When Britain’s National Health Service Gets Personal

GettyImages-487883321As an American, my affinity for Britain’s National Health Service got a booster shot after being on the receiving end of its kindnesses during a trip to England in July, 2015.

I accompanied my wife Kathleen on her business trip to Preston, England, situated about 30 miles northwest of Manchester. We tacked on a few vacation days afterwards, visiting the cities of York, Cambridge, and London.

While in York I experienced the same symptoms of an infection I had endured weeks earlier at a family reunion near Santa Cruz, California. I spent most of that week in bed at the rented beach house with chills and fever, and only started to improve once I’d received an antibiotic from a physician at an urgent care facility in Santa Cruz.

Hoping to avoid a déjà vu experience in England, Kathleen and I drove to York Hospital, just a few minutes from the city center. The facility is run by the York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and serves a population of 500,000 in North Yorkshire.

“That’s our National Health Service.”

After about 20 minutes in the ER waiting room, I was greeted by a nurse, instructed to provide a urine sample, and was then ushered into an examination room and evaluated by an experienced physician. She confirmed the infection and prescribed an antibiotic. She even walked to the in-house pharmacy and returned with the medicine in hand. To me she embodied one of the hospital’s core values: “Always doing what we can to be helpful.”

Kathleen and I then proceeded to the front desk to check out. Both at check-in and during the doctor’s evaluation, I inquired about how to make payment. I did so a third time with the discharge clerk. I told her I had health insurance in the US which covered at least some portion of expenses out of the country. She informed me that there was no balance owed. A bit befuddled, I asked how that could be. She beamed with pride, “That’s our National Health Service.”

It was a couple of days later in Cambridge that I learned from our Airbnb host that I should have at least been charged for the medicine.

No Hospital’s Complete without IT

Since my firsthand experience with the NHS, I’ve gained a keener interest in the respective success stories and videos we’ve produced about NHS customers of LANDESK and AppSense solutions. Here are the links to those stories and videos in alphabetical order you can review should you have a bit of downtime:

Avon Information Management and Technology Consortium is a shared service supporting NHS Bristol, NHS North Somerset, and NHS South Gloucestershire.

“LANDESK has proved our original business case for purchasing the system. Using remote control, we have already made £115,000 worth of productivity savings because we no longer rely on contract staff or moving senior engineers away from other projects. We have also slashed our travel costs and our carbon footprint has gone down by 60 tonnes in the IT department alone.”

—Jason Wallace, Head of IT Services

Birmingham Women’s NHS Foundation Trust treats 50,000 people each year across the West Midlands and beyond, carrying out 3,000 operations and delivering more than 8,000 babies.

“Since deploying the LANDESK solution, the number of IT incidents reported to our service desk has fallen by about 20%, from an average of 1,100 per month to 800 per month. We expect this number to drop further as people get to grips with the self-service portal. The benefits are twofold: care-givers can get back to focusing on their core responsibilities sooner, and our ICT employees have more time to devote to proactively optimizing IT performance.”

—Steve Cotton, Head of ICT

Derbyshire Health Informatics Services provides IT services for eight NHS primary care trusts as well as Derbyshire Mental Health Services and Trent Strategic Health Authority. The company employs 160 people and supports some 16,000 NHS users.

“As an organization that serves the public sector, we work within tight budgets, and the need to deliver ever higher levels of service points to the adoption of a framework like ITIL. After a very rigorous evaluation process, we began working with LANDESK to deploy a solution based around LANDESK Service Desk—helping us drive improvements in Incident and Problem Management across the board.”

—Daryl Barber, Customer Service Manager

Imperial College Healthcare is one of the largest teaching hospitals in the UK, consisting of five hospitals across four main sites in northwest London. IT plays a critical role in all areas of hospital operations, including patient care, diagnostic processes, finance, and HR. With AppSense DesktopNow, Imperial College can deliver the responsive environment it needs and ensure that the staff stays focused on care, not the distractions of an underperforming desktop.

“Clinicians need real-time systems. They deal with patients in real time, so we need to deliver information at the point of care in real time.”

—Dr. Sanjay Gautama, Consultant Anesthetist, CCIO, and Caldicott Guardian

Kent and Medway Health Informatics Service serves some 35,000 users, providing the technological backbone that clinicians, care workers, and administrative staff need to ensure safe, efficient, and high-quality patient care.

