Order of Operations: Moving and Upgrading the Local 562 Union Network

“It was meant to be.”

This is how Megan Branham, Executive Assistant at Plumbers & Pipefitters Local Union 562, describes the Union’s partnership with Anderson Technologies. The organization was in the process of planning a company-wide move to upgraded facilities and wanted to upgrade their IT at the same time.

Local 562 is split into two distinct halves: Union and Welfare Educational Fund (WEF). Branham’s focus was on the Union side of the organization, but the technology on the WEF side needed to improve as well. The two halves work hand-in-hand, so upgrading technology on both sides was a must. And since Local 562 is growing, they needed more than the one-man IT team that previously managed its systems.

“I knew from the beginning it was an enormous job,” Branham says. “We needed something different, and we needed someone to understand the situation they were walking into.”

Finding the Right Fit

An organization as large as Local 562 requires substantial deliberation when choosing a new vendor to partner with. They gathered quotes from many different managed services providers before making a decision. Many IT vendors had been recommended to various high-level employees, and narrowing down candidates wasn’t an easy process.

Branham knew from her experience troubleshooting Local 562’s day-to-day IT problems that they were looking for a partner that could tackle both the network overhaul required by the move and the everyday “What is XYZ?” questions.

One of the biggest factors was how the new IT vendor would mesh with her team. “You could say we have a lot of strong personalities,” Branham says with a laugh. Many organizations, both large and small, encounter resistance to change at some level; Local 562 was no different.

“From the time we met Mark [Anderson], he was just very calm,” she recalls. “He really understood where I was coming from.” Not all vendors Branham considered had the same presence of mind. “I didn’t get that same feeling from the other companies,” she says. “It felt more like they would have come in, done things the way they thought it should be done, and we’d have to figure it out from there. This is a big deal when you’ve got so many people who are used to doing everything a certain way.”

Anderson Technologies focuses on making its clients an active part of the planning and implementation process, especially during a project when a new partner could easily take control from Local 562’s employees. “Mark [Anderson] also knew that it was important that we were an intricate part of designing how it was going to be, not to change everything we already had,” Branham says. “I felt like every single one of the staff at Anderson [Technologies] was very responsive to that.”

I felt like every single one of the staff at Anderson [Technologies]
was very responsive.”

Managing Expectations

Once the partnership with Anderson Technologies was approved, planning for the move could proceed. The opportunity to take a fresh look at Local 562’s current technological status couldn’t be missed. Anderson Technologies and Local 562 together examined what could be improved – or completely restructured.
“I knew our security was not up to par,” Branham says. With emerging cyber security threats came the importance of an outside team to monitor Local 562’s safety. “I felt it was important to have that third party doing all that for us too; not that it’s all them, but they’re helping us find the right ways to do things.”

A study of Local 562’s dynamics helped Anderson Technologies determine the organization’s greatest needs, even when they were difficult to quantify. While each half of the Union performs some functions in conjunction, separate responsibilities needed to be divided. Branham describes it as “spreading everything apart but still making it easy to work together.” Previous IT solutions had muddled that line. Local 562’s sole business manager delegates operations to directors in the two departments. All of Local 562’s digital infrastructure was housed on one network.

The “separate-but-together” end goal split Union and WEF into their own individual server environments but consolidated all employees under one email domain—uniting the two departments. “I knew that there was a way for us to streamline all these things,” Branham says.

Moving the Operation

The physical move itself was a source of colossal stress for every employee of Local 562. “The Anderson [Technologies] team was very calm, and that’s really what we needed ,” Branham says, “because there was a lot of anxiety on the side of everyone here.” During the week-long move from a property in North St. Louis County to one that’s twenty miles west, Anderson Technologies was on-site through the weekend to create new separate domains, install new firewalls, configure the new servers, migrate user profiles, transfer server data, and put out any fires that happened to arise.

