Listen & Learn: The Keys to IT Innovation

IT Client Success Story

Technology and innovation go hand in hand more often than not. The drive for creativity and efficiency feeds the ideas that lead to technical innovations, and innovative tech allows us to process information and complete tasks faster.

Manufacturing and engineering firms know the importance of the tools they use every day to find and solve problems. The difference in using outdated models or underperforming systems truly shows in final output. These businesses need technology and innovation to be on the same page, especially when it comes to IT and cyber security.

MC, the Controller of a manufacturing company in St. Louis, Missouri, can personally attest to the importance of a tech partnership that is tuned toward innovation. MC’s firm of about thirty employees is split between the production line and administrative positions. Though the production side of the company is straightforward in its technical structure and IT needs, the company as a whole was having issues making their needs about problems and projects understood by their former IT vendor. Crucial issues with their server were blocking MC from moving forward with creative projects that would allow the company to grow.

Server Life Preserver

The primary technical issue MC’s company was experiencing—the thing that needed to be resolved before moving forward with anything else—was their server. “We were in the Stone Age with the equipment we had,” MC says. The age and slow speed of the server was dragging systems down and barring him from moving forward with new tech upgrade ideas his company’s previous IT partner failed to implement.

We were in the Stone Age with the equipment we had.”

When he signed to a managed services agreement with Anderson Technologies in September 2020, MC had hopes that the company’s existing server would last for another year. However, the server had other plans. “Initially I told everybody we’d be ready to do this [server transition] in December,” MC says, but “we [had to do] it late October. We were having a lot of troubles with the server going into that period, so it was good timing.”

The new server had twice the capacity as the one it was replacing, which meant backup services also needed to grow. Planning this change in service required extensive coordination between MC and the Anderson Technologies team. Full server transitions can be tech challenges for companies in any industry, as they require all connected devices to fully disconnect from the network while new virtual avenues are created.  “I haven’t really done a server transition like that,” MC says. “I’ve added new servers and moved some things around, but this was a whole big piece, the whole thing.”

Thankfully, the Anderson Technologies team was able to subvert expected downtime significantly. “The team worked throughout the evening and early the next day and got everybody up and running,” MC says. “I was thinking they’d be done around noon that day, but I think it was more around 8 or 9[A.M.]—so ahead of what was expected.”

“It’s almost like they work here,” MC says of the Anderson Technologies team. “It’s not just getting it settled, it’s ‘What else can we do to make this better?’ That’s really what we need.” That above-and-beyond mindset can make a world of difference in an industry where uptime is money, and listening to the experts can keep everything moving and functioning.

In times of major upgrades, or day-to-day monitoring, you should feel like your MSP works both for and with you—because they do.

MC points out the difference. He witnessed the Anderson Technologies team “caring about if people are up and running and getting it set up right” from the start. “Everybody’s been super fantastic to deal with. They’re very responsive and really wanting to dig into it.” An IT team you can count on is essential to building an innovative business infrastructure.

Band-aid Fixes vs. Lasting Solutions

Once a company establishes their IT foundation, it’s only natural to think “What’s next?” Manufacturing and engineering companies have a business model built on finding new ways to refine their processes and make them more efficient.

Before MC partnered with Anderson Technologies, he had decided to install some monitors in the company’s production area that showed jobs in progress, “so the production team would have an idea of what’s coming in the queue, what’s currently in production, what’s in assembly, [and] what’s ready to be shipped.” This new IT project would also include a similar monitor in the breakroom with a scrolling bulletin for employee notices.

MC’s previous IT vendor was less than enthusiastic about this project. “A lot of things that I wanted to do, the IT company was just blocking me from,” MC says, “because they may not have experience with that or with a certain piece of equipment or software.” MC had posited the idea of using mini PCs to run the monitors. “They said, ‘No, that will be really expensive. You don’t want to do that.’” Dismissive of MC’s vision, the vendor installed several separate virtual machines, which stressed the company’s already-wheezing server.

“That really caused issues for our server,” MC says. “The machines didn’t really run like they should, and [the previous vendor] kept billing me more and more because they kept sending people out to come troubleshoot it.” What could have been an inventive addition to the production team’s workflow ended up being a hassle. “I’m frustrated because I think, ‘Well, if we just did what I said then we wouldn’t have these kinds of issues right now.’”

Fast forward to the present, and Anderson Technologies heard MC’s production monitor aspiration and agreed that the mini PCs would be the best solution using the company’s existing infrastructure. “[Anderson Technologies] understood it all and guaranteed that I won’t have those kinds of issues if I make that move.” The lower profile machines are now set up in the server room alongside the new server, where they can’t drain the hardware’s resources or get dusty in the production area.

In times of major upgrades, or day-to-day monitoring, you should feel like your MSP works both for and with you—because they do.

The new IT partnership (and the new server) allowed MC’s company a moment to catch its breath after years of playing IT catch-up. “The issues that I had with the [former] IT company were providing more band-aid fixes just to get something working instead of finding the root cause of a problem so it wouldn’t come up again,” MC explains. “I would have a project list… and they would never get those things done. We would have our quarterly meetings but we weren’t any further, just adding more to the list.” Patching the same problems over and over again will only burn your resources and hinder developments that, if implemented, could give a company an edge in the industry.

What’s next for MC’s company? “The next thing would be getting into some cloud-based systems,” he says, “probably more into the two- to five-year plan”. This type of network and software transition would be a big shift, but now that the downtime from constant tech hiccups is in the past, MC’s company can focus on the manufacturing specialties that really matter.

Personal attention and respect can go a long way in a relationship with an MSP. Having IT professionals who actually listen creates space for innovation and creativity. In this new partnership, MC understands the choices the Anderson Technologies team is making, and Anderson Technologies takes the time to listen to MC’s needs and suggestions. “It’s the right way to do business,” MC says. “It’s been really refreshing.”

 

Are your IT essentials covered and running efficiently, or is a frustrating IT vendor or outdated hardware keeping the door closed to more innovative opportunities? If you’re feeling stuck, or just looking for an alternative solution, contact us today!

 

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