GCS Recruitment Specialists Case Study

“We made a very big decision to move away from someone we’d had known for so long. It could have gone very wrong; instead it flourished. IT has grown in stature within the organisation, and I’m very pleased with that.”

Grahame Winman, Business Systems Manager, GCS Ltd

GCS Recruitment Specialists successfully transition from in-house to out-sourced IT support.

Founded in 1991 as a two-man operation specialising strictly in IT recruitment, GCS Recruitment Specialists (GCS) now has a turnover of over £30m, employs over 80 staff and has evolved into one of the UK’s leading multi-sector recruitment businesses. GCS provides technology, financial services and engineering staff to businesses of all sizes.

GCS’ unique approach and value-added services saw the business continue to flourish right through the recession. However, under the pressure of growth and expansion the in-house IT support team could not meet demand, and GCS quickly recognised that its IT needs were rapidly expanding beyond their own capabilities.

 

Business growth led to change

Grahame Winman, GCS’ Business Systems Manager, along with the company’s Finance Director, started to investigate alternatives and quickly whittled a list of 10-15 IT companies down to a shortlist of only 3. 

On meeting with Datek one of the first questions asked was why Datek thought it would be better to outsource IT rather than continue to manage in-house?

Datek’s experience in working with other businesses with exactly the same challenges had shown how difficult it is for IT Managers to keep abreast of every new technology when they have been employed to look after one specific environment.

Malcolm Kanter, Managing Director of Datek explains...

"If you are just one person with a highly pressurised responsibility to keep IT working, it is very difficult to stay up to date on all technologies in the market. Even keeping documentation up to date is a challenge, so having the time to look at strategic IT needs when you’re busy supporting the day-to-day running of the business becomes a real predicament. Experience has shown us how much companies can be at risk when essential information and responsibility resides with just one individual."

GCS had no doubt that this situation very much reflected its own. 

"Our business was going from strength to strength and whilst things weren’t actually broken, we were beginning to experience some significant challenges with IT’s ability to meet the business’ demands."

Grahame Winman, Business Systems  Manager, GCS Recruitment Specialists.

 

How to manage the change

Overcoming the challenges of transition is one of the biggest hurdles. In the case of GCS, an established business that is highly reliant on its IT infrastructure, any potential loss of performance had costly implications.

By implementing Datek’s proven 3-stage process the transition was fast, efficient and cost-effective, with no down-time for the business throughout.

 

Where on earth do we start?

Firstly, GCS spoke to the incumbent IT manager and a three-month overlap period was agreed. Having been in the role for 15 years, the IT manager was well versed in the minutiae of the complex 14 server system currently in place and genuinely wanted to ensure GCS business was not affected by the change.

“One thing we are always conscious of, is helping businesses to utilise existing resources and knowledge, whilst respecting the individuals who will be most affected by the change. We always do everything we can to make the transition as straightforward as possible” continues Kanter.

Datek was able to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the existing systems and after three months, a smooth handover from the in-house IT team to Datek took place.

 

Maintaining status quo

The second factor is to maintain stability and not be tempted to change an existing set-up. It was this ‘lowest risk’ strategy that sealed the deal for Datek. 

"When we went initially met, GCS asked us if we did come on-board what would we change- and we said ‘nothing’. We’ll take you on and support you exactly as you are. Keeping things stable was of paramount importance. Other IT companies go in and change everything before they properly understand the business. We’re more professional than that."

Malcolm Kanter, MD, Datek Solutions

 

Utilising internal skills

Recognising that GCS had been used to working with an internal IT manager to troubleshoot, prioritise and resolve issues, Datek was keen that someone internally took ownership and Grahame Winman stepped up as the first point of call for staff during the transitional period to manage users’ expectations.

The new out-source model meant call logging was required. Grahame was able to provide an immediate response and feed any potential challenges or issues back to the Datek helpdesk in real-time. What could have been a challenging period went extremely smoothly.

"By acting as an initial point of contact for staff, I was able to feedback issues to Datek and give them a greater understanding of how GCS works and the drivers for us and our infrastructure." 