“We decided to rebuild the entire LANDESK Service Desk landscape, upgrading to the latest version and moving from a console-based system to a browser-based one. We knew that running Service Desk through a web portal would enable us to speed up processes, helping staff to provide a more responsive service to customers. Equally, upgrading the solution would allow us to take advantage of new functionality, introducing greater efficiencies around call logging, device and user management, and reporting.”

—Darren Spinks, Senior IT Team Leader

Saving Time, Money and Your Network With LANDESK

IT teams are constantly on the hunt for ways to save their organizations time and money. LANDESK’s portfolio of products is doing just that and MORE for its customers. The key is consolidation.

LANDESK has listened and learned from what IT professionals have been asking for and, as a result, has developed a feature-rich line that is meeting and exceeding the needs of consumers.

Everything you need in one place

“We had several different platforms to accomplish a bunch of different tasks,” said Chris Frediani, senior support specialist at NEPC, LLC. “What we wanted to accomplish by implanting LANDESK was to consolidate all those different tools into just one suite of tools.”

That’s exactly what you get with LANDESK. All the tools you need to manage your entire network — nicely packaged into one customizable platform.

“We are more efficient as a team when we just have one platform with all of the tools that we use every day, readily available in one system,” he said.

It’s a new level of efficiency that isn’t just saving customers minutes or hours, they’re shaving days off formerly time-consuming tasks.

“Before, we had this kind of archaic method of making sure that all of our endpoints were patched and within compliance standards. It would take two days to get the patching process started,” said Frediani. “Now, what used to a be a two-day thing is a 15-minute thing once a month.”

Going beyond IT management

In addition to saving time, LANDESK’s clients say they’re now able to go outside the normal bounds of IT management.

“One of the main things we wanted to accomplish with LANDESK Service Desk was to become more efficient, to get our processes nailed down, and to start rolling it out to other areas (besides IT) within our organization,” said Mike Abranink, desktop support analyst for the City of Leduc, a busy suburb of Edmonton, Alberta.

Abranink pocketed time he would have normally wasted traveling from desktop to desktop and was able to impress his bosses at the same time.

“It has made my life as a desktop analyst easier. I don’t have to go out to my users as often, it makes the distribution of software easier, and it makes tracking for our executive and CIOs easier,” he said. “One of the main benefits is through the built-in reports in LDMS. I’ve been able to pull reports that demonstrate to our executive and to our managers that by remotely controlling a desktop, we actually save time and money.”

Security-focused

Our focus isn’t just on saving you time and money; security is our number one priority. LANDESK’s security solutions are constantly on the prowl for possible vulnerabilities that threaten to wreak havoc on your system.

“The problem that we were facing when we first considered LANDESK was that we didn’t know what we didn’t know,” said Nick Gehr, enterprise support manager for Aviall. “Once we got it up and running in our environment, the light that shined on in every corner — that we just had originally no sense of awareness around — we were able to take action upon those.”

The unknown can be detrimental to a network. LANDESK’s solutions are helping IT managers seek and destroy hidden threats and keep your system protected.

“We discovered a ton of devices in our environment that weren’t being managed at all — that we didn’t even know were there until we spun up LANDESK Management Suite and it pointed them out to us,” said Frediani. “What you can do with just a couple of application platforms like LDMS and LDSD is pretty incredible.”

Businesses, corporations, and even cities are using LANDESK products to streamline their workflow and tailor IT management to the ever-changing needs of users and administrators.

“Some of the problems we were facing that made us consider LANDESK were that we started with a very small, out-of-the-box solution for a ticketing system that wasn’t meeting our needs. It wasn’t customizable; it didn’t let us have a process flow in it,” said Abranink. “LANDESK Service Desk addressed all the needs we had as we grew and it has scalability and functionality in it that’s hard to find in other places.”

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Customer Success: YMCA

YMCA Success StoryRecently, I discovered the YMCA is continually growing and improving, and with that growth and improvement comes the automation of manual tasks. Because of the good work of Jeremy Reeves, IT Service Delivery Manager, the YMCA of Greater Toronto IT network is no longer running manually.

To learn more about Jeremy and how he automated and secured his environment, click here.

