Shani Viner is one of the four-person team behind 1st Point Consulting, an innovative firm that helps commercial clients manage their premises cost-effectively.
“We’re a service charge specialist for retail property,” she explains. “For instance, a retailer in a shopping centre usually has to pay rent and a service charge to the landlord. The service charge goes towards things like heating the shopping centre, providing security and so on.”
1st Point Consulting helps retailers ensure their service charges are reasonable. “We can identify where costs are inappropriate,” elaborates Shani. “If the landlord is unable to justify charges, we can advise our clients to take action.”
Strong growth requires flexible IT
With a string of blue-chip companies on its books, 1st Point found its growing client base was placing the firm’s IT system under strain.
“The four partners in the business are based in different locations,” continues Shani, “so we had a system for storing documents where we could all access them.”
But as the volume of data grew, the system became a drain on productivity. “We didn’t have the flexibility to edit documents online, and it was hard to find the files we needed,” confirms Shani. “When we won a big contract, we decided it was time to invest in a new system.”
Moving everything to the cloud
Although not a technical expert, Shani had a good idea what the firm wanted before approaching suppliers: “We’re not technical, but we put what we needed into words.” Armed with these requirements, Shani created a shortlist of IT providers in and around Derbyshire, where 1st Point planned to open an office.
“We were impressed by Yorkshire Cloud from the start,” she remembers. “They were friendly and flexible, but their prices seemed reasonable too.”
As Yorkshire Cloud began to understand 1st Point Consulting’s business, it became apparent that an entirely cloud-based solution was the best option. This would see all the firm’s data and software stored on secure servers, so the team could access it from anywhere.
The cloud in practice
“To start work, we log into our cloud server,” confirms Shani. Located in Wakefield – and safely backed up to a separate location – this forms the core of 1st Point’s IT infrastructure.
Shani and her colleagues can log in from any computer that’s connected to the internet and always see the same thing: their cloud desktop, providing access to the software and files they need to work.
“It’s really easy to use,” says Shani. “Our files and email are all there, and it’s made us more efficient simply because everything works together.”
What’s more, the easy mobile access has enabled this four-person team to stay in close communication, no matter where they are.
“One of our partners is often travelling, and he’s able to log in and use it worldwide,” enthuses Shani. “I’m planning to spend time out of the country next year, and it’ll be great that I can stay in touch too. We love that aspect of it.”
A straightforward move to the cloud
As the cloud desktop functions just like a regular computer, the 1st Point team was quickly able to get up to full productivity. As Shani explains, “it’s just like using any other computer. We wanted it to be idiot-proof, with the familiar setup. And it is.”
Keenly aware that significant downtime could damage 1st Point’s business, the team at Yorkshire Cloud did everything they could to ensure a smooth switchover.
According to Shani, they succeeded: “Our main concern was that it might be tricky to transfer data across from our old supplier, but Yorkshire Cloud were superb. They spoke the right language to get our data moved quickly and easily.”
“It’s been a really strong relationship. They always call us back when they promise, and they speak our language. It’s brilliant – it’s so much better than it was before.”
And as 1st Point plots further expansion, Shani is convinced they’ve found an IT partner ready to meet future needs: “We’re a growing company and we may need to expand. Yorkshire Cloud offers the flexibility and adaptability to change at our pace, not at theirs.”