Project type: Strategy development; project management; supplier selection for new hosted environment and practice management system; lockdown go-live
The project began in December 2018. At that time, Gotelee took its hosted IT environment and its practice management system (PMS) from the same supplier. But the issues had been building up:
- Outages were a common occurrence
- User experience was slow and clunky
- Software versions were old
- Support was inadequate
- Concerns about data breaches and leakages to other tenants
- Challenges with remote working
- PMS had been made ‘end-of-life’
- IT was not supporting the business as it should
- Unclear contractual relationships following numerous years and changes from original service
After exhausting attempts to get the supplier relationship back on track, Gotelee decided to take action.
Baskerville Drummond was approached to help devise a way forward, necessitating a carefully managed exit from the incumbent supplier and a renewal strategy and implementation to underpin the firm’s ambitions.
Our initial recommendations were to:
- Separate out the supply of the hosted environment and the PMS, ensuring a better ‘system/needs’ fit in each case and a cleaner, clearer relationship/contractual set up.
- Tackle the process as a two-phase project, changing the hosted environment first and the PMS software later, thus ensuring a stable infrastructure and improved support ahead of the more disruptive business change involved in swapping out a PMS.
We were then retained to lead and manage the remainder of the project, which started with a full ITT process for both supplier elements; saw a PMS implementation completed in just nine months from contract signing, rather than the more usual 15-18 months; and achieved a flawless go-live despite the coronavirus curveball.
The project kicked off in earnest with a full tender process for a new IT/desktop hosting provider. This culminated in a recommendation to Gotelee that the firm switch supplier to Oosha and implement a Cloud Desktop solution that incorporated Office 365, Oosha’s Private Cloud and Microsoft Azure.
The solution was to have agility as its core principle with Multi Factor Authentication and Mobile Device Management providing data security on the go and Teams and Cloud VoIP (Voice over IP) providing video conferencing, instant messaging and calls from everywhere.
However, once notice was served on the hosting portion of its services, it rapidly became apparent that Gotelee would be best served by accelerating its move to a new PMS.
Baskerville Drummond was then engaged to undertake a fast-tracked selection process and thanks to its knowledge of the firm’s requirements and optimum supplier fits this was concluded swiftly whilst still retaining our standards of detailed analysis and staff engagement. At the end of the process Linetime were appointed as the PMS vendor.
Baskerville Drummond, Oosha and Gotelee now collaborated even more closely to drive through a critical phase that would see:
- A number of substantial sub-projects undertaken in advance to better prepare for the final implementation phase, including:
- Desktop hardware refresh across all offices, with all essential software to ensure the machines were no threat to the network
- Roll-out of a VoIP telephony solution, including number porting and PC ‘softphone’ integration
- The final go-live weekend for both the new hosted environment and PMS, which had always been scheduled for the end of April.
On March 23rd, exactly four weeks before the due go-live date, the coronavirus lockdown happened and the world changed. But a rapid assessment of the ‘state of play’ led to a decision to press on. This despite the fact that there was now just four weeks to go, with two bank holidays to factor in and more importantly the internal Gotelee IT team and Oosha resource redeployed to support the mobilisation of staff as everyone moved to home working.
But it was a well-reasoned decision. Contractual complexities were making delay a non-starter, besides which Gotelee were well set. The fact that so much heavy lifting had already been done was vital: it’s a standard part of our methodology to de-risk the project by bringing forward as many tasks as possible by way of preparation.
For example, the new VoIP phone system, which provided mobile and softphone functionality and was rolled out in the preparation phase, proved to be invaluable in enabling staff to work from home.
With the underlying hosting platform and Linetime’s performance on it fully stress-tested by the time we locked down, everyone was able to focus on the remaining tasks. These revolved largely around the final data conversion and training, with Linetime stepping up to the plate admirably: they put together new mechanisms to deliver all of the end user training remotely to staff sat in their own homes.
Everyone then came together for one final push. We had already determined that the outstanding tasks could be handled remotely and everything went exactly to plan on that go-live weekend: Gotelee’s PMS data was transferred and converted for use in the new PMS and the remaining elements of all other data such as emails and documents were transferred to the new environment.
It was a remarkable vindication of Gotelee’s determination and nerve, which in turn was based on real confidence in its staff, its new supply chain and the whole project team. It would have been tempting to defer but the planning, hard work and dedication that had taken them up to the point of lockdown would also see them safely through it.
“Nothing short of legendary. It’s an incredible achievement. Two things are notorious in an IT project of this size. They never complete on time and they always cost a minimum of 25% more than budgeted. This has been landed – and very successfully – on the very day we wrote in tablets of stone – and under budget.”
“Working with the team of Baskerville Drummond is both challenging and rewarding. We’re impressed with their professionalism from pre-deal negotiation to post-deal collaboration. Gotelee’s decision to engage them throughout the implementation greatly benefited all parties on the project, even more so when faced with the additional complexity of the current Covid-19 crisis.”
“From initial engagement to project delivery we found the Baskerville Drummond team a pleasure to work alongside. During the early parts of the process David Baskerville was a great asset in giving clarity to the Gotelee team; and later in the project Kevin Goosman was a source of unflappable calm for all parties during a roll-out plan that changed quickly due to the Covid-19 crisis.”