IT Case Studies

P&L Network & Software Solutions have helped many businesses over the last 20 years to get the most from their IT systems. You can read some examples of our solutions in the case studies below;

IT Case Study Articles

South Cheshire Chamber of Industry and Commerce

In July 2010, South Cheshire Chamber of Industry and Commerce moved to new premises and took the opportunity to upgrade their IT and telephone systems.

A call charge analysis of their current costs showed that a 30% monthly saving could be made via Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). P&L's solution for the Chamber was the Epygi Quadro 2x PBX and a dedicated VoIP-only broadband. A strong feature of the Quadro is the "life-line" which means that if the internet goes down, calls can still be made using other means, so you're never off-line.

The system has been working continuously since July 2010. The choice between a PBX and iPBX system was vindicated after a payback period of 18 months and real savings are now being made. You can read more about the differences between a PBX and iPBX system in this P&L blog article.

As Paul Colman, Chair of the Chamber, says; "the decision to go down the VoIP route was a difficult one for us to make at the time but we've always trusted P&L who came through for us again".

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Massey Bros (Feeds) Ltd

Massey's are long-standing customers of P&L. Back in 2004, P&L installed Novell file servers at their two sites and have maintained them since. However, a third site has since been acquired which was already using a Microsoft Windows network. So the decision was taken in 2013 to replace them with Microsoft Windows Servers which would allow all three sites to communicate seamlessly with each other and allow for future expansion.

The opportunity was also taken to introduce business continuity arrangements via virtualised servers and upgrade the broadband from ADSL broadband to superfast fibre.

Following the broadband upgrade, there were three distinct challenges to be addressed; migration of two sites from Novell to Windows, integration with a third site, and ensuring seamless connection and remote working using all three sites.

Implementation involved two stages. Firstly, new Windows file servers were installed into the two existing sites as a single domain network allowing users to logon seamlessly at either site. Secondly, a "trust relation" was created between the existing and new site domains to allow communication between all three sites with no impact on the network from a performance, support or maintenance perspective.

The company has now achieved a genuine, corporate multisite network and P&L Networks are happy to continue to support all three sites, both centrally and locally.

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Practical Business Solutions

PBS is a new company delivering accountancy services to organisations in the transport industry.

Services are provided both on-site and from their base in the North West so it is important to have secure access to a central repository of client data. One significant issue was that there is often no one in the office to back up and secure data at the end of the day and a scheduled off-site backup was too expensive for an embryonic company.

The requirement for frequent remote access to a central, secure source lent itself well to a cloud-based solution.

P&L provided a remote access solution via our data centre and host their accounting system with access provided as a SaaS solution (Software as a Service). As we provide and maintain the infrastructure to support the PBS software, it reduces the hardware cost of ownership for PBS as they start to establish their company and allows expansion at their own pace.

The solution been so successful that P&L Networks have been asked to host a similar solution for a new PBS venture which provides contract labour to the transport industry. The software to support this venture will again be hosted on infrastructure provided by P&L Networks which will allow both PBS staff and clients to access the system at the different locations where contract labour is used.

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ALPS

ALPS market a range of insurance products to Insurance Brokers. P&L Software Solutions were approached to maintain a Microsoft Access application used for management of insurance claims which played a pivotal role in the operation of the business. Not only was it maintained, it has been progressively refined and improved, whilst ALPS have grown steadily and successfully, recently winning an award in recognition of the success of their business operation.

IT systems have played an important part in the development of ALPS and P&L Software Solutions have been closely involved to ensure that IT makes a very positive and progressive contribution.

Developments to the system over the years have included;

  • A full Microsoft SQL Server database to improve data integrity and processing capability.
  • An extension of the Claims Management System into sales leads and CRM.
  • A complete re-write in Visual Basic to enable more sophisticated data processing and improved system resilience.
  • Extensive document management facilities.

Although the system started as a Claims Management database, it now means much more to the operation of the business, with improved effectiveness and productivity as a result. It now offers;

  • A truly "paperless office".
  • Management of products sold to brokers.
  • Web access for brokers and for claimants.
  • Electronic trading with suppliers.

