Vanilla Solutions beats the Yorkshire 3 Peaks

Team Vanilla have raised more than £9,000 for a multiple sclerosis charity after completing a gruelling marathon walk.

Twenty five walkers from enterprise software specialists Vanilla Solutions took on the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge – a 24-mile hike that involves climbing the tallest mountains of Yorkshire, Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, in 12 hours. The total assent is more than 5,200ft.

“Most of us finished the Challenge, but it was tough,” explained organiser Paul Darwin, Head of Consulting at Vanilla Solutions, who have offices in Grimsby and Newcastle.

“We started at 6.30am in the morning and some of us finished just under ten hours later – although others were a bit quicker. There were numerous blisters, various bad knees and a lot of aching muscles, but the vast majority of us completed the challenge,” he added.

Paul chose the Multiple Sclerosis Society charity in memory of an aunt who suffered from the condition for 30 years.

“We had walkers from all over the country, Bristol to Newcastle and Scotland, Manchester to Hereford. It was a great effort and we even had two customers complete the walk with us,” Paul said. The walkers had a support team who stopped in two pre-arranged places on the route.

“It was good to see the support team just before the second peak and just before the last peak, and we all fuelled up with water and snack bars,” explained Paul.

“The weather was kind to us, although there was a bit of hail on Whernside, the second peak. The hardest part of the whole challenge was the last four miles. We’d completed Ingleborough and thought we were home and dry, but that last four miles to get to the finishing line just went on and on,” said Paul.

Vanilla Solutions matched the sum raised by the walkers and presented a cheque to the MS charity organisers.

Company director Jason Belcher said: “I was really proud of the team and it was great for us all to work toward such a worthwhile common goal. It was so satisfying to see so many people from across the business pull together and get to know one another better in quite trying circumstances.”

Vanilla Solutions have offices in Newcastle and Grimsby and is one of Europe’s leading providers of IFS applications-related services, offering consultancy, support and products to the wider ERP market.

Wolf Minerals chooses Vanilla Solutions for IFS support

Excellent response times, a huge knowledge base and a flexible way of working are just some of the reasons why one of the UK’s leading metal producers chose Vanilla Solutions for IFS support.

Wolf Minerals, based near Plymouth in Devon, have been working with the company for two years on an ‘on demand’ basis.

“The flexible nature of our working with Vanilla is important to us,” said Mike Wayda, from Wolf Minerals.

“We rely on Vanilla for help and support if and when we need it,” he added.

Wolf Minerals is an ASX and AIM listed specialty metals producer based at Drakelands, a major global tungsten mine ten kilometres from Plymouth.

The Drakelands Mine has one of the Western world’s largest tungsten and tin resources, and provides a secure supply of tungsten for a global customer base.

The tungsten produced by Wolf is critical to a range of industrial, mining and agricultural applications and key uses are in cemented carbides, steel alloys, metal products, lighting, drill bits and jewellery.

“Vanilla support us for all things IFS, specifically procurement, financials, HR and maintenance,” explained Mike.

“The support we have received from Vanilla has always been excellent. We always get quality, quick responses and solutions. Whatever problem we’ve faced, they get back to you rapidly, via a phone call, Skype or email.

“They’ve even been here on site to help us, and I know they’re going to be visiting here again soon – sometimes you need to do things face to face, in-person, and that’s not a problem with Vanilla.”

Mike had particular praise for Vanilla Solution’s Head of Support Claire Valentine: “We talk to a few people at Vanilla who’ve always been knowledgeable, helpful and really good to deal with, but Claire has been a huge help to me personally and the company,” he said.

“Vanilla know IFS inside out and the speed at which they work is impressive, but they’re also determined and tenacious and obviously communicate internally very well; they always know what someone else from the company has told us,” Mike added.

Another reason why Wolf Minerals continue to use Vanilla Solutions is that the support is UK-based: “That is a definite advantage – there are no issues about time zones, language or culture, it’s just easier,” Mike explained.

Various support options are available. As well as the on-demand service that Wolf uses, Vanilla Solutions offers a subscription-based option with a monthly fee.

“The customer can choose what works best for them. We aren’t precious and if a customer needs things to work a certain way, we’re always happy to accommodate them. Our excellent support analysts can also call on the expertise of our in-house consulting and technical teams if and when required,” explained Vanilla Solutions Director Andy Bell.

“Our services are set up to give customers a single point of contact for all functional and technical support issues with IFS Applications and the IFS Extended Server. Our Core Support service offers the essentials that you need to keep your business going for a low monthly fee. In addition, we have a range of Extended Support options,” he explained.

