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Case Studies


With SureSkills, you’ll find an IT service partner who has the vision

and resources to respect and deliver your business goals, every step of the way.




LHK Insurance

Business Case

When two longstanding family-owned brokers came together in 2013 to form LHK Insurance, there was, as with many new merged businesses, a natural period of time for the merger to settle down. Once both businesses became established on a solid footing, the newly combined management team was keen to get a regular and accurate high-level overview of the business.

That’s easy to say but not so easy to do. Brokers have traditionally struggled to achieve that kind of accurate and timely reporting of key management information [MI]. Graham Hohn, Director at LHK, explained the situation at the time. “Like most brokers, we found it difficult to accurately and regularly compare, analyse, disseminate and act on current figures. We needed to get the required reports at the click of a button to know where we are as a business month by month, year on year against budgets,” he said.

Project Description

Older software

Before joining forces, the firms LHW General Insurance and M J Kelleher Insurance of Dublin and Drogheda respectively had been using two separate software systems to manage their businesses.
When LHK Insurance was formed over four years ago, the directors decided to change their respective broker software systems to a brand new single system. Over the following months, both offices transferred policy and customer information. “We had to build a reliable and accurate MI platform in order to drive the merged business forward starting from a solid base,” explained Hohn.

 

Manual effort
However, although the new software had achieved many advantages – including saving administrative time – it was proving cumbersome to get accurate management information to provide the high-level view of the business in a timely manner. The new system is capable of generating reports, but it took too long to extrapolate the necessary information.

 

SureSkills’ solution

LHK engaged with SureSkills, an Irish-owned provider of technology, knowledge and learning solutions, to harness the necessary data to produce visual reports that would drive a better view of the business. SureSkills recommended PowerBI, a business analytics service from Microsoft that enables businesses to customise reports to get at the key information they need to run their business. “This turns your statistics into a living, breathing, organic view of your business,” said Greg Meagher, Business Intelligence Consultant and project leader for SureSkills’ Consulting and Solutions division.

With PowerBI, brokers can decide on the presentation style of the report, and how the information is displayed in a dashboard format. “There’s no need to manually redesign the reports every month,” said Meagher. “The key to a successful BI solution is how you map, model and streamline your reporting data structures and processes. Reporting should be an exercise in refresh, not redesign.”

Time saving

This has reduced the time needed to compile reports, from two days of effort to a minute and a half – all achieved with a few clicks of a mouse.

LHK Insurance plans to continue expanding its business. With regular monthly reports, the company’s management has the information at hand to drive business decisions. “We wanted to know more about the business every month, as opposed to every quarter. PowerBI is a valuable business tool to have because it gives us information at our fingertips, which is key if you want to know where your business is in real time” said Hohn.

Business benefits

Using PowerBI, LHK can quickly see figures from many different angles. Figures can be split into new business, growth in existing business, and cancellations. Furthermore, it can accurately split the figures between the various insurers which also include classes of business and types of policies by gross written premium and commission. Having this kind of detail in an easily digestible format has changed the relationship with insurers. “I can talk to them about our business, as distinct from waiting for them to come and talk to me. It drives a different conversation with insurers; we can see how much and what type of business our firm is giving that company, what we are earning from them, and how it compares to other providers,” said Hohn.

Faster access to information also drives different conversations within the LHK team. Because the reports are much more frequent, the firm can quickly spot any trends, both good and bad. This creates opportunities to deliver staff training along with monthly catch-up discussions. “We can be more proactive in our decision making and actions,” said Hohn.

Client Testimonial

Ros Scally, Operations Executive at LHK Insurance, praised SureSkills for its approach to the project. “SureSkills served as terrific partners in this project which has immensely improved our financial reporting efficiencies.  The project leader demonstrated a high standard of professionalism and technical competence,” she said.

UDG HEALTHCARE

Business Case

Following a review of the company structure and operations United Drug identified savings that could be made by consolidation the IT infrastructure and operations across 3 companies performing similar functions across the UK, Belgium and Holland. These companies had been acquired over the previous few years. All three are active in the drug packaging industry where the functional operations are near identical while the individual product lines may differ. A key driver in the project is that no downtime or disruption to the factory product lines was to be incurred.

Project Description

The project was architected to fold the three individual domains into a single child domain below the corporate entity. This would allow for a degree of autonomous operations and security isolations while availing of the benefits of consolidation. Some services were rolled into existing corporate solutions. Systems requiring refresh or data migration were migrated to the central datacentres and hosted on the corporate virtual platform. In excess of 600 users across the three businesses were to be affected.

To minimise risk and disruption and allowing for three entities to be coordinated for this migration it was identified these would need to be integrated into the corporate Domain using trusts and run in parallel for a period of months. As part of this decision the migration was designed to be carried out on a staged basis over time. To facilitate this integration the Quest Collaboration Service was used to synchronise the Global Address Lists on all sides during the process and guarantee mailflow.