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Driving Edge Limited, Garston, Liverpool

Driving Edge is an employment agency providing contract warehouse, stacker-truck and HGV personnel to major distribution companies. The company operates from a centralised HQ in Runcorn but has personnel nationwide and operates 24/7. In 1999 it decided to automate all its recruitment procedures including placing advertisements, organising interviews, allocating successful candidates, equipment tracking (overalls, boots etc.) and other peripheral functions. P&L have been supporting Driving Edge Limited ever since.

A feature of the system is the use of the Post Office database for matching postcodes to grid references to determine the distance from a candidate's residence to the place of work. This enables the company database of prospective candidates, currently in excess of 75,000 records, to be searched by postcode to find those nearest to the recruiting workplace. P&L delivered a complete solution with bespoke operations software, corporate email, internet, fax, remote access, mirrored servers for critical application management and remote offsite back-up systems.

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Harris Balcombe – Manchester, London, Glasgow, Leeds

The Balcombe Group is the largest independent company of Insurance Loss Assessors in the UK. They have branches in Manchester, Glasgow and London plus a small number of regional offices. P&L have maintained, supported and developed the Group's IT since 1993.

Each site now utilises a Windows network with corporate email and internet across the Group.

Recent developments include a bespoke distributed database so the regional offices can maintain individual databases but still share details with the other sites. This enables queries on the database to be made at any of the regional offices.

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Henry Smith (Construction), Winsford, Cheshire

Henry Smith is a structural steel design and build company for major building projects such as supermarkets, distribution centres etc.

In 1995 Henry Smith had one PC in the entire company and now they have more than 20 networked workstations for CNC, Steelwork Design, Structural Calculations, accounts and general purpose use.

Many of their projects require continual update and refinement with other companies, from architects to steel beam suppliers. This is achieved almost exclusively via email.

Henry Smith (Construction) have been customers of P&L for 16 years.

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Levy & McRae, Glasgow & International

Software – Levy and McRae are a highly successful and well-regarded solicitors' practice in Glasgow.

P&L Software Solutions were approached to write a time-recording system for use by their fee-earners and to introduce document management systems.

The time-recording system was designed to be operated by the fee-earners themselves so the brief was that the system should be extremely simple to use and as unobtrusive as possible. This system has been a major success and a mainstay of the operation of the practice.

Document management has been a similar success: letters, submissions, emails and other documents are all held on computer files, organised by Client Case. P&L Software Solutions wrote a system which provided a "window" through which to create, view and manage these documents. This has improved staff efficiency through better housekeeping and improved document retrieval.

Some clients and other parties can also be granted access to documents relating to specific cases via a web-portal. This helps keep clients informed about their particular cases, so provides a valuable tool to enhance customer service and improve relationships.

For security reasons, access is granted on a case-by-case basis, and is controlled via a secure logon procedure. This means a client can only view documents relating to their own cases and will never have access to any other documents. Additionally, the client can have access to his current billing information via the Time Recording system.

The web portal facility offers an extremely valuable tool to the practice, enabling cases to be handled more efficiently and clients to be kept fully informed.

IT Services – Although Levy & McRae are 236 miles from P&L's headquarters, we are able to give excellent support using a VPN connection that allows us to remotely access all the workstations, printers and routers from our offices. Current facilities include a server, 45 workstations, corporate email, fax and internet.

Two particular requirements were the management of 24 separate databases, each of which are on separate CD-ROM's and the consistent delivery of reliable, timely and cost-effective email throughout the world, which is delivered via our email continuity program.

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Manchester Ship Canal, Runcorn, Cheshire

Runcorn Docks is part of the Manchester Ship Canal Company. The docks are used to unload ships containing a variety of products from glass and pottery to raw materials in bulk for the fertiliser industry.

Ships are unloaded into stock or onto lorries for transport direct to customers. A weighbridge determines the quantity of material from vehicle weights.

P&L were asked to deliver a stock control solution that managed stock movements both to and from vessels and customers in a multi-user system. A specific requirement was an interface to the weighbridge control panel to extract weight and time information to conform to Weights and Measures legislation.

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Customer Satisfaction

Our customers are delighted with the service they get from us. We carried out an internal survey of our customers and discovered that over 90% rated us 7 out of 10 or higher on;

  • Response times
  • Telephone support
  • On-site support
  • Technical expertise
  • Quality of work
  • Helpfulness

We are also proud to provide some of our satisfied customer comments.