Our client’s issues
With approximately 20 people in their head office and 45 retail and storage sites across the UK, Bagel Factory relied on an internal network, but were encountering major outages. Email would sometimes go down for days at a time and they were keen to migrate to a Microsoft platform. What’s more, their electronic point-of-sale (EPOS) system (which controlled the tills and collated sales figures) was struggling to keep up with their growth. The company wanted to computerise a range of processes including HR, stock control and ordering, which had previously been handled manually.
We were asked to project manage the introduction of new EPOS, HR and ordering/stock control systems, which initially involved finding prospective suppliers of software and hardware. After extensive trials by our own team and representatives of Bagel Factory, we advised on the selection of the appropriate systems and designed new server platforms in conjunction with the suppliers. Four new servers were introduced in a cabinet rack, along with an Uninterruptible Power Supply, a cartridge-based back-up and a broadband internet ‘failover’ to prevent any downtime. We recommended storage solutions with a reputation for stability and a greater lifetime, as minimal downtime and reliability were paramount.
Testing and Development
We trialled two different EPOS solutions in six locations, providing the broadband circuits and staying involved throughout the testing and refinement process. We chose to join all of the tills and PCs on the sites to the head office’s Windows domain, allowing us excellent control over their operation. The chosen EPOS solution runs on purpose-built Windows-based tills and communicates to a server at head office to report sales figures and acquire any changes to the menu or pricing. The HR and stock/ordering systems are web-based systems with the data held by a third party.
IT project implementation
We had to work overnight to create a new computer area at Bagel Factory’s head office to house the new cabinet and systems. This kept disruption to a minimum during the company’s peak trading times.
Taking advantage of our good relationship with Internet service providers, we were able to supply broadband circuits to all the remote units and complete the installation. Legacy till systems were replaced by the new technology over a staggered, three-month window. Before the changeover could take place, every unit was visited and cabled uniquely. During the switch, the old systems had to be kept active to allow access to transaction and stock-control data. At the same time, we added new PCs and printers for managers in various sites and storerooms. The whole exercise involved close liaison with other partners, including the EPOS provider, to ensure that the systems worked seamlessly.
The changeover was carried out flawlessly and came in under budget. We were highly praised by the Bagel Factory directors for the work undertaken. Bagel Factory is still using the new systems and enjoys more than 99% uptime. It’s the peace of mind brought by a stable WAN solution and solid infrastructure across the head office and retail sites.
Due to the success of our extensive upgrades, we were employed to provide ongoing support services for the head office network. This covers all the servers, broadband connections, routers and the Windows Domain services that control the outlying till and PCs. We put a procedure for call reporting in place, along with a monitoring system accessible by SCS, Bagel Factory and the EPOS provider, which gave everyone an easy overview of any outages. We continue to enjoy an excellent relationship with Bagel Factory and have also been involved in subsequent projects, including amajor reorganisation of the head office.