MDS Builders, Inc. is an active and growing construction firm that offers a comprehensive range of construction solutions.
MDS Builders, Inc. is an active and growing construction firm that offers a comprehensive range of construction solutions.
Originally founded in January 1989, since then the company has rapidly grown, with headquarters in Boca Raton and a network of offices in Austin, Texas, and Cleveland, Ohio.
Their office relies on a robust and complex IT environment, with three mirrored servers accessed regularly by their staff of 45 employees. To keep their IT systems optimized and secure, MDS Builders relies on GiaSpace.
“It was a one-man operation,” says David, CFO, MDS Builders. “There was no backup to call.”
Before working with GiaSpace, MDS Builders relied on an independent IT professional to handle their support needs. It was a cost-effective arrangement that worked for the company for a time.
They were generally satisfied with the IT professional’s service when he was available. The problem is that he wasn’t always available, which often meant having to wait for a resolution from time to time.
This is a key issue with independent IT support providers. No matter how good they may be at their job, they’re just one person. Their lack of availability can lead to serious issues…
One of the most common ways businesses controls their expenses is with IT support. While relying on unofficial IT support is undoubtedly cost-effective, it’s unlikely to deliver the quality of service and level of responsiveness that a growing business needs.
Have you grown to the point where your “IT guy” can no longer meet your needs? Maybe these four indicators ring a bell…
Whether it’s a slow server that won’t let you access shared company files or a buggy email client that leaves you unsure whether your messages are being sent, you’re not working when your computers aren’t working.
If you can’t work as quickly or as effectively as you should, it’s only a matter of time before that affects your customers’ experience.
Poorly maintained computers will often need quick fixes. The problem is that while the hardware may work when you get it back from them, there’s no guarantee it’ll last for long.
A key oversight in the ad-hoc IT support process is how you make a support request in the first place. Does your IT guy have a dedicated phone line for support requests? Probably not.
It’s more like you get their cell phone voicemail when you call. They will not likely have an online ticketing portal, Live support chat, or even a dedicated email.
With this type of support, it could take days to fix your problem—in the meantime, your employees won’t have access to the data they need to continue working. You’re simply losing money by the minute.
All of these issues lead to a concept that those in the IT industry call “firefighting”. Instead of proactively providing support and developing long-term strategy, the IT guy is always busy running from fire to fire.
They may be able to address emergencies for the most part, but that’s all they’re able to do. They don’t have time for optimization, strategy, or development.
“One person handling it all was not good,” says David. “If something happened to him, we would have been offline for a while.”
David and the MDS Builders team knew that if this IT professional took a vacation, got sick, or was unavailable for another reason, it could lead to a lot of downtime for the company. That’s why they started looking into their options for more extensive IT services…
As accustomed as MDS Builders was to this independent IT support provider’s service model, they knew they needed more from him. They urged him to hire a team and expand his capabilities, but he insisted that his approach was sufficient for their IT needs and kept their costs as low as possible.
Eventually, this arrangement led to critical issues. Unbeknownst to MDS Builders, their systems were dangerously outdated, lacked standard security measures, and did not have a robust data backup system.
“There were a lot of ‘band-aids’ in place,” says David.
When a malware attack infected their servers, MDS Builders lost critical business data. Despite being told that their IT needs were being covered, their IT professional could not secure their systems and protect their data.
No matter how great your current IT support may be, it’s vital that you double-check and verify what you’re being told from time to time. You have to be confident that you’re protected if something happens or if your IT support will be unavailable for a short period of time
You should always have verifiable answers to the following questions…
An analysis of all the technology at your business will help ensure it’s all properly installed, effectively maintained, and well within its lifespan. This may sound simple, but that’s not always the case.
Updates are important because they correct existing errors and mistakes in software and patch potential flaws that could leave it vulnerable to security threats.
Depending on the type of business, specific software may be needed for daily operations. It could be Quickbooks for accounting and bookkeeping or Oracle Micros for restaurant Point of Sales, but the bottom line is that if you need it to get work done, you should know whether you can use it.
While the program may be installed on your hardware, that doesn’t mean that the licenses originally purchased for it won’t have expired.
The key here will be to determine whether there’s just standard, baked-in security in place, or actual additional software, such as:
What the backup plan will look like could vary. It could be a simple external hard drive that updates daily or weekly. You need to be sure you have a plan in place so that you can restore lost data at a moment’s notice.
Fortunately for MDS Builders, they didn’t have to go far to find a more capable IT support provider. David and GiaSpace shared a mutual client who had been satisfied with our service for years.
“He was very happy with them,” says David. “He had nothing but good things to say.”
David got in touch with us to inquire about how we could help MDS Builders. Our team assessed the company’s IT environment at the time and learned how they relied on their IT. We explained what needed to be done to improve performance and secure their data.
“I like the business model GiaSpace has,” says David.
A key factor in why David hired us was that we were upfront about the costs involved in upgrading their IT systems. David was used to IT companies “nickel-and-diming” him, quoting one initial cost and adding additional charges down the line…
As in any business relationship, a key downside to look out for is the possibility of hidden fees. The wrong IT company will nickel and dime you for onsite visits and other specific services if you’re not careful.
