“It is important when choosing an IT partner that you select one that is capable of growing with your company. Sometimes an organisation that can deliver now is not always capable of doing the same in the future and the hassle of finding a new partner and them needing the time to understand the unique aspects of your business can be costly.”
Howies are an active clothing company based in West Wales. They make men’s and women’s clothing for running, biking and outdoors as well as for day-to-day lives. Howies believes in making their clothing in a low impact way. So their t-shirts, sweatshirts and jeans are made from organic cotton.
In 2005 Howies needed to upgrade its existing IT infrastructure, as sales and marketing director, Ade Gunn explained. “We were reliant on ageing technology with an email server that needed restarting almost every hour. Our IT support was very informal and we knew that if the company was going to grow as we planned we needed to find an organisation that could support our IT properly.”
The directors at Howies looked at a number of companies before eventually deciding to partner with Carmarthenshire based BCC IT. “Locality was very important to us,” said Ade, “with all our IT being on-site at that time we needed a company who could quickly get out to us to fix any problems that could not be sorted remotely.”
On-site Microsoft Exchange
BCC IT consultants analysed Howies requirements and implemented a new Microsoft Exchange server on site to deliver a robust and flexible email solution that would be capable of supporting the business going forward.
“We were impressed from the outset with the way they managed the project,” said Ade. “They took care of everything and left us free to get on with running our business. Their approach to this initial problem convinced me we had made the right decision in choosing BCC and I felt confident in placing our evolving IT requirements in their capable hands.”
Since then BCC have helped Howies continually update their IT infrastructure ensuring that it is capable of supporting the ever-changing needs of a growing business.
The impact of technology change has also benefitted Howies, as Ade explained. “As technology has matured we have moved more of our IT away from being on-site to cloud based. This has been important for a young and geographically remote organisation like ours, as it means we are not dependent on single point [of failure] solutions in our premises that if they broke down would cost us time and money.”
Instead of the traditional in-house approach, BCC recommended a hosted solution with all the built-in resilience and reliability that such a platform offers. BCC host the servers in their datacentre with Howies utilising Sage 200 as Software as a Service (SaaS). This has been configured by BCC consultants to provide low-cost reliable access to Sage via Citrix XenApp through BCC’s Hosted Application Service, allowing users to logon with any web-enabled device from any location.
BCC have also migrated Howies existing on-site Exchange Server to a hosted service to provide the flexibility and security that they needed as the company continued to grow.
Complete IT support service
In the summer of 2014 Howies moved to new and larger premises and this required a new phone system as Ade explained. “Our existing phone system had been in place for many years and was unsuitable for our new premises. So, we approached BCC and they recommended the installation of a new Panasonic system.”
The Panasonic range of products perfectly compliment IT infrastructure offerings from major technology vendors like HP, Cisco, Citrix and Microsoft and so were an ideal choice for Howies.
“As our needs have evolved and our IT requirements matured, BCC have always been on hand to advise and help us make the right choices,” said Ade. “They have been with us every step of the way from when we first had a 56K modem to helping us move to servers then onto NAS drives and now utilising the cloud to improve our business efficiency.
“This coupled with the comprehensive service they provide means that we now rely on them wholly for IT support. Our proactive onsite support agreement ensures that if they cannot solve a problem remotely they guarantee to get someone onsite to fix it. This gives us complete peace of mind.”
“BCC are very good at explaining the possible implications if we wanted to make changes or enhance our business processes with new IT. We have come to depend on them as our IT department, as they understand our business, its requirements, and provide the high level of service you would expect from internal resources. I have no doubt that as our needs continue to change over the coming years that BCC will continue to provide the support and solutions we expect from them.”
Ade Gunn, Howies Sales and Marketing Director.