For any business, significant change – such as rapid growth or a merger – can present huge challenges. It can also bring the opportunity to step back, take stock and make key decisions that set the organisation on a path to continued growth and success.
This was the position that property consultants Vail Williams found itself in amid a successful merger with Hughes Ellard earlier this year. The evolution of the business, including a significant rise in staff numbers and the acquisition of new offices, presented exciting opportunities for future growth.
From an IT perspective, it was important that the right foundations were in place to facilitate that growth and ensure the smooth integration of the business’s two systems. It was also an opportunity to review the needs of the business, both immediately and in the medium to long-term.
Vail Williams called upon Aura Technology to provide strategic input to facilitate this change. Led by managing director Tim Walker, and Pete Hughes, technical director, Aura sets itself apart from traditional IT service providers by working closely with senior management to help align IT to the objectives of the businesses they work with.
‘Aura has had the Midas touch in relation to our IT transformation and day-to-day use of technology, and I would thoroughly recommend working with them’
Working as consultants and trusted advisers to the board, Aura undertook a full review of the company’s IT provision, infrastructure set-up, support arrangements and policies. This led to IT decisions being made on a significantly more strategic basis, and ensured that IT decisions taken in relation to the underlying platform were thought about in relation to where the firm is heading and to what degree they will get there organically or through M&A.
Aura also helped to implement the seamless transfer of platforms, a roll-out of new futureproofed hardware, and was instrumental in the integration of some of the legacy systems that came as a result of the merger. The Aura technology team has worked closely with the board to implement a robust cybersecurity resilience strategy.
“IT is incredibly important to us as a business and that includes the whole data aspect,” explained Matthew Samuel-Camps, managing partner of Vail Williams, which operates eight offices across the south and Midlands.
“We had an interesting challenge in that the business was evolving and our IT service provision was coming up for renewal.
“We asked Tim and his team at Aura to basically ‘sit on our shoulders’ as we underwent the renewal and tendering process.
“From day one, Aura has been a strategic partner that has worked hand in glove with our head of IT. From reviewing the needs of the company and devising a detailed brief, to a full commercially-minded analysis of the merits of prospective providers, Aura has ensured that the transitioning of our IT has been incredibly smooth.
"Aura has had the Midas touch in relation to our IT transformation and day-to-day use of technology, and I would thoroughly recommend working with them."
Aura is based at Southampton’s Ocean Village and works with a variety of mid-market companies across the south. Whether providing high-level consultancy, or day-to-day IT provision for businesses, understanding clients’ three to five year strategic plans is key.
Adam Robinson, director of finance at Vail Williams, said: “Aura has been fully engaged across the full panoply of IT issues that arise day-to-day and have also been helping our head of IT with an element of horizon scanning and strategic assistance.”
Samuel-Camps added: “The important aspect that Tim has really helped us with is the bespoke approach – it’s not a standard, off-the-shelf package.
“Tim and Pete have a very personal approach and are very accessible. They both talk to us in language we understand – they are able to cut through the IT jargon that is indecipherable for most business people. We look at each other as complementary strategic partners.”
Along with Vail Williams, Aura’s team are working with companies across a number of industry sectors, including leading law firm Humphries Kerstetter and marine manufacturer Spinlock.
Walker said: “Aura places great emphasis on building relationships at board or senior level to really have a positive impact on the businesses we work with. We are delighted that our consultancy has helped Vail Williams go from strength to strength and is heading into 2019 with a prosperous outlook.”