East Kent Services (EKS) provides shared services to three UK local authorities in the east of Kent: Canterbury, Dover and Thanet. It also supports East Kent Housing, the East Kent Audit Partnership and East Kent HR Partnership and directly provides Customer Services, Income and Payments, and IT. EKS was formed primarily to save money through economies of scale. It serves a population of 400,000 and has 1,500 IT users.
ICT Technical Systems Manager Timo Bayford was tasked with consolidating IT systems across the three councils, bringing all users onto a single domain and driving greater savings from IT. He explains, “It was important to reduce our overall ICT spend, but it was just as important to be an enabler for client business units to deliver their savings targets.”
Timo knew that IT could enable significant transformation right across EKS’ partner councils, helping them to achieve more with less. However, he also wanted to introduce any new infrastructure as seamlessly as possible. “Change is hard at any time, but the user community was going through a lot of change at the same time. There were re-organisations at department level and at a council level. We wanted to keep the IT systems as similar as possible. With everything else going on, we wanted users to be able to rely on their system to ‘just be there’. Having a familiar look and feel to the desktop was very important for us,” explains Timo. Speed to deliver was also important in order to minimise disruption. A familiar user experience would reduce required training and the learning curve for any new system.
Any solution would also need to support a ‘single map of the user world’ so that users could access all the systems required from a single desktop login. For example, the contact centre used three different CRM systems, each on a separate domain.
Timo and his team evaluated various virtual solutions before selecting Citrix. “We knew that Citrix would do what we wanted in a way that wouldn’t require hours of user training. It looks and feels exactly like a familiar desktop and once it was rolled out it would be ‘just there’, ready to use, with no surprises.” It was important for EKS to work with a highly skilled and local partner. Citrix introduced Citrix Gold Solution Advisor, Thintech. As Timo explains, “Of all the partners we met, Thintech demonstrated by far the deepest understanding of what Citrix could do generally, and what it could do for us. They also demonstrated the closest direct links with Citrix and were the most on the ball in terms of licensing, configuration and the topography of possible solutions. They opened our eyes to the art of the possible.”
Thintech recommended a virtual desktop solution built on Citrix XenApp® and Citrix NetScaler®. EKS defined the standard user device as a laptop PC, in order to encourage a more mobile workstyle. The first step was to move all users onto a single domain. The team then ran a pilot implementation for the council least familiar with a virtual solution. Across the EKS user-base, Timo’s team recruited local ‘champions’ to help implement and embed the new solution.
Enabling remote and mobile access was an essential feature of the new system, not just for the benefits of mobile workspaces but also as an essential aspect of the councils’ disaster recovery planning. By dissolving the concept of dedicated desks, EKS has created natural areas for people to work in. “We are seeing more cross-group collaboration,” explains Timo, “project groups can come together and all camp down in the same spot. We’ve even provided Wi-Fi in the canteen so that people can use it throughout the day to work in the style they wish.”
When users log on, wherever they are, they see all the applications they require on a single, familiar desktop.
The move to hot-desking has saved space for the partner organisations. On each main client site, councils have been able to rationalise the space they require and to lease spare capacity to other public sector bodies like local NHS Commissioning Groups.
Across all of its services, EKS has delivered savings far greater than originally projected. The flexibility and real-estate rationalisation that IT has enabled is a significant driver of these savings. Combining three ICT systems has also resulted in greater resilience. Timo explains, “Rather than buying three of any given network component, we now buy two at two-thirds the total price and have twice the resilience.”
For Timo and his team, IP telephony is the next layer to add to their flexible working solution. They are extending wireless networking across all offices to create further flexible working opportunities. EKS is also evaluating Citrix Sharefile™ for secure file-sharing.
“One of the key things for us,” says Timo, “is that IT is seen as an enabler – not a barrier – to transforming ways of working and improving customer service.”
Citrix (NASDAQ:CTXS) is a leader in mobile workspaces, providing virtualisation, mobility management, networking and cloud services to enable new ways to work better. Citrix solutions power business mobility through secure, personal workspaces that provide people with instant access to apps, desktops, data and communications on any device, over any network and cloud. This year Citrix is celebrating 25 years of innovation, making IT simpler and people more productive. With annual revenue in 2013 of $2.9 billion, Citrix solutions are in use at more than 330,000 organisations and by over 100 million users globally. Learn more at www.citrix.com.
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