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Posted: 8/25/2011
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Catering2Order Catering Company Accelerates Growth with New Software and Server Technology

Catering2Order, a fast-growing contract catering firm, needed to manage its documents more effectively, give staff remote access to files and email, and help the business cope with future growth. Windows Small Business Specialist, The Final Step, helped Catering2Order deploy the software, including Windows Small Business Server 2011, Microsoft Office 2010, and Microsoft Security Essentials. Now the firm has a centralised document store in the form of a SharePoint intranet site, which integrates with familiar applications such as Word and Excel. It also has an advanced email server with full support for remote access.

Business Needs

Catering2Order is one of London’s leading multi award-winning contract catering companies. Dr. John Charles, the founder, has built the company up from zero revenue in 2007 to a £6 million order book in 2011. He has an impressive roster of clients, including the Cabinet Office and the 2012 Olympic Delivery Authority.

Although good for business, this rapid growth has presented some challenges. “One of the things we identified was that we needed a better way of organising our orders, bookings, and emails,” says Dr. Charles. Recognising this, he bought a server as a central place to store files and emails. Shortly after that he won a Barclays Trading Places award and part of the prize was support from Microsoft to get the server up and running.

Microsoft provided the software and worked with IT specialist The Final Step to realise the full potential of the server. Catering2Order wanted to use it to allow staff to work offsite or at home with full access to emails and files. Dr. Charles took the opportunity to upgrade the company’s PCs to use the latest Microsoft productivity software.


The Final Step worked with Catering2Order to make sure that the proposed solution delivered tangible advantages as well as a seamless upgrade. Guy Gregory, Technical Support Engineer at The Final Step, says: “We were able to deploy a system that was not only best practice from a technical perspective, but which also delivered real business value.” The solution consisted of several parts:

Windows Small Business Server 2011 (SBS 2011). This takes care of email, file sharing, and the firm’s intranet. It is a central filing cabinet and communications hub for the company.

* The new flexible working features are invaluable, but they haven’t made me too popular at home! It’s been fantastic. I used to be chained to the office but now I can check emails and respond very quickly wherever I am. *

Dr. John Charles, Founder

Remote web access. SBS 2011 lets users connect to the intranet, and access documents and the email system using nothing more than a web browser. (They can also use smartphones and regular PCs and laptops.)

Microsoft Security Essentials. The company installed free antivirus software from Microsoft on all of its PCs so that they had a consistent and high level of protection.

Microsoft Office 2010. The latest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook work hand-in-hand with SBS 2011. For example, users can save directly to the intranet document library and Outlook 2010 takes advantage of the new features in Exchange Server 2010, the email server component of SBS 2011.

Accessibility was an important factor in choosing the new software. Dr. Charles is blind, and many of his staff are blind, partially sighted, or have other disabilities. Microsoft software, and in particular Outlook Web App and the SharePoint intranet, are designed to be used with a screen reader and other accessibility features.


The new software, both on the server and on everyone’s PCs, has made Catering2Order more productive and efficient. It allows managers, including the owner, to work more flexibly and still stay in contact. For instance, “A client contacted us about a bid to ask for some extra information,” says Dr. Charles, “and although I was at home I was able to respond before the deadline and we still got the business.” This flexibility also extends to staff working on client sites—for example, in staff canteens or at events. It lets them order stock, download company forms, and stay up to date with news.

Putting all the company’s documents, files, and emails on a central server helps everyone. “Before we got the server, we had to hunt around on multiple PCs and check multiple versions to get the right document. It was a nightmare,” says Dr. Charles. Now, all the files are stored on the server’s SharePoint site and everyone has access to the most up-to-date files. In addition to direct access to the intranet, the new Office applications help the company’s staff get work done more efficiently with new features such as collaboration tools and the new Backstage view.

Thanks to these changes, the new software helped Catering2Order become much more productive. “It’s given us a 35 per cent efficiency increase,” says Dr. Charles. “That’s huge compared to the last system we had. Because everything is integrated and we have access to information, everyone is more productive. It’s changed how we communicate both internally and externally. Everything’s gone up a level.”

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Solution Overview

Organization Size: 20 employees

Organization Profile
Catering2Order, a multi award-winning contract catering company, offers a wide range of services, from catering facility management to event catering across London and beyond. They use excellence as a benchmark when working for a diverse clientele—from the 2012 Olympic Delivery Authority, and large construction firm Sir Robert McAlpine, to local businesses and organisations. It is a social enterprise and around 80 per cent of its staff come from a deprived background or have a disability

Software and Services
  • Windows Small Business Server 2011
  • Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010
  • Microsoft Security Essentials

Vertical Industries
Food Service

United Kingdom


The Final Step