Enhancing a small IT department with co-managed IT

Integris saves BTI $150k in projected costs while improving security and connectivity with cloud services.

The issue

Growing into a more modern workforce

Bucklin Tractor and Implement company, or BTI, is a John Deere sales and services company in Kansas. Founded in 1944, the company has been expanding and currently employs 200 employees. BTI provides new and used agricultural equipment across six dealerships throughout Kansas, servicing Bucklin, Great Bend, Greensburg, Hoxie, Ness City, and Pratt.

As BTI added more dealerships to their growing business they quickly realized that their current IT infrastructure wasn’t meeting their needs anymore. It was time for BTI to reimagine their business and take their first steps along the journey to a more modern workplace.

A tangle of old, dusty business phone systems in a box.

The challenge

Aging servers, difficulty monitoring, lack of a reliable disaster recovery process, and the need to move to a remote workforce

BTI was expanding and needed IT solutions that would grow with them. They were facing connectivity issues among employees and facilities, outdated infrastructure, and enormous costs associated with bringing their network in-line with their needs.

  • Aging servers: BTI was finding that up-grading and replacing their aging infrastructure was cost prohibitive. They were looking at spending between $75k to $100k in replacement costs for their aging infrastructure.
  • Connectivity issues: As BTI expanded, they needed to find a way to keep their offices and employees connected. They were spending an estimated $10-$20k per month of dollars on network on demand, or pay-as-you-go, IT solutions from a phone carrier just to share files and data between dealerships.
  • Inability to effectively monitor their network: The IT team was finding it difficult to keep up with routine proactive network and infrastructure testing and monitoring.
  • Inability to recover from a disaster: After facing a natural disaster, it was necessary to find a way to protect the business and the data from future tornadoes and other disasters.

BTI understood that their cybersecurity and IT strategies impacted not only their bottom line, but the public’s perception of the brand itself. From a seamless customer service experience to accurate billing, every step BTI makes is a reflection of their brand. A cybersecurity incident at BTI, for instance, is more than just a financial hit for BTI… it means a tarnished reputation for them as well.

BTI was looking for an MSP (Managed Services Provider) that would work alongside their existing IT department. They needed to find a way to support their servers, monitor their network and take some of the burden off the small internal IT department.

The solution

Moving to a co-managed IT model provides BTI the best of both worlds

Before contacting Integris, BTI was operating in reactive mode and constantly putting out fires. After a referral from an acquaintance, BTI called Integris for a free consultation. Integris worked together with BTI’s internal IT techs in a co-managed model to learn more about the current state of their IT infrastructure, their future objectives, and to create a roadmap of how to bridge the gaps.

Integris and BTI recognized the key issues to be addressed first were connectivity, collaboration, and cybersecurity. BTI’s strategies involved clusters of servers with large infrastructure and replication costs to outfit each dealership. Integris quickly realized that BTI was a prime candidate for cloud migration services, a solution that would solve many of their issues at once.

A tangle of old, dusty business phone systems in a box.

Migrated services from aging in-house servers to Microsoft 365

The first step was shifting some services from servers to Microsoft 365, including email, for real-time communication and connectivity. The shift to Microsoft 365 instantly increased the ability to share files and data, increasing communication and collaboration between employees. This step included mobile device management solutions as well, encouraging a “work from anywhere” culture for BTI’s service technicians and salespeople.

Addressed security issues by implementing Azure, Intune and MFA

Many security issues were inherently solved with the transition to the cloud via Microsoft Azure and Intune. Intune provides mobile app security through app protection policies, while Azure provides secure access by restricting the actions users can take to log in to the network and apps and separating personal apps from organizational ones. Multi-factor authentication and single sign-on strategies were introduced to increase cybersecurity by requiring users to provide several means of identification to log on to the network or access files.

Increased employee productivity by adding a self-service password reset process

The BTI team was experiencing a high volume of calls daily from employees with password issues, ranging from an inability to access email to being locked out of their computers. To make the sign-in process easier for employees, Integris developed a self-service password reset platform. Freeing up the internal IT department from password resets allows them to focus on other IT issues and saves them an estimated 10-20 hours of productivity per month.

Added controls to limit who has access to files

The next step was introducing Identity and Access Management, a framework of policies and processes that allows IT managers to control who has access to critical data within their organizations. This increases security by limiting the amount of information a hacker can expose in case of a breach.

Added proactive cybersecurity layers to prevent breaches

Integris introduced new firewall solutions. Firewalls protect a network by filtering and blocking outside sources from unauthorized access to an organization’s network. This, combined with other cybersecurity strategies, increased BTI’s security by 200%.

Started the journey of cloud migration in order to avoid replacing aging services

After Integris and BTI’s internal IT department assessed the company’s out-dated servers, it was decided that a transition to cloud services would save money in outdated hardware replacement. This move was an important step in streamlining the company’s communication between facilities and increasing mobility and embracing a “work-from-anywhere” model.

Outsourced day-to-day proactive monitoring, remediation, and reporting functions

Integris and BTI agreed that Integris should perform network monitoring to proactively provide feedback and intervention or remediation if necessary. These actions include event log monitoring, performance monitoring, security monitoring, resource tracking, and other routine tasks. This freed up valuable resources and time for the BTI team. Integris will be adding a Technology Alignment Coordinator (TAC) to BTI’s strategies. A TAC is a dedicated technician that routinely visits clients and proactively reassesses their IT needs.

Laid the foundation to accommodate future growth

In the past, acquiring new dealerships would have taken weeks; now, the entire process is streamlined with seamless connections of firewall, phones, and computers on desks. Increased connectivity means increased productivity for BTI, whose employees can retrieve emails and documents in real-time from anywhere.

The Teams Voice setup, with web app, mobile app, and business phone

The result

Benefits of BTI’s modern workplace journey

BTI started their Modern Workplace Journey with multiple locations, each with a slew of networking challenges. Integris’ co-managed services option allowed BTI’s internal IT department to retain autonomy while giving them the added resources necessary to address their challenges. BTI describes Integris’ co-managed services as having a “big brother that could back up and manage servers and monitor our network, plus increase our cybersecurity.”

BTI was facing aging hardware that would need constant replacement every three to five years across all locations. The amount of money BTI will be saving as their Modern Workplace Journey continues is estimated at between $130k to $150k as BTI moves away from upgrading servers, warranties, licensure, and other infrastructure costs. In addition to these savings, BTI will be saving around $10-$20k per month by canceling Network on Demand (private bandwidth) circuits. Moving to the cloud meant that these NODs are no longer necessary since all information could be shared without taking up valuable internet resources.

BTI is also looking forward to increased productivity as their cloud services expand to include Teams, SharePoint, and OneNote. These Microsoft solutions will allow service technicians to access all parts availability and manuals in the field, and even share pictures of a complicated repair for additional support in real-time. Salespeople will have the documents they need in their hands, no matter where they are. All facilities will be connected through an efficient operating system that streamlines communication and collaboration.

BTI is just starting on their Modern Workplace Journey, and Integris is working together with them to identify and work towards the milestones along the way. Both Integris and BTI understand that this is a transformative journey with the end goal of a universal experience wherever the users are.

“As we started looking at refreshing all our hardware and applications across the entire network, it became obvious that we would benefit by switching to cloud solutions instead. Our staff travels a lot, so cloud solutions were very appealing once they realized they didn’t need a VPN to access shared files if we switched to Microsoft 365. Integris has the solutions and reliability we need to put all the pieces of our IT together. I highly recommend Integris.”

– Tim Milford, IT Specialist, BTI

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