When UK clothing brand Weird Fish decided to expand its ecommerce business it decided it was time to upgrade its Microsoft Dynamics AX enterprise solution. With no dedicated in-house IT support, the business needed a one-stop-shop for the Dynamics AX application and enlisted K3 Retail to perform the upgrade and K3 Managed Services for on-going IT support and maintenance.
Weird Fish has 12 retail stores throughout the UK and it also wholesales its products through larger retail chains and independent stores. IT is critical to the smooth running of its diverse retail channels and the company had already implemented Dynamics AX 2009. The business uses Dynamics AX to help manage all its financial data and to produce management reports for its accounts and stock levels and for supporting its e-commerce business.
It soon became clear that the business needed sector specific expertise in AX to ensure that Weird Fish used its ERP software to its full potential, to support its rapid growth and development.
Few Dynamics AX providers also offer managed services support. K3 Managed Services does, and is heavily involved with every project of K3 Retail, making them the obvious choice for Weird Fish.
"Eighty per cent of our business is wholesale but we can see an emerging market in e-commerce," says Jon Goodwin, Financial Controller, Weird Fish. "Dynamics AX software is, therefore, essential for us to manage our purchase orders, receipts, stock information, sales orders and financial data. With so much information going through the software, it is important that we have a specialist company taking care of all our systems so we can concentrate on moving our business forward. K3 Managed Services keeps this data safe and is able to restore it should anything go wrong."
As part of its IT provision, Weird Fish wanted a single telephone number to call in case it had problems. With Dynamics AX supplied and supported by K3 Retail and K3 Managed Services, the company benefitted from a one-stop-shop approach and should Weird Fish encounter a problem with its IT its only has one place to go to in order to have that problem resolved. Instead of being stuck without a resolution between the IT provider and support team, K3 Managed Services works to resolve the issue immediately. Its rich heritage of working within the retail industry means the company understands the IT support needs of retailers and is responsive to any customer issues that may arise.
Benefitting from the latest software
K3 Managed Services worked with K3 Retail to upgrade Weird Fish to Dynamics AX 2012 R2, which is designed and tailored for retail environments and is the natural successor to the company’s existing software. This included installing two brand new servers onto Weird Fish’s existing IT network. K3 Managed Services also deployed virtualisation technology to reduce the costs affiliated with running Dynamics AX on premise. Instead of installing lots of hardware on site, Weird Fish was able to access a virtual platform, which includes Microsoft Windows operating systems, Microsoft SQL Databases, storage and network resources.
As part of the transition from Dynamics AX 2009 to the latest software, K3 Managed Services also performed an audit of Weird Fish’s existing IT network to ensure that all the company’s licenses were, and will remain, up-to-date.
"Software licensing is not always something that is top of our business agenda because we do not have an internal IT team. The fact that K3 Managed Services now looks after all our IT licensing is a huge weight off our minds and means that we are never using unlicensed software," says Jon Goodwin.
Hardware and software support
Today K3 Managed Services provides support for Weird Fish’s entire IT network and its 40-user based Dynamics AX software. K3 Managed Services is responsible for the upkeep of Weird Fish’s hardware, Windows Operating System, Microsoft architecture, SQL databases, email, and antivirus software.
Weird Fish also benefits from K3 Managed Services’ Sentinel Support Service, which provides a remote pro-active monitoring service from its Network Operations Centre in Hook, Hampshire. This monitoring service is deployed onto the Weird Fish IT network to monitor Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in real-time. It scans for disk errors, memory usage and potential problems, seeking them out before they become major issues. If it does detect a potential problem, Sentinel alerts the helpdesk where a member of the K3 Managed Services team reacts to it immediately. This ensures that Weird Fish always has a safe backup for its IT and sensitive data.
As part of Sentinel, Weird Fish also benefits from unlimited service from the helpdesk. This allows Weird Fish to telephone K3 Managed Services at any time and have the issue resolved immediately. K3 Managed Services resolves the majority of problems remotely but does provide Weird Fish with an onsite engineer when needed.
"A key differentiator of the support that we receive from K3 Managed Services is the onsite engineer support. They make an effort to come on site when they can and really make an effort to inform us of any problems that do occur so we understand fully how everything is operating. We always have the same engineers visit us too, so we know just who to call on should we have a problem whether it is general or something more specific like a Firewall issue," says Jon Goodwin.
K3 Managed Services also provides Weird Fish with "Break Fix" support, giving the company unlimited parts and labour support for all hardware issues. This covers everything from simple hardware replacements to complete server rebuilds.
"By having all of our IT support and provision from the same company we don’t have to worry about our IT and can get on with our business. Dynamics AX is going to be an integral part of our move into e-commerce, and knowing K3 Managed Services will ensure all of our IT is running smoothly without any glitches gives us confidence that we are heading in the right direction for our business," says Jon Goodwin.