case study

UK Fostering benefit from cloud-based Microsoft solutions to improve security, communication, and collaboration.

UK Fostering is a small, independent fostering agency passionate about changing the lives of vulnerable children. When local authorities have more children needing foster homes than they can accommodate, UK Fostering steps in providing fully trained, compassionate and competent foster families for a variety of different placements.

The Challenge
• Difficulties in accessing and responding to information
• Outdated technology delaying progress
• Sensitive documents and communications not shared securely

Information access and security are of utmost importance to UK Fostering. Their team faced challenges obtaining timely information while on the road and responding promptly to new case demands. Maintaining secure communications with carers and stakeholders regarding individual cases grew increasingly complex, leading to additional costs and delays due to sensitive documents being sent via post.

Outdated laptops and smartphones hindered progress, especially during carer meetings, inhibiting essential confidential discussions. Consequently, staff resorted to taking written notes during meetings, wasting precious time transcribing them back at the office. With a growing team spread across 3 offices, internal communication is vital but being able to meet face-to-face to discuss cases was becoming challenging.

The Solution
• Introduce cloud-based Microsoft solutions to host information
• Optimise Microsoft 365 accounts
• Install updated software on modern devices

Microsoft, Sharp and O2 decided to help. Sharp, an SME business technology specialist, recognised that strong relationships lie at the heart of UK Fostering’s success. Spending time with the team to understand the challenges they face every day provided Sharp with the insights to create a new, modern IT blueprint based on the very latest communication and collaboration capabilities, coupled with powerful Windows devices to help them to stay connected and work effectively from anywhere.

Sharp worked with O2 to optimise Microsoft Office 365 accounts, and set up a new Microsoft Azure cloud-based server environment, installing software on modern Windows PCs, Surface Pro 3 and Lumia smartphone devices.

Historic data and company documents were migrated into the cloud, while training sessions ensured everyone was up and running and excited about the new tools and applications. In a matter of weeks, UK Fostering have a host of new possibilities at their fingertips.

The Result
• Improved internal communications and collaboration
• Enhanced security and efficiency in handling confidential information
• Effortless remote working

Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Azure provide UK Fostering with cloud-based email, document storage, communications services, and the latest suite of Microsoft Office applications in a package that will scale in line with their business. Confidential information can now be sent quickly and securely by encrypted email, even outside of the business, using Microsoft Azure’s Rights Management service.

For mobile staff, remote working is effortless with Surface Pro 3 devices and Windows smartphones. The flexible device teamed with OneNote, acts as a digital note-taking tablet in meetings and then transforms into a fully-fledged PC once the keyboard is re-attached. High-resolution cameras in both devices also allow photos to be taken anywhere to support case notes.

Communication between the UK offices has come to life with high-quality webcams in each conference room and Skype for Business video conferencing which lets the teams meet face-to-face without the need for travel.

“Information security is unlike anything we’ve known before and having access to all our documents, and each other, wherever we are makes such a difference.”

Tim McArdle, Head of Placement & Recruitment, UK Fostering