Branham describes how the Anderson Technologies team took every little problem in stride: they “kept it smooth and comfortable, and it was a good process and good flow the way everything worked. [The team was] extremely flexible and that made a big difference in the way that people accepted the change, too.”

The Anderson [Technologies] team was very calm,
and that’s really what we needed.”

Coping with the technical logistics of the move was an anticipated challenge. Branham and the rest of Local 562’s employees expected to be unable to use their computers for an extended period of time during the ten-day move. Operations were planned to resume fully the following week. “I expected we would be back up running on Monday [a week into the move] for sure, hopefully it would get done over the weekend,” Branham recalls, “and I was using my computer on Friday morning. . . . I was floored.” Reducing Local 562’s planned downtime by several days allowed them to adjust to the move and return to work faster than expected.

Anderson Technologies’ partnership with Local 562 continues with dedicated ongoing managed services. “Everything has been very strategically done in a way that I know that it was the right choice for us,” Branham says of Local’s 562’s teaming up with Anderson Technologies for the big move and beyond. “Just the other day, one of our guys was saying to one of the gentlemen from Anderson [Technologies] about how “he never remembers his passwords, etc.” so Eric gave me the name of the program to look into. Just little things like that . . . to make our lives easier.”

If your business is ready to move from outdated headquarters, technology, or methodology, contact Anderson Technologies today for a free consultation.

Cyber security managed tech services

Managed Tech Services, Band-Aids and Cyber terrorism

“Computers have gotten a lot more complicated. I know a lot about computers, but it got to the point where the staff would interrupt [me] about four times per day with something that wasn’t working, and they wanted me to come and fix it. They kept asking ‘Why does this keep happening?’ and I had no answer for them.”

That’s how Morgan Emery, DDS, described the information technology (IT) situation at Smile Station Dental in Ballwin, MO before they chose Anderson Technologies’ Managed Tech Services for IT. As a small business owner and one of the principals at Smile Station, Morgan knows she can end up wearing many hats. From Dentist to Sales Manager to HR to Director of IT, handling so much can be daunting.

Computer and network instability, technology upgrades, changing HIPAA regulations, and the increasing demands of small business ownership led Smile Station to Anderson Technologies’ Managed Services offerings. By standardizing the management of their computer infrastructure, Anderson Technologies eliminated uncertainty, implemented real solutions, and dramatically improved the reliability and uptime of their network and computer systems.

As a first step, Anderson Technologies conducted an extensive Network Stabilization effort and discovered some big gaps in the support and service Smile Station had been receiving. In the past, whenever there was an issue, their existing support company would send new hardware rather than address the actual problem. They repeatedly replaced failed server hard drives and reloaded software multiple times without properly identifying and fixing the root cause of the problem. These “solutions” never addressed frequently-occurring malfunctions, did not permanently resolve issues, and resulted in a lot of down time, wasted money, and fruitless effort.

“It’s different because when [Anderson Technologies] comes in,” Morgan explained, “they truly FIX the problem. It’s a long-term fix. It’s not a Band-Aid fix where they just slap more wires on it. They actually take the time to look at it and figure out what the actual issue is and correct the issue rather than just the symptoms of the issue. That’s a big difference from what the other companies I’ve seen do.”

In addition to the server and workstation issues, Anderson Technologies also discussed network security vulnerabilities with Smile Station. “We now have increased security. They put in a hardware firewall, which makes me feel better because there’s a lot of information in here. HIPAA is getting stricter, and there’s a lot more cyber terrorism than there used to be. There are reported incidents of dentists being targeted, so in order to prevent us from being one of them, that was one of the components [they] recommended.” With so many hats to wear, Morgan found Anderson Technologies provides peace of mind in a constantly shifting electronic landscape.

