What makes your business special? This is probably one of the first questions anyone will ask about your company—your IT vendor included! Nobody knows your business better than you, and learning what goals and values drive your company is an important step in the Anderson Technologies discovery process.
When a potential client reaches out to us, we offer a free network security audit that compiles the best parts of our IT consultation skills to analyze what’s unique about your company and its technology. A network security audit usually entails a system administrator coming on-site to evaluate the hardware and software your company uses, and then our team takes a closer look at the infrastructure and how it could be affecting day-to-day functions and protection from cyber threats. These audits give our IT experts a chance to familiarize themselves with your specific network and highlight any vulnerabilities in your cyber security coverage or computer system efficiency.
In order to fully understand the impact of network security audits on our clients, we spoke with Allyn Albritton, Chief of Staff of Albritton Financial Services (AFS). AFS is a wealth management firm located in West St. Louis County and has been an Anderson Technologies client since August 2018.
Anderson Technologies (AT): What can you tell us about AFS’s technology goals before you learned about Anderson Technologies?
Allyn Albritton: I joined AFS in November 2017, and one of the first things that really became a passion project for me was how our IT was structured. I wasn’t impressed with the provider we had, with how they were addressing our concerns, issues, or responsivity. I would reach out, maybe hear back in a week if it was something that wasn’t business-critical. If it was business-critical, it would take every bit of 48 hours, and I would just get passed around. I’d be like, “Listen, we can’t access this,” and a couple days later even though I sent multiple emails, “Hey, Allyn, got your email, we’re looking into this.” Well that’s not really a solution.
Read more about Anderson Technologies’ enlightened solutions for the financial services industry here!
AT: Your husband and Vice President of AFS, Neal Albritton, met Amy Anderson at a networking event for local business owners. He knew about your interest in IT, so what made him recommend us to you?
AA: Neal said, “They approach IT management the same way we approach wealth management: very methodical and particular, everything is structured.” For us, that’s exactly how we want to work with our clients: What are your issues, let us take time to get to know you personally, let me see if I can identify this, this is what I heard, here’s what I think we need to do, here would be the next steps we recommend and then it’s in the clients’ hands to decide.
AT: Did your initial impression of Anderson Technologies live up to the expectation Neal set?
AA: I basically got an hour, hour and a half with Mark and Amy [Anderson] at no charge where all they did was sit down and listen. They heard everything that we had been through as far as what we were currently trying to accomplish as a business, whether that involved our IT needs or not, over the next two-to-five years.
Wow, these people actually heard me. They know what I’m going through, and I think they actually were connecting the dots.”
I felt like these people have my privacy and my security as a top priority, which is really important to me especially in the industry we’re in. I feel like they’re really taking the time to educate me on things that I should be concerned about and things that they’re going to be looking for.
AT: What was the network security audit process like?
AA: Honestly, it was painless. Anderson Technologies came in and said, “Here’s what would need to happen,” and they went step by step—Here’s what this audit would look like: we’re going to come into your offices at a predetermined time, it’ll be completely private, we’re going to go into wherever your network closet is, and here’s what we’re going to be looking for.
AT: What issues did the network security immediately bring to your attention?
AA: One of the first things that jumped out was our server itself. Mark told me, “Your server is on its last leg, but this dovetails nicely into one of the things you had mentioned you wanted to do, which was transferring everything to the cloud.”
I went from someone who was telling me, “Eh, its good enough, when it breaks we’ll deal with it,” to someone saying, “Let’s be proactive, and let’s tie in what you already told me your goals are and how we can actually make this solution for this issue as well as for your long-term plan.”
AT: Did the network security audit reveal anything that would have been missed without it?
AA: As a wealth manager, any application you would fill out as a client and sign, or any document we may need to have a copy of, like your mortgage or your tax returns from 2016, we want to have a copy of it. We were actually paying for a service that was a branch of our CRM [customer relationship management]. It was fine, but it was cumbersome. It was not cost-prohibitive, but it didn’t make sense to spend $100 a month for this upgraded secure opportunity to store all of our files when, ultimately, we know we want to go to the cloud eventually, which again was part of our initial discussion.
Anderson Technologies said, “Based on what you’re telling us and on our experiences with HIPAA requirements, after we implement a new backup process you can put everything out on OneDrive and it will be just as secure.” Now having said that, “Check with your broker dealer” was Mark, Amy, and Farica [Chang, Director at Anderson Technologies]’s advice, “and make sure they don’t have additional requirements.” So they really covered all their bases saying, “Here’s our expertise, here’s who we recommend you double check with on your side, but here’s what we think the answer will be.”
Ultimately we went from spending $100 a month on an application system that was cumbersome, difficult to use, not intuitive, to something that integrated with our day-to-day applications in Office 365. [We went from a process of] … either adding files, which took 30 seconds, to retrieving files, which took take a minute per file based on the old system. Now we’re able to say, “Great, we’re going to access this just like anything else,” and it’s right at our fingertips in seconds.
While it may seem nominal reducing 30 seconds or a minute down to a couple of seconds, it makes a big difference when that is your day-to-day, in-and-out job.
Creating those efficiencies is invaluable to an office like ours. I would sit here and try to open something and go through a series of clicks, or because the system was slow I found myself getting distracted and checking emails when it was something that should have been my singular focus. Now I can do that.
AT: How did the audit lead to a partnership between AFS and Anderson Technologies?
AA: It was the attention to detail. After the audit, we decided we wanted to work with Anderson Technologies. We like your process, we like that we feel like a priority, which was a huge gap in our previous provider’s services. Being able to sit back and [have Anderson Technologies] say, “Here’s everything we recommend for you guys. These are the routers you need, these are the wireless access points,” and just going through and itemizing each thing and saying, “Here’s what you will see as a result of making these changes, and here’s why this is good for security, this is why this is good for speed,” was just a huge relief.
The day they came in and installed everything, it just felt like, “Great, this is one less thing I have to worry about, one less thing that I can sit there and double check and question.” I feel like these are people that have actually taken the time to say, “This is the right solution for you, and we’re on top of it and we know when it is no longer the right solution for you.”
Interested in reading more about how Anderson Technologies provide support through system administration? Click here!
AT: What do you see in the future for your partnership with Anderson Technologies?
AA: One of the things we love about you guys is you’re very similar to how AFS operates. We sit down with clients and everyone’s happy until there’s a problem. No one knows that they have an issue with their IT provider until suddenly they can’t get online, suddenly their phones don’t work, whatever it might be. Same thing with wealth management. Everything’s fine until the market crashes and everyone wants to call you. We get it. But you guys are also really good and you have a similar process in that you lay out line item by line item, “This is what you can expect, and if this is what you need here’s what we can deliver.” You have this level of understanding.
It’s the peace of mind that I get knowing that Anderson Technologies is watching out for not just the hardware and software, but when I walk in in the morning and that if there’s something wrong, [Senior System Administrator] Eric Dischert has already called me, explained what it is, and explained how he’s fixing it. There’s a level of proactivity there that cannot be undervalued. I’ll open a ticket and … I get a response almost immediately saying, “Here’s the deal, we know what’s going on, we have a solution” or ”We need more time to find a solution because of this,” and then I at least know that my emails are going somewhere.
AT: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Allyn. Do you have any final thoughts before you go?
AA: If there’s something that you didn’t get for your article let me know, because God knows I’m pretty sure Anderson Technologies has checked that box for me.
Do you need your technological boxes checked? Contact Anderson Technologies at 314.394.3001 to speak to our IT experts and schedule your free network security audit.