Since 1947, Arbor Memorial Inc. has been serving hundreds of thousands of Canadian families. The Toronto-based funeral and cemetery business owns and operates 90 funeral homes and 41 cemeteries in communities in eight provinces of Canada. Many families rely on its pre-planning and funeral and cemetery services to help honour and celebrate the lives of their departed loved ones.
Most people probably don’t think of the role technology plays when planning funerals; however Robert Givens, Director of Technology Operations, Information Systems at Arbor Memorial, realizes its importance in running the business. Givens estimates more than 1,600 employees at the company’s funeral homes across the country and head office rely on desktops, laptops and tablets to complete tasks related to administration, sales, multimedia creation, business analytics, development, and more.
Every year, Arbor Memorial replaces a portion of its computers as part of a regular technology refresh cycle. Arbor Memorial had worked with technology solutions provider CDW Canada in the past and selected them for this project because of the scope of solutions and services they were able to provide.
“We consulted with CDW Canada to determine what would work best, and decided on a Zero Touch solution for our refresh,” said Givens. “With their help we also selected Lenovo ThinkCentre M93 desktops, Lenovo ThinkPad L440 notebooks and Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablets for use at the head office, cemeteries and funeral homes across the country.”
While the desktops and laptops are used for things like general administration and business analytics tasks, the tablets are used by our Cemetery Family Services Director’s when developing pre-plans at families’ homes and when delivering presentations at community events.
One of the advantages of implementing a Zero Touch solution from CDW Canada is that the entire process of migrating hardware and software for Arbor Memorial was completed by CDW Canada Services, so there was “zero touch” from Arbor Memorial’s IT team. CDW Canada managed the entire lifecycle. This included planning and configuring the devices, deploying them and finally, retiring the old hardware — at Arbor Memorial’s head office in Toronto, as well as at its regional funeral homes across the country. The roll out began in the spring of 2015 and was completed by November.
“We’re on a specific cycle for our refreshes and if we had to send our technicians to all of our branches, our budget would explode with travel,” Sheri Flood, Project Manager at Arbor Memorial, said. “Having CDW Canada Services assist us with that and get the right products and local technicians on site and on time was a huge benefit.”
Not having to worry about how to migrate data from old machines that were spread across the country, and how to configure the new devices so they’d work in each location was a huge help, Givens also noted.
“CDW Canada Services ensured every machine was imaged and configured properly, so by the time end-users received their computers, all they had to do was plug them in and they were ready to go,” Givens explained. “The roll out was very smooth and that created a better user experience because there were no disruptions to the business. They even coordinated the removal of our old hardware and wiped data, providing us with certification of destruction.”
Givens said working with CDW Canada technicians was seamless and helped to save time. In the past, they would have to remove old hardware and hard drives themselves and arrange for someone to take the old equipment away. They don’t have to do that anymore — resulting in both time and cost savings from an organization and management perspective.
“With CDW Canada technicians managing all aspects of the Zero Touch roll out, our IT department was free to focus on running operations and attending to business critical issues,” Givens said.
By Maxine Roy