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.



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:

Day 3 of Qonnections and there’s no slowing down yet!

We’ve crammed in as many sessions as we could and have picked out some of the key messages from today to share with you. We are proud to be a part of this global data revolution.

Corporate Social Responsibility

We had our eyes truly opened to the possibilities of using our skills for good. Jake Porway, Founder of DataKind gave a fantastic session this morning. Jake works with a network of volunteers to use big data to tackle social problems. His organisation connects skilled data professionals, community representatives and other stakeholders to help charities and NGOs benefit from the power of analytics. They are literally saving and improving lives by harnessing the power of Qlik! We were inspired by Jake’s work and plan to volunteer some of Vanilla’s skills to support his amazing initiative.

An example of where DataKind’s work is doing good can be found here, where BI is being used to forecast and plan water demand in California when every drop counts. Click here to read more.

On a lighter note, we were both stunned and amused by The LA Swimmer- 43123 Pools I have not visited and never will. Take a look by clicking here.

United Nations Data Revolution

Qlik and the United Nations have partnered to bring the power of data analytics to humanitarian missions around the world. Problems in one country reverberate in another, Qlik and the UN are working collaboratively across sectors and industries to address how to realise new approaches to finance, investment, trade and technology. Leverage joint resources they are uncovering solutions. We found it exciting to see the vision for not just how data can be leveraged but for how they can make that date available to citizens across the world for their own understanding and to make a global impact, for good.


We attended a fascinating session on the Qlik GeoAnalytics platform which drew an important distinction between merely mapping data and instead, applying calculations and rules to allow critical business decisions to be made using geospatial input.  We would love to work with our customers to provide solutions for their business challenges using this power technology.

Augmented Intelligence

Finally, a glimpse of the future!  A highlight of the day was being given a preview of the prototype Qlik Conversational Bot.  This is really a test-bed for a host of new natural language and augmented intelligence features that Qlik are working on.  Using a text messaging interface, we could see the Bot understand business questions posed in human language and provide amazing answers, updates and analytics.  It was also able to remember the context of its ‘conversations’ and even interact with several users in a multi-way chat.  We were stunned and very slightly afraid!

One more day to go, get in touch for more info!

The latest version of Qlik Sense, Cloud focus and an App with groundbreaking Offline capabilities!

We’re just 48 hours into Qonnections 2017 and we’re already blown away by the latest developments, new offerings and partnership program for Vanilla Solutions. Here are some of the highlights so far!

The latest version of Qlik Sense

Anthony Deighton walked us through the updates to Qlik Sense. Available for deployment in June, the platform is set to run seamlessly both in the cloud and on-premise. Offering connectivity to hundreds of data sources, including enterprise, web and big data sources. In many cases, complex scripting is no longer needed as the platform comes with a host of new data transformation tools built directly into the Qlik Analytic Platform.

Hybrid Cloud Analytics 

The team at Qlik set out their roadmap to seamlessly connect on-premise deployments of Qlik Sense Enterprise, with cloud-based services, creating an environment for supporting customers’ evolving needs and choices. To achieve this, Qlik is making investments in its core infrastructure to support the customers’ ability to choose where the data resides, where the analysis happens, and where and with what device users want to access it.  Businesses are no longer confined to an either/or choice regarding on-premise or Cloud BI; they can have both at the same time!

Qlik Sense Mobile

Qlik is also rolling out Qlik Sense Mobile, a new, native iOS app. It harnesses the full power of Associative Different even when offline, with the Qlik Indexing Engine (QIX) running locally. Qlik Sense mobile will complement our portfolio of truly mobile and offline-enabled business applications, including Novacura Flow. This is a game changer, a full version of Sense quite literally at your fingertips even when you have no connectivity!

Big Data Capabilities

Qlik’s big data capabilities have been enhanced to include On Demand App Generation templates built directly into Qlik Sense, enabling users to navigate big data sources using associative search to discover areas for detailed analysis. On Demand App Generation empowers the user to automatically generate a purpose-built analysis app every time they select a slice of a very large data source. Now, self-service users can get up and running with big data easier and faster.

Advanced Analytics Integration, GeoAnalytics.

New advanced predictive analytics integration capability allows for direct data exchange between the QIX engine and third-party calculation engines. Qlik has released integrations using this interface for R and Python. This allows for advanced calculations from external tools to be visualised within Qlik Sense, in real-time as the user explores. With this capability, users can combine the power of Qlik’s Associative Model with advanced analytics to better support use cases such as fraud detection, sales forecasting, and inventory management.

Get in touch with Andy to find out more!

