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                                  6 min read

                                  Empowering 400 ForHousing employees to work remotely with our Managed Digital Workspace service.

                                  ForHousing provides quality homes and places, making more things possible for more people, and providing the building blocks to a better life.

                                  A progressive and innovative organisation, ForHousing owns and manages more than 24,000 homes and delivers housing management services for other landlords.

                                  Everything ForHousing does is for the good of tenants and communities. The ForHousing team strives to improve lives every day by being people-focused and the best landlord possible.

                                  ForHousing always wants to learn and grow. The landlord listens to tenants, collaborates with care, and invests wisely to create economic and social value to continually improve the wellbeing of communities.

                                  The challenge.

                                  Like many organisations across the world, the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown had a profound impact on the way ForHousing was able to continue its important life-enhancing work.

                                  In response, ForHousing wanted to make the strategic move to adopt flexible working across the organisation. This would result in 400 people switching from office working to mobile working, as well as offering a ‘drop down zone’ environment for those wishing to work in a hybrid approach.

                                  Mark Sullivan Group Director of ICT identified three key challenges that needed to be overcome if the new remote working strategy were to succeed.

                                  1. Security.

                                  The huge growth in threat vectors that are actively exploiting people working remotely raised concerns about how to ensure that effective security could protect both individuals and the corporate network as a whole. As a result, it was essential that remote workers should be as secure as they were in the office - if not better.

                                  1. Asset Management.

                                  In the office environment, the majority of staff were equipped with thin client workstations and dual monitors. For remote working it would be necessary to move to laptops for greater flexibility, together with the associated peripherals such as monitors, laptop stands, headsets etc. Furthermore, to aid mobile communications all workers would need to be issued with a mobile phone.

                                  In order to successfully deploy these assets into a remote working environment, the following issues would need to be addressed:

                                  1. Deployment logistics.
                                    Supplying differing configurations of desktop and mobile phone equipment to home workers would require a totally different approach to anything that ForHousing had dealt with previously. Equipment would have to be delivered to end users' homes as it would be impractical and disruptive to ask them to attend the office to collect their equipment.
                                  2. Asset configuration.
                                    It would not be practical to send IT staff out to visit every user in order to fix any configuration issues encountered during the deployment phase. As a result, a new asset configuration approach would be required to ensure that equipment was properly configured and tested before deploying it into the field.
                                  3. Asset Tracking.
                                    The proposed strategy would result in more assets than ever before being deployed outside of the office. This would require the introduction of a new system that would be able to continually track and manage all assets to ensure that they are always accounted for and didn’t go astray.
                                  1. Ongoing Support and Maintenance.

                                  The challenge of maintaining and supporting 400 remote users was recognised to be a far more specialist and demanding operation than the existing internal IT team was equipped to deal with.

                                  Mark Sullivan realised that the very nature of remote working meant that users would require more support across extended hours that would stretch into evenings and weekends. Furthermore, it was likely that the demand for support would also increase since users would be faced with new raft of challenges as they got to grips with their new equipment and remote working practices. As a result, different tools and processes would be necessary in order to effectively handle these service requests and maintain excellent levels of customer satisfaction.

                                  The solution.

                                  Quadris has a proven track record of supporting end users and equipment across a wide variety of environments, including those with high levels of regulatory and security related demands.

                                  This hands-on experience has enabled us to develop a Managed Digital Workspace (MDW) service that addresses all the computing and telephony needs of organisations wishing to provide effective remote working to their employees.

                                  Recognising that the Quadris MDW service could provide the solution to its needs, ForHousing engaged our pre-sales consultants to discuss the challenges they would face when moving to a large-scale remote working model.

                                  During this initial phase we were able to help ForHousing to better understand all the components that were required to successfully equip, secure, and support their remote workers. This included a detailed analysis of the risks, operational challenges and how to combat them.

                                  Compared to the other options available to them, the team at ForHousing concluded that Quadris’ MDW service clearly stood above the rest in terms of the completeness of the solution. This gave them full confidence that it would meet the high expectations of their internal stakeholders and end users.

                                  Following a public tender process, Quadris was awarded a three-year contract through the RM6068 Technology Products and Associated Services framework for our MDW service.

                                   

                                  "It was the hundreds of little details that Quadris' MDW service included that made us realise what is needed to effectively support our people and all the equipment. In addition, their EyeQ Service Management platform gives us a single point of visibility and control, making it easy for our team to work closely with theirs. The combination of Quadris' people, the quality of their processes, together with their innovative EyeQ platform makes for a high value service offering which is exactly what our organisation needed."
                                  ~ Mark Sullivan Group Director of ICT.

                                   

                                  Our Managed Digital Workspace service in detail.

