• XMA Viglen Merger

Project Description

Two Tesseract systems become one as XMA takes over Viglen!

What happens when two IT giants using different versions of Tesseract’s service management software decide to merge? In 2015, IT solutions provider XMA found out by embarking on a major systems amalgamation with Alan Sugar’s company Viglen.

In late 2013, Alan Sugar, business veteran and star of hit BBC TV show The Apprentice, decided to sell major PC builder Viglen to XMA’s parent company, Westcoast Holdings. Westcoast took the decision to dissolve Viglen as a corporate entity but allow the Viglen brand to endure as part of XMA.

XMA uses Tesseract’s service management software to govern its print services division, namely the installation and maintenance of printers and photocopiers under tailored, all-inclusive printing and copying contracts. Viglen uses Tesseract’s software to manage the production of its PCs, as well as all warranty and maintenance contracts offered with them. At the time of the takeover, XMA and Viglen were using two different versions of Tesseract’s software, both of which were out of date.

A skill set overlap

As the two companies came together, XMA realised that it now had two customer service desks with a major skill set overlap. One was at the XMA head office in Nottingham. The other was at the former Viglen head office in St. Albans, which has remained the centre of operations for Viglen PC production and maintenance since the takeover. (Famously, it’s also where the BBC films the ‘walk of shame’ sequences on The Apprentice.)

“In terms of dealing with customer support requests, we found that our agents in Nottingham were using the same skills as our agents in St. Albans,” says Vaughan Tyas, IT Manager at XMA. “The problem was having two very different Tesseract systems to look at. We decided that we needed to rationalise this so that agents in both locations could take calls for printer maintenance and PC warranty and maintenance.”

This was the main reason why XMA saw fit to merge the two Tesseract systems and bring all the data for XMA and Viglen under one umbrella.

A step up from the old systems

As a result of the Tesseract merge, XMA still has two service desks across two sites, but they share a unified service management software system. Each site now uses a single toolset to record calls, diarise and dispatch engineers, dramatically improving efficiency.

Furthermore, XMA was able to upgrade to the latest version of Tesseract’s Service Centre, SC5.1. Previously it was using SC5, while Viglen was using the much older SC4.2. The upgrade to SC5.1 has brought a range of improvements, including enhanced task automation and a new user interface with simpler navigation. Unlike previous versions, SC5.1 is also completely browser-independent, allowing users to run the software on any browser on any device.
Still, the biggest benefit for XMA is the Advanced Program Interface (API) that comes with SC5.1. Previously, Viglen was relying on a variety of bespoke mechanisms to allow Tesseract to communicate with other Viglen systems and pieces of software. These mechanisms were created by Viglen using old, inflexible technology and could not be developed or evolved. This restricted the company’s ability to upgrade its service management software and was largely the reason why Viglen was still using SC4.2- originally released in 2001 – at the time of the takeover.

These outmoded systems integrations have now been removed and replaced by the flexible, Tesseract-supported API that is built into SC5.1, which means all the integrations are maintained in-house by Tesseract.

“The new API is so much more versatile than the bespoke integrations we had before,” says Vaughan Tyas. “It means we’re no longer in a cul de sac if we need to upgrade again.”

What were the challenges?

The biggest challenge XMA faced when embarking on the Tesseract merge and upgrade was dealing with the data from the two systems. In particular, each system had different serialised product and service codes for the same actions. These codes needed to be the same in order for XMA to use SC5.1 as one unified system.

“Tesseract was able to implement a data translation algorithm to synchronise the codes and bring the two systems in line with one another.”
Vaughan Tyas, XMA

How have things improved?

Now that the systems merge and upgrade is complete, XMA has seen a substantial rise in operational efficiency and productivity. Staff are no longer working two systems, dramatically cutting back on time and manpower, and the company doesn’t need to over-resource to make sure it has agents who know how to use each system. In addition, SC5.1’s new and improved functionality has made a number of the company’s processes quicker and easier.

“The other good thing is that for our agents, it’s just business as usual,” says Vaughan Tyas. “The implementation was smooth and the training was easy, because they were all so familiar with the previous Tesseract systems – and SC5.1 is even more user-friendly than those were.”

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