You are here: Home / Clients / Toad Hall Nursery Group
Toad Hall Nursery Group
Toad Hall Nursery Group is expanding rapidly across South East England with gold support from Doherty.
"Doherty has designed and supports our entire IT system across 17 nurseries and head office. I no longer have any anxiety about IT, because I don’t have to deal with it. That’s what we pay for - peace of mind."
Sarah Owen, General Manager
Toad Hall Nurseries is a children’s day care nursery group that has grown fast. Established in 1998, the group now has 17 nurseries and continues to expand across South East England.
When Toad Hall was established in 1998, it invested in some basic IT, but experienced real problems. Sudden crashes, the threat of virus attacks, lack of data sharing facilities and poor back-up were affecting the business. And putting pressure on General Manager Sarah Owen.
"I knew I needed to do something about our IT because my stress levels were so high. We were having severe technical problems with nobody available in-house to sort them out. Frankly, I didn’t know where to go or how to start."
Starting off right
Sarah approached Doherty Associates. They conducted a full health check of Toad Hall’s systems and worked closely with staff to understand the company’s business. The aim was to design a scaleable, stable and secure IT platform.
“When Terry Doherty talked to me about what we could do, it almost sounded like science fiction!” recalls Sarah. “It was so different to the way we’d been operating up to that point. He put a proposal together and that’s where it all started.”
Toad Hall’s data was stored locally at each nursery and the company was communicating via individual Freeserve email addresses. This meant Sarah had to travel to every site to perform essential tasks, including the monthly invoice run.
Doherty’s solution was to install a Microsoft Small Business Server (SBS) at head office and link up the nurseries with a high speed Virtual Private Network (VPN) and Terminal Services.
This gave every nursery direct access to the main childcare system and accounts software as well as a much faster, more reliable e-mail service. Management and administrative staff now had access to data from any nursery at any time of day. Virus protection and full back-up were also provided.
As Sarah says, “I can now sit in my office and access every nursery from here. I save at least five days a month in travelling and administration, plus petrol and mileage. That’s the key; that and the fact that if anything goes wrong we can get people to sort it out remotely.”
Doherty Associates has been Toad Hall’s outsourced IT supplier for almost 10 years. “We’ve changed a lot. Doherty’s recommendations have helped us offer a better service.” From total system upgrades to a new website in 2008 provided and hosted by Doherty, as Sarah says, “there are so many different options out there; I need someone to guide me through them.”
As part of their Gold support contract, Toad Hall has unlimited remote and telephone assistance from the Doherty helpdesk. “Things do go wrong, but the helpdesk is very good. What I really like is that whenever a case is opened or closed I get copied in by email, so I know how often people are phoning and for what reason. If there’s something wrong with the printer every day, I can see we need a new one. I have advance notice of expenditure that we otherwise might not have planned for.”
Doherty's purchasing department carefully selects new equipment and software based on Toad Hall's requests and organises everything from delivery and installation to warranties and licenses. They recently supplied Windows mobile devices that allow access to email on the move. “It has made such a difference; I don’t have to be near a computer all the time. I love it!” says Sarah.
Doherty has also implemented strict surf control technology, which prevents employees wasting time and protects the network from inappropriate material (critical in a childcare environment). In addition, Doherty has ensured that the network is highly secure so that the company complies with data protection and confidentiality legislation.
Staying in great shape
Doherty proactively monitors Toad Hall’s network round the clock so issues can be fixed before they become a problem. The company is free to focus on its business, secure in the knowledge that Doherty will focus on its IT.
Sarah Owen recognises that such peace of mind is priceless. However, she has also calculated that Doherty’s outsourced IT solution saves money:
“We have no IT staff in-house. I’m probably the most knowledgeable person in the company and I know nothing. We can’t do without IT support, but it would take more than one person to cover everything we do. That’s expensive and we can’t justify it.”