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Len Wright Salads

Established over 50 years, North West based Len Wright Salads (LWS) has grown to become one of the most respected salad growing businesses in the UK. Their extensive product range, quality focus and flexibility in their approach to client engagement, has earned the business a well-deserved reputation for delivering the freshest of produce to its leading high street supermarket clients, consistently on time and on budget. From humble beginnings, working just 2 acres of land in the mid 1960’s, LWS now operate across 2,500 acres, combining land for growing and a modern state of the art, purpose built factory, utilising state of the art machinery and processes. This ensures absolute freshness and products on shelves within hours of leaving the ground.

The challenge

The business has enjoyed significant growth in recent years. A combination of both this growth, and an ageing IT infrastructure, prompted the Directors to initiate a ground up review of their IT estate and support arrangements to ensure both were fit for purpose for their continuing growth story ahead. As a result of this process commencing, String Systems were invited to participate in the selection process of prospective suppliers to assist with mapping out the best route forward.

The proposed solution

The starting point for the process was detailed discussions between the LWS Team led by Finance Director Colin Charlesworth and the String Team led by Account Director Nigel Bennett and Technical Director Tom Wright. These discussions sought to understand at a detailed business level, the current landscape, the operational challenges needing to be addressed as the business scaled, but also the wealth of opportunities ahead and how these could be capitalised upon. To further the understanding of the ‘as is’, a detailed technical audit was also completed by Andy Carter, Service Delivery Manager at String. A combination of these discussions and the audit confirmed some key themes.

  • The core infrastructure was 10 years old. It had served the business well, but there was a recognition at LWS that it needed overhauling to reflect the future ambitions.
  • Key elements of both the core infrastructure and wider IT estate were utilising soon to be end of life operating systems, which was going to present some potential security risks which clearly needed mitigation
  • The business was looking to significantly scale, grow their user estate by 60% in short order and needed a far more agile and scalable infrastructure to support this growth.
  • The business was keen to embrace new ways of working, seamless access for remote users and mobile workers, and the ability to use collaboration tools and applications which called for a different technology platform
  • The importance of data protection had really come to the fore and the fast paced 24/7 nature of the demands placed upon the business by clients, meant it was imperative to have systems in place which supported a rapid return to service in the event of system failure, or worse, loss of infrastructure due to disaster.
  • The core existing relationship with their Infrastructure IT partner was not meeting LWS needs. There was a real desire to work with a proactive, local, engaged and capable supplier, where the quality of the relationship was as important a consideration as the quality of the technical delivery and support.
  • Any project to tackle these challenges and opportunities needed to be undertaken in the least disruptive manner possible, managing multiple vendors and ensuring as close to zero downtime as possible

String made a series of key recommendations

  • Ensure that any solution reflected the requirement to balance innovation with the need to continue to utilise important legacy applications
  • Ensure that the highest level of pre project planning was a cornerstone of the proposed project to ensure successful execution
  • Ensure that the ‘post project’ relationship was focussed on building a true partnership, delivering great advice and delivering great service

Deployment

Having received several submissions from prospective suppliers, LWS concluded that String Systems offered both the best technical solution and the best ‘relationship fit’ and duly awarded the contract for String to be appointed their new IT partner.

The Project solution brought together the four key elements of String’s Cloud Journey Solution methodology:

Productivity & Engagement

  • Office 365 deployment for email, productivity and collaboration
  • Multiple additional end user devices introduced, and old devices replaced with Windows 10, taking the total estate to circa 50 devices from the original 30

Platforms & Places

  • Virtualised Hyper-V environment currently running 2 virtual servers and a combination of Windows Server 2016 and 2019 to ensure legacy on premise applications can still function effectively
  • Dell PowerEdge server R740, scaled to meet the medium term growth plans.
  • Centralised WiFi management

Security & Continuity

  • Datto cloud-based Business Continuity solution, consisting of both on site data backup and replication and mirrored replication to the cloud
  • Sonicwall firewall delivering the highest possible level of secure connectivity

String 365 Services

  • String 365 Fully Managed Service Package
  • Real-time monitoring & protection of end-user devices
  • Ongoing Strategic Development to ensure LWS continue to benefit from their investment

Methodology

String Systems took complete responsibility for all aspects of the Project planning and management, liaising with specialist providers of the LWS finance software, EDI, order processing, access systems and telephony to ensure all the interdependencies were clearly understood and factored in.

Following extensive preparatory work, building systems in advance in String’s technical centre, the core on site deployment took place over a weekend to minimise disruption. A smooth switch over from old systems to new took place with specific emphasis on ensuring no disruption to the critical EDI capability which manages the receipt and translation of orders overnight. When the majority of staff returned to work on the Monday morning, it was absolutely business on usual.

The outcomes

Len Wright Salads now have a fit for purpose, modern, flexible, scalable and future proofed IT environment in place utilising the best of both the on premise world and the world of cloud hosted solutions. Further evolutionary system enhancements and future phases are planned to take advantage of the technologies now in place with the expectation that this focus on how technology can make a real difference is not an event, it is an ongoing process.

And to ensure all continues to perform as it needs to, the String 365 Managed Service is in place and fully operational, providing extensive remote system monitoring and management and when needed, a team of friendly and experienced technicians available to resolve any issues.

“We are in the midst of significant growth within our business and absolutely recognised the important contribution IT could make to supporting our ambitions. We wanted to find a partner to work with who really understood what being a partner means. String Systems stood out from the crowd. Nice people, responsive, knowledgeable and business focused, they were easy to understand and easy to deal with. I am excited about how our investment in technology is going to help continue to transform our business and look forward to working with the team at String in the years ahead.”

Colin Charlesworth, Finance Director