CNS Partners is an accountancy firm specialising in small and medium sized businesses and taxation. With 3 partners and 10 staff, CNS Partners focus on delivering personalised care and attention when providing business, taxation and financial advice to its clients. Using The Modern Office framework Grassroots IT assessed the CNS Partners systems and provided recommendations for possible improvements. To this end, Grassroots IT completed a full business upgrade of their IT network to ensure that both they and their clients benefit from improved processes and technologies.
Excessive IT Help Desk issues forced the change. CNS Partners began, like most businesses, with one dedicated and driven individual. It grew steadily over 20 years until its 13 strong team today. Much like the business, the IT network developed in a similar fashion. Computers, software, hardware and security were added in an ad hoc way to support business demands and requirements. Fast forward 20 years and CNS had slow, out-dated computers and server, were using out-dated POP3 emails, had weak or no passwords for their user security, had no centralised software update system, had no external access to corporate data, and were operating on the old version of the industry specific software they utilised.
The IT business network was struggling to manage the size and sophistication that CNS Partners had become. As IT problems increased the original IT support crumbled. IT support was managed by an IT technician who was sourced years before, being a friend of one of the CNS staff members. As growth persisted, he was unable to keep up with the escalating IT problems emerging at CNS. To make matters worse, a trained accountant and staff member at CNS, who was reasonably IT savvy, became the IT guy in the office. Unable to wait for the IT consultant to fit them in his schedule, he would troubleshoot pressing IT problems, wasting valuable time and resources. At $250 an hour, his services would be much better used in the technical capacity for which he was employed. Instead, acute loss in productivity ensued as CNS Partners tried to prop up their out-dated, inefficient business network. The whole IT side of their business was becoming unaffordable with time and cost efficiency at a low. Using The Modern Office framework, various functional areas were identified as requiring improvement.
Two separate but equally important issues needed to be addressed to solve their IT problems. Firstly, a complete upgrade of the existing server and network was initiated. Given that there was a strong requirement for non-cloud based applications to be supported, it was decided to implement in-house servers rather than using cloud services. This was critical to bring the IT assets up to speed with the growth of the business. A full upgrade gave CNS Partners the latest technology, full manufacturer onsite warranties, faster systems, more effective processes, and a better work experience for their staff.
In particular, the business network upgrade included:
- A faster, more reliable server.
- Automated backups with offsite rotation.
- Faster computers.
- A password policy was enforced for improved security.
- Microsoft Exchange was installed across the network for email, allowing staff to share mailboxes, calendars and contacts, and sync these with multiple devices. This greatly enhanced collaborative efforts both internally and with external parties.
- Remote Desktop Services was launched, which allows all users to log onto a single environment with their own private desktop from anywhere. The added advantage of this system is that software upgrades are centralised. This means they only need to be activated once for the whole system instead of over a dozen times for each individual computer. This means all team members can work offsite and have full access to the business network. As the world becomes increasingly mobile, this capacity provides an important business advantage.
- The industry specific database used by CNS Partners was migrated to the latest, and much faster, version.
- Incorporating a cloud solution for some services was discussed but it was decided that for CNS Partners it was neither necessary nor beneficial.
In summary, the old business network was transformed into a high functioning IT system and a source of efficiency and competitive advantage, rather than a drain on resources.
Secondly, The Modern Office requirement for Helpdesk and Network Management was facilitated through the introduction of a Grassroots Managed IT Services to provide comprehensive IT support going forward. This provided:
- unlimited helpdesk support
- proactive management of IT systems
- CIO consulting and planning, including things such as IT budget planning and strategy.
The Managed IT Services support agreement is proactive because Grassroots IT actively monitors and maintains the server and computers remotely. This preventative style of IT support means that the problems are mostly fixed before they happen. Included in this service is regular backup testing and controlling anti-virus security software updates along with monthly activity reporting to management. IT Consulting is offered when needed or when there is a product that may benefit the company.
“What appeals most about Grassroots IT is they provide solutions straight away. There is no IT problem too small. One phone call is all it takes and it’s all hands on deck until the issue is solved.”
The initial capital purchase of the network upgrade is quickly outweighed by the benefits. The installation of the latest technology ensures CNS Partners, and their clients, benefit from the improved productivity and efficiency supplied by investing in improved technologies and processes. A high functioning business network capable of taking them into the future and further growth now underpins their business. Having a proactive IT provider minimises IT Help Desk problems and maximises time and cost efficiency.
“Zero problems is money well spent.”
CNS Partners’ decision to engage Grassroots IT Consulting to upgrade their business network and implement Managed IT Services for ongoing IT support has enhanced productivity, improved work flexibility and mobility, allowed for efficient team collaboration and saved on cost and time.