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William Russell is a specialist insurance company dedicated to meeting the needs of expatriates. The business caters for individuals and businesses by offering Global Health, Life and Income Protection Insurance. William Russell offers the peace of mind of an internationally trusted provider and has provided services for more than 20 years.
At its UK head office in Lightwater, Surrey the business employs 65 staff engaged in roles such as sales, admin, claims, finance and HR. The business also operates sales offices in the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong.
William Russell identified technology as pivotal to its future and the key to achieving growth and gaining access to new markets. It has no IT personnel on staff, electing to focus on core business activity. Consequently, the business outsources both IT infrastructure services and support as well as specialist insurance industry software to external providers.
In 2013 the business recognised that a variety of IT infrastructure elements such as computers and network devices had accumulated. It needed to rationalise this inventory and it saw this as an opportunity to select a new technology partner, one that was able to deliver services that reflected the importance of infrastructure to the business.
Jamie Sheerin, Customer Service Manager says:
“Eight potential service providers were initially identified. This was whittled down to a shortlist of four providers which we examined very closely. We evaluated a number of key factors including references, types of existing customer and whether the provider was the right size.”
Paralogic was selected and the contract for infrastructure services commenced in August 2013. Jamie Sheerin says: “After meeting consultant Jonathan Rose we felt Paralogic was a good match for us. They were people we could do business with, not least of all because they were honest and open.”
The contract provides complete peace of mind by providing a framework for rectifying any IT fault which impacts the ability of William Russell to function smoothly. Equipment and applications had been acquired on the recommendation of various IT contractors. The first project was to audit the IT assets including all hardware and software.
“The audit identified what we had and how things were being used or their potential use. It also indicated what was necessary for the functioning of the business and what was surplus to requirements. Network cabling and comms rooms were part of this and to audit them properly they needed to be reorganised. All in all, the infrastructure contract has provided a solid platform for the future,” Jamie Sheerin says.
Plans for the business to move over to a new database and a new website are now well advanced. A major part of this migration to these new specialist insurance software systems has been to upgrade the PCs to provide a standard desktop environment and set up the server infrastructure.
An accurate audit has helped significantly reduce the need for and minimise the costs of infrastructure changes. Jamie Sheerin says: “The audit ensures we re-use as much existing infrastructure as possible to meet the hardware requirements for the new customer database and related systems. Understanding our position on software licensing also prevents us from buying licenses that we had already purchased but not properly documented.”
With Active Directory functioning correctly the environment is much more secure and reliable, enabling much easier domain administration. An important element here was to achieve a desktop infrastructure that would allow remote access, reducing the requirement for onsite service and accelerating the speed at which support could be provided to individual users.
To provide regular ongoing support to resolve issues and enable thorough housekeeping Paralogic provided an engineer for one day a week. Over 18 months this has proved highly successful and the requirement has now been reduced to half a day per week. Lead engineer Jeff Byfield is a familiar contact point for staff to help with troubleshooting and provide training, advice and guidance.
Jamie Sheerin says:
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“One of the major benefits of working with Paralogic is is that we have access to independent expertise and advice. The providers of our specialist insurance software may have recommendations which may not represent the best value or technical choice for us. The unbiased opinion of Paralogic helps to make sure our systems maximise the value we get from our IT infrastructure.”
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