Thomas ‘Cuth’ Harrison, a racing enthusiast who competed in many British and European car rallies and Grand Prix, founded the T C Harrison motor and plant dealership dynasty back in 1931. Today, it has grown to become one of the country’s largest privately owned motor groups, employing around 500 people across 16 locations and currently run by the third Harrison generation, James, Jonathan and William. It is actually a number of businesses, ranging from a network of main Ford dealerships to JCB operations and servicing; from fleet and business car leasing to auto finance, with a combined turnover of more than £200 million and serving over 200,000 customers.
The challenge: 12,000 emails a day over nine domains resulting in two days down time over a year
As with any sizeable service enterprise with a large customer base, T C Harrison’s email systems had become the lifeblood of the business. It was not unusual to process over 12,000 emails a day. With hundreds of users spanning nine different domains, reliability and continuity are paramount and systems that had been appropriate in the past were becoming a burden to maintain.
Neil Bailey, Group IT manager, explains: “We had been using more than one email system, protected by a common cloud-based spam and virus filtering solution. However, it was becoming unreliable, culminating in two days’ downtime over a 12 month period. Email is so mission-critical now that downtime can lead directly to lost support and sales. For us, where customer service is one of our competitive differentiators, there is always a risk of not delivering and damaging the brand.
“Meanwhile, our requirements had extended from reliability, continuity and ‘hygiene’ to include archiving, something that had not been an issue in the past.
The wish list: a solution able to integrate with Office 365, offer improved security and archiving capabilities
“At the same time, we had decided to adopt Microsoft’s Office 365 solution for some of our key back-office systems. It meant we could exploit the benefits of cloud computing, while continuing to provide our users with the applications they knew and liked. For my group IT support staff, adopting Office 365 would provide unprecedented levels of control, yet simplify administration by shifting much of the burden to Microsoft, including software updates. For users, it would provide access from anywhere, including home or on the road, sharing and updating documents secure in the knowledge that data integrity would not be compromised.
“However, we needed to ensure that Office 365 would provide us with the best levels of reliability, continuity and virus/spam protection. We decided to explore a hybrid solution, which we hoped would provide the best of both worlds.”
The solution: Mimecast implemented by EACS in a pain-free process
Having compiled a detailed set of selection criteria, Neil Bailey enlisted the help of EACS to assist with the project. “They are an award-winning IT partner with Microsoft gold accreditations and we knew they had both the technical and implementation skills to help us,” says Neil.
“Their recommendation was an email management suite from Mimecast that is cost effective, meets all our requirements and integrates seamlessly with Office 365. In fact, it was the only solution that ticked all our boxes.
“I mentioned security as an important requirement. EACS were able to show us how effectively Mimecast could encrypt emails whenever we wish to transmit commercially sensitive data, such as customer lists for use by third party marketing organisations.
“Another key strength was the archiving capability of Mimecast, and the role it can play in providing continuity. If I can give a simple, but important example, when someone leaves the company, it’s crucial to have immediate access to any communications they may have had with prospective and existing customers. We need to make sure we are honouring any commitments that may have been made. We now have that reassurance.
“What particularly impressed me was that, of all potential suppliers, rather than simply presenting their offerings, Mimecast and EACS alone conducted a detailed rigorous workshop examining volumes, issues and potential requirements in detail. That was invaluable. Frankly, we would not have migrated to Office 365 if it hadn’t been for Mimecast.
“Implementation was painless. With help from both EACS and Mimecast, we conducted the changeover domain by domain over an elapsed period of two months. It didn’t feel like working with two suppliers as they simply became part of our own team.”
12 months on, zero downtime, all mail archived and virus protected. In one week alone the new system rejected 73,912 spam mails
The system has been running now for 12 months and Neil sums up: ”Unlike front-office systems, it’s the nature of email management that users don’t comment on its success. Success is transparent. We have suffered no downtime but, even if Office 365 had failed, we would simply have been able to continue communicating internally as well as with suppliers and customers externally, all archived and virus protected.
“As to virus and spam control, I see from last week’s report alone that we rejected no less than 73,912 emails across the group, including nine virus signature detections, 455 spam signature rejections and 2,314 rejections based on IP reputation. That represents a huge saving in wasted time, not to mention frustration, for our staff, along with the safeguarding of our corporate data.
“It is always difficult to put a hard value on such things, but according to reports, reading and answering email takes up 28 per cent of workers’ time and the typical corporate user sends and receives around 105 email messages a day. Based on those figures, continuity alone cost-justifies the solution. Everything else is a bonus.”
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