28 October 2020

Simac wins large ICT contract at Emmaüs healthcare network

Over the next six years Simac ICT Belgium will be responsible for the maintenance and modernization of the network, security and collaboration infrastructure of the Emmaüs healthcare network. After 72 months, the new framework contract can be extended twice for another year and is worth more than 10 million euros.

From left to right: Wim Van Poel (ICT Architect, Emmaüs), Christophe Lonnoy (Business Development Manager, Simac), Conny Huysmans (CIO, Emmaüs), Johan Diels (Director, Simac)

Care and welfare network

Emmaüs is a care and welfare network with 24 facilities, ranging from childcare to hospitals such as AZ Sint-Maarten and AZ Sint-Jozef in the Province of Antwerp. Emmaüs focuses on high quality and expertise and works from a Christian inspiration with special attention for the most needy. Emmaüs has over 7,000 people working in its various facilities.

The healthcare sector is becoming increasingly digital

For the healthcare sector, ICT has become even more important in recent years. "The healthcare sector is becoming increasingly digital," says ICT Architect Wim Van Poel. "In the large hospitals, all technical and medical facilities count on a stable and high-performance network. "The demand for security is also increasing exponentially," adds ICT Security Manager Marc Rosseau. "Just think of the GDPR legislation in which patient privacy is important. And with the growing number of threats, we are noticing that the healthcare sector is no longer spared by cybercriminals either".

Proactive partner

To ensure the proper functioning of all network and security infrastructure, Emmaüs counts on a reliable partner. Simac won the new framework contract that Emmaüs put out to tender last year. "When awarding this contract, we obviously took a fair price into account," says CIO Conny Huysmans. "But above all we were looking for a partner who is proactive, thinks along with us and focuses the solutions on our situation. A partner who also uses a pragmatic approach and communicates well".

Content of the contract

The new six-year contract covers three different activities:

  • Full 24/7 operational support with active monitoring of critical components and incident response.
  • Project operation: preliminary study, implementation and design.
  • Purchase of equipment, software and advice on appropriate solutions.

Collaboration with partners

Simac scored well in all areas in the tender. Of course, the good relationship with the various partners, including Cisco and Fortinet, was of great importance, but so was Simac's capacity to support Emmaüs' dual-vendor strategy. 

"We were looking for a service provider that is able to question the various suppliers on every major innovation and weigh them up against competitors. That way we will continue to find the best solution for Emmaüs."

Conny Huysmans - CIO Emmaüs

Support in the Dutch language

The fact that the helpdesk is organized locally and the support is provided in Dutch also proved to be a key argument for Emmaüs. "We noticed that problems are solved faster if everyone speaks the same language," said Wim Van Poel. "And that doesn't only apply to ongoing projects. We are also more quickly on the same wavelength for new needs".

Constructive cooperation

Now that the contract has been running for some time, Emmaüs is delighted with its choice of Simac. "During the transition period of three months, the previous supplier and Simac worked together very constructively, and the transition on 31 March went flawlessly," says Dries Wellens, Head of ICT Infrastructure at Emmaüs. 

"A transition involves more than just technology and administrative processes. When you change suppliers, you also have to get to know each other and build a good relationship. Emmaüs is not a simple organization that you quickly understand. It takes a lot of creativity to come up with a tailored solution for both small facilities and large hospitals".

Dries Wellens - Head of ICT Infrastructure at Emmaüs

Open and transparant communication

DThe cooperation is now going very well. Simac's proactivity in tackling problems is particularly noticeable. "There is an official path to follow, but when something is urgent, we quickly get to the right people and Simac tackles things right," said Dries Wellens. "Simac also came up with improvement proposals during the transition period, which they immediately implemented. CIO Conny Huysmans is particularly charmed by the open and transparent communication. 

"Simac doesn't promise anything that they can't deliver. They are open and honest. We like our service provider to have an opinion and to express it. If you enter into a collaboration of six and perhaps eight years, that is particularly important".

Conny Huysmans - CIO Emmaüs

Long-term partnership

"We are very happy to work for Emmaüs," says Johan Diels, Director at Simac. "With such a large contract we can leverage all our strengths: our in-depth expertise on networking, security and collaboration, our good relationship with suppliers such as Fortinet and Cisco, our experience in monitoring and support and our personal approach that ensures a long-term partnership. ”

Partner in stead of supplier

Business development manager Christophe Lonnoy of Simac concurs: "In a competitive market with many challenges, we always want to excel. For me, the fact that Emmaüs, a healthcare institution with more than 7,000 people, has chosen us, is the ultimate proof that we are capable of so much. We owe this to the fact that there is a lot of competence here. But also because the entire team was included in the Emmaüs project at an early stage. That's when the stories come to life. That's when you create involvement. Emmaüs immediately saw us as a partner rather than a supplier. That's exactly what makes us so strong."