Grahame Winman, Business Systems Manager, GCS Ltd

"Grahame managed the transition really well and  found users actually preferred the outsourced approach. It ensured issues didn’t slip through the cracks, and left little room for human error. Everything ran like clockwork, due to our thorough understanding of the infrastructure and GCS managing their users’ expectations."

Malcolm Kanter, MD, Datek Solutions

Within GCS, Grahame was praised for his handling of the transition and for choosing the right partner. As a result, he received a Most Valued Professional (MVP) award at GCS annual awards event, in recognition of his part in this successful IT move.

 

Opening a new Dublin office

GCS have offices in London and Reading, recently opened a new office in Dublin. Established staff moving to the new Dublin office had high expectations for IT performance and stability and it was critical that GCS was able to experience the same levels of service people were used to.

Datek proposed a remote desktop solution and feedback from users was immediately positive with people reporting that working from Ireland was actually quicker than the legacy solution that had been in place in the main office before Datek had taken over!

"The approach Datek took enabled our systems to evolve at the same pace as our internal processes, allowing us to migrate to a new architecture and solution better suited to our needs."

Grahame Winman, Business Systems Manager, GCS Ltd

 

Time for a new infrastructure

It was soon clear to Datek that the expensive, out of date and complicated IT system in place was slowing GCS down and creating unnecessary stress for its users. GCS business systems had grown in an ad-hoc way without any strategic planning and as such was causing operational issues as staff moved about the business.

GCS’ IT infrastructure was running on a complex and expensive 14 server system. The company was using a mixture of outdated Windows Server 2003 and 2008 technology, and after an air conditioning failure in the server room of their Reading branch, it became obvious that a centralised virtual solution in an environment controlled datacentre was the way forward.

Datek embarked on a new project with GCS to overhaul its entire infrastructure and transform it into a future-proof and resilient system, moving the whole IT estate to a new data centre.

Datek has been very active in managing the project, letting us know which bits to do first. They highlight things we don’t need to tolerate. It used to take 30-45 minutes for users to log on when they moved desks and once the full implementation is completed it will take only seconds. Grahame Winman, Business Systems Manager

GCS Virtualisation offered space and security Now Datek is rolling out Virtualised Windows Server 2012, Exchange 2013, VMware, HP and Dell hardware and several specialised third-party solutions, specific to the recruitment industry.

"Some of the bespoke applications and databases we use are unique to us, and we wouldn’t expect any external company to come in and understand those. Another company may have said, ‘they’re not our applications, that‘s someone else’s responsibility’. Datek’s response was to find out how they work and how they fit in with our environment. That’s a brilliant attitude.”

Grahame Winman, Business Systems Manager, GCS Ltd

To reassure Grahame that GCS’ data would be secure, Datek invited him on a tour of the new data centre, based in North London. With the initial part of the transformation complete, GCS no longer has to be concerned with environmental factors that could impact their infrastructure’s stability. Additionally, if GCS choose to move offices, there’s no need to move on-premises servers, ensuring working continuity.

"What GCS had was older kit without full resilience, now they have brand new kit on a brand new platform with complete resilience. Because they were stuck with historic expensive contracts and an old and creaking network, huge amounts of cash were being spent just keeping everything static. Actually ‘doing nothing’ was costing more money than updating the platform. The new infrastructure means GCS has an entirely refreshed future-proof IT platform that will pay for itself in no time.”

Malcolm Kanter, MD, Datek Solutions

 

"Usually, with change comes disruption - some element of outage or lack of productivity in some area. This wasn’t the case with Datek. At no point have we gone backward, we have only gone forward."

Grahame Winman, Business Systems Manager, GCS

 

Everyone's a winner...

"For me it is all about the relationship, understanding GCS’ needs and delivery.  Datek do all of these things really well and have helped us move to the new environment seamlessly."

Grahame Winman, Business Systems Manager, GCS Ltd

 

Would you like help implementing a virtualisation solution that works for your business? Get in touch with Datek: Email or Call us on (0)1753 540000 

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