Wesleyan takes a forward-looking approach to technology with Lenovo

Founded in 1841 at the end of the Industrial Revolution, Wesleyan is now a financial services leader specialising in investment advice and services for professionals such as teachers, doctors and dentists. With hundreds of financial advisors working both in the office and in external locations, across devices including laptops and desktops, the company’s approach to technology remained very old-fashioned. Multiple versions of Windows were in use amongst its 1,400 employees, and many devices were approaching end-of-life. In 2018, Wesleyan turned to Lenovo to rethink its approach.

‘We began to see an increase in feedback from our financial advisors saying, “this is starting to impact my work,”’ says Nik Thompson, Technology Service Operations Manager at Wesleyan. ‘Our advisors are working with our customers and members to deliver the right outcomes. When you have those workers struggling with the effectiveness of their equipment, you know you have a challenge.’

Wesleyan’s financial advisors rely on technology for everything from video interviews with customers to using financial planning software. Thompson says that, within the organization, he ‘banged the drum’ for having a solid technology foundation to deliver the best outcomes for customers and spoke to Lenovo about the need for a new ‘as a service’ approach. 

‘Prior to this, we had a lot of throwaway technology and buy-on-demand,’ Thompson says. ‘That led to issues with storage, with bills and trying to maintain aged and out-of-support equipment. We talked to a few people and Lenovo came up with the most compelling business case.’

A new approach

With £7.2bn in assets under management, Wesleyan needed to ensure that its 1,400 employees could work effectively without downtime, even as the technology they used was replaced. That meant a single solution to enable the rollout as the organization upgraded the whole of its ageing IT estate, along with support to ensure it didn’t fall back into ‘old habits’, Thompson says. 

Initially the company planned to implement a mixture of Lenovo ThinkPad laptops and desktops. Previously, its operations revolved around one head office in Birmingham, which had been its home since the 19th century. Most Wesleyan staff still worked in the office, and the initial plan was to roll out powerful desktop solutions to contact centre and helpdesk workers, along with laptops where needed.

The flexibility of Lenovo’s TruScale Device as a Service solution came to the rescue when that plan was abruptly changed by the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020. This happened just as Wesleyan was about to roll out devices to its workers, but Lenovo’s flexible and agile approach enabled the company to change direction very quickly. With Lenovo’s support, Wesleyan switched over to a device mix that favoured ThinkPad laptops instead of desktops and completed the roll-out by the beginning of 2021. 

‘We were not only trying to roll out the devices, but also suddenly trying to deliver a work-from-anywhere solution,’ says Thompson. ‘With the flexibility and support of Lenovo, we were able to adapt very quickly to the changing circumstances. It was particularly impressive at a time where Lenovo was presumably receiving the same sort of demand from many other organizations that they were able to recognize the working patterns of the new-era and ensure we were fully prepared not just now but for the future too.’

Working smarter

Switching to Lenovo’s TruScale Device as a Service model had multiple benefits for Wesleyan, making life easier for frontline staff working with customers, and saving time and money by helping to manage the entire lifecycle of devices. Having a ‘single point’ to manage the IT estate was a key advantage, Thompson explains. 

Lenovo’s TruScale Device as a Service solution helped Wesleyan increase productivity and employee uptime through predictive analytics and proactive device insights, all delivered via an AI-driven Everything as a Service model. This helped the company stay ahead of issues with devices and coupled with Lenovo’s Premier Support, which includes next business day engineer onsite attendance, ensured that advisers had the kit needed to deliver the best possible service for customers. The model adds predictability to managing product lifecycle and allowed Wesleyan to reduce IT staff time relating to management and deployment of devices, meaning the organization could focus on strategic priorities.

‘It helped us keep abreast of any repairs, changes and upgrades, and be notified well in advance,’ says Thompson. This was particularly important when it came to managing stock levels and delivering repairs with the right parts relatively quickly, he explains.  

‘It really put us into a different world when it came to delivering repairs in a short space of time,’ says Thompson. ‘It saved us a lot of effort because we were no longer going out to find parts and buy new kit. All of that was taken away and managed by Lenovo – that saved us a lot of money.’ 

‘For Wesleyan, the pandemic sparked a period of intense change and transformation. During this time, it was vital to ensure that their financial advisors had the tools they needed to deliver the right advice and products for customers, and that the business could leverage new platforms with a flexible approach to its suite of devices. Alongside addressing their immediate needs, we also worked with Wesleyan to help turn their longer-term IT transformation vision into reality and ensure the business was well set up for the future,’ says, Abdul Hakim, Executive Director, Digital Workplace Solutions at Lenovo.

‘Wesleyan’s front-line employees are now benefitting from a greatly improved user experience. They are equipped with the latest ThinkPad laptops they need to stay in touch with customers and offer the best service wherever they need to be, while Wesleyan has a single point of contact which simplifies everything from repairs to upgrades, as well as making it easier to repair or dispose of devices efficiently. 

A more sustainable approach

Founded by members of the Wesleyan Methodist church to help impoverished factory workers, and still a member-owned mutual fund today, Wesleyan’s ‘ethos of care’ is important to the company. This is reflected in an ambitious goal to be fully carbon neutral by 2050

Lenovo helped Wesleyan work towards its sustainability goals across the entire IT lifecycle with Lenovo Sustainability Services from improved asset management through to reliable and end-of-life disposal practices. These have helped reduce emissions and waste associated with its IT estate by extending the life of assets and collecting devices for repair or reuse in bulk to reduce road miles and minimize the number of transit requests. Where appropriate, devices would be rebuilt and reimaged, with early terminations engaging Lenovo’s Asset Recovery Service, where devices are disposed of, resold or recycled. Lenovo’s Asset Recovery Solution helps mitigate the environmental risks around end-of-life asset disposal: Lenovo is on track to meet its target of over 362 million kilos of IT products recycled and reused by the end of the financial year 2025/2026.

As a financial services organization, Wesleyan also needed the confidence that used hardware was being disposed of securely. Lenovo’s Asset Recovery service addresses this, whilst also helping the firm manage the regulatory aspects of data wiping.

Thompson says, ‘Previously, we were physically loading the kit onto lorries with recycling companies. Now we are confident that we are getting the greatest amount of value from our IT equipment because we know that Lenovo’s products are made, used then returned instead of being discarded and consigned to waste,’

’Working with Lenovo with its comprehensive suite of sustainability services has ensured our objectives have been meticulously addressed. The Lenovo team have helped us take a more joined up approach to our sustainability goals so that sustainability is embedded at every stage of the IT lifecycle,’ he added.

Looking forward

Working with Lenovo has enabled Wesleyan to move towards a more forward-looking and future-proofed approach to technology with more effective management of its IT estate. This is bringing the organization benefits in terms of increased flexibility, efficiency and cost management in comparison to its previous arrangement which relied on buying IT equipment on demand. With Lenovo TruScale DaaS, the organization has a more sustainable solution which means its financial advisors can focus on their core responsibilities, leaving all the stages of the IT lifecycle in the hands of the experts.

‘It’s given us breathing space to look at the direction of the organization, safe in the knowledge we are working with a trusted partner,’ says Thompson. ‘This project has been a major success and made our lives a lot easier.’

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