By Client Success Manager Ryenn Gaebler
*Names have been changed in accordance with our commitment to privacy and security.
When you’re looking for a firm to help you manage your finances, trust is paramount. The same rule applies to the firm you choose to help with your IT. How can you be sure the machines and systems you rely on every day aren’t going to leave you hanging? How can you trust a managed services provider (MSP) that doesn’t call you back?
An Anderson Technologies client shared some insight on how trust makes or breaks an IT partnership and the surprising differences we brought to their organization.
Needed: IT For the Little Guy
“We’re a CPA firm that’s been around for over 30 years,” Bea told me. She has worked as a Firm Administrator for SPF for six years and has seen the Certified Public Accountants company triple in both staff and client load during her time there.
“We help with companies, not-for-profits, startups,” she says. “We’ll meet with people who want to start a company and say, ‘Let me show you all that goes into it, run some projections….’”
Tax mishaps are a regularity if your CPA firm doesn’t have all their ducks in a row. “One of the things that I think we’re great at is holding our clients’ hands from beginning to end,” Bea says.
One area where SPF really excels is in emerging or sensitive markets that require extra oversight for strict regulations. Markets that other CPA firms in the area won’t touch because of all the work that’s required are SPF’s bread and butter.
IT had been a lesser priority for SPF. Like countless other small businesses, they had always gotten by with the resources they could scrape together to keep daily operations functional and safe.
Bea recalls a cybercrime event that affected a number of local businesses and governments, including SPF. A prolific cybercriminal targeted St. Louis-area institutions in a broad attack that drew the public’s attention.
“That was really hard because [our] clients’ trust was lost,” Bea says. “It took a little bit to get that back. Some clients will still say, ‘Hey, remember, four or five years ago…’ ‘It happens, yes, but it will never happen again,’ you want to say, like we do.”
The immediate repercussions of COVID—a large part of the workforce moving to their home offices virtually overnight—shined another light on the vulnerabilities in their current system. “Because we are so small, it’s hard to find IT,” Bea explains. “Especially with how critical our information is, like social security numbers, birthdates, bank accounts…. COVID hit and that made us really think, ‘Hey, we’re going to need to be working remote, but still secure. We need to find someone that can help us.’ . . . Especially if we’re getting bigger clients, we need to protect ourselves and our reputation.”
SPF needed a new solution fast.
Big Firm Outlook with Small Firm Attention
“We had the same IT provider for the last eight years before [Anderson Technologies], nine years maybe,” Bea says. “They were great when they first started, and then the service started being more and more nonexistent as the years went by. It became quickly apparent that what we were trying to do as a company was not matching up with their skill set.”
The search for a better-fitting MSP was on. SPF’s owner began reaching out to their business contacts, asking who they used for business IT and if they could recommend a vendor. Anderson Technologies was the name that floated to the top of the prospect list. SPF valued our focus on cybersecurity and preventative solutions for growing businesses, and ultimately decided to make us their next IT partner.
Putting cybersecurity and business continuity at the forefront of every decision has made a huge difference in SPF’s virtual environment—not to mention their customer relations. “It’s really helped us and especially with clients feeling secure with us, for example now we have secure email with Proofpoint,” Bea says. They’ve also been able to pass better cybersecurity habits along to their clients and create a safer digital environment in which the firm can do their jobs well. “We’re like, ‘Hey, no more attachments through email, numbers from birthdays, social security, anything.’” SPF now uses a secure file sharing system with their clients.
But security is just one thing that’s changed. Service response times have greatly improved for SPF.
I know if I put a ticket in, it is [addressed] within the same day, which still blows my mind. If you can’t figure it out remotely, you show up,” says Bea. Some IT problems just can’t wait 48-72 hours, and SPF appreciates that dedication. “You guys have put so much time into us, into making us feel comfortable.”
“[Senior IT Project Manager] Eric Dischert is awesome. I know if I email him, he will pass it along and tag [the right] person in it… and he stays in that email thread so he knows what’s going on and follows up.”
What does a day in the life of our newest MSP client look like? “We just onboarded an intern who started on Monday,” Bea explains. “[Junior Systems Administrator] Brian [Rutledge] reached out to me yesterday and asked, ‘Hey, you want me to double check everything?’ He had to finish one thing [on the new hire’s machine], and he emailed me [about it] because he knew I was leaving early.” The little things truly add up when it comes to a trusting vendor relationship.
So, what’s next for this CPA firm and its cheerful administrator? “We’re getting bigger,” Bea laughs, “and we’re running out of room at our office. We want a different location, so that would probably be something we would have you guys help us on. That’s like starting from ground zero, but I trust you guys.”
Are you ready to find an IT partner who you can trust fully, who enables you to focus on what you do best?