Coventry win UK City of Culture for 2021

Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you should know that Coventry was awarded the title UK City of Culture 2021, taking over from Hull who were awarded the accolade in 2017.  The award is made every four years and was a huge success for Hull boosting the economy by an estimated £60m.  Coventry beat off stiff competition from Swansea, Paisley, Stoke-on-Trent and Sunderland who were all in the running for the prestigious award.

| Business Objectives

From the onset David Caldwell, Coventry’s City of Culture Trust’s Financial Director was after a provider that could supply and support an IT system, telephone system and all of their printing requirements over the next 5 years.
This was a unique opportunity for Leap IT and something we were keen to get involved with. Most business work to a 3-year plan for their IT systems which is then reviewed and altered accordingly. However, in this instance the time frames were very clearly laid out with a start and a finish point. This clarity made the planning and design of the IT systems simpler as we knew when and how the organisation would grow over the next 5 years.


Coventry City of Culture needed an IT system that was available inside and outside of their offices.  Office based staff would also vary day to day so it was vital the system could handle users working at different desks and also from different devices.
The telephone system also need to be flexible, expandable and accessible away from the office.

Our Solution

Dell Laptops and Microsoft Surface Pro tablets were the natural choice for the users with a universal docking solution at every desk. The docking solution provided power to the laptops as well as dual screen monitors at each desk whilst the 14″ Dell laptops were light and portable for the users when outside of the office.  Coventry City of Culture Trust were already using Office 365 for their email and Leap IT were able to take over their existing subscription and add new licenses as and when required.

From the start it was clear that an all-out Cloud based IT system wasnt the best solution, in part due to the fact Coventry City of Culture Trust already had Gigabytes of large photoshop files that were being worked on.  However, an on-premise solution also wasn’t ideal due to the fact users needed access to the systems whilst away from the office.  For this reason, we proposed a Hybrid Cloud solution with certain services running in their offices and others hosted on the cloud with Office 365.

“Leap IT proposed a Hybrid Cloud solution with certain services running in their offices and others hosted on the cloud with Office 365”

The large photoshop files and documents were moved onto a Windows Server alongside a new folder structure that was also setup.  Permissions were applied to each folder to ensure system integrity was maintained.  Email was moved to the cloud with Microsoft Office 365 and we also purchased Office licenses (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook) via Microsoft Office 365 so all users were now on the same version of Office.  Financial and accounting requirements were moved onto the cloud using Xero Accounting Software and finally a WatchGuard firewall was installed to provide real-time virus protection and VPN access for remote users.

Leap IT are accredited Microsoft CSP providers which enables us to provision new Office 365 licenses in minutes. This was particularly useful for Coventry City of Culture Trust considering the number of new starters that will need provisioning over the coming months and years.

Being a registered charity, the Trust also benefited from NFP (not for profit) Office 365 licensing, giving each user a full copy of office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook) on their laptop as well as a fully hosted mailbox for just £2.30 per user per month.

As part of our proposal we utilised SharePoint Teamsites in Office 365 which allowed users to share and collaborate on files with people outside of the organisation, it also gave users access to their data regardless of their location.  Microsoft Teams was used for Instant Messaging (IM) throughout the organisation which in turn reduced the amount of email traffic for internal communications.  Office 365 also comes with military grade encryption at source which is fully GDPR compliant.

UniFi wireless access points were installed throughout the office with both guest and staff Wi-Fi networks setup. We also installed our monitoring and antivirus software on every single device enabling us to keep everything up to date with all the latest Microsoft Windows Updates.

“The VoIP telephone system comes with a mobile app that allows users to turn their mobile phone into their office extension”

Lastly, we installed our cloud hosted VoIP telephone system which is completely scalable in terms of the number of incoming lines and number of extensions.  It was also compatible with the existing Yealink telephones already in use although the majority of users actually went for SoftPhone’s and headset’s directly into their Laptops. The VoIP system also came with a mobile app that allows users to turn their mobile phone into their office extension which works great for those remote workers.

The Outcome

The proposal we put forward was chosen by Coventry City of Culture Trust and Leap IT were awarded the contract in the Summer of 2018.  We started the process of replacing existing users’ laptops with lightweight portable Dell laptops alongside USB headsets for accessing our VoIP Phone system. Each desk was also upgraded to include a Dell docking solution to enable users to work from any desk space. Dual monitor screens were rolled out to each user which is much more efficient for users to use. Our VoIP Phone system allowed the Trust to stay in touch with staff regardless of their locations as well as benefiting from free calls. The system was much more reliable with fewer problems and remote users could now gain access to their data which was previously very hit and miss.

“The system was much more reliable and remote users could now access their data which previously was very hit and miss ”

Our wrap around support service is also going well with the Trust’s users connecting to a team of experienced professionals whenever they need help.  We are now looking at supplying multi-function copiers through our partnership with SHARP that will produce a lot of the marketing content and literature required over the next 5 years.  We are also excited to announce that Leap IT have joined the Coventry 2021 Club through which businesses in the region come together in support of Coventry City of Culture 2021.