LANDESK Customers Win Gold

Service Desk Mobile Self Service _myrequest_statusHere at LANDESK, we are very proud of the achievements of our Service Desk customers so it’s always great when they also get industry recognition. Last year our customers worldwide included those that won ITSFM project of the year and SDI awards amongst others.

Quite fittingly with the imminent start of the Winter Olympics in Russia, we kick off this year with customer awards in Russia and CIS countries. – Last month two LANDESK Service Desk customers won Project of the Year 2013 held by Global CIO in Russia. Using LANDESK Service Desk these two customers were judged to have achieved significant results in a short time and with limited resources.

Oil States International: How to Bridge IT Systems

Oil States International is a highly diversified company that has experienced exponential growth through acquisition. But when it acquires a new business, it also acquires an IT system that will not connect to its existing platforms. “Oil States is a conglomerate consisting of nine different companies spread around the world,” said Robb Harper, Lead Technical Support Analyst for Oil States. “Two of the companies had large, automated systems management solutions in place, and the others had smaller, home-grown systems. The fact that the systems were segmented and could not talk to each other created significant problems when it came to supporting our environment.” Find out how Robb Harper and team not only bridged these IT service management platforms into one, but surpassed all IT services expectations. Learn more by watching the video below.

Twenty-First Century IT Service

It seems counter intuitive to spend money in order to save money, but that’s what happened with LANDesk. The team estimates that the solution paid for itself within the first year, and it continues to save the Hutto school district money every year.

Do you remember the days of elementary school?

Recess, classmates, and teachers were a part of my elementary school experience, and let’s not forget the computer lab. I remember feeling quite safe on my computer, accessing my education applications.  Thinking back, there must have been a lot that went in to keeping my computer safe, secure and up-to-date.

Travis Brown and Keith Reynolds are IT administrators who actually make such an experience possible for the kids they serve at Hutto Independent School District.

In order to prepare students for a twenty-first century workplace, school districts must provide twenty-first century instruction—and that means technology. Yet in today’s tough economic times, finding the funds to provide the technology and also to manage it efficiently requires a careful balancing act. Faculty and staff are requesting more applications all the time. But while Hutto’s IT environment grows every year, the IT staff does not. Keeping the systems and applications up and running so they are available to teachers and students every day is a constant struggle. Over the years, as the District grew in size, IT struggled to maintain the environment because they had to perform every task manually.

Imaging PCs was an especially big problem for Travis and Keith.  They reimage each PC every summer, and they only have a three-week period in which to do that, but because it took an average of two and a half hours to image each one by hand, they never met that deadline. Travis and Keith always ran over into the start of the school year, which caused some disruption in the classrooms. They also had to deal with 10 different images, which complicated the process even more.

Taking inventory was another time-consuming process. Inventory affects many aspects of managing the districts environment.  Having real-time statistics is the first step to troubleshooting a PC, which is the team’s most common IT task. They also need accurate numbers for budgeting, justifying purchases, and more. Before, it used take weeks or months to perform a full inventory and even then, because of human error, they could never be sure the final count was correct. They ran the risk of purchasing too little or too much software, and they spent extra staff hours ensuring everything was correct.

Patching PCs by hand was another job that was impossible to keep up with. It was such a time-consuming and overwhelming task that Travis and Keith applied patches once a year when they reimaged the machines, and after that on an as-needed basis only. As a result, viruses were a constant struggle. They needed an automated solution that would address all of these big concerns, especially considering how fast the school district was growing.

Brown and his staff reviewed four of the leading automated systems management products on the market and chose LANDesk. They did a proof of concept on all of the leaders and LANDesk came out on top for its intuitive interface, flexibility, reliability, and overall cost. It seems counterintuitive to spend money in order to save money, but that’s what happened with LANDesk. The team estimates that the solution paid for itself within the first year, and it continues to save the school district money every year.

The solution significantly decreased imaging time. Because the entire process is now automated Travis and Keith average fewer than 10 minutes of hands-on imaging time per PC. That’s a nearly 95 percent reduction, which frees up IT staff to tackle more mission-critical issues. And now, each summer they meet their three-week imaging window with time to spare. And LANDesk allowed them to replace the 10 previous images with one platform-independent image, making the process even easier.

