Upgrading managed services and improving collaboration

TMS was frustrated with their previous IT provider. They weren’t responsive or attentive to TMS’s needs or forthcoming with new solutions. TMS needed out of their contract but there was a tight window before a renewal cycle that would have required significant investment. TMS knew of R2 through reputation and personal connections. They came with one stipulation, “Get us out – fast!” That would normally be a challenging process, but there were added wrinkles. Their previous provider had deployed managed networking equipment and was hosting critical applications and services from their Infrastructure.

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Objective

Making a plan to shift platforms as well as providers.

TMS didn’t initially plan to shift platforms as well as providers. They had been considering a move to Office 365, but the fact that the office was now working remotely due to COVID-19 made the switch, which was recommended by R2, more compelling.

TMS was apprehensive about the change, but R2’s confidence gave them confidence. R2 assured TMS that the change would be worth it — and that there would be minimal impact to end-users.

TMS’ biggest concern was ensuring a seamless transition. The team had to be able to access all their applications and files the same way as before. R2 stepped up to the plate to:

  1. Fully onboard a managed customer, a thorough and detailed process.

  2. Replace critical, managed networking equipment at multiple locations with minimal disruption.
  3. Migrate critical applications and remote access environment in < 3 weeks.
  4. Fully deploy Office 365, including SharePoint, Teams, and OneDrive.

R2 had limited time to execute, but also limited time to architect the right pieces to the solution.

TMS had outgrown their previous managed services provider

They needed to transition quickly

Opportunities for process, security, and equipment upgrades

The solution

R2 went big to meet the growing needs of TMS. The final solution included:

  • Bringing in architect and engineering resources to identify the best path forward for the networking equipment, Meraki Wi-Fi and firewall, and SD-WAN technology from Cisco.
  • A full embrace of Office 365 for productivity, including Teams for collaboration, a combination of SharePoint, Teams and OneDrive for corporate file data, and Microsoft Azure to host a relocated, remote access server.
  • Along the way, R2 highlighted best practices for each technology and dramatically tightened security and protection of all TMS data (Office, Azure, Meraki, backups, etc.)

This was a big leap forward for TMS in terms of functionality and productivity, but it was even more timely and valuable given that the project started just as everyone needed to start working from home.

Once TMS had agreed on the solutions, three different teams got to work concurrently. One team worked on the cloud transition and data migration, another handled the field networking equipment, and the third oversaw the onboarding process.

The process

“Our goal was to shift to a provider that could adequately support us without disrupting the status quo, but in the end, we got something that was better than status quo.”

Rick Kontos

Sr. Vice President

The benefits

  • Streamlined, easier meetings and collaboration, especially remotely
  • Improved workflows, security, performance, and efficiency
  • Real-time file sharing eliminates many previous headaches

The results

The quick transition benefited TMS in several ways:

MS Teams vastly improved productivity.

TMS now benefits from using Teams for meetings and having a better way to access shared folders. They were able to hold internal meetings as well as critical subcontractor meetings remotely to keep projects on schedule.

“Best of all has been sharing spreadsheets real time with James or with a project manager in a different office. In the past, opening something that someone else was working on caused duplication and confusion. It wasn’t productive at all,” notes Rick Kontos, Sr. Vice President.

Nicole agrees. “Two people working in the same file at once caused a lot of collisions. That was our biggest issue. It’s been huge for us to be in the same doc. at the same time. My team has been loving it. There’s no more, ‘Are you making that change or am I making it?’ and then someone ends up working on the wrong version.”

Application response times and availability noticeably improved.

TMS workflows are more streamlined. Because there are no more problems with duplicate files, they no longer have to hunt those down and delete them. They have also eliminated the need to attach and share files through email.

“We can now have conversations online,” Rick says. “James and I used to be in the office together every day. Now that’s all changed, so being able to work this way, just like the person’s next to you — it’s a bigger deal now. We’ve used our new web-based options when we’ve had problems accessing email, so it’s great to have those backup options available.

We’ve had no downtime.

“We can also create our own channels and invite people as needed, without having to involve IT or have an admin set it up.“ The new Meraki system expanded Wi-Fi coverage in office locations and allowed TMS to track user activity. Admins can now see who logs in and out. They’ve implemented a new security policy and blocked unapproved sites. In addition, R2 standardized the network across all office sites. R2’s experienced approach to deployment has helped to:

  • Allow secure communication from two of the sites back to the data center.
  • Enable an easy transition to managed services including monitoring each site via Logic Monitor to catch issues and keep the system up and running.

The infrastructure is now in place for more responsive and immediate support. “R2 fixed issues before we even knew the internet was down,” said Nicole.

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“It’s been huge for us to be in the same doc. at the same time. My team has been loving it .”

Nicole Voigt

Office Manager

“Everyone’s always under a time crunch, getting bids in, invoicing — it all has to be done, and we’re more efficient now. That’s been really valuable for us.”

Rick Kontos

Sr. Vice President

The transition was completed well before TMS’s deadline.

The entire project was completed in under three weeks, in plenty of time to meet the deadline.

“We were a little late in getting started, but we had several conversations with Jamie (Doherty, R2 President and CTO), and instead of kicking this down the road, we decided that now was the best time. One of the big positives working with R2 was being able to get it all done in a short amount of time with very few hiccups,” said Rick.

Rick continues, “It’s been a great investment during this time, to be able to work from different offices, different cities, or remotely from home. Everyone’s always under a time crunch, getting bids in, invoicing — it all has to be done, and we’re more efficient now. That’s been really valuable for us. Also, whenever problems do come up, it’s great to have customer service that can get it fixed quickly. Downtime costs us, and we now have peace of mind knowing someone at R2 is working on it and responding.”

R2 facilitated an easy handoff process for the management team with a train-the-trainer approach. The team adapted quickly and loved the ease of the platform.

“Rekha, our Project Manager, was amazing. She worked with our schedules, communication was great, we were always given updates. R2 was on top of everything. It was seamless — perfect, really. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.”

The process

“Training went perfectly. No one complained. R2’s approach was the right idea. Everyone can learn the new stuff at their own pace, there’s no stressful learning curve to deal with, no disruptive workshops, etc.,”

Nicole Voigt

Office Manager

Quotation mark

"I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback from our users. When it came to accessing the system, they didn’t even know there was a difference. They still log in the way they normally did; there were no hiccups, no missing files, no disasters, nothing lost, and nothing moved. R2 made it a priority to mitigate end user pain and grief.”

Nicole Voigt

Office Manager

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