desktop machines and on-premise servers. The business had a dedicated server room, unnecessarily taking up space, and any planned or unplanned downtime of the internet connectivity or servers meant many people couldn’t work, and productivity ground to a halt.
Remote working was very limited, with staff needing to come into the office to perform many functions. Moreover, a variety of desktop software versions, such as Microsoft Office 2013/2016/2019 were in use, with little to no standardisation.
In addition, the EBP had an existing firewall and wireless solution, however these were starting to show signs of age. Backups were also performed by tape, which required changing daily by staff.
With access to the network severely limited, staff members based in their remote offices faced numerous restrictions. Due to the weakness of the system, the business was unable to support a modern, flexible working environment, resulting in a lack of competitiveness in the job market; thus negatively impacting on their ability to create and sustain growth. Attracting candidates for essential leadership roles was proving very difficult too. Frustrations ran high.
With both the EBP and SCS based in Lincoln, SCS already served to provide a high level of support and guidance to the company. The team at the EBP appreciated the knowledge, reliability and trustworthiness that came as standard with SCS.
Working closely with the EBP and Timico – a trusted data centre partner – SCS deployed a ‘full cloud solution’, meaning no onsite servers. All work functions are now hosted on virtual servers at a data centre, with users connecting to virtual desktops. This is not only more cost effective but also allows for backups and snapshots to be performed remotely, allowing for faster redeploy and better disaster recovery. Back-ups were previously manually done to tape by staff so this also saved them time, whilst providing sounder peace of mind.
Email and desktop applications were moved to Microsoft Office 365, utilising Exchange Online and Teams, both of which allow a seamless transition between working on and off site collaboratively. All staff are now also equipped with standardised software, which is easily updated and audited.
SCS also deployed a new firewall and wireless solution, allowing for award-winning, enterprise-grade protection and coverage. Users can now work and roam freely within the building, along with providing tokenised guest Wi-Fi.
As promised, the SCS solution was fit for purpose, and the challenges faced were concluded with efficiency and accuracy and with minimum downtime, or disruption to the business. And, as requested, the new infrastructure was able to grow organically with the organisation. Moreover, it provided the ability to work remotely and with flexibility while simultaneously maintaining security integrity. And all within budget.
Since its implementation, both productivity and staff morale at the EBP are on the up with SCS working alongside them, providing IT support services, both remotely and onsite. SCS deal with all hardware and software repairs and recommendations, plus the ongoing management and support of their new IT Infrastructure.
The EBP now feels like a ‘modern office’, where users can perform any tasks, on any machine, from anywhere. Backups and security seem to look after themselves, allowing staff to get on with their jobs. All staff have access to Office 365 applications from anywhere, allowing for improved performance and productivity. Moreover, vastly improved communication, enabled through Teams, allows for local and remote users to collaborate with ease.
The new and improved system architecture has also enabled continuity, across all regions and offices, by equipping all remote office-based staff with the same level of IT experience as those based in The EBP Head Office.
SCS went above and beyond the call of duty. Due to the comprehensive planning by SCS and Timico before migration, and the skill, knowledge and out of hours working by lead SCS implementer – Mat Stead – there was minimum disruption or downtime, and the whole project ran smoothly without major issue.