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When leading independent builders merchant Beatson’s Building Supplies business required a server upgrade, they turned to trade-counter IT specialist Portal IT Services for help. The result was a future-proof system that allows the Beatson’s business to easily grow and huge time savings of 75% for the some of the month-end reports.

The Organisation

With branches across the country, awardwinning and Independent builders merchant Beatson’s Building Supplies employs 100 staff and serves many thousands of customers. Offering a wide range of products from building materials to protective clothing and decorating materials to power tools, Beatson’s provides communities with products for all their DIY and building needs. Most recently Beatson’s has won the prestigious award of Builders Merchant of the Year.

The Challenge

The challenge Beatson’s faced was of a technical nature. Quite simply, their existing IT hardware, a Dell server located at their head office, was failing to cope with the success of the business. The significant increase in sales over the last few years resulted in the server not being able to cope with the increased levels of transactions. As the server handled all the company’s back office functions it meant that the business was suffering as a consequence. Beatson’s needed to find an alternative solution that would be able to quickly and efficiently transfer data from the branches to the head office. The new solution needed to have a much larger central storage space and above all it needed to be reliable.
Beatson’s turned to trade counter IT specialists, and existing IT supplier Portal technical services for help.

The Solution

Portal Technical Services selected a new Hewlett-Packard server to replace the Dell one. The new server features dedicated archive storage, which means that they would now be able to take backups of their month end accounts on a monthly basis and store them for as long as they need in order to go back to look at snapshots of their accounts from specific dates should they find any anomalies. Portal technical services did consider cloud and virtualisation options and also real time sales processing for branch transactions. However, these were not selected as the go forward solution due to costs and the reliance on ISP’s internet connections. Instead, Portal IT Services recommended the HP server that would significantly increase the speed of processing transactions and the storage space required. It would also increase the reliability of the hardware and save the business significant amounts of time and money, given the speed of reporting and the future-proof nature of the solution.

It was envisaged that the new hardware would allow them to add additional branches as and when required, enabling the business to expand further whilst also providing time saving gains in the day to day processing of transactions. The project was agreed in May 2011 with an implementation date of July 2011, a time when the trade-counter is a little quieter. The project was completed to time and budget

The benefits

Since the completion of the project and implementation of the new server, Beatson’s have seen significant improvements in the reliability of their nightly transfers. The speed of the transfers along with the speed of processing has dramatically improved. Furthermore, they have seen a 75% improvement in the time taken to run their month-end reports. When asked how the project had been handled by Portal IT Services, Mark Northway,

Finance Director replied:

“We selected Portal both because they are our existing supplier and because of their expertise with multi-branch and trade-counter businesses. It was important for us to use a company who truly understands our business, how we work and the pressures we are under. Both Beatson’s and the team from Portal worked well together to meet both the objectives of our company and the timescales the server manufacturer had agreed upon.”