Helping with the state of the union

Through a competitive tendering exercise, we recently won the opportunity to help the people at the UNISON Edinburgh branch (UE) to create harmony in their IT systems. The main tasks were to set-up a new centralised server and to conduct a refresh of their desktop computers and other networking equipment. UE had deliberately waited until they'd completed an office move before they invested in new IT so some of the PCs were 5+ years old. But this is not so unusual - especially in the current financial climate. It was very exciting to recommend, supply and install appropriate new equipment that was well within their budget and then to help them get the most from it.

Having just taken over their IT for support, our first goal was to stabilise any pre-existing IT issues so they could get back on and work. Then we sought to develop a good working relationship with all of their staff over the first few weeks so we could get to know one another better. I have found this a great way to help manage the transition from staff having old computers moving to new ones before we start a major project. This allowed us to ensure all the Unison people were ready for the project and helped make the change that little bit easier and smoother.

Our main project goal was to install and configure the new server with minimal downtime as UNISON needed to continue to help and assist their members. Their previous email service was rather unusual and was somewhat scattered around the office with different users accessing email in different ways. So, we firstly needed to identify exactly where the mail was and what everyone was using to access it. They were not using a conventional application such as Microsoft Outlook but Mozilla Thunderbird and getting to email in various ways. But we come across different ways of doing such things all the time so let's just say we learnt a lot about how to export and import old mail from Thunderbird.

With their IT network improved, fresh Dell machines on the network, professional email and file storage all in-place plus robust back-up/recovery facilities for data, we were nearing completion. Our final task was to decommission any out-of-date PCs and more importantly follow-up that everyone was happy and could work as expected. My colleague and I also completed the whole project on-time and on-budget. Another very happy client. And, all in all, it was a great week's work.

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