The fact is that any IT company worth working with will provide transparent pricing. They will not send unauthorized invoices or statements. In your contract, it will state your monthly charges. It will also list what is and is not covered. That billing lets you plan your expenditures to ensure they account for essential services.
An IT company’s fees can be an issue if:
That’s why David was so careful in selecting an IT company. He wanted to know the full cost of proper IT management upfront.
Fortunately for MDS Builders, this is precisely how we conduct ourselves with clients. We take pride in communicating openly about the financial realities of major IT upgrades, which, while necessary, aren’t always cheap.
For example, one of the first projects we undertook for MDS Builders was overhauling their extremely out-of-date IT systems…
Do you have old technology that needs to be replaced?
Sticking with outdated hardware and software may save you some money in your IT budget, but its lack of functionality and security can slow down your business and put you at risk. This was the case for MDS Builders.
Their previous IT support provider insisted their hardware was functional enough and that their most cost-effective course of action would be to keep using it.
However, this becomes very dangerous once hardware and software reach the “end of life”. This is the point at which the technology developers no longer provide support updates.
This means no more bug fixes or security updates for the hardware or software—it’s the end of support delivered by the manufacturer. Over time, there will be a loss of usability and increased vulnerability. While it may work fine right now, it won’t be long before it becomes a problem.
That said, It’s not uncommon to procrastinate on technology upgrades. The process can be expensive and complicated, but the fact is that there comes a point in the technology life cycle when failing to upgrade can present several serious concerns.
As important as cost control is, it is equally important for owners and managers to ensure they’re maintaining their competitive edge, using secure technology, and working as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Without support, security updates, and bug patches, users open themselves up to several risks:
For all these reasons, we had to overhaul MDS’s environment completely…
Our first project with MDS Builders was to replace their out-of-date hardware and software. We took a careful inventory of everything that would need to be replaced and developed a detailed plan and budget for David’s review.
Once approved, we carefully removed the unsupported hardware and software and installed, configured and deployed their modern counterparts. Every step of the way, we kept David and the MDS Builders team up to date and were careful to work within the budget we had established.
“GiaSpace has done exactly what they said they would do,” says David. “I got no surprises on implementation.”
It’s this sort of transparent and accurate service that David was looking for. We told him how much the project would cost and how long it would take to complete, and we stayed true to our word.
In addition to updating MDS Builders’ systems, we worked quickly to remediate their cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
Their previous IT support provider had been unable to properly secure their systems, which led to malware infections, data loss, and problems with cybersecurity insurance. This is another common problem with limited IT support arrangements.
Cybersecurity expertise is in high demand these days. Cybercrime continues to grow, and as businesses become increasingly digital in their operations, cybersecurity becomes a much more critical priority. However, there’s only so much cybersecurity talent available to hire.
It’s nearly impossible for a lone IT support provider to address a company’s many cybersecurity needs properly. When David attempted to get a cyber insurance policy for MDS Builders, it quickly became clear that they didn’t have the necessary cybersecurity standards to qualify.
“I went to my IT guy, and we couldn’t get any answers,” says David. “We couldn’t even qualify.”
The fact is that cybersecurity insurance won’t protect you if your cybersecurity standards aren’t up to par.
The somewhat inevitable nature of modern cybercrime has led businesses to consider cybersecurity insurance as a final layer of reassuring protection.
It’s becoming increasingly necessary, as many insurance providers have begun drawing a clear line between normally covered losses and those incurred by cybercrime-related events. That means that if your cybersecurity doesn’t meet the standards of your insurance provider, you may not be as well covered as you think.
Before processing the renewal, cyber insurance carriers require more sophisticated written cyber policies, tools, training, and disaster recovery systems. Many cases also significantly increase premiums for individual cybersecurity risk items that are not being addressed.
This has nothing to do with whether there has been a claim or not in the past and everything to do with what steps the applicant must now take to address cyber security risk. All the carriers now have additional forms filled with cybersecurity questions that must be answered accurately before the carrier renews the policy.
Furthermore, you can be sure that if a claim against the policy is ever submitted, the carrier will check the answers provided to determine if there is any way for them to deny coverage.
Questions can include…
And that’s just a few of the dozens that usually appear on the questionnaire. MDS Builders’ previous IT support provider couldn’t answer these types of questions.
Fortunately for MDS Builders, we were able to both remediate their cybersecurity issues and manage their cyber insurance audit process.
We managed the questionnaire on their behalf, identifying any areas requiring changes to help them qualify for a policy. We also made modifications and changes to keep the cost as little as possible.
Our team provides ongoing cybersecurity and IT management services for MDS Builders to keep them secure and properly manage contingencies like cyber insurance.
“They did everything they said they were going to do, and I got no surprises,” says David.
“Now we’re up to date on everything, we have backups, and we’ve got everything we need,” says David.
Working with GiaSpace, the MDS Builders staff is confident they made the right choice this time. They now have an IT partner that directly manages everything IT-related in their business, from dental software to third-party tech vendors to ongoing projects.
This support quality allows the MDS Builders staff to focus on delivering the best possible experience for their patients. They don’t have to worry about their IT—they can trust that GiaSpace is taking care of it.
“I do like their business model,” says David. “They’re different from most IT companies.”