Virtualisation, Sage 200 and SharePoint for distribution logistics business

TSG helps A.V. Dawson streamline its infrastructure by deploying a fully virtualised solution along with software including Sage 200 and Microsoft SharePoint

The customer

A.V. Dawson was established 75 years ago with £50 which paid for a horse and a cart full of coal.

Since its humble beginnings the company has evolved significantly, operating from two sites in Middlesbrough. They provide world-wide multimodal distribution logistics coverage, dealing with every type of cargo and rail freight from consumer products to steel beams.

The customer objectives

TSG’s relationship with A.V. Dawson began back in 2007 when they sought out an IT Partner to help them update their business infrastructure.

Business growth had resulted in A.V. Dawson having a number of legacy systems in place, all used in complete isolation from one and other.

Talking of their jaded IT set-up back then, IT Manager Neil McShane says “At that time the system consisted of 2 PCs acting as servers, both were at capacity and nearing failure.”

Through time the relationship has flourished, with A.V. Dawson tapping into TSG’s expertise in all things related to their system. Neil adds, “We rate TSG very highly in terms of knowledge and sound advice, working closely together over the years with a clear understanding of each other’s work ethic.”

The transport logistics business approached TSG with regards to updating their ERP system. Having used Pegasus software for years, the business identified gaps in its capabilities in terms of future developments and business model.

“We were looking for a solution that would integrate with the various systems we have and enable us to provide more business reporting in real time.

Neil continues, “We had considered the requirement to move away from Pegasus and TSG provided the information and support which enabled us to select and deploy the most appropriate solution.”

The TSG solution

In order to consolidate and streamline the company’s infrastructure TSG deployed a fully virtualised solution in the Ayrton office; comprising Windows 2012 Hyper-V Hosts with a SAN (Storage Area Network) to store the virtual servers.

Due to compatibility issues with legacy systems that were integral to the running of the business, it was clear that A.V. Dawson wasn’t ready for migration to the cloud, however the virtualised solution delivers high availability failover to protect against any downtime which would be encountered due to single server failure - the company’s second site providing complete replication of the Ayrton office.

To further protect the business from data loss and as part of the virtualisation project TSG deployed a local backup device to replace the outdated tape-based backup routines.

After running through A.V. Dawson’s essential requirements for a new ERP system, and factoring in the company’s plans for future growth, TSG recommended a transition to Sage 200.

Sage 200 would provide A.V. Dawson with a robust yet flexible platform with scope for additional modules as and when required.

The business was also keen to improve internal processes and TSG’s experts demonstrated the enormous value and opportunities Microsoft SharePoint could bring them in terms of sharing and collaboration.

“The business had outgrown an in-house designed Access based system so SharePoint was a logical platform which we were familiar with and able to maximise on its potential almost immediately.”

The business has already taken the necessary steps to expand on SharePoint’s functionality; with TSG’s SharePoint experts creating a clever quotation app to help AV Dawson put together quotes more efficiently and tag them to customer records.

The benefits to A.V. Dawson

With the virtualised solution working seamlessly in the background, A.V. Dawson staff can relax in the knowledge that any data recorded day to day is being backed up automatically. In addition to this, any application failure would be undetected by front end users, with the failover mechanism kicking in to provide business continuity.

Neil talks about the huge importance it has on the business, “Maintaining continuity within a fast paced business is of paramount importance, our reliance on systems is at every level within the business and our customers demand the services we provide remain uninterrupted. Thankfully the systems we have recently installed are extremely robust in their own right and the failover we have had built in allows for multiple failures across multiple sites and still remain operational.”

With TSG’s SystemCare IT Support service reinforcing the network’s stability, Neil adds, “TSG’s SystemCare monitoring helped identify teething problems which generally come with any new equipment, but we were only aware of them through TSG’s reporting and didn’t experience any disruption to our service at all.”

The replacement of the ageing tape backup routine means that they need no longer rely on human intervention, with the automated backup set in motion to collate their data in a secure environment.

A.V. Dawson’s new accounting platform, Sage 200, has already improved back office functions and is driving the business forward in terms of efficiency.

TSG specialists have worked closely with A.V. Dawson on a number of bespoke projects for their Sage 200 software and SharePoint, tailoring both solutions to work to their specific requirements and provide flexible modifications as the business grows.

“The utilisation of Sage in the business has been fantastic, and the ongoing bespoke developments within both Sage and SharePoint continue to add efficiencies and drive the business forward.”

The Future for TSG and A.V. Dawson

As the business becomes more reliant on its IT systems, A.V. Dawson continues to liaise with TSG on projects to improve elements of their network.

More bespoke work around their Sage and SharePoint solutions are in the pipeline, and they are also in discussion with TSG regarding their CRM solutions in order to further improve customer service.