To talk to Vanilla Solutions about your options, call 0845 388 3936 or email info@vanillasolutions.com

The company was founded in 2009 by directors Jason Belcher and Andy Bell, both of whom had long careers working in IT, and with IFS Applications in particular.

Vanilla Solutions seeks to empower its customers, bringing knowledge, clarity and certainty to complex ERP and business change projects. Renowned for its jargon-free, no-nonsense approach, Vanilla has been successful in winning business in both the blue-chip and SME sectors.

Vanilla tastes success in Enterprise Software sector

ONE of the UK’s leading enterprise software specialists increased turnover by almost 50 per cent to announce record results for 2017.

Vanilla Solutions which specialises in IFS Applications consultancy and related technology platforms, reported that turnover increased by nearly 50 per cent in 2017 to £3.5m (£2.4m,2016) with the key drivers of growth being expansion in the construction, engineering and offshore markets.

The company saw UK sales increase by 66 per cent in the period and was pleased to report a 23 per cent uplift in sales in mainland Europe. Gross profit remained at the same level as 2016, and profit before tax was 34 per cent.

Jason Belcher, Director, said: “Vanilla Solutions has delivered outstanding financial results for the last seven years and continues to grow rapidly by providing our clients with knowledge, clarity and certainty to deliver their operational goals”

“We are delighted to report exceptionally strong growth figures in the UK and pleased that our business in Europe is now also accelerating. Our order book for 2018 is already starting out on the same trajectory and we are forecasting a modest growth as we consolidate our position with our chosen partners and within our key markets.”

2017 witnessed a number of key contract wins. Skanska, one of the world’s leading project development and construction groups, appointed Vanilla Solutions as systems integrator, for the rollout of IFS Applications. Vanilla will work alongside the Skanska team to deliver these solutions into the Highways Business throughout the UK.

EPS Water, an innovative provider of products and services to the water, wastewater and clean technology sectors, selected Vanilla Solutions’ Novacura Flow to improve processes and leverage mobile working.

Finally, ALE Heavylift, one of the largest heavy transportation and lifting contractors in the world, selected Vanilla Solutions’ market leading data analytics tool Qlik Sense to provide management information to all branch, regional and group teams across the globe.

Employee numbers rose by c. 30% during the period due to the recruitment of key management and professional posts. The company now employs nearly 30 full time staff and expects numbers to rise marginally in 2018 to support continued growth.

Jason added: “Recruitment was an important aspect of our business strategy in the last 12 months. We have continued to invest in high-tech talent, only recruiting people who are highly experienced and can deliver our trademark standards of performance, delivery and service.”

Vanilla is one of the leading providers of IFS Applications-related services in Europe and provides consultancy, support and products to the wider ERP market.

The company was founded in 2009 by directors Jason Belcher and Andy Bell, both of whom had long careers working in IT, and with IFS Applications in particular.

Vanilla seeks to empower its customers, bringing knowledge, clarity and certainty to complex ERP and business change projects. Renowned for its jargon-free, no-nonsense approach, Vanilla has been successful in winning business in both the blue-chip and SME sectors.

Clients include BAE Systems, Ultra Electronics, Babcock, Skanska UK & Largo Foods, and the company employs 27 people across the UK and their two offices.

Vanilla Charity Challenge 2018

A TEAM of IT experts have put on their walking boots to raise money for a multiple sclerosis charity.

Twenty five walkers from enterprise software specialists Vanilla Solutions have been in training for months in preparation for tackling the gruelling Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge. The challenge is a 24-mile hike that involves climbing the tallest mountains of Yorkshire – Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough – in 12 hours. The total assent is more than 5,200ft.

“Training has been tough, but we know the Three Peaks are going to be difficult to conquer, so very necessary,” explained organiser Paul Darwin, Head of Consulting at Vanilla Solutions.

“A number of us completed half of the route the weekend we were hit by Beast from the East Two, and had to contend with snow, ice and gale force winds. It’s fair to say it was a shock to the system,” he added.

It was Paul who chose the Multiple Sclerosis Society charity: “MS is an awful condition that affected my aunt over a 30-year period until she died in 2014. The company has very generously said it will double whatever we raise, so there is plenty of incentive for us to complete the challenge and raise as much money for the charity as we can,” he said.

The Vanilla Solutions team will take on the walk on Saturday, April 28.

“We still have a few weeks left of training and we also have a weekly staff steps competition which is proving popular,” Paul said.

Vanilla Solutions has offices in Newcastle and Grimsby and is one of Europe’s leading providers of IFS applications-related services, offering consultancy, support and products to the wider ERP market.

