Great Ormond Street Hospital
fry provides peace-of-mind, infrastructure expertise, flexible resource and a fresh perspective.
Trevor Peacock is the Manager of the Information Systems Unit at ICH and he has a familiar problem. One of his key IT support and development staff is moving on, leaving Trevor with not much time to find a replacement. As the manager of a public sector organisation in London, Trevor knows only too well the stiff competition for staff with the private sector in the city of London. And even if he did manage to find the appropriate person in time and train the person on the new systems, what if that person or another key member of staff decides to leave? Back to square one. Could there be another solution to his problem?
Together with Paula Stephenson (Web Manager at GOSH) Trevor talked to solutions and support provider Fry-IT about the problem. ICH hosts a joint website for both organizations, which represents the public-facing image of the institutions and is often the first point of contact the public has with them. Apart from the website they have several internal systems and servers to look after.
Trevor and Paula decided to take a flexible support contract with fry which would de-risk their predicament. They decided to keep internal staff but also work in partnership with fry to help support, maintain and develop their website and other web applications. This way if internal people were to leave, Trevor and Paula could call upon fry and their staff to fill-in and give them breathing space to find suitable personnel. Also if, for any reason, the relationship with fry didn't work then they still had their internal people while they looked for a new partner. With a company as a partner Trevor and Paula benefited from the fact that more than one person from fry would now understand their systems and setup.
So the solution had multiple redundancy built-in throughout.
It’s been really useful to bring an external perspective into our operations.
It didn't turn out in quite the way that Trevor and Paula had anticipated. Their strategy worked but there was more. There were benefits to the relationship that hadn't occurred to them:
- As fry has been developing software and systems for the public sector for a quite while they brought a fresh pair of eyes into ICH. fry simplified their systems so that there was more consistency and efficiency in the development process.
- fry staff transferred a lot of new ideas and methods to ICH IT staff and gave them a fresh perspective. As well as talking to each other this included documentation, scripts and software to automate processes.
- Although fry were not originally brought in to help with the servers and hosting platform their staff soon saw that ICH could virtualise their hosting platforms to save a considerable amount of money, streamline their infrastructure, improve business continuity and speed up deployment of new virtual servers from days to minutes, freeing up staff time to focus on more productive work. Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu Linux distribution, were so impressed with the results that they asked ICH/GOSH if they could create a case study about this. Trevor asked fry to give a talk to the other IT managers at UCL about what fry and ICH/GOSH had achieved.
- Finally, Trevor has now found that he can offer fry's expertise to others in the organisation. Recently he just happened to be talking to one the fry staff about a meeting to do with hosting patient data and discovered that fry actually had a centralised patient record system deployed. We were able to advise him and his colleagues about the intricacies and security issues when working with highly confidential patient record data.