James Ambrose, Head of Public Sector Sales at Chess, is responsible for leading Public Sector sales and our dedicated teams in government, health, education and housing. James joined Chess in 2019 and has a demonstrated history of working in the Information Technology and Cyber industry.
James Ambrose, Head of Public Sector Sales, summarises three customer stories of public sector organisations using Microsoft:
- Jump to Collaboration and engagement in Salford City College
- Jump to Data and automation in Hugh Baird College
- Jump to Security and compliance in NHS
Microsoft is one of the core technologies for most Public Sector organisations. With the growth of Microsoft 365 and Azure, customers want to maximise their investment and utilise the feature set to its full potential.
Many of our clients approach us with similar problems:
- Collaboration and engagement: with many people still remote, how do companies keep employees engaged and effective.
- Data and automation: how to store it cost-effectively, how to use it to make informed business decisions.
- Security and compliance: protect your data, devices, and users. Achieve this through defence in depth and having a multi-layered approach to security.
Collaboration and Engagement
Salford City College was originally made up of three separate colleges across five sites, which successfully merged over seven years ago. The original colleges had operated as separate entities, with completely different IT infrastructures across five different sites, making it tricky to keep up to date. In addition, the infrastructure they had was ageing and in need of updating to the latest Windows desktop version and suite of applications.
They wanted to make sure their quality of service for students working remotely was just as good as the service they offered for their students on campus.
Chess was to implement a centralised end user computing solution, replace aging desktop hardware across all five sites and launch the new Digital Learning Zones in line with their new IT strategy. In just four weeks, Chess successfully deployed 500 VDI seats but crucially enabled the college to achieve their objective of 'significantly enhancing the learning experience of thousands of students' before the start of the new term. The DLZs allow students to share and collaborate via Canvas and Cloud services offered by Microsoft 365's platform.
This resulted in the joint development of an IT Strategy and a three-year investment plan, and with Salford City College's drive to be the best, the organisation embarked on a challenging Digital Transformation plan starting with the DLZ.
"Paving the way for more online and blended learning — staff and students can now quickly and easily access desktops and applications from any PC on campus. This means they can work more flexibly from a variety of locations and use their own devices on and off the college network."
Data and Automation
Hugh Baird College's existing student record system stored data in various databases linked to the same product suite. The main issue was that generating meaningful reports from these disparate databases involved manual, time-consuming, and repetitive data exports, alignment, and collation.
"We were spending considerable time collating the data, which meant delays in reporting metrics and occasional human errors being introduced to the process."
On top of this, the record system's configuration also meant data would be regularly overwritten, meaning the entire process had to be repeated for each reporting request.
For the college to monitor and meet its targets reliably it needed a new system which would:
· Store all the data in one place
· Provide a dashboard that staff could easily access
· Generate meaningful reports
· Save staff time
· Reduce the likelihood of human error
Chess delivered a single data core solution that could take the data from various siloed databases and deliver them into a single SQL database. The data was then transformed to align with the requirements provided by the college's stakeholders. This transformed data was then placed into an Azure database and overlaid with a suite of Power BI dashboards, allowing staff to easily access the metrics required.
With the help of Chess, Power BI has transformed how Hugh Baird College stores, processes, and reports on its data, deriving key insights on which to base strategic and operational decisions.
"We plan to continue evolving our data and technology management innovation and are currently in the process of building additional dashboards to reflect better how our staff and students are leveraging Teams. This would not have been possible six months ago."
Security and Compliance
As this NHS organisation prepared to undertake Cyber Essentials Plus, their key requirement was for a Security Provider to take a tailored approach built around this organisation's specific needs. Having implemented Microsoft 365 across the network some years earlier, the organisation had since moved to a new managed service provider. As a result, the Head of IT now needed a professional, independent Security Assessment of the organisation's current Microsoft 365 environment.
Chess worked with the NHS organisation first to define the scope of the Security Assessment and then to tailor a standard service offering so that it met their specific requirement. Throughout the engagement, Chess were responsive, acted quickly, were consistently flexible and delivered real, tangible value.
For the NHS Trust, the results of the Security Assessment meant that Microsoft 365 could be opened and used to its full potential across the organisation safely and securely for the benefit of both staff and patients.
"Having used Chess before in a previous Head of IT role, I had no hesitation in engaging them again to assist us with our security needs. Simply, I would not use them if they did not consistently deliver value."
All Heads of IT needed confidence in knowing exactly what the status of their security posture is. Being informed in this way:
1. Helps them confirm that completed security projects have delivered value
2. Provides them with the assurance that planned security projects are still relevant and appropriate
3. Allows them to identify areas that need to be addressed and improved.
By working with Chess, the organisation benefited across all three areas, which also meant that subsequent decisions could be made from a position of confidence.
We are proud to serve the Public Sector customer base with customers in NHS, Government, Blue Light, Housing and Education. As one of the most accredited Microsoft partners in the UK, our team can ensure you're making the most of your Microsoft licences. So please reach out and have a conversation with us to see how we can help you work better together and protect your data.
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