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Bespoke outsourced IT gives Cumbrian property and land services group - PFK, peace of mind




Penrith Farmers and Kidd’s PLC (PFK) offers a full range of property and land services including residential sales, lettings and management, commercial estate agency, survey and valuation, land agency, planning advice, antique auctions and property development. 


With a head office in Penrith and seven linked estate agency branches across the county in addition to a London office to support international clients, PFK is one of the largest property and land service groups in Cumbria.


PFK was suffering from a lack of investment in IT systems and the infrastructure was fragmented, email and Internet were slow and unpredictable; the servers were at breaking point and all offices were operating independently of each other. Simple day to day tasks were cumbersome, slow and frustrating for the PFK workforce and a more unified streamlined approach was required.


When Stephen Lancaster joined as Managing Director in 2015 he commissioned a complete review of IT systems and support within the business. No longer seen as an expense, IT was now viewed as a business-critical investment that would bring efficiencies and allow PFK to grow and expand across Cumbria. 


Stephen explains, “We were rapidly running out of capacity and email wasn’t working. Our systems were slow and unreliable and we were continually firefighting problems but not improving the situation. When 70 people can’t log on to their email quickly and easily on a morning then you have a real problem. In addition, our disaster recovery plans were minimal and we were relying on back-up tapes at head office to recover data if our systems failed.”


Conformedia created a 5-year development plan which is being rolled out across the business to future proof the IT systems and support the growing business. The changes provide an on premise robust and reliable IT Solution ensuring that employees can work efficiently from any office. The plan includes comprehensive disaster recovery measures to guarantee business as usual when faced with unforeseen incidents. 


IT systems have been upgraded and standardised across all sites allowing the business to be more streamlined and coherent in its approach and IT administration centralised to further enhance productivity. Email has been centralised and the PFK brand is consistently represented in company communications. When a new office comes on board the IT systems are replicated and the office is integrated effortlessly within the business. 


Speed of connectivity has been a game changer for PFK. Conformedia took advantage of dedicated microwave links between the two main offices in Penrith and fibre broadband at the remote offices to provide a single unified network for a more streamlined approach. Servers have been upgraded and virtualised to provide a better Return on Investment (ROI) whilst at the same time providing a more robust Backup and Disaster Recovery (DR) solution ensuring that PFK has fully automated backups including offsite replicas of all servers and data. In the event of either office becoming inaccessible, for example due to flood or fire, then the sister office can immediately support all staff who can work seamlessly on the network from the other office.


Despite these major changes being made there has been no disruption to the business throughout implementation. 


Conformedia has essentially become PFK’s IT department providing a one-stop-shop for all IT services. All IT planning and development work is tailored to PFK’s specific business needs and around the clock support, by phone and remote access makes sure problems at any PFK site can be dealt with quickly and efficiently.


Standardisation ensures that relevant up-to-date security measures are always in place and best practice is adhered to and replicated across all sites. PFK has robust IT systems including disaster recovery structures and processes in place and expert help and advice on hand to support the growing business. 


Stephen summarises “Trusting your IT provider is crucial. Conformedia are our IT team and we entrust our business IT operations to them. They know our entire system intimately and therefore resolve issues quickly. They bring excellent knowledge and expertise to our business allowing us to work at being the best property services group in the North West. Our limping IT has been replaced by an effective system allowing our network of offices to work as a cohesive team.”


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