It is often said it takes a village to raise a child, and indeed it’s true that no one individual can provide all the inputs necessary to take an adorable babbling infant and turn them into an upstanding functioning citizen. Doctors are needed to look after their health and survival, teachers are responsible for leading the charge on their cognitive development; friends and extended family members are there to teach them about relationships, and share with them the bittersweet lessons learnt on the winding streets of life: trust, betrayal, loyalty, hate, loss, and love.
Imagine for a moment the nuclear family as a small-to-medium sized business. Would we not think it ludicrous to expect parents alone to provide for every aspect of a child’s life? Of course we would, and we would be right to advise them to outsource; to send their children to school, sign them up to a football team, take them to the hospital when they're sick. So why is it then, that when it comes to actual SMBs, most still feel the need to bring in-house every function required to produce an upstanding functioning business?
This case study looks at the benefits a trusted managed IT services provider like Advantage can bring to SMBs in the U.K. By looking at the work already done for one of our clients, Gourmet Candy Company, we will show how outsourcing your IT function to the right provider can level the playing field for your business and give you the opportunity to grow like never before.
Bring in the experts
Whether it’s your IT function, payroll, recruitment or design, outsourcing provides SMBs with many revenue building benefits, here are our top five:
I want candy
For over 20 years, the makers of Mr Stanley’s Classic Confectionery and other loved chocolates and sweets – Gourmet Candy Company (GCC) – have been at the forefront of luxury confectionery, with products distributed and stocked by multiple retailers across 20 countries.
Back in 2005, GCC planned an ambitious expansion designed to grow their business further. They relocated their offices to a new premise in North London and were on the lookout for an experienced IT managed services provider that could support their in-house IT team while they focused on growing.
The company was using Dynamics GP as their ERP software and up until our involvement, an in-house team was looking after their IT. Paul Hillman, the owner of GCC, knew that if he wanted his expansion to work, he would need to get some outside help. Paul explains, “I had already decided to outsource manufacturing and distribution, as my research indicated that adopting this model would benefit my business in the long-term and allow me to grow. If I wanted that growth to continue, however, I knew I would need the right IT infrastructure in place to support it.” After a carefully considered RFP process, Advantage was brought in to help.
It all starts with an audit
As Christo Van Zyl, Advantage Managed Services Director points out, our approach at Advantage isn’t one filled with generic solutions or rehashed material, rather we like taking the time to get to know your business intimately and coming up with solutions that are right for you: “When Paul approached Advantage with his plans for expansion, I knew straight away that there were key areas where we could help him out, however, as we do with all new clients, we needed to know exactly what was under the hood before we started giving any recommendations.”
IT audits are absolutely essential for making sure your business gets the medication it needs, rather than the one your provider wants to give. If you have to remind your provider to conduct an audit, alarm bells should start to ring. IT audits focus on four key things: they evaluate the systems and processes your business has in place to keep company data secure, they look for any inefficiencies in IT systems and management processes, they test whether information management processes are compliant with specific laws, standards and industry best-practice, and they evaluate a business’ data integrity and highlight any risks a company might be exposed to and how they can go about mitigating those risks.
Upon completion of our audit for GCC we found three critical areas that needed to improve:
What’s next for GCC & Advantage?
A decade of working together has allowed GCC and Advantage to develop a strong personal and professional relationship, “We’re like an extended family,” says Christo when asked about the relationship, “I’m just as invested in seeing Paul’s business succeed as I am seeing Advantage succeed. Our goals are completely aligned and the years together have allowed us to develop an honest and open relationship.”
Paul too recognises the benefits of forming a long-term strategic partnership with a provider that’s always willing to go above and beyond, “The past 10 years with Advantage have been great. We’ve rarely had any issues and Christo and his team are a real pleasure to work with. More than anything though, it’s the peace-of-mind that I enjoy. I like that I don’t have to stress about any of this ‘IT stuff’ because Christo and the team are always up-to-date with the latest trends and when I need to know something, they let me know well ahead of time.”
Always looking to improve and empower our clients, next year Christo and his team will be doing more work for GCC, migrating the business to an Azure cloud server and also installing Office 365. “The work we’ll be completing for GCC will take the company to the next level” states Christo, “Office 365 will empower Paul and his team with the tools they need to be productive anywhere, anytime on any device. Azure will be the platform that supports all of this.”
“I’m looking forward to our next decade together,” says Paul, “We’ve been able to do such great work already, I’m excited to see where we can go from here.”
If you’d like to know more about how Christo and his team can take your business to the next level talk to us today.
Words by Camilo Lascano Tribin