Clients include BAE, Babcock, Skanska and Largo Foods, and the company employs 27 people across the UK.

 

If you would like to sponsor the Vanilla Solutions team, go to www.justgiving.com/teams/vanilla3peaks .

Vanilla have the solution for SMD

Vanilla is playing a key role in the expansion of the world’ s largest independent manufacturer of specialist subsea vehicles.

Tyneside-based Soil Machine Dynamics Ltd (SMD) provide remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and specialist trenching systems to sectors such as oil, gas, offshore wind, defence and telecoms.

Headquartered in the UK, SMD design and manufacture from their facilities in Wallsend and North Shields, with a sales and support office in Singapore and more recently a new design and manufacturing facility near Shanghai, China.

When SMD needed Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software to help run the new plant, they turned to Vanilla Solutions, ERP and IFS specialists, who have a Technology and Support Centre (TaSC) based in Hoults Yard, Newcastle.

Paolo Zaino, IFS Support Manager at SMD, said: “Vanilla have been helping us to set up an IFS ERP system which is the software the Shanghai plant will use to run their operations. This has involved setting up a new database for the China office and migrating data from our UK database to our new one.

“SMD Shanghai will initially employ around 40 employees but we expect this to grow as the China market matures.

“We’ve been working with Vanilla on the SMD Shanghai project since the beginning of 2017, so approximately a year, but have worked with Vanilla in a number of different areas for three or four years,” said Paolo.

“They were chosen because they could provide the range of skills that SMD were looking for in a consultancy to complete this task. The SMD Shanghai Project required robust project management, good technical expertise and also a comprehensive functional knowledge in order to successfully complete the project. Vanilla Solutions were enthusiastic about being involved from the start,” he explained.

“Vanilla Solutions work closely with their customers as a team, providing the understanding and flexibility that is required on a complex project of this nature,” he added.

Claire Valentine, Support Manager at Vanilla Solution’s TaSC, said: “Three of us have been working with SMD on the project and it’s getting busier now we’re nearing the go live date.

“SMD needed a comprehensive ERP solution to support its business processes and simplify its manufacturing processes and we’ve moved the Shanghai operation on to IFS. What we’re implementing will be an over-reaching solution incorporating asset and project management, business analytics, finance and HR as well as contract, document and work order management.

“We also have about 30 million records to migrate from one database to another, and then we need to detach the new database from the source, so there will be no communications between the two.

“We’ve been working with SMD for a while and their expansion has been impressive,” Claire added.

SMD’s new 7200m² facility will bring additional resources and focus to the company’s East Asian expansion plans.

Vanilla Solutions has offices in Newcastle and Grimsby and is one of the leading providers of IFS applications-related services in Europe and provides consultancy, support and products to the wider ERP market.

The Newcastle office is also the hub for Vanilla’s R&D activities and such has been the demand for the TaSC’s services, Vanilla has doubled its workforce from three to six – and is looking to recruit yet more to its team.

Clients include BAE Systems, Skanska and Largo Foods, and the company employs 27 people across the UK and their two offices.

Vanilla helps Lynemouth Power ahead

WHEN one of the region’s power stations was in need of IT support they turned to one of the UK’s leading enterprise software specialists – Vanilla Solutions.

Lynemouth Power Ltd, based on the Northumberland coast, is currently undergoing a conversion project, from coal to biomass generation. The conversion is due to be completed and the new power station commissioned this year.

The project, which includes a new facility at Port of Tyne, has had IT implications for the company which runs Lynemouth Power Station.

The company’s two-man IT team had been depleted when Applications Analyst Chris Wharton left to join Vanilla Solutions.

Lynemouth Power had looked around for the right level of IT support and several companies produced quotes for the work – but they chose Vanilla Solutions.

Vanilla had provided Lynemouth with urgent IT support and the level of service provided and the depth of knowledge, particularly around Lynemouth’s IFS applications, were factors in Lynemouth’s decision.

Chris had been at the power company for nearly five years and was jointly responsible for running its IT operations. He maintained and configured the company’s IFS application which provided Lynemouth with its maintenance scheduling, finance, procurement and HR functionalities and also helped with the implementation of Microsoft Sharepoint 2013.

“We’d previously worked with Vanilla, and obviously we knew Chris, so we spoke to Vanilla Solutions about contracting the team for a set number of hours and an agreement was reached,” said Dean Huddleston, IT Infrastructure Analyst at Lynemouth Power.

