Harris Lipman is a firm of chartered accountants and insolvency practitioners. Established in 1954 with just one employee, the company has since expanded to a 50-strong Limited Liability Partnership at the forefront of technology development and corporate services. Its multi-branch team, which operates from offices in London and Cardiff, offers strategic taxation advice for individuals and businesses, as well as providing help with financing, forecasting and budgeting and systems to cope with legislation.
Fifosys is now effectively working as a ‘Chief Information Technology Officer’, designing the strategy for the practice going forward. This goes way beyond a normal supplier relationship – it’s much more of a partnership. They’re designing a roadmap, not only looking at the capital expenditure for the next three years, but also looking to develop what we currently do. For example, at the moment, they are looking to design and instigate an intranet. This will significantly improve our internal communication and will also save us an enormous amount of data. Currently, all internal communication is based on email, and so every time we send something to everyone in the business, the data implications are magnified. An intranet will solve that problem for us, and will drive a really healthy cost saving too. John Cullen, Partner, Harris Lipman
In June 2011, Harris Lipman appointed technology partner, Fifosys, to provide Board-level consultancy on its IT strategy. A key objective was to migrate the company’s IT infrastructure to the Cloud, and to manage the transition towards a more agile, integrated and reliable environment that would increase efficiencies across the dual-site organisation.
Harris Lipman had been operating with an ageing fleet of IT equipment, using disparate servers and dated software. This created wide-ranging compatibility issues. The systems in its London office were old, and though its Cardiff office was using cloud computing, this too was sub-optimal. Therefore, they wanted to invest in modernising its infrastructure as well as work with a specialist-outsourced partner that could design, implement and maintain a long-term IT strategy. They wanted a one-stop-shop that could give them centralised control of its IT operations, and enable them to align and flex its capabilities in line with changing market dynamics.
Migration to the cloud was completed in autumn 2013, with the cloud-based infrastructure going live in October. Technology; software and applications across the organisation are now standardized. Employees now have a co-ordinated, consistent experience. It was a smooth transition and all previous compatibility issues have been eradicated completely. This was just the first phase of a long-term strategy, but already has created a strong platform for future growth that both companies are already looking to exploit.
Despite the new infrastructure being in place for only a short time, Harris Lipman is noticing major benefits. “The operational gains have quickly become evident,” says John. “Cloud computing enables us to work from anywhere at any time – significantly enhancing our remote and mobile working capabilities. This helps us become more fluid in how we operate, and makes us much more time-efficient.
At a basic level, response times, in our opening programmes, are much quicker. From a business continuity point of view, data security is less of an issue as our infrastructure is so secure and our disaster recovery is stronger than ever before.
The partnership with Fifosys is also delivering efficiency gains, not least in the renewed ability to respond to and resolve IT problems. “Historically, we used to have a lot of end user issues that would take our IT manager some time to fix, with cost and productivity implications. The Cloud solution means many of our IT issues now affect a group, rather than an individual, and can be fixed easily. This saves us money and makes us much more agile.”
From a client perspective, the new infrastructure is improving customer engagement – mobilising and empowering the workforce with readily accessible information at the front line. “We are no longer saddled with huge amounts of paperwork, or risk going to client meetings without vital data,” says John. “Everything is at our fingertips and accessible via any device.”
Equally, although the business tends to favour face-to-face interaction as its preferred method of client relations, the system’s videoconferencing capabilities provide an alternative form of communication when direct engagement is not possible.
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