The Stroke Association is the only UK wide charity concerned solely with combating stroke in people of all ages. The charity funds research into prevention, treatment and better methods of rehabilitation, and provides stroke patients and their families with on-going support and advice. The Stroke Association employs 750 people and has staff working from over 300 different locations spread across The United Kingdom.
In January 2006, Paul Hughes joined The Stroke Association as Head of IT with a brief to update and rationalize the disjointed voice and data systems that had evolved over many years of gradual expansion. Novel Netware and Groupwise were replaced with a standardised Microsoft platform and a private wide area network was established to connect every office and over 100 people working from home.
“there was a huge amount of work to be done”
“When I first arrived at the Stroke Association, I had a lot more hair then than I have now!” recalls Hughes, “there was a huge amount of work to be done, both at the core of the business and out in the branch and satellite offices. Although I have six staff providing helpdesk and desktop support, we have no spare resource so I needed to find a service partner to help us out”.
Hughes drew up a shortlist of suppliers and following a competitive tender process Paralogic, a national IT group based near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, was selected. “Paralogic was able to offer nationwide service together with guaranteed response times”, says Hughes, “like having our own field service team but much more cost effective”.
“like having our own field service team but much more cost effective”
To minimize the cost of the service, Hughes negotiated a new type of service level agreement whereby a contract price is agreed for the supported equipment, half of which is paid to Paralogic in four quarterly installments. Then, an agreed callout charge is made for each repair visit but with total expenditure capped at the remaining 50% of the contract value.
This means that The Stroke Association pays for on-site calls only when they are needed and can never pay more than the original contract price. Paralogic calls this arrangement ServiceLite and it has since proved very popular with other distributed organisations looking to reduce their support costs.
The Stroke Association works closely with the NHS providing specialist support services to stroke survivors and their families. Since 2008, there has been a growing demand for these services leading to a requirement for more staff in the field. Consequently, some of the original offices have been relocated to larger premises. Also, a number of new satellite offices have been opened to provide local cover in busy regions.
“it was a great benefit to have everything from one supplier”
Hughes took the opportunity to refit each new office before opening the doors for the commencement of support and rehabilitation services and once again turned to Paralogic for help. “We needed new equipment, structured cabling and electrical services as well as installation and user training”, continues Hughes, “it was a great benefit to have everything from one supplier”. To date, 25 new offices have been refitted and the programme is scheduled to run well into 2011.
“Our relationship with Paralogic has gone from strength to strength”, concludes Hughes, “what started as a simple break-fix process has evolved into an integrated business partnership. I now have the flexibility to focus on activities that add value to the business knowing that Paralogic is there to keep the wheels turning”.
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