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Case Study: How Chesterfield utilised ‘The Advantage Edge’ to completely transform their business

Who are Chesterfield?

Chesterfield are one of the market leading insurance brokers totalling over £200 Million of annual premiums specialising in providing bespoke solutions to business, insurance brokers, trade associations, cover holders and individuals across the globe.

Having been established in 1999, Chesterfield have continued to grow and expand their presence. In 2012, Chesterfield joined H.W. Kaufman Group, a global network of companies dedicated to shaping the future of insurance and expanding their international reach.

The limitations of an On-Premise solution

There are many benefits of having an on-premise solution implemented for your company however this is not always the best option. Some of the issues with an on-premise solution include possible dated on-premise servers that can limit the scope of your business. With an on-premise solution there can be an expensive rented datacentre server for any increase or expansion in the business into different areas.

Emails are often hosted by IT support companies slowing down the overall performance. Additionally, the on-premise solution chosen may not be fully integrated to a business's needs with the best API’s. Long downtimes can also cause further problems for operational businesses.

Setting the groundwork

Chesterfield reached out to Advantage initially to implement Dynamics GP back in 2014. As an international company Chesterfield’s US division wanted the team in the UK to work on the same system as them. With our expert knowledge of GP, Advantage became a clear choice after an in-depth discussion and business analysis to identify how we could improve their performance.

This however was only the first piece of the jigsaw. The relationship continued to blossom as Advantage took over the hosting of Dynamics GP in Azure. This gave Chesterfield the benefit of a single point of contact, as Chesterfield’s previous supplier did not want to take full ownership of a product that they did not understand and did not have the experience or expertise to properly execute on.

A major factor in successful implementation is the understanding of the infrastructure and its relation to the SQL backend in conjunction with Microsoft Dynamics GP. The integration with Microsoft Azure cloud allowed Chesterfield to experience the benefits of the cloud with a system that sits directly within the Microsoft suite of products rather than on a partner server. This was Chesterfield’s first transition into the cloud.

There are many benefits associated with Microsoft Cloud adaption which include the ability to be more agile and stay up and running. As mentioned previously Chesterfield had issues with long downtimes and unexpected changes. The hosting of Dynamics GP on Azure became much more assured with a more reliable platform. In addition to this and in line with further growth plans the hosting on the cloud allowed for further cost reductions and lower total cost of ownership.

Insuring the future

During 2017, Chesterfield experienced exponential growth, almost doubling in size, and their non-Microsoft partner was not able to properly assist in scaling their growth. “We were able to roll back a Microsoft Dynamics GP database within 5 minutes if a mistake was made” comments Christo van Zyl, Advantage Managed Services Director.

Having experienced such a host of benefits with the implementation of Dynamics GP and the hosting of GP on Azure Chesterfield’s Finance Manager, Ben Williams, was keen on continually taking the Chesterfield Group to the next level and completing their business transformation.

Chesterfield experienced various email and server outages and decided to move away from a non-Microsoft based hosted solution.
“We realised the stability we got with having GP on Azure and were impressed with how Advantage migrated and managed our GP environment in Azure” commented Ben.

He added “Scalability was an issue. We have doubled our growth since 2014, which led to some expensive exercises asking the incumbent to expand the services they hosted for us. By now we knew how easy it was to expand our Dynamics GP server in Azure with Advantage, as we doubled our Account resources between 2015-16. This was quick job for Advantage in Azure, where previously required a weekend job on our old non-Microsoft hosted platform. From here we have experienced savings of around 30% and an increase in efficiency”.

In 2017, Advantage began moving the rest of the infrastructure to Azure and a migration to Microsoft Dynamics 365, which included supporting the onsite team for 3rd line escalations. The move to Dynamics 365 allowed for more email flexibility, safety of documents and wider communications across the team.

This is the utilisation of The Advantage Edge which allows companies to reap the rewards that come from the compounding benefits of having all of your services including IT, ERP and CRM solutions under one roof.

Risk and reward

There is a strong need for compliance especially within the insurance industry. “As an insurance firm, we have to sustain strict compliance policies. Microsoft Azure meets a broad set of international and industry specific compliance standards which saves a lot of time in Audits” commented Ben. This is a key example of how Microsoft solutions can be used to solve industry specific problems.

After the previous downtime issues security was a priority. Ben advised that “Touch wood we have not had any disasters, but we have called on Advantage to roll back our accounting database, which happened with ease”. This additional security added by the Managed Services team allowed Chesterfield to move forward with peace of mind, a more secure infrastructure and a partner that really understands them.

Keeping covered for the future

What started as an initial Dynamics GP implementation developed into something more as Advantage used their expertise to offer complete cover for Chesterfield across Dynamics GP, Azure, Managed Services and Dynamics 365.

This has allowed Chesterfield to become cloud ready, migrate their key data securely, have access to support for their IT to avoid lengthy downtime and the option of further training to upskill the workforce accordingly.

After the initial consultation, Advantage were able to show Chesterfield the benefits that come with all these applications creating significant financial benefits and utilising the cloud to take scalable steps forwards whilst mitigating risks.

Our relationship with Chesterfield will continue to develop as they grow their business and push forward in many areas. There is currently a first line IT team for Chesterfield that Advantage work closely with, in order to assist with escalated 2nd or 3rd line enquiries for hosting solutions.

Additionally, Sharepoint work began with Chesterfield, in late 2018 in order to create a bespoke site for a customer. Mimecast email security and archiving was also added to Chesterfield’s stack of products, ensuring that they are legally compliant. This was further built on with the addition of Office 365 for email and collaboration tools such as OneDrive and Teams.

Chesterfield also have aspirations to completely re-imagine their technology with Advantage taking over the internal firewall and network management. There are also ongoing plans to change the traditional phone system and implement Skype for Business across the group.

From taking an initial look into how to better utilise Dynamics GP, Chesterfield were able to engage in a full business transformational project which increased their efficiency across different departments taking their business to the next level.

Contact us for more information to find out how Advantage can help your business by filling out our online contact form or calling us on 020 3004 4600.