Novacura Flow 6 Release

Vanilla Solutions are excited to announce the release of the next major version of Novacura Flow.  Flow 6 brings a host of new functionality to the already flexible and powerful mobility, workflow and process execution platform.  Foremost among these is the ability to design and publish multi-user workflows, allowing seamless and efficient transactional collaboration.  The powerful new Flow Studio allows you to design your own workflows and mobile applications even more easily than ever.  Why have a software company build a mobile application to suit your business processes, when you can just do it for yourself!

Key features and improvements to Novacura Flow 6 include:

Flow Studio: The new user interface is much more than a facelift. It brings a new level of simplicity and user-friendliness to designing, validating, reviewing and managing workflows. The UI makes it easier than ever for non-developers to achieve insight in processes and try out ideas.

Swimlanes: Multi-user support for constructing and managing applications, with different tasks easily assigned to the right stakeholder.

New workflow options: Support different use cases, including enabling publishing fully automated workflows as a structured web service, or reusing common workflow parts easily.

Sub-workflows: Enable users to create smarter applications in shorter time. Features have been specifically designed from customer feedback requesting shortcuts for common tasks, such as creating pick-lists, or reporting.

Offline capabilities: Enhanced autonomy of the platform to ensure full functionality and access when working without an internet connection.

Performance: the new design provides significant improvements in access and response time, further enhancing user-friendliness.

Flow 6 is available to all of our existing Flow customers and we’d be delighted to demonstrate it to anyone who doesn’t yet have a mobility solution, or is stuck with a rigid ‘fixed code’ solution.  If you’d like to know more about Flow, please get in touch!

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

ALE makes Qlik Sense their Global BI Solution

Vanilla Solutions are pleased to announce that ALE, one of the world’s leading international heavy transport and lifting contractors, have selected Qlik Sense as their Global BI solution.


“With the help of Vanilla Solutions, we evaluated both QlikView and Qlik Sense to ensure we selected the correct product to meet our reporting requirements in the medium to long term.  Vanilla replicated some of our reports in both products and we took the decision to deploy Qlik Sense into the business.  Once implemented, we very quickly we were able to migrate our customer survey reporting from Excel to Qlik Sense.  This is now live, analysing our customer satisfaction survey results and providing us with a quicker and greater insight into customer feedback”- Jeremy Fothergill, Global Business Systems Manager for ALE

Qlik Sense is a next-generation visual analytics platform that empowers everyone to see the whole story that lives within their data. It supports a full spectrum of BI use cases, including self-service visualisation, guided analytics apps and dashboards, embedded analytics, and reporting, all within a governed framework that offers enterprise scalability and trust for IT. Qlik Sense is built on the QIX Associative Data Indexing engine, the second generation of Qlik’s proven and patented engine technology. Qlik’s Associative Model allows the business to probe all the possible associations that exist in their data, across all their data sources, to see the whole story instead of just the partial views offered by query-based or hierarchical tools. Qlik Sense takes analytics to a new level of power and flexibility, so that everyone is more informed and capable of acting and reacting faster.

“We’ve really enjoyed working with ALE, initially providing two proof of concept applications and now developing the first of many Qlik Sense applications.  Our aim now is to help the ALE internal team upskill so that they can continue their development themselves and start to realise the power of the Qlik Sense.  This self-service ability is one of the key benefits of Qlik and one of the reasons we are partners, as we believe in empowering our customers to become self-sufficient users of their applications”- Jason Belcher, Director of Vanilla Solutions

Click here to find out more about Qlik Sense or contact us today

Babcock chooses NovaCura Flow as their business-wide mobile platform

Vanilla Solutions are pleased to announce that Babcock, the UK’s leading engineering support services organisation, have selected NovaCura Flow as their business-wide mobile solution for their Marine & Technology Division.

Flow will be used across Babcock’s Rosyth and Devonport sites to provide mobile work order management, manufacturing execution and logistics capabilities.  The choice of Flow will allow Babcock to create their own hardware-independent workflows and mobile applications using a simple drawing interface.  Internal testing of Flow on Babcock’s chosen hardware platforms is already nearing completion, with the intention of launching Flow to coincide with a major business applications upgrade planned for later in the year.

How can my business benefit from NovaCura Flow?

NovaCura Flow connects your people to your business systems. It is an innovative platform that acts as a layer on top of your existing business systems, allowing you to create your own mobile applications and workflows which will then run on both desktop and mobile devices without further configuration.  With NovaCura Flow you get one platform for all your business apps. Apps that are perfectly aligned with your business processes.

The NovaCura Flow concept is simple, powerful and can provide a very rapid return on investment. To find out more about Flow, visit our website today or contact Abigail today to schedule a demo or a trial.

Click here to find out more about NovaCura Flow


Abigail Ridgway

Head of Sales & Marketing