Accurate, real-time inventory numbers are just a click away. The IT team can generate a precise, up-to-the-minute inventory report in a matter of minutes. That has made troubleshooting significantly easier and faster. Now the team can manage hardware settings, identify which machines need replacing each year, track the software on each PC—you name it. LANDesk reduces the time they spend on mundane tasks by up to 70 percent or more. Travis and Keith would need at least four more technicians to do what they do today with LANDesk—and even then they would still have issues with human error—which is a cost avoidance of some $160,000 a year in salaries alone. The IT team now fixes 80 percent of user problems in 24 to 48 hours, versus taking up to several weeks before.”

Automated patching has nearly eliminated virus outbreaks. LANDesk has given the team a lot of peace of mind. They have not had a virus attack in years. Patching is now conducted on a periodic basis, allowing Travis and Keith to stay current and confident with their security level. Before it would take two or three days out of the team’s week to do what patching they did. Now it takes minutes to thoroughly and accurately apply all patches. Due to education funding problems on the state level, all Texas school districts were forced to downsize. Even though they lost two technicians on their already small staff, they maintained the same high level of support thanks to LANDesk. In addition, by implementing the solution’s power management features, Hutto School District saves thousands of dollars each month in electricity costs and extends the life of their PCs by shutting them down when not in use. Those savings really impressed the school board. LANDesk is indispensable at Hutto School District. The team says they literally could not manage without it.

Are You a Endpoint Management Skeptic?

Are you a skeptic?

Douglas LeBlanc from Oldcastle, Inc. was.  He was at a tradeshow in Biloxi, Mississippi and accidently attended a LANDesk presentation.

“I decided to stay once the presenter started listing all the pain points that LANDesk addressed,” LaBlanc said. “I was facing the same issues. I was skeptical at first, because often when a vendor says its product does so many things, it usually doesn’t or doesn’t do them well. But after talking to some of the customers in the room, I took the next step and the rest is history. We installed LANDesk® Management Suite on a pilot basis and saw significant results so quickly that we immediately bought licenses for the rest of our nodes.”

Some of Oldcastle Inc.’s pains included:

  • Fast growth
  • Manual IT processes
  • Having to do more with less
  • 200 tickets in the queue
  • 30-minute average resolve time
  • Time consuming upgrades
  • Automated point tools didn’t cut it
  • Other solutions too complicated to use
  • 3,000 mobile users
  • False positives
  • Defenseless in software audit

If you’re facing any of the above pain points, take if from LaBlanc and talk to a LANDesk representative and say goodbye skepticism.

Read the Oldcastle success story to learn more.

 

How Discount Tire Manages 6,300 Endpoints

There’s nothing like the smell of new tires and no better place for new tires than Discount Tire Company.  Discount Tire Company, founded in 1960 and based in Scottsdale, Arizona, is America’s largest independent tire retailer. The company currently employs more than 14,000 people and operates 826 stores in 23 states across the country. In 2011 the company posted revenues of over $3 billion. It was also recognized by Forbes magazine, which ranked it 133 out of 500 for annual revenues of a privately held company.

Discount Tire Company is known for its excellent customer service. Satisfied, loyal customers return time and again for the company’s quality products and services. Every business unit in the company is committed to delivering a high level of customer service, and the IT department plays a central role.  Michael Driver, Senior Technical Analyst, believes that his number one priority is keeping the network and point-of-sale [POS] terminals up and running 24/7. If a system is down, the store cannot check inventory, access customer information or schedule appointments. Any downtime causes delays for customers and impacts customer service.

One of the biggest challenges for the Discount Tire IT team was provisioning and software distribution.  All of the applications and images were installed via scripts and was time consuming. On average Driver and his team provisioned six machines each day. Four hours per machine, ran the team upwards of $33,600 a year for provisioning.

Driver deployed several automated tools for inventory, remote control and other administrative tasks, but using multiple solutions was inefficient.  The tools were not very secure or powerful and did not provide good reporting capabilities. It took a lot of time to troubleshoot machines, perform maintenance, gather inventory and do other routine jobs when moving from one tool to another. Not having all of the inventory and other key support data in a single console can be frustrating.

Driver and his team researched the principal vendors in the marketplace and narrowed their list to three industry-leading solutions. In the end, they chose LANDesk® Management Suite because it delivers everything they needed and more.  They especially liked their administration console because it is easy to navigate and all of the functions are seamlessly integrated. With LANDesk Management Suite they can easily move among the features, going from inventory to security to software distribution without effort, which considerably increased their productivity.

