Haines Watts Newcastle is part of the Haines Watts firm of chartered accountants and business advisers. The North-East division of the firm has offices in Newcastle & Darlington with a total of 40 staff using the IT system. As a busy accountancy practice, serving a wide range of clients, Haines Watts Newcastle was becoming increasingly frustrated with the limitations of its ageing PCs and concluded in early 2018 that the firm needed to invest in a new cloud-based IT system.
The IT challenge
Haines Watts Newcastle were using ageing on-site servers that were becoming unreliable and nearing end of life. This was an opportunity to review the way Haines Watts Newcastle used its technology platform and to change the on-premises model to a cloud-based model. As the practice has expanded, it needed more flexible working practices so that fee earners can be more mobile, using a variety of devices and work at home when they need to. Haines Watts particularly focuses on owner-managed businesses, which very often require their advisers to visit their offices, so the facility to work off-site helps to foster closer client engagement.
The IT solution
The firm went to Orca for advice and consultancy about the best IT strategy to suit its working practices. As the IT partner for the majority of the Haines Watts practices, Orca understands the Haines Watts business model and the applications that the firm uses on a daily basis, so was best placed to advise the North-East firm on its optimum IT roadmap. On Orca’s recommendation, the firm opted for a cloud-based hosted desktop platform to facilitate inter-office collaboration and remote working, and at the beginning of the 2018-19 financial year, migrated to a hosted desktop platform.
The transition to the virtual desktop was planned to mimimise work disruption and was therefore activated over a weekend. By the time the offices opened on the Monday after the implementation, the system was up and running and the staff quickly adapted to the new system. The login process to access the IT system is exactly the same, no matter where the team may be working, which has not only improved efficiency, but also facilitated better colleague collaboration.
Haines Watts Newcastle has appreciated the improvements provided by the hosted desktop platform, in particular, the ease of remote working so that the fee earners can work wherever they are required. The accountants no longer need to carry client files around with them, either hard copy or on their laptops, as they can simply log onto their regular applications and access data wherever they may be. The hosted platform contributes to improved data security, as files are stored off-site in a secure data centre. Backups are automated and integrated into a comprehensive disaster recovery strategy.
The firm also benefits from the hosted desktop cost model which is a monthly subscription basis, so that costs become operational rather than a capital investment with the consequent ease on cashflow. New staff can be added very simply with the hosted model, so that as the firm expands, additional users can easily be set up on the system. Orcac supports Haines Watts Newcastle on a day-to-day basis to ensure maximum uptime.
“Hosted desktop helps the firm achieve a better work/life balance,” commented Craig Horsfall, Associate Partner. With the cloud-based hosted desktop, our fee-earners have gained a lot more flexibility and our staff really appreciate being able to work at home, so that if they need to be at home or to work at weekends at peak times, they can fit their workload around their personal life. The transition to the hosted desktop and on-going support from Orca has been absolutely brilliant. They understand our business, are very professional and knowledgeable about our systems. We have absolute trust in their team and are confident that they will always fix any IT issues that we experience.”
Haines Watts Newcastle