Case Study: The Sara Lee Corporation upgrades its desktop solutions with Ultima Business Systems

Sara Lee Corporation entrusts its desktop upgrade with solutions provider Ultima Business Systems and finds it a painless one

Sara Lee Corporation entrusts its desktop upgrade with solutions provider Ultima Business Systems and finds it a painless one

The Sara Lee Corporation produces some of the world's best-known household names, which can be found in almost any home around the world. As with most companies, IT infrastructure plays a vital role in operations, and the IT department's aim is to equip, effectively support and maintain the company with the latest hardware and software. To achieve this, Sara Lee Household & Body Care has partnered with Reading-based IT solutions provider Ultima Business Systems to supply, install and support networking and desktop products and services for over 250 users at the Slough-based headquarters.

For the past year, Ultima has assisted Sara Lee Household & Body Care's 15-strong IT team by delivering effective desktop solutions. "We don't usually respond to cold-calls, but when Ultima contacted us we decided to give them the opportunity to supply some PCs," comments Martin Mathieson, business systems manager. "We initially used Ultima to fulfil a small order to assess its prices, delivery and overall service levels. We were very impressed with the results and since then, have rapidly increased our involvement with Ultima and now use them for over 80 per cent of our hardware requirements," he explains.

Sara Lee Household & Body Care's current network infrastructure is less than two years old, and comprises of six Compaq servers and one Digital Alpha. There is also a help-desk run by five in-house support staff, who are responsible for the IT infrastructure and assisting with any user queries.

After reviewing its IT suppliers, Sara Lee Household & Body Care selected Ultima to upgrade existing desktop applications from Windows 3.11 and Lotus SmartSuite, to Windows '95 and Microsoft Office '97. "Our existing tool-set was outdated and didn't perform to the standard required to allow staff to achieve the best results," says Mathieson. "The rest of the world seemed to be using Microsoft, so we decided it was time to move on. We needed a much more modern set of desktop tools, which would be suited to everyone's needs - upgrading to Windows '95 and Office '97 seemed the obvious choice."

All the desktops have a standard front-end, ensuring that all staff has identical programmes and desktop lay-out for ease of use, enabling anyone to sit at any PC and see the same desktop set-up. This uniformity also aids the job of the help-desk support staff and, prior to implementing any hardware, pilot tests are carried out on the new equipment to check the impact additional kit may have on the network.

Compiled by Ajith Ram

(c) Ultima Business Systems 1998

This was last published in August 1999

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