S:CRAFT is the leading shutter brand in the UK. With more than 20 years’ experience in its field, the company sells its products via a range of independent shutter specialists and retailers, including its network of franchisees operating under the Shuttercraft brand.

Why did S:CRAFT need a new IT provider?

S:CRAFT is an organisation with diverse, non-standard IT requirements. It has a head count of around 50 staff, including a marketing team using software such as Adobe Creative Cloud, along with a network of franchisees across the UK. The company therefore needs reliable, high-quality IT services.

However, after working with its previous managed service provider (MSP) for more than five years, S:CRAFT concluded that a change was required. The relationship between the company and its old MSP was initially a good one, but it deteriorated over time; tickets were no longer being responded to in a timely manner, and there was a general feeling that profits were taking priority over service.

S:CRAFT had come to feel that it was little more than a cog in a corporate machine. and began to explore alternatives.

As a result, S:CRAFT went to market and obtained tenders from a number of potential new MSPs. The company subsequently settled on Solsoft as its new IT partner.

Why did S:CRAFT choose Solsoft?

S:CRAFT was impressed, firstly, by Solsoft’s diligence and its willingness to understand its IT requirements in detail. Although Solsoft is a smaller firm than S:CRAFT’s previous MSP, S:CRAFT was reassured that it had the expertise to deliver the necessary services while also providing a strategic view of its future IT needs.

Indeed, Solsoft’s virtual CIO (vCIO) service offered S:CRAFT something it hadn’t previously had. While the old MSP provided reactive service, it did not offer the kind of future-focused input provided by Solsoft’s vCIO, which gives SMEs access to strategic IT expertise at a fraction of the cost of an in-house CIO.

What has Solsoft done to improve S:CRAFT’s IT services?

Since bringing Solsoft on board as its IT partner, S:CRAFT has seen a significant reduction in ticket numbers. Solsoft has concentrated on resolving the issues left behind by S:CRAFT’s previous MSP, fixing outstanding issues and putting the company on a firmer footing for the future.

As well as addressing legacy issues, Solsoft took a step back and analysed tickets with a view to uncovering broader patterns. This has enabled Solsoft to address the source of problems, thereby reducing the number of tickets by tackling their root causes.

“They wanted to understand the business and the technology that might enable it to grow, and to support it,” says Jon Brown, Head of NPD and Technology at S:CRAFT, about Solsoft. “They delivered reactive services for us, but they also looked beyond that, to strategy and vCIO; in other words, ‘Here’s what you should be doing. Let’s help you to get there.’”

After securing the S:CRAFT contract, Solsoft took an in-depth look at its existing IT infrastructure and looked at areas where improvements could be made – taking the time to genuinely understand the business and its needs. Cloud migration was one project Solsoft took on; S:CRAFT’s servers were previously running on Windows Server 2012, which is no longer supported by Microsoft.

Whereas S:CRAFT’s old MSP had put forward a like-for-like plan to update its servers on-premises, Solsoft took a different approach, looking at whether an on-premises solution was really right for S:CRAFT and then coming up with an alternative cloud-based proposition at just 20% of the on-prem costs.

The coronavirus pandemic and the resulting lockdowns also forced S:Craft to change its working patterns, as Jon Brown explains:

“At first, staff were sent home with old desktop PCs and monitors – ‘dumb terminals’, as they’re known – as part of a make-do-and-mend approach. But as hybrid working became more established, Solsoft helped us switch to laptops so that everyone had access to the right tools and files, so everything was synced up wherever they were working.”

Before bringing Solsoft on board, S:CRAFT staff were sometimes hesitant to report IT issues to the company’s former MSP due to the substandard service it was providing. However, S:CRAFT employees now report that they are much more confident with having Solsoft as IT partner.

“The ticket rate initially went up, as people reported historic issues from months ago and Solsoft were tidying up the mess that had been left behind,” Jon Brown adds. “But thanks to Solsoft, things are now much calmer and more stable, and we’ve seen ticket numbers taper off.”

When Solsoft replaced S:CRAFT’s old MSP, it held workshops with staff at various levels of the S:CRAFT team, both to introduce itself and get a better handle on what IT issues needed to be addressed. Solsoft has also helped to shift perceptions and the internal business culture within S:CRAFT, which now accords IT systems and strategy a much greater priority than it did previously.

What does S:CRAFT say about Solsoft?

“I think it’s fair to say now that we are in a better place than we’ve ever been, largely due to Solsoft, and it will continue to get better. I’ve got no doubt on that.” ­– Jon Brown, Head of NPD and Technology at S:CRAFT