Chartered accountants, business and financial advisers, Kreston Reeves, chose Total to provide a managed IT support service, and following a successful first term it has renewed its contract. Total provides a fast, 24x7 response, which has freed up the in-house team for other work, as well as consultancy services on major technology projects.
Kreston Reeves advises dynamic organisations, private individuals and families on all areas of business, tax and wealth. They seamlessly combine traditional accountancy services with specialist services in corporate finance, business advice, online accounting and tax and are based in London, Kent and Sussex. The firm is growing, recently merging with Spofforths and Munslows, and has over 500 users at ten UK offices.
While Kreston Reeves has an in-house IT team of around a dozen people, it also used an external company to provide additional support but was seeking an improved service.
“With the previous supplier it took days or weeks of chasing to get an answer,” says Chris Madden, IT and Operations Director at Kreston Reeves. “Our IT team would end up trying to fix a problem ourselves because it took too long to get third line support.”
As a growing business, Kreston Reeves also needed an IT partner that could provide strategic advice, and would be able to help it handle the complexities of mergers with other firms.
“We looked at several providers before choosing Total,” comments Chris. “Rather than just trying to sell us their service in a boardroom, we really liked it that Total invited us to see where they work and showed us their service desk in action, so we had a much better idea of what we would be signing up to.”
“At this stage there were actually a couple of providers we liked the look of so we decided to use Total and another company for trial consultancy projects,” explains Chris.
“After working with the consultants on a couple of key projects we got a good idea of what the service would be like,” says Chris. “We felt that Total would be best for us, because they understood our outlook – like us, they were very open and honest. The engineers did a really good job, including resolving a priority one (P1) support issue for free before we had a contract in place, and we felt confident we could pick up the phone and get things dealt with without everyone reaching for the Ts and Cs.”
Kreston Reeves initially signed up for a one-year monitoring and third line support contract, which has since been extended for a further three years, and expanded to proactive management. Total now provides 24x7 monitoring for Kreston Reeves’ main IT platform, including servers and storage, with proactive patching and updates. It also provides P1 fixes out of hours, and third line support to provide help or advice for the company’s in-house IT team, as well as handling some license management.
Total has also provided consultancy for specific projects, such as the email, telephone and IT migration when Kreston Reeves merged with Spofforths. This involved a complex migration of 200 Spofforths users from Office365 to on-premise on Kreston Reeves’ domain.
Total has also handled a second smaller merger, bringing on 10 users from another accountancy firm, Munslows. Additionally, Total is working to help Kreston Reeves improve how it handles imaging for its fleet of 160 laptops.
“Being accountants we tend to have a lot of applications compared to most firms, with up to 100 specialised softwares such as tax return packages, as well as more standard packages such as Microsoft Office,” says Chris.
IT is critical to the company, as Chris comments: “If we can’t get compute to our offices, say if the Citrix server isn’t working, then 550 people can’t work – and the lost billable hours rack up very quickly. We don’t have the tolerance for an outage that a lot of firms might have.”
“Total has a good grip on things, and they understand our needs as an accountancy firm,” says Chris. “That’s why the P1 issues are dealt with out of hours – we can't wait until 9am to fix something; it has to be working when the first users arrive at 7am.”
“If a critical server fails to reboot overnight, Total will jump on there and fix it, and make sure that server comes back up,” says Chris. “The next morning, our accountants are using it before our IT team even arrives for the day.”
Due to its confidence in Total’s responsive support, Kreston Reeves’ IT team saves time by pushing more issues to Total. Previously, the internal team used to have to monitor systems in an evening, and would need to fix out-of-hours problems – this is all handled by Total now.
“When we call Total, we get hold of an engineer straight away, and usually get a fix the same day,” says Chris. “For example, last month we had a licensing issue with Outlook. We called Total and they came back that day with a fix, we tested it and pushed it out, and by the next morning it was all sorted.”
As part of the service, there are quarterly service meetings which provide an opportunity for any recurring issues to be reviewed, and enable Total to give advice on how these can be resolved.
“The Total team has a high degree of technical knowledge,” comments Chris. “What’s good about Total is that if they don’t have in-house expertise in any area, they will bring in a consultant with high-level skills.”
“On the Spofforths merger, it was a complex project and we encountered some initial problems, but Total brought in an external expert who got it over the finish line,” says Chris. “A lot of firms would have charged extra, but Total didn’t – they stood by their fixed price.”
Kreston Reeves has found that user behaviour has changed with Total on board, and Chris comments, “We used to get complaints about our IT systems, but now users see that IT has got everything on a very stable footing and things don’t go down.”
“The good thing with Total is they work in partnership with us, rather than a supplier relationship,” concludes Chris. “They’re there to help us, and they understand that IT is critical to our business.”
Kreston Reeves operates a virtualised infrastructure, with a Nutanix hyper-converged platform, and Citrix delivering applications and data to end users – all from its Canterbury office.
Total supports Kreston Reeves’ Citrix infrastructure, which encompasses XenApp, NetScaler, Access Gateway, Application Server, StoreFront and Provisioning Services. It also supports VMware, Microsoft Windows Server, Active Directory, Exchange and SQL, plus the Nutanix environment. Supported hardware supported includes SANs from HP and Dell, as well as multiple virtualised servers, a VMware ESXi host and an Exchange server.