By having the environments tightly integrated it made it easier to carry out the migrations and identify issues as they arose. Once complete the old environments were shutdown and decommissioned.

Client Testimonial

Sureskills partner with us in ICT project delivery and support for our business environment. They have the technical resources and knowledge to deliver what’s expected, and look to add value at every stageEamonn Phelan, Head of Infrastructure Services, UDG Healthcare.

MET ÉIREANN

Business Case

Met Éireann released a tender for 64 bit rack-mountable servers to replace existing end of life Database servers. These servers provided functionality that is critical to operations, and therefore it was essential that the proposed replacement kit, aside from being commercially aggressive, were very high performance, with as much resilience built in as possible. Met Éireann’s primary objectives in Tendering for servers and peripherals were as follows:

  • Replace existing operational servers with modern equivalents

  • Ensure ease of management and re-provisioning of server resources

  • Improve IT equipment total cost of ownership

Project Description

SureSkills, to meet this requirement, delivered a total of 7 X 64 bit Dell PowerEdge Servers, all of which will came with 5 year 24X7 4 hour on-site support. We standardised on the Dell PowerEdge R730 platform, as we decided these high performance servers were the best from the Dell portfolio to exceed the technical requirements required by Met Éireann. These servers are Dell’s 13th generation platform utilising the latest processor and chipset design from Intel. These high performance servers use the Intel Xeon E5 2600 v3 series processors on the C610 chipset. Processors can be upgraded in the field but this is not a normal process as it is rarely economically effective.

Since the successful delivery of this project, we have worked very closely with Met Éireann, delivering a number of solutions including the supply of 4 additional servers. 

Client Testimonial 

Met Éireann have found that SureSkills are always quick to respond to our needs. They provide excellent technical advice and on-site support in our diverse computing environment. We have found SureSkills services to be excellent value for money”. Tom Daly, Principal Met Officer, Met Éireann

THE STATE LABORATORY

Business Case

The State Laboratory, a long standing customer of SureSkills since 2004, released a tender for the supply, installation and configuration of a new enterprise IT environment consisting of Servers, Storage and Switches.

Project Description

SureSkills replaced the existing Dell PowerVault MD3000 storage arrays with two new PowerVault MD3220i iSCSI Storage Arrays (1 for Production and 1 for DR). The new MD3220i arrays were both configured with 24 x 2.5” 1.2TB 10k SAS drives giving a useable storage of over 15TB. Both arrays were configured with Dual Controllers and will be connected via iSCSI. The MD3220i array is managed by the advanced MD Storage Manager software, this will be familiar to the State Lab IT staff as it is the same management software that is currently in use for the MD3000 arrays.

As part of the project SureSkills upgraded the existing ESX 4.0 environment to vSphere 5.5. The upgrade included 3 hosts (Production & DR), new iSCSI switches, new storage and a new Virtual Centre instance. State Labs existing CommVault backups were re-configured to protect the new vSphere environment.

Client Testimonial

We have used Sureskills for a number of years to support our network and are more than happy with the excellent level of support we get from all members of the team. As a technical organisation we are heavily dependent on IT to deliver our services to our clients and we are safe in the knowledge that Sureskills will be there to support all our queries and requirements in a very efficient, timely and friendly manner”. Joanne Ryder, ICT Manager, The State Laboratory

WICKLOW COUNTY COUNCIL

Business Case

Wicklow County Council began the process aimed at acquiring a new SAN, Servers and Ancillary Hardware to replace their existing, end-of-life environment. As part of this solution, the Council also required Installation, Support & Maintenance Services for a new Virtual Infrastructure environment.

Project Description

SureSkills deployed a new x86-based VMware virtual environment in Wicklow County Council. The solution was based on the Dell hardware stack, featuring Dell Compellent SAN storage and Dell PowerEdge Servers. The Compellent storage is a dual controller platform with no single point of failure that provided the council with a raw capacity of 91TB and a usable capacity of just over 64TB to store 30+ VMWare Virtual Machines. The Compellent storage also provides automatic data tiering.

Dell PowerEdge R515 servers were deployed as VMware vSphere 5.5 hosts to host all Virtual Machines. No virtual infrastructure was in place prior to the beginning of this project, so the migration of all physical servers to the Virtual platform using both VMware Converter and Platespin Migrate migration tools was an essential part of this engagement.

A follow-up Exchange migration from Microsoft Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010 was also executed.

Client Testimonial

SureSkills provided us with a new virtualised server and enhanced/updated storage environment which delivers superior technology in a tailored solution that exceeds our current needs and allows for considerable future expansion. The project was delivered quickly & efficiently without stretching our IT budget.” Liam Fitzpatrick, Head of I.S., Wicklow County Council