I would love to say every one of our clients was acquired through a structured process that began with an ingenious drip email campaign, a qualifying conference call, a deep vetting of their business strategy, a few weeks of physical and technical discovery, user interviews, and a contractual commitment following a proposal/recommendation that clearly demonstrated we were a much better fit than their current IT provider. Instead, I’d prefer to tell you the truth.
No matter how intentional we try to be with our marketing activities, many of our best accounts are “Red Cross” projects – acquired under emergency circumstances when a few or many things went terribly wrong – and we were required to swoop in with proverbial helicopters and medical supplies to provide critical relief.
Do you know how hard it is to advertise this type of acumen? Without using scare tactics or sounding crass? Would LinkedIn even accept a banner ad that said: “ProviDyn® – Your Best Last-Minute Choice For IT Dumpster Fires”? Probably not.
Hopefully, this list of greatest hits will inspire a more structured approach to making sure your technology platform is operationally aligned with your goals– the value of your business assets and tolerance for risk.
The following client examples (without naming names) are organized into three basic IT service model categories:
Although this is becoming less common, some small and midsized companies still have a full-time IT staff who handle both infrastructure (network, firewall, switches, servers, cloud, backup, and user support) as well as a line of business applications (apps like Salesforce, NetSuite, Dynamics, etc.).
Many of these positions have evolved by necessity and after 5-10 years, the gaps become glaring. Why? There is no way one to three individuals will ever have the current technical skills, the capital-intensive tools or the bandwidth to stay ahead of so many different and constantly evolving IT disciplines. (It’s also ridiculously expensive for organizations with 25-150 employees.)
Below are some examples of clients who have approached us as an alternative to in-house IT:
- Entertainment Company – A business attorney referred us when a full-time employee with both IT and marketing in his title (always a red flag) failed over a period of several months to recover from a data breach, was storing passwords on an unsecured server, and was overseeing a network that was crippled by work-arounds and end of life operating systems. Not only was productivity lagging, the stage was set for another data breach.
- Nonprofit – A client switched to a new organization and brought us in when their growth plans were being stymied by a highly paid Director of IT and two entry level help desk employees. All were overextended and the organization was facing quality of service issues, diminished user experience, widespread user noncompliance with scheduled update alerts and nasty office politics resulting from repeated attempts at enforcement. The IT team eventually gave up. The client was also using out of warranty equipment that was on the verge of failure. Not a trivial concern when you’re talking about 180 workstations. With very little documentation to boot, a perfect storm of disruption was in the forecast.
- Medical Device Manufacturer - This client was operating two entities under one umbrella and was being served by a one-person IT provider who was moonlighting as a technology specialist while working full-time at another company. While this is an obvious recipe for disaster, his biggest flaw was disappearing the moment he found out his client was getting a second opinion. Further discovery revealed glaring issues with the firewall warranty, the server configuration and the use of prosumer data backup devices - all of which most certainly played a major role in his choice to disappear. While this was not a known emergency when we initially engaged, the end of life firewall was keeping their network wide open to intrusion by threat actors who may have wanted access to patents and other Intellectual Property.
- Staffing Company - Referred to us by a former client of a new ProviDyn® employee, this client had the worst environment we’ve ever seen. Bar none! Right off the bat, we had to loan them a server and migrate all of their files shares and Active Directory resources from a 10-year old tower they had decided to use until it failed. Goal achieved. I am being charitable when I say ‘migrate’ since a majority of this process could be characterized as extraction and digital surgery due to all of the necessary workarounds. We had no choice; they were “hard fail” down. This company provided home health care nursing services which means there was a lot on the line - patient comfort, positive healthcare outcomes and HIPAA compliance.
- Nonprofit - We stumbled upon this account when they thought they were finished interviewing new IT providers. They were taken aback by our focus on strategy because this topic had been conspicuously absent from all of their other conversations. Their environment wasn’t a mess and I hate to split hairs, but even elevated remediation is disruptive and usually involves unforeseen fees because the client has to learn the true cost of properly configuring their mission enabling technology. This can also add all kinds of surprises to the budgeting process. Most importantly, when human services are on the line, fewer humans are served when collaborative case processing tools are misconfigured. This really makes you wonder how many needy people were underserved before we came along.
- Law Firm – A former employee and friendly competitor of ProviDyn® introduced us to a high performance plaintiff’s attorney. With a multi-million-dollar class action lawsuit in full swing, they happened to be locked out of the primary file share being utilized for processing the case. And the application wasn’t even customized or home-brewed; it was a brand name cloud solution that was simply not set up properly or being managed very effectively by their IT provider. This was low-hanging fruit in terms of a remedy, but client emotions ran high and their clients could have suffered grave monetary losses.
Smaller MSPs and One-Man Bands
By some accounts, Atlanta is rumored to have around 500 companies who call themselves MSPs. A majority of these organizations have fewer than 10 people and under $1M in annual sales. You also have a sizable number of one-man bands who do break-fix IT work and spend most of their time driving around town putting out fires. Both reach a growth plateau and find it increasingly difficult to effectively take care of more than a handful of clients. They’re also typically undercapitalized and have a host of new liability concerns related to managing cybercrime. Cyber crooks are now infiltrating a lot of unsuspecting mom and pop MSPs and by default, getting easy access to all of their clients’ networks.
Below are some examples of clients who reached out to us when their MSP processes failed them:
Atlanta has about a dozen larger IT providers with more than 40 employees and $20M in annual sales. Some started over 20 years ago and have grown organically while others have expanded by acquisition, a major trend in the IT space as VC firms move in to consolidate and expand MSP footprints across multiple markets. With all of this change, quite a few larger MSPs are in a state of flux and may be overlooking important client requirements that were easier to manage when they were smaller and had fewer clients to accommodate.
Below are some examples of instances where ProviDyn® was asked to step in with our MSP solutions:
ProviDyn® comes through when other IT Providers Fail
There’s one major blessing in all of this chaos. Well, two when you consider the addition of great clients who really appreciate our focus on strategy and standards which create quiet IT systems and happier users. Most of these clients have been referred to us by inside sources - business attorneys, referrals from existing clients, CFO’s who worked for ProviDyn® clients then changed companies as well as friends about town. It’s nice to be trusted. We just have to figure out a way to get introduced before everything blows up – 12-24 months in advance would be ideal. I guess it never hurts to dream.
If you’d like to discuss IT strategy well in advance of any major issues (or right in the eye of the storm), contact ProviDyn®. Our team is always glad to help. 404-551-5492