The Woodlands Financial Group
The Woodlands Financial Group (TWFG) has been ranked #1 (in 2017) in Texas for privately-held, independent Insurance providers for personal lines (Auto, Home, Life, Flood, Renters, Umbrella, etc.) and #8 Nationally, with TWFG branches and independent agents operating in 32 states. TWFG serves more than 300,000 customers across the United States.
Business & Technology Challenge
The Woodlands Financial Group faced IT challenges that required attention to keep the organization ahead of the technology curve. They needed to move their critical business applications to the cloud. The company’s previous system wasn’t web-enabled, so their agents couldn’t use it on tablets or phones. Woodlands needed a proven technology partner that could quickly provide a solution to satisfy their needs immediately and for the future.
The Woodlands Financial Group (TWFG) is an “innovator” in creating new ways to serve their customers with the exact coverage they need without them ever having to pay a penny more than required. To stay aligned with that purpose, TWFG needed an “innovative” solution to address its IT challenges. “One of our biggest challenges is that we had an application that was not web-enabled,” says TWFG’s Chairman, President, and CEO, Gordy Bunch. That presented a huge problem for the company’s agents who were trying to do their jobs with the modern tools of the trade. “Since our old system was not web-enabled, our agents couldn’t use it on their tablets or phones, and it simply wasn’t going to be a go-forward solution for us,” says Katherine Nolan, the Chief Operating Officer at TWFG. That was a significant problem that needed to be addressed quickly because of their exponential growth. John Scully, the Vice President of IT & IS at The Woodlands Financial Group, says, “Our company exploded in growth over ten years. We started to realize pretty quickly that the application scalability was not going to be able to keep up with our business growth.” He adds, “We tried to come up with a solution ourselves, but we found out that the processes built into the core business application were not something we could replicate quickly to the web.” TWFG then partnered with an IT vendor who took them through a considerable conversion process for eight months, and it didn’t work out. The vendor couldn’t keep pace with the company’s growth and the transactions occurring daily. As a result, the user experience at TWFG suffered even more. That’s when TWFG decided to reach out to Microsoft to find a solution and an IT partner that could quickly move their critical business applications to the web.
The Woodlands turned to Coretek, who recommended and implemented Citrix on Azure using XenDesktop Essentials, to move their applications to the cloud. The solution makes it easy to move apps and virtual workstations to the cloud while accessing all of the benefits Azure offers, including only paying what the business consumes in the cloud and the ability to scale quickly and cost-effectively.
After assessing the situation, the right solution was quickly apparent, according to Richard Sedlak, a Cloud Practice Architect at Coretek. Sedlak says, “We recommended Citrix on Azure using XenApp Essentials to move their application to the cloud and improve the end-user experience.” “Azure was a tool that we had been looking at,” says Nolan. She says, “We just thought it was the best tool at the time that could help us get our platform where we needed to be pretty quick.” As a result, this entire project was executed very quickly in three phases.
Why Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops on Microsoft Azure?
Manage any infrastructure in one place
Shift from large-scale, one-off CapEx commitments to easier to manage OpEx expenditures
Alleviate infrastructure constraints and expedite Windows 10 Enterprise migration timelines
Enable mobility, BYOD, flexibility, and customer choice
Provide Global Access to mission-critical applications regardless of visualization and data requirements from around the globe without investing in global data center infrastructure
Pay only for what you use, quickly scaling during high-peak periods
Secure critical business information off the endpoint
Leverage Microsoft’s 99.9% guaranteed availability
Power up a redundant infrastructure for immediate disaster recovery
Rely on a growing network of Microsoft-managed datacenters, supported by Microsoft’s $15 billion (USD) infrastructure investment in Azure
The results of this project are being called “an overwhelming success.” Scully says, “We had a timeline of about four months to find a production solution for this application. We ended up with a proof of concept in our hands within about three weeks! We turned that around to our users to get some feedback, and we anticipated that would take about a month. But, literally, within three days, our users were screaming, you’ve got to put this into production!” Scully adds, “Everything was faster, they were able to get more work done, they were able to deliver the entire solution on an iPad, and that was fantastic! We ended up scaling up the environment and releasing it another month later, and ever since then, it’s been an overwhelming success. Nolan says, “As a result of the implementation, we’re way better. We’re actually in the new millennium. Not only do we have the product on the web, but we’ve been enhancing it. We’re way ahead of the game now.” Nolan adds, “One of the big benefits (of the technology) we see is that if we can leverage it, we can cut expenses and continue to grow without adding people or more overhead, and we know that the revenue line may not grow, but we know that we can continue to whittle away with good technology and get more done with the same amount of people so we’re excited about that.”