At 12:34 MicroTechnologies, we know something about working with customers who are careful and deliberate when it comes to change, especially technological change. Some of the companies we provide IT services to are too small to have dedicated IT staff, or they may have only 50 computers in the business. We have a very up-close view of the hesitation and fear that can come with the shift to cloud for our customers. In rural Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, we’re in the heart of Amish and old colonial country where if something was good enough for granddad, you’re going to have to show me a very good reason why it’s not good enough for me. Fortunately, as Microsoft partners, the products and services we’re able to show are definitely convincing.
We chose to standardize Microsoft technologies because only Microsoft has the complete offering: desktop, server, collaboration, productivity, everything. And now with cloud – especially hybrid cloud – offerings available, we can completely customize the solution that meets our clients’ needs instead of forcing them into a system with few options. Change to the cloud may be a little slower here, but the switch is happening. Having hybrid cloud options makes that switch easier and less intimidating.
Let me give you an example of how this works. In the rural, conservative Northeast, results are what close the sale, so the quicker we can demonstrate ROI, the more comfortable our customers are and the more open to additional improvements. We’ve been working with a service business that repairs cranes. Until recently, most of their invoicing, inventory tracking, repair work and other reporting was done on paper. Repair technicians recorded their labor and parts used on blue sheets – the sheets got greasy and torn, the accounting team found the techs’ handwriting hard to read, and the process was rife with mistakes. The systems they did have didn’t talk to each other, so data had to be entered several times, risking even more errors. Invoices were often incorrect, parts didn’t get ordered resulting in repair delays, orders were duplicated.… This was a system ripe for transformation!
Because the organization wasn’t comfortable with big, dramatic changes, we worked with them to take a more manageable, staged approach that ensured there was no interruption in their operations. First, we sat down with the team to map out their processes start to finish. We were able to duplicate their paper process in InfoPath on SharePoint, eliminating the problematic blue sheets entirely. Phase 1 went very quickly because we were careful to make the new process as close to the old, paper process as possible, just without all the mistakes. The company saw dramatic ROI almost immediately.
In Phase 2, we introduced a .NET app we created that consolidates the company data and flows it out to other systems for further processing. While this was more complicated and involved a steeper learning curve, the great results that came from moving their documents to Sharepoint made it much easier to convince the company to continue moving its processes into the cloud. And because the change is in the cloud, we can continue to provide services that meet the company’s growth, we can provide remote and mobile capabilities, and eventually, we expect we’ll move them entirely to the cloud on Azure.
And this is exactly why we love the work we do with SMBs – very often, we can help completely transform a company to be more profitable. With Enterprise, it’s harder to see the change you’re effecting because the companies are so big, but we have the great satisfaction of seeing the results. Companies, even smaller ones, compete in the global marketplace these days, and we’re thrilled to be able to help them thrive there.