Poundland is undergoing a major company-wide rollout of Windows 7, ending use of Windows XP and moving staff to the Office 365 suite as part of a major IT upgrade.
The firm, which sells everything for £1, already has 490 locations in the UK and Ireland and has plans to open over 1,000 more in 2014. As such, overhauling its IT setup was vital.
Matthew Sparks, IT services manager at Poundland, told V3 the decision to go with Microsoft over Google was made as the firm already had a wide Microsoft base, including strong use of Excel, and it provided the ability to bring all its IT requirements together.
“We have a lot of investment in Microsoft, so with this we can bring all the tool sets together under one umbrella. It offers us a single point of control for all our stores from Orkney to Penzance. That was really compelling to us,” he said.
Prior to this the firm has been running numerous single applications to meet its needs, such as Lotus Notes for email and Novell for directory management.
Another benefit, Sparks said, was that it ties in with Poundland's move to start upgrading its Windows operating systems from XP – which faces a cut-off deadline of 8 April 2014 – to Windows 7. Sparks admitted, though, that not all locations will be migrated within this deadline.
“We have a perpetual licensing deal on Windows 7. Head office will be moved over immediately and it will then be phased into stores. We’re taking a risk-based approach to this. Our head office users are heavy users of online applications and have more touch points with external networks, so we need a high level of security,” he said.
“Stores have restricted access, though, so we can take a more phased approach. Not all stores will be migrated by the April cut-off, but some will have made the move.”
The push by Poundland to move away from the older operating system comes as many firms continue to ignore the looming dealine, while Windows XP remains popular for numerous reasons.
Sparks added that the firm did not consider Windows 8 as it did not want to have to spend more on hardware, and Windows 7 was more than adequate for its requirements.
IT director at Poundland Mike Gray added that the push to Office 365 would also help improve communication and insight across the business, which also has offices in the Republic of Ireland and Hong Kong.
“The Office 365 investment helps us begin to achieve corporate governance with a low cost of operation and facilities collaboration between people working in different geographical areas,” he explained.
The push to Office 365 comes as part of an ongoing IT overhaul at the firm, as Gray explained. “We are a business in growth and the challenge is to keep prices down but be able to scale so the cloud gives us that ability,” he said.
“We have a cloud-based system for HR and payroll services from Frontier and in the last two to three years we’ve extended our LAN [local area network] and WAN [wide area network] to provide more bandwidth.”
Grey said the next challenge for the firm once the Office 365 rollout and Windows 7 upgrade was complete was to set about implementing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies, underlining the challenges IT teams face to keep pace with modern business.
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