Rebel Sport gets IT fighting fit

In June 2010, Brendan McHugh joined Rebel Sport from Westpac, with a mandate to transform its IT to improve efficiency.
Written by Suzanne Tindal, Contributor

In June 2010, Brendan McHugh joined Rebel Sport from Westpac, with a mandate to transform its IT to improve efficiency.


Brendan McHugh
(Credit: Rebel Sport)

Since then, he's set down a three-year strategy, which the company is halfway through.

Part of the transformation has been a datacentre refresh, and a move to a Microsoft-centric environment, including implementing a new Microsoft data warehouse and business intelligence product, while ditching Lotus Notes for Microsoft Exchange/Outlook.

When he first arrived to take charge of the company's 11-strong IT team, four of which were handling the helpdesk along with their workload of operations and infrastructure delivery, McHugh wanted to get an overview of what sort of requests the helpdesk was getting, and ran into a "wow moment".

"I couldn't get reports. I was unable to get statistics," he said.

That was a real eye opener for him, so he began to look for service-desk tools. But while he was looking at those tools, he realised that there was so much more that could be done than just managing requests. Automation was a big part of the offerings.

He considered a group of providers, but ultimately called in Kaseya for negotiations. The deciding factors for him were the cost and complexity of integration. He also felt that Kaseya's roadmap was such that the alternatives were playing catch up because of the IT legacy that they were battling with. They were missing the "lighter implementation" that he could see coming from Kaseya.

In August 2010, McHugh had a business case for the implementation of Kaseya, but the rubber didn't really hit the road until February 2011, when the business finally acted on McHugh's plan.

McHugh, coming from Westpac, had a pedantic history with user-acceptance testing, which he applied to the implementation, which, in the end, lengthened the process of adoption.

"There was, between us, a slight underestimation of how long it would take to achieve those outcomes," McHugh said.

Rebel's ongoing implementation of Microsoft Active Directory was another cause of grief for McHugh, as it had not been designed to take into account the need to support Kaseya. The Kaseya team helped Rebel design the implementation so that it would work with the service-desk product, so that tickets from a particular location would be associated with that store location.

The fact that so many projects were going on at the same time complicated matters, and McHugh was grateful to Kaseya for being flexible and able to work around the other timetables. He had also appreciated that the support went all the way up to a senior level of management in what he called an "exceptional partnership".

The implementation was finally completed in September. Afterwards, there were some change-management issues, but the staff quickly got used to the new user interface.

"Kaseya service desk probably isn't as intuitive as some of the other products we saw, but when you use something, you get used to it," he said. "When I talk to the guys now, the user interface is absolutely no problem."

In terms of rolling out software, Kaseya saved an immense amount of time, according to McHugh. Previously, if he wanted to implement something, the four staff would spend every night for four weeks manually going to the three end points in each of the 130 stores to complete a roll-out. Not only was this time intensive, but it also had a high error rate, he said.

Even if he did the roll-out state by state, instead of on a national basis, it would now only need six nights to complete the same operation in an automated fashion. The company had already put the Microsoft patches in place for the last one and a half years on one night using Kaseya.

Another aspect that he liked was the ability to see the different programs that the company is using — for example, Windows 7, Windows XP and Windows 2003 — so that McHugh can then organise a migration to one of the products for consistency.

With staff bringing their own iPhones into the store (Rebel has a BlackBerry fleet) Kaseya has also been helping Rebel with the mobile device management required to enable a safe bring-your-own-device (BYO) policy.

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