England & Company was formed in 1979. The company is based in Wimborne and has a team of 28 qualified accountants and support staff managed by Directors, Cheryl Lawes, Daniel Whitcher and Matt Rees.
The firm consists of Chartered Certified Accountants, Registered Auditors and Chartered Tax Advisors and acts for in excess of 1000 clients who run businesses or have complex tax needs.
England & Company has been consistently awarded the ACCA kite mark for quality since 2006, illustrating that the firm meets the highest possible standards in accountancy.
In common with all firms of Accountants, IT is central to England & Co’s business and their ability to service the day to day needs of their clients.
For many years England & Co had used the Iris Accountancy Suite to manage its business. Originally the system was deployed on a traditional on-premise server but in 2016 the decision was made to migrate to a third party hosted environment.
Whilst England & Co continued to be satisfied that the Iris solutions fulfilled the functional needs of a busy, modern accountancy practice, it was becoming evident that there was a growing list of challenges and frustrations in the way that the services were being provided and supported by the incumbent hosted provider. They also wanted increased security protocols to manage data protection.
In the words of Director, Cheryl Lawes “It was very clear to us that the performance and the reliability of our IT systems was deteriorating, not improving, and we needed to do something about it. Colleagues were becoming increasingly frustrated and our productivity was dropping. We had even had to establish a specific nominal code in our accounts for system down-time! A business contact recommended Sentinel to us and we invited them to come in assess whether there was a way to improve the way we were doing things”.
Sentinel undertook a detailed review of England & Co’s environment and discovered a significant list of flaws including:
Rob Watton, Director at Sentinel part of the CS Group based in Ringwood, Hampshire, commented “At a very early stage we could see that the hosted environment that England & Co were using was far from optimal. We quickly diagnosed that the technology that underpinned the hosted solution was inadequate to deliver a stable and performant solution. They were competing for resources because the hosted server was not dedicated to England & Co. Nor were they benefitting from the latest processing or storage technology. Furthermore, the company had been offered a hybrid solution which meant that not all applications were accessible via the hosted cloud with some remaining resident on local PCs. This was neither efficient nor sufficiently secure.
Sentinel recommended that England & Co migrate service and support from their existing hosted provider to its own Sentinel cloud hosted solution. A critical element of the project would be to configure a powerful new dedicated server in the Sentinel Data Centre based in Ringwood, Hampshire for the sole use of England & Co. At the same time, Sentinel proposed replacing ageing client PCs, which were generally not fit for purpose, with thin clients. Compared with the previous hybrid solution Sentinel’s hosted desktop solution is a fully managed environment which allows users’ screens to be customised to their own specific requirements but migrates all applications, sensitive data and documents to the secure server located in the data centre.
Once England & Co had given their go ahead to the migration project Sentinel took control of managing the whole process. “To be honest we were a little apprehensive at the outset” stated Cheryl Lawes. “This was a big step for a company like ours and we could ill-afford for anything to go wrong, our clients need us to be responsive at all times”. In the event, the migration was complete in just 4 weeks from the date that formal approval had been given. As well as installing the new server and the 27 thin clients, England & Co accepted Sentinel’s recommendation to replace and upgrade other components of the network infrastructure including new switches and routers, wi-fi access points and a new fibre leased line.
After generating final back-up copies of the England & Co data files, Sentinel worked tirelessly over the weekend prior to ‘go live’ to prepare the solution for deployment. Staff arrived in to work on Monday morning, logged into their new thin clients, and were immediately able to access a familiar menu of applications and services. The installation went virtually without a hitch.
Rob Watton said “Cheryl and her team had a number of specific problems with their existing IT set-up that needed to be resolved. By migrating them to the hosted Sentinel cloud solution we are delighted to have fixed their system performance issues and restored stability to their IT environment. Our systems are fully managed and monitored around the clock, allowing us to identify and resolve issues before England & Co are aware of them”.
Cheryl Lawes added “Sentinel have done a great job and have restored confidence in our IT and our ability to provide a great service to our clients. Their support is first class it has allowed us to reduce our reliance on a 3rd party IT contractor who represented a single point of failure. By migrating to Sentinel we have also significantly improved our security and enhanced our levels of compliance. In short, we now have a system which is fully fit for purpose, ready and secure for home working too and managed by a team with robust knowledge”.
Because of the choice that England & Co have made they can rest assured that they will continue to benefit from the latest available technology and will be protected from unexpected unpleasant surprises in the future. As the firm grows the system will seamlessly grow with them without the need for expensive re-investment in hardware or software licensing.