Because of the conversion project, it is a particularly busy time for Lynemouth, now owned by Czech-based energy company Energetický a průmyslový holding (EPH).

“Our business now also involves a new site at Port of Tyne so it is vital we have the IT support we need and Vanilla Solutions were working with us again within six weeks of Chris leaving. The IFS application is important to the smooth running of the company, so we have to get it right and knowing the Vanilla team is helping and supporting us is reassuring. They’ve also been working on Sharepoint with us too.

“The Vanilla team has been great to work with – obviously very knowledgeable with a deep understanding of IFS and ERP solutions, but also very flexible, responsive and friendly. It’s been a huge help to us that they knew the business and the project,” added Dean.

 

About Lynemouth Power Ltd:

Lynemouth Power Ltd runs Lynemouth Power Station, a 420 Megawatt power station situated on the Northumberland coast.  The station has generated electricity from coal since 1972. The plant was originally built, owned and operated by Alcan with the purpose of providing safe and secure energy for the production of aluminium at the adjacent Lynemouth Smelter.

The station is currently undergoing conversion from coal burn generation to biomass. On completion, the new power station will be able to generate up to 420 megawatts of low carbon electricity.  The company employs 146 people.

 

About Us:

Established in 2009 Vanilla Solutions is a no-nonsense, customer friendly systems integrator and consulting company offering a broad range of training, support, and technical services to users of modern ERP (Enterprise Resources Planning) and BI (Business Intelligence) applications. They are specialists in IFS Applications and also partners and resellers of the Qlik product suite, Nicelabel label management and automation products and Novacura’s innovative ‘Flow’ mobility and process execution platform.

Wishing you a Vanilla Christmas!

WHAT A NIGHT!

Thanks to all who attended our annual Christmas party, which this year was held at the prestigious Thorpe Park Hotel in Leeds on Saturday, December 2.

“I was really grateful so many employees and their partners took the time and trouble to attend our annual dinner and I sincerely hope they had as good a time as I did,” said Jason Belcher.

“Everyone works so hard to make Vanilla Solutions the company it is, so it’s right that we take the opportunity every now and again to celebrate our success and thank people properly for their contributions. But Andy and I also recognise that the commitment of our loyal team can keep them away from home for long hours – so it’s equally important that partners can celebrate with us. Our party is a way of saying thank you to them too,” he added.

Mike Hollifield is presented with his award by Andy Bell (right)

Four Vanilla employees in particular enjoyed a great night, having won categories in the company’s inaugural Vanilla Awards.

Senior consultant Paul Darwin raised a loud cheer when it was announced he’d scooped the Road Warrior Award for most miles travelled during the year, while project manager Kieran Garry walked away with the Most Valuable Employee award for achieving the most billable hours.

The next two awards went to one person – technical consultant Mike Hollifield. Not only did Leeds-based Mike win the Employees’ Employee of the Year, as voted by employees, but he also won Employee of the Year as voted by management.

“Winning the double was a fantastic achievement by Mike and richly deserved,” said Jason.

Last, but certainly not least, was the Best Newcomer of the Year award, which went to Lloyd Briggs who works in Vanilla’s new TaSC in Newcastle. Lloyd, a support analyst at the TaSC, only joined the company in July, but has made a great first impression.

Jane Powell talking about Hands Around the World

As well as announcing the awards, Andy also announced a donation of £5,000 to the Hands Around the World charity. Jane Powell, partner of Vanilla consultant James Powell, gave an introduction to the charity and its work. Hands Around the World supports 2,500 vulnerable children in seven different countries; ensuring they are clothed and fed, have a home and are receiving an education.

“The company is doing well so it’s great to be able to support such a worthy cause, particularly at this time of year,” explained Jason.

“It was a great night, the right way to celebrate a good year for us and for the Vanilla family to come together as one – we’d certainly annexed the dance floor by the end of the evening,” he added.

Vanilla Solutions launches new Technology and Support Centre on Silicon Shore

Vanilla Solutions are pleased to announce the opening of the new Technology and Support Centre (TaSC) in Newcastle Upon Tyne.  The TaSC will provide dedicated support capabilities to users of IFS Applications ERP and Qlik BI software as well as being the hub for Vanilla’s R&D activities.

“Over the last decade or so, Newcastle has quietly become something of a technology powerhouse and we are delighted to have access to the deep pool of technical and consulting skills available in and around the city.  Vanilla already has a number of key staff and customers based nearby and so it made sense for us to locate here.  Newcastle offers an interesting range of well-situated commercial property and a spectrum of complimentary businesses with whom we can potentially collaborate.  We are delighted to be the new kids on Silicon Shore!” – Andy Bell, Director.