With the automated solution, Driver’s team can install operating systems and other software in a fraction of the time.  Supporting the company’s users from coast to coast has become much easier.  With 6,300 PCs and POS terminals spread among 826 locations, accessing all of the tools needed from a single console was vital.  Now when they troubleshoot an issue, the technician has a multitude of tools that allow him to quickly assess the system and implement a solution. Driver can do everything he needs to do from one place, which significantly improves the support provided. This keeps the user—and in the long run, the stores’ customers—happy. LANDesk’s inventory capabilities put accurate information at their fingertips when diagnosing a problem.  

To learn more, read Discount Tire’s Success Story.

LANDesk Pulls the Rug out from Under Inefficiencies

There’s nothing like new carpet.  And no one produces fine carpet like Mohawk Industries.  Mohawk, headquartered in Calhoun, Georgia, is a leading supplier of flooring for residential and commercial applications. The company provides selections of carpet, ceramic tile, laminate, wood, stone, vinyl and rugs for all markets. These products are marketed under the premier brands in the industry, including Mohawk, Karastan, Lees, Bigelow, Durkan, Daltile, American Olean, Unilin and Quick-Step. Mohawk provides a premium level of service with its own trucking fleet and local distribution in the U.S. Its international presence includes operations in Australia, Brazil, China, Europe, Malaysia, Mexico and Russia. Mohawk employs more than 26,000 people and in 2011 posted net sales of $5.6 billion.

As Mohawk continues to grow, so too do the demands on its IT Department, which acts as a service provider for the corporation’s many business units. The IT assets aren’t owned by the IT Department, but rather the individual business units.  The IT Department, administered by IS Support Manager Brandon Barnes, is responsible for supporting the business units in the most efficient and economical way possible.  Up until a few years ago, Brandon and team faced significant challenges doing that in four areas: tracking inventory, managing mobile users, distributing software and reducing bandwidth usage.

Updating software and installing patches was a long, slow, inaccurate process for Mohawk.  They had to create a group policy object [GPO], find each target host’s name, and jump through too many other hoops.  In addition, they could not customize the process. If only half the users in a department needed to upgrade to the latest version of Microsoft Office, Brandon could not target just those machines; he had to upgrade them all. So it was a shotgun approach. It could take up to 16 hours to distribute software, and it always required a lot of extra work.

Bandwidth congestion was also an issue with the inventory-and-distribution tool. If the team had to deploy software to 40 PCs at one location, the solution would send the package across the wire 40 times. So it was not uncommon for them to distribute a critical application and take up all the bandwidth for that site, which would cause even more problems. The support team reached a point where they simply had to replace that tool.  They needed a more powerful, full-featured automated systems management tool that allowed them to provide more efficient and cost-effective services to their customers.

Mohawk’s upper management issued a strategic directive to replace the existing tool. As a result, Barnes and his team studied the solutions available in the market and narrowed their choices down to four. During the first round of their selection process, they carefully evaluated the four leading products.  They eliminated two and did a proof of concept on the remaining two. They finally chose LANDesk because the other products could not match its feature set. The solution had everything they need and more, including a very easy installation process. Two of the biggest reasons Brandon and team selected LANDesk is its ability to manage remote users and save on bandwidth when distributing software.

Distributing software is significantly easier and less time consuming. Before it could take up to 16 hours to distribute software; now, a major deployment takes an hour. That’s a great increase in productivity. The support team went from having multiple software distribution points to just one, and they only have to send the package across the wire once. In addition, LANDesk’s bandwidth-throttling feature slows down the process so deployments no longer affect users’ machines—they don’t even know the install is taking place. In addition, they don’t have to spend more money on bandwidth.

Other features save Mohawk even more time and money.  The team can customize deployments and target only the people who need new software or an upgrade.  They now have more peace of mind when it comes to security. Within seven days, the solution patches virtually every machine, which is pretty much complete coverage when you consider the number of PCs that have been retired or not powered on.  When it’s time to start replacing aged assets, Mohawk knows exactly how many they have, how old each one is and what shape they are in. Using LANDesk reports, they replace only the PCs they absolutely have to. The result: they can now provide services to their business units at a much higher level than they ever could before and at a more cost-effective price.