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People1st Scale IT Capabilities with Managed IT Service

People 1st is the sector skills council for hospitality, passenger transport, travel and tourism. As a government recognised, industry-focused body it supports the development of skills and training across 24 industries.

Together they contribute over £63 billion in GVA each year, and employ approximately 2.9 million people in more than 419,000 establishments.

Their aim is to engage with as many employers and employees as possible within each of these industries, making the case for skills and productivity. The organisation provides three key services; research, vocational learning and training.

Employing around 100 people across a number of locations in the UK, People 1st is both growing and changing on a significant scale. Taking on new services and partnering with other providers has created a constant need to change and adapt to grasp new opportunities.

IT provides a vital backbone to all the services that People 1st provides, enabling access to numerous applications to users across the UK.

IT Challenges

In 2011, with growth continuing at a pace, People 1st made a decision to bring in additional expertise to help develop the existing infrastructure and ensure it could continue to underpin the business growth. Connexion was engaged to provide a fully managed IT service and advice on IT strategy.

Connexion, through their usual approach of undertaking an initial audit, created a development plan which encompassed the existing network of 9 servers and end user PC’s. In addition, it covered areas such as backup and disaster recovery, software configurations, software licence compliance and infrastructure documentation.

The key challenge was finding a way to transition the infrastructure onto a platform that would enable a flexible approach to growth whilst improving the efficiency of use at the same time as retaining stability and dependability.

I could not fault anything that Connexion had done or any of their operational procedures. Robert Morley, People 1st

Customer Profile

  • Customer: People1st
  • Customer Size: 100
  • Country or Region: UK
  • Industry: Hospitality, passenger transport, travel and tourism
  • Partner: Connexion


Connexion deployed their Managed Service that provides the framework to introduce best practice, IT automation and a Virtual CIO Service to help advise and drive developments forward.

The changes that were suggested and implemented under this service were as follows:

Updating the core infrastructure

Over a period of 12 months all of the services provided on 9 old servers were migrated to a new scalable infrastructure using two virtual host servers. In addition, the backup and disaster recovery policies and procedures were improved to reduce recovery times in the event of disaster or failure.


The aim here was to standardise, and wherever possible, improve the user experience, to make the IT easier to manage and provide a flexible platform for growth. Standards were created for different departments so that processes, such as new starters and leavers, could be completed quickly and easily.

Complicated non-standard end user desktop configurations were replaced with standard thin client environments which enabled workers to log on from any point including remote and mobile working.

A standard service for mobile phones was introduced through the adoption of a Blackberry server and handsets which improved security, manageability and the user experience.

Software compliance

Connexion completed an audit of all the software in use on the network as well as the current software licensing and developed procedures to ensure that the business continued to be fully compliant as it grew.


Full documentation was produced on both the infrastructure configuration and the IT procedures for areas such as change management and support. This ensured that knowledge on the configuration could be shared and the infrastructure maintained as part of a standard dependable process.

Asset Management

All the IT assets were reviewed to ensure they were fit for purpose and an asset management procedure was introduced to track assets and provide improved information to the finance department.

Proactive Monitoring and Helpdesk

As part of the managed service Connexion set up a dedicated monitoring facility to ensure that any issues on critical functions were identified and resolved thus preventing any negative impact on productivity.


In March 2012 Robert Morley joined People 1st as Corporate Services Director, with a remit covering IT. He undertook an immediate evaluation of the IT Infrastructure together with Connexion and their services.

The Virtual CIO service that Connexion provides is both responsive to issues and proactive. Their support people don’t wait for problems to arise they are constantly monitoring and analysing systems performance to look for potential failure points. The effect of this service is that we have gone from three IT people to one, at the same time as having much better visibility of the operational health of our IT capability.


Having established an IT platform that would enable flexible growth Connexion are now helping People 1st to take on new business challenges. For example, the recent acquisition of two organisations has required the assimilation of their systems into the existing People 1st infrastructure. Connexion has been providing the advice and technical skill to enable this to happen.

Robert Morley concludes:

"IT is fundamental to our business. IT supports and underpins every element of what we do from Finance and CRM to email, office tools, information portals and websites; so we need it to be dependable and stable. However, we are also a rapidly growing and changing organisation so we also need IT to be flexible and capable of adapting to change.

Marrying these two elements of dependability and flexibility can often be a challenge but with Connexion’s help we are managing this successfully and providing an IT service that supports business growth."