Institute of Directors
The Institute of Directors (IOD), supports, represents and sets standards for individual company directors in the UK. Its membership of almost 53,000 encompasses every sector of UK industry, as well as education and healthcare. Members represent 95% of the FTSE 500 companies, while 70% of members are from SME’s.
A constant stream of advisory, policy, and information materials requires the IOD’s publications department to work at optimal productivity. By 2005, this was being accomplished by 16 Mac users, connected through their own server, sharing data via SAMBA with 280 PC users, who were linked by a separate server.
Prompt response, consistent support
Attracted by SupportPlan’s extremely competitive rates, coupled with a promise that its Mac engineers have never missed a support deadline since the company began in 1991, the IOD’s IT manager Richard Swann signed a contract for 12 months.
Competitive rates do not necessarily represent value for money, but in the following months, the IOD clearly benefited from SupportPlan’s unique combination of low costs and exceptional service. ‘We were very impressed not only by the promptness of response, but also by the consistency of the support’ explains Richard Swann, ‘Our Mac users were able to build up a strong working relationship with the regular team of experts from SupportPlan.’
Standardisation = efficiency
While monitoring glitches and executing fixes, SupportPlan developed a clear perspective on the IOD’s Mac system. As with any organisation where each user evolves an eclectic mix of software to meet highly individual needs, the result was an unwieldy and difficult-to-maintain collection of programmes. SupportPlan was able to improve the efficiency of every Mac desktop by creating a standardised environment that contained the OS, applications and many user settings. Each machine was upgraded to Apple’s latest computer operating system, OS X. SupportPlan negotiated advantageous software deals, ensuring that the entire upgrade was within budget.
A similar disorder of software had accumulated on the desktops of the IOD’s PC’s, and it was the 280 PC users who were the next to benefit from SupportPlan’s expertise. Standard Platform, a product by SupportPlan, allowed the creation of a standardised XP desktop and server infrastructure. Each PC desktop was immediately easier to maintain and simpler to update. This was achieved within the set deadline, with minimal downtime and including a half day XP familiarisation session for all users.
Reconciling a mixed environment
Connecting Macs to a PC platform is notoriously tricky – and it was this task that SupportPlan tackled next. By installing Windows Server 2003, SupportPlan delivered a Standardised Environment for both Mac and PC users which has proved reliable and adaptable enough to prompt the IOD to renew its original 12 month contract for three years.
SupportPlan continues to resolve engineering and software issues in the IOD’s mixed environment, ranging from colour calibration for the Mac users in the design department to PC problems for the editorial staff. Richard Swann says ‘What’s unique about SupportPlan is that they’ve combined detailed insight into how they could improve our systems with a response rate to any problems which is second to none.’