Total IT Solution for distributor of plastics raw materials

A complete end-to-end solution from TSG including Dynamics NAV, Dynamics CRM 2013, Infrastructure refresh utilising Microsoft Hyper V technology, automated backup technology, telecoms refresh and IT support

The customer

Established 35 years ago, Plastribution is the UK’s leading distributor of plastics raw materials.

Plastribution’s head office is based in Ashby-De-La-Zouch in the Midlands, with operations at two other sites in St Ives and Chesterfield.

The business is a leading distributor of thermoplastics raw materials to UK plastic processors and has an outstanding reputation for the expertise of its team, the reliability of its processes and the innovative solutions it brings to the industry.

“This was a huge investment for the business so we had to put our trust in TSG to deliver a sound solution. With their proven track record in working with us to develop our Dynamics NAV system and our support structure we were confident in leaving it to the experts to coordinate.”

A trusted partnership

After choosing Microsoft Dynamics NAV as their ERP system based on its enhanced functionality, reporting capabilities and flexibility to grow with the business, Plastribution selected TSG as their preferred partner for support and development.

Plastribution also signed up to TSG’s advanced IT support solution SystemCare when they implemented the Dynamics NAV solution to protect the network from the risk of costly downtime.

Since then and based on their trust in TSG’s support and technical capabilities, Plastribution has continued to invest in technology, turning to the experts to guide and advise them on the best IT solutions for their business.

The customer objectives

As the company has grown in more recent years, TSG has recommended further enhancements to increase both the resilience and effectiveness of Plastribution’s IT systems.
Improve customer relationship management

Plastribution held customer information in various different spreadsheets which presented issues around version control and data security threats, with staff requiring one clear view of a customer to deal with enquiries.

Develop and upgrade network environment

TSG was asked to recommend ways of using technology to provide a more resilient infrastructure platform for business critical software applications. A high priority was to ensure that return on previous capital investment in IT was maximised, utilising where possible some of the newer hardware across the offices.

Deploy DR and data backup strategy

In an effort to improve efficiencies and provide stability, Plastribution was eager to devise a disaster recovery plan. The provision of an automated backup system would remove any chance of losing data or even losing access to data – and eliminate human error.

Telecoms refresh

With an office move on the horizon, Plastribution wanted a complete telecoms refresh with the provision of unified communications for remote access.

The existing system [a combination of Digital and IP technology] had been intended for use Group-wide – even remote workers – but with the heavy use of mobile phones had never come to fruition.

Sally Woodhall, Quality & Systems Executive at Plastribution says, “We needed a new phone system because we had outgrown our existing system. We wanted a solution that offered us the most scalability.”

The TSG solution

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013

TSG installed Dynamics CRM 2013 to improve Plastribution’s customer records. The powerful customer relationship management system seamlessly integrates with Microsoft Dynamics NAV – Plastribution’s ERP platform – streamlining each customer lifecycle allowing staff to engage confidently and drive forward better relationships.

Sally talks through the business decision to choose Dynamics CRM saying, “We chose Dynamics CRM 2013 based on its integration with Dynamics NAV, and more specifically the RTC [Role Tailored Client] module.”

“This was a huge investment for the business so we had to put our trust in TSG to deliver a sound solution. With their proven track record in working with us to develop our Dynamics NAV system and our support structure we were confident in leaving it to the experts to coordinate.”

Virtualised infrastructure with Microsoft Hyper V technology

TSG undertook a major refresh of the traditional IT infrastructure at Plastribution to facilitate the business requirements for application growth, data availability and storage expansion.

A significant consultation period involving the benefits of Cloud versus On-premise technology as well as in-depth ROI analysis demonstrated TSG’s thorough understanding of Plastribution’s network. Not only that, TSG’s ROI analysis provided Plastribution with forecasted savings of around £100K over a 5 year period based on deploying a virtualised solution.

“The £100K saving was a good way to get the finance team on board!” says Sally. “However the VMWare project originally stemmed from our need to improve our disaster recovery planning. The whole project raised important questions internally of what was acceptable with regards to potential downtime and its implications.”

TSG recommended a virtualised infrastructure platform, utilising Microsoft Hyper V and Windows 2012 technology along with HP hardware, to support the multi-site operation and provide business continuity.

Providing the business with a robust platform for its growing applications, it will also serve as a failover solution to protect the business from data loss, with servers based in the head office to run day to day applications and a third server housed at the St Ives site to function primarily as a replication of data from the main site.

To secure their increasing data, TSG installed backup technology to introduce an automated system. TSG’s automated data backup services provide reliable, safe and cost-effective data backup without the need for human intervention.

Telecoms refresh and Unified Communications

TSG installed Mitel MiVoice Business to deliver a scalable telecoms solution.

Its 65,000 user capacity across multi-sites and enhanced functionality [including voice, unified messaging, mobility, presence and conferencing] made it the ideal platform for Plastribution as it continues to expand.

TSG utilised Plastribution’s existing SIP trunk solution [voice data over the Internet] for further unified communications developments. Unified Comms brings together access to Voice, voice mail, instant messaging, email, video and document sharing onto one single interface.

The solution also included a robust teleworking component to provide remote workers with seamless, secure access to in-office capabilities.

The benefits of an end-to-end solution with TSG

Plastribution relies on TSG to look after its full IT solution, from application software and infrastructure, to telecoms and disaster recovery.

With an end-to-end solution from TSG, Plastribution avoids spending or wasting time isolating the source of issues and pinning them down to one of many suppliers.

When asked if Plastribution sees the value of having one supplier to look after their full IT solution Sally says, “Yes, we value this hugely. A lot of the reasons behind choosing TSG as our IT services provider are down to their proven track record in support and their ability to offer advice for all elements of IT. Before dealing with TSG we had a more fractured environment.”

Sally adds, “I often found myself asking TSG questions as I valued and trusted their advice above other suppliers in similar fields, so it made sense to give them responsibility for all our IT.”

Having invested in TSG’s remote IT support service, SystemCare, from the outset, Plastribution continues to trust SystemCare for its ability to maintain their systems’ optimum levels and identify any issues before they have an impact on the business.

Since the deployment of Dynamics CRM 2013 and its link with Dynamics NAV, the business is more productive in terms of building customer relationships. Ultimately, staff have been empowered to engage with customers more confidently and make informed decisions based on real-time intelligence.

Sally adds, “Although it’s still early days for everyone using the new CRM system, we can already see a greater transparency of information and we’ve been able to get a greater extraction of forecasting and marketing information.”

Not only has the Hyper-V solution reduced physical storage space, the virtualised solution has kick-started Plastribution’s disaster recovery and backup plan - with a failover solution in place the business has assurance that the IT systems can withstand anything from an individual hardware failure to a full building outage, and their data is safe!

Speaking of the new Mitel telephony solution Sally says, “We have more features available to us now in terms of Voice and Video conferencing which has already started to minimise the need for staff to travel for in-group meetings.”

Communication has massively improved across the business with the introduction of a streamlined telecoms system and unified communication technology in place.

The new telephone system also enables employees to easily log onto any designated phone at any site or even outside of the business offices. All calls are simply routed to that specific device to allow callers to reach them by dialling their office extension.

The Future for TSG and Plastribution

In terms of future plans, there’s no project in the pipeline, however Sally is keen to rely on TSG for ongoing advice stating, “I’d like TSG to continue to offer high levels of support and keep us up to speed with any changes in technology which may add value to our operation and enhance our existing systems.”