                                  Our MDW service provides ForHousing with a comprehensive solution that meets all their needs through a combination of the following areas:

                                  • The equipment.

                                  Employees were offered a choice of laptops and peripheral equipment in order to create their perfect home working environment. This included various models of Dell laptops, monitors, laptop risers, docking stations, together with an Apple iPhone 12 SE with screen cover and protective case. In addition, a three-year digital workspace lifecycle provides peace of mind that employees will always be using up-to-date equipment that is never more than three years old and all for a simple monthly fee for the duration of the contract lifecycle.

                                  The assets were supplied through a lease agreement with Dell Financial Services over a three-year term, the terms of which are commercially very attractive. This is not just because of the ability to pay in regular instalments over the term, but also due to the residual value Dell Financial Services offers on the assets.

                                  • Deployment service.

                                  The deployment phase of the contract includes a turnkey solution that covers everything from the equipment selection to the procurement, configuration, testing, and supply to the employee’s home. The deployment phase includes over 1000 configuration items and checks, which demonstrates the attention to detail that this phase of work requires. It also ensures that each employee is provided with exactly the items they need, that they all arrive when expected, and that they are fully operational straight out-of-box.

                                  The service also includes building all Windows and iOS devices with the software and network settings required for each user, so that they are all ready to use from the very outset. This work is carried out to strict quality control standards in our provisioning facility ready for our logistics provider to deliver the items to the employee’s home the next day.

                                  • Asset management.

                                  Our MDW service includes a comprehensive solution for managing all assets supplied to ForHousing through the entire contract and asset lifecycle, from initial selection and procurement through to decommissioning.

                                  To support the management of the assets and the many other aspects of IT service delivery, our MDW service also includes EyeQ - Quadris’ proprietary IT Service Management Platform. This powerful solution was designed specifically for demanding IT service management environments and provides ForHousing’s IT team with clear visibility not just of the assets but also of the services Quadris is providing.

                                  Through EyeQ, ForHousing can track exactly who is in possession of assets, how effectively they are being used, and how well they are being maintained in terms of patching, system, and anti-virus updates.

                                  • Security solution.

                                  A major reason for selecting our MDW service was the strength and effectiveness of the security elements. Powered by a combination of market leading vendor solutions from VMware and Cisco, it ensures that employees are as secure when working at home as when they are in the office.

                                  • Device tracking, remote wipe, access control, data encryption, USB and device policy lockdown.
                                  • Next generation anti-virus.
                                  • Cloud-based web filtering and intelligent domain blocking powered by Cisco Talos.
                                  • Support for remote workers on every step of their journey.

                                  This key component of the service recognises the challenges of supporting remote workers at scale and we make this work through a combination of systems, processes, and a team of dedicated experts.

                                  It covers the maintenance, repair, and replacement of all assets supplied under the contract, leaving ForHousing’s IT team free to focus on end-user support for business applications.

                                  We employ logistics partners who work to agreed procedures in order to ship replacement/new equipment to remote workers, while also collecting faulty equipment and returning it to our provisioning facility – all with the minimum disruption to the user.

                                  In the event of a problem with a laptop, we resupply end users quickly and with the minimal fuss through our Rapid Response service. This utilises our backup platform to rapidly recover device images and re-deploy them to the equipment we hold in reserve and ship them back out to the end customer within 1 working day. As well as getting users back up and running as quickly as possible, it also protects the user from accidental data loss during the transition to the new equipment.

                                  Finally, recognising the need for users to be able to call upon assistance when a problem arises, we provide comprehensive support through our dedicated Managed Service Desk. What’s more, with the increased demands that come with flexible working, we extended its operating hours so that users can call or email for support anytime between 7am to 10pm and even over the weekend.

                                   

                                  "Quadris has been a key enabler of our flexible and mobile working strategy."

                                   ~ Colette Mckune MBE, Group Chief Executive.

                                  The results.

                                  • Successfully provisioned the latest, high performing digital workspace equipment to 400 remote workers.
                                  • Solution delivered with near zero-time input from employees or ForHousing’s internal team.
                                  • Deployment of our dedicated MDW support service over the full three-year equipment lifecycle.
                                  • Employees secured through advanced next generation anti-virus and web access controls wherever they are working.
                                  • The latest IT equipment helps productivity as well as boosting the sense of being valued.
                                  • Post deployment Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) 3.9 out of 4.

                                  What challenges do you face?

                                  If you are facing similar challenges, no matter where you are on your remote working journey, we would be happy to hear from you and discuss how we can help. Just pick a slot in the calendar and Peter will be happy to help.

                                  Alternatively, feel free to call 0161 537 4980 and ask for Peter Grayson or email peter.grayson@quadris.co.uk 

                                   

                                   

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