If you are a small business owner fed up with IT companies that slap Band-Aids on problems instead of truly resolving them and are tired of battling glitch after glitch, give us a call: 314.394.3001.

change pixabay

Concierge Computer Services: The Solution to “I Love New but Hate Change”

The dichotomy between computers and human behavior defies logic. Everyone wants the fastest CPU and the latest and greatest apps, but adjusting to something new is often disconcerting. We like knowing where everything is on our desktop and having our settings “just so.” While we get excited about upgrades and the prospect of “newer,” “faster” and “better,” we do not like the process of upgrading because it often wipes out our customized settings and account information. Even in a program suite as familiar as Microsoft Office, new software versions introduce seemingly minor features that make everything feel foreign.

The solution? Anderson Technologies’ Concierge Computer Services.

This service is for clients who want to implement new technology with the least impact and keep everything as close to “the same” as possible. It’s the utmost in customer care – a labor-intensive service eliminating the frustrations typically associated with an upgrade.

One of our longstanding non-profit clients recently purchased new computers for every employee in their organization. Their existing systems’ useful life had been extended for as long as possible (see related article I Need More Speed!), necessitating an upgrade. We provided them with additional services outside of our standard Managed Services package. In addition to standard new computer setup and configuration,we downloaded, installed, and customized all third-party software (several hundred apps in total); promoted local-user accounts; mapped network drives; personalized individual user environments; restored all internet browser favorites and settings; relinked email accounts; and reestablished all cloud, printer, and remote connectivity connections.

Mark Anderson explains, “Our goal was to provide each employee with a new computer platform that is so similarly configured to their original machine, the only thing they notice from the transition is how much faster everything runs.”

The client is thrilled with the new computers and  with the service provided by Anderson Technologies. The company did not want their employees struggling for weeks to get their computers back to “normal.” They saw this as an investment in employee productivity that created a seamless computing environment.Their Executive Director recently said, “They have very high standards. When you’ve worked with others that don’t seem to maintain those high standards, you know the difference. With Anderson Technologies, you’re buying technological peace of mind.”

If you are ready for an upgrade, contact us at 314.394.3001 or sales@andersontech.com.

 

Website design St. Louis

Tasteful Website Design, Quick Response, and Partnership-Style Customer Service

Pleasant View Construction is a start-to-finish construction company that develops elegant craftsman-style homes in upscale West County neighborhoods. The company was looking to attract a certain type of client, one who appreciates the special touches that make a home extraordinary but may not have the time or inclination to work through all the design details themselves.

“We really didn’t have a digital presence before Anderson Technologies built our website,” explained Peter Switzer, President of Pleasant View Construction. “All of our previous work has come through word-of-mouth, but I felt we needed a way to showcase our work and give potential clients a sense of what we could do for them.”

Anderson Technologies is blessed with an unbelievable staff of professionals who truly understand what it means to take initiative. Peter experienced Anderson Technologies’ signature responsiveness and partnership-style customer service throughout the entire development process for pleasantviewconstruction.com. “They just picked up the ball and ran with it. I showed them some other websites I admired, and they just ‘got it.’ They understood what I wanted to communicate and had great ideas for different elements to add to make it even better.”

Because the work Pleasant View Construction does is very visual, it was important to develop a portfolio-focused website design. Peter continued, “they provided three robust design options to choose from, communicated clearly throughout the process and let me know what they needed from me every step of the way.” Pleasant View Construction had a huge collection of images to choose from, and Anderson Technologies methodically sorted through hundreds of photos to find the best of the best to make the most dramatic impression on the site.

The project included many other deliverables, including logo design, marketing copy for every page of the site, and social media set-up on Facebook and Houzz. As part of these overall development activities, Anderson Technologies conducted customer interviews to ensure they captured and communicated the brand properly. Portions of these conversations were also used as content for testimonials throughout the website.

Peter was also impressed by the speed of development. “These guys are extremely responsive,” Peter noted, “and my site was up really quickly. Since it went live, I’ve been able to point people to the website so they can easily see my work. That makes a BIG difference.”

Do you have a special digital project you need help with?  Feel free to give Anderson Technologies a call!