Construction Skills Queensland (CSQ) knows construction inside out. As a business with construction education, training and up skilling as their primary functions, CSQ relies heavily on IT infrastructure. An industry-funded body, they provide an online hub for employees, employers and those wanting to make their way in the construction sector. With the nature of their services determining a need to be accessible 24 hours, seven days a week, CSQ realised they required an IT partner who could advise on futureproofing their technology investment, while also providing personalised and highly responsive support.
Data is a critical part of CSQ’s business: providing millions of dollars’ worth of industry training through various training organisations, CSQ relies on IT systems to keep things running smoothly.
For many years CSQ used in-house IT services consisting of a manager and support staff. Without specific IT knowledge, CSQ was unaware that the in-house arrangement led to gaps in their support and left the company vulnerable to IT failures and other issues. It was a poor level of service and assistance, particularly for the many employees who were based in regional areas, that resulted in a distinct lack of trust in the system as well as end users who were constantly frustrated.
CSQ tried using a small external IT provider to resolve the initial problems but, without a fully managed partnership format, the provider only offered reactive services instead waiting for instructions on specific issues. Only weeks away from significant network issues and not wanting the business to come to a grinding halt, CSQ realised their reputation was at stake.
In 2010 CSQ engaged Sentrian to deliver a new technology environment. When the 2011 floods hit, Sentrian was on the scene to help move the servers and network and set them up in a new location. Finally, after moving to a fully hosted IT environment (including service desk and infrastructure), CSQ began to understand the importance of a strong, collaborative IT relationship: extremely high levels of service and trust between both parties.
Geoff Clare, Chief Financial Officer and Operations Officer at CSQ, noted the difference was ‘like chalk and cheese’. He explained that the ‘former in-house IT manager had overlooked many of our vulnerabilities. IT is an area where you can’t be sure of the expertise and work of your department because it’s specialised, we trusted that everything was working at its optimum, it was not. [Sentrian] were life savers in many ways.’
‘Their response time is exceptional. They’re incredibly customer focussed.’
Sentrian had the expertise to quickly assess the existing technology and realise the outdated infrastructure was particularly vulnerable. First presenting tailored options, Sentrian facilitated the major infrastructure upgrade and enabled CSQ to continue trading—all without losing valuable time. This was the first step in futureproofing CSQ’s IT systems.
Having a clear understanding of the sector, IT trends and CSQ’s ongoing business needs, Sentrian then managed the second phase with a move to off-site servers. The move enabled CSQ to maintain business continuity and to be adaptable to unusual circumstances—both of which are vitally important for any business.
CSQ were impressed with the IT know-how that Sentrian communicated professionally and flawlessly, but it was the customised, managed service that really convinced CSQ that they had found the right IT partnership. CSQ now had access to a service desk and staff prepared to ‘DROP everything to make things happen’. Sentrian’s core values of quality and customer service were demonstrated through their excellent response times, collaborative problem-solving approaches and focus on building strong business relationships. Sentrian easily began repairing the lack of trust that had existed around the IT sphere at CSQ.
‘Staff can now access [our site] anywhere on the planet. Floods first, then moving and then COVID. IT was literally switched off at one end and switched on at the other end; we were up within an hour.’
Working with CSQ for almost 10 years, Sentrian has developed a highly efficient partnership based on trust. By engaging with experts for advice and support, CSQ estimates between a quarter and half a million dollars has been saved each year. This conservative estimate doesn’t take into account other benefits of working with a pro-active IT company, and CSQ is certain the business could have lost millions of dollars during the COVID-19 lockdown period had they not had the right IT infrastructure. With the ideal set-up and support available, CSQ was up and running remotely within record time.
In addition to fiscal incentives, CSQ calculated a conservative 10% improvement in overall efficiency of the company. With a supportive and trustworthy IT company as their partner, there has been a substantial improvement to staff culture; staff are content and less frustrated with IT interactions and this has increased professionalism within the company. According to Geoff, the company faced major challenges prior to engaging Sentrian, now things are so much easier to manage and the results speak for themselves, ‘you have to look at it more broadly—it’s difficult to truly measure.’