The city of Newcastle is rightly famous as a former industrial powerhouse.  George Stephenson’s Rocket famously hails from the city as does Turbinia, the world’s first steam-turbine powered ship. There was a vast coal mining industry in the surrounding areas and world-leading shipbuilding at the city’s docks. Newcastle experienced periods of difficulty as these traditional industries declined but since the millennium things have changed rapidly.  Newcastle is a now a shining example of successful adaptation to our modern service-driven economy.

Vanilla’s new centre in Newcastle builds on the proud tradition of innovation in the city and we look forward to providing world-class ERP support and developing innovative technology platforms here.

“Vanilla has grown rapidly over the past 2 years and our increased focus on providing simple, no-nonsense support to users of IFS Applications ERP and Qlik BI means that we now need a dedicated support centre.  We are delighted to be working closely with Claire Valentine, our new Support Manager to make the TaSC into a true centre of excellence.  I’m proud to also note that the TaSC is opening on Vanilla’s 8th birthday!” – Jason Belcher, Director.

Vanilla took great care in choosing the best location for the new TaSC Office, eventually selecting Hoults Yard on Walker Road. The location originally housed one of the most famous pottery factories in the world, Malings Pottery.  The new office space reflects the values and culture of Vanilla and the industries we work in. The goal was to create a productive, collaborative environment which inspires the Vanilla team. Walking around the area it’s clear to see the artistic and cultural influence, made prominent by the vast amount of street art, historical buildings and trendy bars and cafes.

Vanilla are currently supporting thousands of IFS Applications end users globally and while their main goal is to ensure that existing customers get the timely service and support they need, they also wish to extend a warm welcome to all companies seeking expert on-shore support services. Vanilla are equipped to guide companies through the complex process of implementation or developing their business applications and offer training, data management, consultancy and mobility solutions in addition to support and development.

For more information on the support packages available, contact us today.

Vanilla’s ‘geeks’ get down and dirty for a good cause!

A couple of weeks ago our very brave team took part in Tough Mudder and it certainly lived up to the name; very tough and very muddy.

Our wonderful colleague, developer Brandon Ellis-Cairns, took it on himself to ensure we all did something important and meaningful this year, something out of our comfort zone to raise some funds for a very worthy cause.

Brandon selected Help for Heroes. They support ex-service men and women with injuries and illnesses sustained while serving in the British Armed Forces. No matter when someone has served, they give them the support they need to lead active, independent and fulfilling lives. They provide support to the whole family to help them all cope with the challenges they face.

Motivated by Brandon (A.K.A Batman), our toughest consultants, developers and directors accepted the challenge of Tough Mudder. They all worked hard for months to train for the event, which was a gruelling and intensely muddy experience where they fell hard but laughed harder.

We’re delighted to announce that our team, with your help, raised £2286.38 for Help for Heroes and Vanilla have now doubled the donation, reaching a final donation of £4,572.76 for a very worthy cause!

We must thank the toughest members of Vanilla: Jason, Andy, Rachel, Brandon, Andrew, Paul T, Paul D, Mike, James and Kieran for putting the rest of us to shame!

Well done team!!

To find out more about Help for Heroes and how you can support them, please follow the link: http://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/

Skanska selects Vanilla Solutions as systems integrator for IFS Apps 9 Rollout

Vanilla Solutions is delighted to announce that it has been appointed by Skanska UK as systems integrator for the rollout of its IFS Applications 9 programme.  Skanska is one of the world’s leading project development and construction groups, with the UK operation one of the country’s top contractors.

Skanska selected IFS Applications 9 to form the core of the ‘SkanWorks’ works management solution for its highways business. The SkanWorks solution will allow Skanska to achieve a largely common operating model across its various contracts and relies heavily on IFS’s Service Contract and Work Order Management functionality, in addition to some bespoke functionality and interfaces to 3rd party applications.

As part of the engagement, Vanilla were invited to review the operating model supported by SkanWorks, with a view to helping to ensure that it was ready to be rolled out.  We have also been working with Skanska UK’s internal business applications support team to provide additional capacity, support and knowledge transfer.

Now that the preparatory steps of the project are complete, Vanilla will be working alongside Skanska employees to roll out the SkanWorks solution across multiple contracts.  We will be providing consultancy, training, development and support services directly to the programme, as well as assisting Skanska with change management and project management.

For find out more about how Vanilla can support your ERP rollout, contact Abigail today.

Abigail Ridgway

Head of Sales & Marketing

abigail.ridgway@vanillasolutions.com