To grow the business we had to move our instructors not only to the franchise model, but also to the cloud, as it was critical that they could access their scheduling calendar from anywhere.
Niall Prenty, Program Manager – Business Solutions, Irish School of Motoring
Dublin-based Irish School of Motoring (ISM), founded in 1961, is Ireland’s longest established and only nationwide driving school. ISM offers courses in various driving categories (car, bus, motorcycle, forklift, or commercial truck) and boasts a
90% overall pass rate—the highest of any driving school in the country.
ISM provides decades of experience, unparalleled local knowledge, and a huge range of resources to help learners succeed at passing their driver’s test the first time. The key differences in ISM’s approach are that the school
puts the learner right at the centre of their business, and has aligned its people, processes, and technology to ensure that learners’ needs are at the forefront of everything they do.
ISM, Ireland’s largest driving school, had been operating from a number of retail locations around Ireland, and employed all its driving instructors directly. Instructor schedules and learner bookings were managed from multiple locations using a paper-based
system that was both labor-intensive and error-prone. Instructors each maintained their own schedules with their own systems (often paper-based calendars or notebooks), making it difficult to track last-minute changes, leading to errors and missed appointments.
||Because of the Office 365 ‘pay as you go’ model, there’s no major capital acquisition, there are no servers, and we get the uptime, support and security that comes with a Microsoft infrastructure investment.
| Niall Prenty
Program Manager – Business Solutions
Irish School of Motoring
The company’s goal was to go fully nationwide but realized that its business model and systems would not support their growth strategy. A key challenge for ISM was that their instructors, who teach driving every day, are by their very nature the epitome of
mobile workers. ISM realized that by implementing a centralised, cloud-based approach to bookings and scheduling, it could improve customer service and employee satisfaction, decrease costs, and increase revenue.
To accomplish this, the company decided to set up a National Client Care Center and change its business structure to an Instructor Franchise model. A key supporting element of this approach was the development of a proprietary booking system based on Microsoft
cloud and Exchange mobile technology, providing instructors and pupils with up-to-the-minute schedule information and alerts on their smartphones, tablets and home pcs. Future plans include launching Ireland’s first online booking engine for driving lessons,
which will make it even easier for a learner to find an ISM instructor in their area, allowing them to book and manage their own lessons.
Converting from decentralised, paper-based scheduling to a centralised, mobile, real-time solution was an ideal fit with Microsoft Office 365, an online service which unites familiar Microsoft Office applications with email, calendaring, collaboration, and
communication solutions. Through their IT partner Nostra Systems, ISM used Exchange 2007 for headquarters staff’s email, so it was a natural progression to move to an Exchange-based mobile platform to push calendars to instructors on their smart phones or
via computer if their phone is not available.
“To grow the business, we had to move our instructors not only to the franchise model, but also to the cloud, as it was critical that they could access their calendar from anywhere. Our solution simply had to deliver the pupil and the instructor to the pick
point at the right time, every time,” remarked Niall Prenty, Program Manager for ISM.
With the new system, a pupil can call the national Client Care Center and request lessons; the system then assigns a pupil to an instructor based on location and availability. Both student and instructor receive email confirmations, with the pupil also getting
an SMS; the instructor’s time is booked, and the instructor receives calendar reminders. Soon, ISM will add the capability for students to book lessons and manage schedules online. The business can now focus on adding value to a booking, be it via a free flight
or discounted insurance with ISM’s partner Liberty Insurance.
ISM built the system to their own requirements with Nostra Systems. “With instructors constantly on the move, we didn’t want to build an expensive front end; integrating with Office 365 gave the instructors a familiar and easy to use calendar, with up-to-the-minute
visibility through their smartphone. We now have more than 100 very mobile instructors looking at the same calendar as our call center, eliminating double bookings,” comments Prenty.
||Our instructors appreciate the technology, security, and peace of mind they get from being able to access their schedule no matter where they are.
| Karl Walsh
Irish School of Motoring
The new offering has saved time, and reduced cost, allowing the business to grow in new ways.
Reduced Administration for Instructors, Increased Value for Students
Prenty estimates that the new solution saves 5 - 10 hours each week per instructor. “It’s not only saving them time in managing their schedule, but it’s also eliminated time dealing with unhappy customers due to missed or delayed lessons. They can now focus
on the core of the business – making sure their pupils get a good lesson and are confident going into their test,” he comments.
Reduce Overall IT Expenditures
Managing the new system requires very little overhead and has reduced risk for ISM. Prenty notes, “We can realign our strategy and budget to focus on value-added activities for the business. Because of the Office 365 ‘pay as you go’ model, there’s no major
capital acquisition, there are no servers, and we get the uptime, support and security that comes with a Microsoft infrastructure investment.”
Ability to Grow the Business
With real-time, mobile scheduling, ISM has saved money for reinvestment into other areas of the business. ISM has also grown to more than 100 franchisees. “We have enhanced our competitive edge by offering instructors an innovative technological solution
to managing their business, critical in attracting and retaining franchisees. Our instructors appreciate the technology, security, and peace of mind they get from being able to access their schedule no matter where they are,” said Karl Walsh, Managing Director
By building a low cost, robust, and scalable solution, Prenty believes that the future is very bright for the Irish School of Motoring. “We initially focused on pupil and instructor needs, and by building our solution around those needs, we now have an offering
that will fit into other driving schools. There is opportunity for us to not only attract more Irish customers to ISM, but to provide a 'Software as a Service' offering in partnership with Microsoft to other driver schools worldwide.”
Microsoft Office 365
Microsoft Office 365 brings together cloud versions of our most trusted communications and collaboration products—Microsoft SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and Lync Online—with the latest version of our Office desktop suite and companion web applications
for businesses of all sizes.
Office 365 helps save time and money, and it frees up valued resources. Simple to use and easy to administer, it is financially backed by a service level agreement guaranteeing 99 percent reliability. Office 365 features robust security, IT-level phone support,
geo-redundancy, disaster recovery, and the business-class privacy controls and standards that you expect from a world-class service provider.
For more information about Microsoft Office 365, go to:
For more information about Nostra Systems products and services, visit the website at:
For more information about Irish School of Motoring products and services, visit the website at:
This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.