South Lakes Housing (SLH) is an independent housing association, which manages more than 3,000 rented properties across the South Lakeland area of Cumbria. Its four-strong IT department is led by IT Manager, Paul Aitken.
With up to 80 of its 125 staff regularly working remotely in the field, SLH’s IT team needed to improve the flexible working options available to the organisation’s employees. The team wanted to create an environment that would enable staff to work remotely and on multiple devices, while still having access to their emails.
Before the roll-out of any such solution, however, the team needed to resolve concerns around email uptime. This had previously been a big issue for SLH. Paul explains: “Email downtime had caused huge problems for both our teams and our residents. We had one incident where our email was out of action for a week – this was the tipping point for us. We had to find a solution that we could absolutely rely on.”
SLH turned to Probrand to help deploy a reliable email solution that would assist employees working both on-premise and offsite.
Probrand’s solution was to implement a hybrid model, which included the installation of the Microsoft Office 365 cloud services which could be accessed remotely. The existing email system was also updated, from Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 to the 2016 version, to resolve any issues with uptime. To further improve remote working, Probrand also installed Skype for Business to help individuals collaborate with their colleagues no matter where they are located.
The migration and solution deployment took place over a four-week period, at which point all staff were fully up and running. “The roll-out was ridiculously quick”, said Paul. “We had worked with the team at Probrand before so knew how speedy and efficient they are. But I think we were all surprised by how painless the process was and how good the post go-live support has been.”
South Lakes Housing has received numerous benefits as a result of deploying its new email and remote working solutions.
Enhanced performance and support
SLH’s employees are now actively collaborating with their colleagues while out in the field. They are also making use of tools, such as slide share capabilities to improve meetings with suppliers.
Employees have also noticed that since deploying the latest version of Microsoft Exchange, which has offered users an improved interface, sending emails is much easier and faster.
Paul and his team are also receiving regular support from Probrand, to prevent and resolve any issues should they arise.
As the new email solution is allowing emails to be stored and synced, regardless of whether staff are on or offsite, its features are also compatible with the housing association’s plans to introduce cloud-based data management.
Exciting times ahead
Paul believes SLH’s improved IT infrastructure has created a platform which will allow the organisation to implement several new technologies in the future,
“Thanks to the team at Probrand, we feel that we now have the foundations to build additional automation and improve processes across SLH,” said Paul. The organisation is now looking to implement Microsoft Sharepoint to improve collaboration and document management. Many of SLH’s form filling processes are still manual, meaning remote workers need to travel back into the office to file documentation.
The option of deploying Microsoft’s Business Intelligence software is also in the pipeline to improve internal analytics and reporting.