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Case study
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University and College Union

As part of their cloud-first, Modern Workplace strategy, University and College Union (UCU) had embarked on a phased move to serverless offices, with the support of Doherty Associates. Then COVID-19 came out of the blue, creating new and unforeseen challenges for staff who now needed to access key Line of Business applications remotely. This required us to think and act fast to help keep UCU secure and fully operational.

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University and College Union is a trade union, representing a nationwide membership of around 130,000 teachers and lecturers working in further and higher education.

They have been with us as a client since their inception in 2006.

UCU currently has over 200 staff members across their London HQ and ten regional offices, plus a large community of regional officials and representatives. When lockdown was announced they all found themselves working from home unexpectedly – and with a full migration to the cloud halted mid-flow.

Meeting the needs of a disparate workforce

Thanks to the work we had already completed in collaboration with UCU’s in-house IT team, staff members were immediately able to benefit from the remote working capabilities built into the Office 365 platform – including features such as video conferencing via Teams.

However, there was also a need for some staff members to access key Line of Business applications, such as membership and finance systems, sometimes on non-UCU computers. And while a small number could already do this securely via a limited remote desktop services (RDS) solution, another 30 now needed secure access – and they needed it fast.

Thinking laterally while working remotely

At Doherty Associates, we worked swiftly to devise a solution that could be delivered under lockdown conditions. The answer lay in repurposing decommissioned file servers and equipment to create an expanded RDS ‘farm’ to support up to 40 additional remote users. This meant all relevant staff could then access key Line of Business applications, wherever they happened to be.

Since lockdown, we’ve also supported UCU in utilising the SharePoint technology built into the Office 365 platform to meet specific operational requirements. They also asked us for an online training portal for their staff, and a central document repository that could be accessed by regional officials working on their members’ cases, which we were happy to deliver.

As Head of IT Services, Adam Jenkins, explains:

‘Their thorough understanding of our network and organisational requirements meant Doherty Associates were able to react dynamically, working closely with us to provide a bespoke solution that made the most of our existing infrastructure, saving both time and cost.’

A creative approach to problem-solving is a vital complement to the way we support each one of our clients. Because however well-laid the plans may be, you can never factor out the unexpected.

‘The recent pandemic has put immense pressure on the IT team with the organisation facing the challenge of adapting to remote working with virtually no notice. It has been immensely reassuring to have the partnership of Doherty Associates on that journey.’

UCU logo

Adam Jenkins

Head of IT Services
University and College Union

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