Kilhorne Bay Seafoods Case Study
Kilhorne Bay Seafoods is based in Annalong, among the foothills of the beautiful mountains of Mourne and within easy reach of the three main fishing ports on the County Down coast. The company was founded in 1969 and since then has earned a reputation for supplying quality seafood products to the catering, wholesale and retail trade.
As many smaller businesses, Kilhorne Bay felt comfortable with their existing IT system. It was familiar and, as far as they were concerned, it “just worked”. They were reluctant to upgrade because, on paper, the benefits of moving weren’t overly apparent. Often it isn’t until the changeover has taken place that the customer realises how outdated and vulnerable their old system was – and how simple it can be to upgrade using familiar interfaces that enable users to pick up where they left off, without any hassle and with minimum downtime.
“We knew our existing system inside out,” explains Ruth McConnell of Kilhorne Bay. “We couldn’t see any reason to invest in an upgrade. Yes, we often ran out of disk space and had to get Xperience IT Solutions to sort things out to keep the system going. However, on the whole we were happy with our Small Business Server 2003 and XP desktops, despite Xperience extolling the benefits of modernisation.”
“As time went on, things got more difficult to maintain. Microsoft stopped supporting the old server and XP had reached its end-of-life. We could no longer install our anti-virus software properly. Xperience advised the natural replacement for our unsupported Microsoft Small Business solution was an on-premise Microsoft Server 2012 coupled with the cloud-based Office 365. This would provide anytime and anywhere access to emails and business files, as well as many other benefits.”
Ruth continues, “On top of this there was always the worry about what would happen in the event of a major IT failure, corruption or a virus. As it stood, we’d probably be looking at a three-day rebuild of the entire server and the risk of losing vital data. With a modern system, Xperience would be able to recover our entire server by the next day from backups, so there would be minimum downtime and zero loss of data.”
“A key motivating factor to move forward with the ICT refresh was when Pegasus announced its intention to end support for our Opera 2 accounting software in 2017. As Pegasus Opera had always been our accounts package of choice, and so an upgrade to Opera 3 was a natural decision. It made sense to do this sooner rather than later – and to do everything at once: a new server (which would need to be virtualised), new desktops (with the latest Windows operating system), Office 365, Opera 3 – the works. “
“Of course we were worried about how staff would cope with such a big change. We had visions of upheaval, days of training, resistance to change, everything. But it wasn’t like that, thank goodness. In fact Xperience structured the changeover so seamlessly that we scarcely noticed any difference at all.”
Xperience have been working with Kilhorne Bay since 2005, providing the company’s software and hardware, so it made sense to ask them to handle the entire upgrade. Xperience put forward a number of proposals, one of which was to go completely to the Cloud. “But we decided to go down the more familiar route which was an on-premise virtualised server,” says Ruth.
“As far as Opera was concerned it made sense to move to Opera 3 rather than looking at a competitor product – again because of the familiarity. Pegasus had also supplied a roadmap as to where they’d be taking Opera 3 in the future which gave us added confidence. Plus, it appeared that Office 365 would deliver additional benefits, too, especially with regards to email security and delivery. All in all, it just seemed the right time to move.”
The changeover took place in November 2015. “And we needn’t have worried about having problems,” Ruth continues. “Everything went really smoothly. Thankfully Xperience don’t do a ‘Big Bang’ approach when it comes to hardware and software replacement, they prefer a step-by-step approach where the hardware is installed first so any issues can be addressed before the software goes in.”
“As for our worry about a massive upheaval, the system was only down for a few hours while everything was set up. Then it was a case of picking up where we’d left off – with the old familiar interfaces we were used to. We were surprised at just how seamless it was.”
So what has the impact been on the business? ““Basically the main benefit has been that everything stays much the same,” says Ruth. “We have a modern IT solution that’s supported, resilient and secure – yet within a familiar working environment.”
“Yes there are things that both Office 365 and Opera 3 do better. For example Opera 3 Payroll with its HMRC PAYE and RTI recognition has speeded up our processes quite a lot. There are other features that I’m sure we will utilise in the future, for instance video conferencing and remote access in Office 365 which will be handy for our MD when he travels to Hong Kong on business. And of course we have the peace of mind of enhanced security throughout the entire system plus the reassurance of knowing we’d have full data restoration in the event of a disaster.”
“It took a while for Xperience to convince us that we would benefit from the change. In the end, we had no choice if we wanted a secure, supported solution, so you could say we were dragged kicking and screaming into the decision. But, honestly, it’s been so seamless and straightforward that we wish we’d done it sooner.”
“I am sure that Xperience did an awful lot of hard work behind the scenes with all the technical bits and pieces, but at the end of the day we don’t need to know any of that. We want a system that ‘just works’, which is what we’ve got!”