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November 5, 2020
Company Name: Guardian Computer
Company MSP 501 Rank: 126
CEO: John Prejean
Headquartered: New Orleans, LA
MSP 501 partner Guardian Computer is no newcomer to the channel. But for many businesses – and particularly partner businesses – the pandemic is taking a new toll on operations.
MSPs like Guardian Computer witness the challenges their customers and employees face as the pandemic rages on. They’re also recipients of the opportunity to be able to help customer business stay afloat.
Guardian Computer’s John Prejean
However, even veteran businesses like Guardian need the help of their technology partners. Here, CEO John Prejean talks about the trials and tribulations of being on the front lines this year, working on one hand with vendor partners, and on the other, with customers.
Channel Futures: What new opportunities and challenges came with the COVID-19 pandemic?
JP: The use of remote working and conferencing has increased dramatically in the last few months. The technologies behind these digital practices have been lifesavers for many businesses. But transitioning to a virtual environment brings both opportunities and challenges for IT.
We have had the opportunity to configure new remote access solutions that are flexible, reliable and secure. This has included network configuration, security, cloud management and help desk support.
As workers establish new remote work setups at home, many have required assistance establishing reliable, secure networks and endpoints. So we secure their computer networks and the network connections to computers, phones, tablets, servers, databases and more.
The lines between the customer’s personal and professional lives have become blurred. More people are working on personal computers and smartphones, opening companies up to additional risks. Mobile devices, in particular, may be more susceptible to phishing schemes and mobile-specific malware.
As more organizations transition to a remote workforce, many are becoming increasingly reliant on cloud computing. Keeping company information, files and data in the cloud makes it easier for employees to access and share these items remotely.
However, hackers are taking advantage of these migrations to the cloud. If an attacker can infiltrate a company cloud, they gain access to valuable information, as well as new opportunities to impersonate users within the company. It’s critical for organizations to address the potential threats by establishing proper cloud security and employee protocols.
CF: What is one thing you wish vendors would do that they don’t?
JP: Like the rest of us, many vendors have been slammed throughout the pandemic. It’s been a challenge to keep supply chains up and running. But I wish more vendors would make customer communication and support a priority, despite these unprecedented challenges. This would enable all of us to keep our operations running as smoothly as possible.
Unfortunately, disruptions and delays in the supply chain can have far-reaching consequences. A slowdown in production can lead to …
… an overworked workforce later, requiring overtime to make up for these losses. This can put additional strain on transportation, when required, which has often faced its own issues with disruption during the pandemic.
In the midst of these new challenges, it becomes easy to allow customer communication to fall by the wayside. But offering proper customer relations, expectations and support has never been more critical.
If products or services face delays, vendors need to spend additional time and effort communicating with customers about those delays. That’s in addition to finding ways to make things right. This allows us, in turn, to communicate with our customers about the products, services and solutions we can offer to address challenges they are facing.
Getting a quick response from vendors and keeping the ball rolling, therefore, has been the biggest item on our wish list during this global crisis.
CF: What was the single biggest technology or business decision that drove your company’s growth in 2019? How did it do so?
JP: After participating in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program, we recognized that improving our business practices and standards would provide the biggest impact for our company in 2019 and beyond. As a result, in mid-2018, we decided to hire our first C-level process improvement manager.
As a small business, this was a major decision. Without significant growth or an increase in profit margin, the added cost of an FTE would have a negative impact on our bottom line. We knew it would be a challenge to maintain our profit margin at the beginning of developing and implementing process changes.
Although temporary, we initially experienced decreases in our efficiency. Building the confidence and trust of our workforce was a critical step. Our core message was that efficiency and productivity gains would increase profits, and we had no intentions of reducing our workforce. Change is difficult, and we needed 100% cooperation and buy-in from the team to succeed.
Our goals were to increase productivity enough to improve our profit margin by 5% and to have the capacity to add 25% customer growth. We took a hit in billable hours in the fourth quarter of 2018 as we began this endeavor. But in 2019, we were able to reap the benefits of our improved processes and documentation. We also focused on modifying our alert system to make it more efficient with less “noise.”
In the end, we exceeded our goals. That year, we were chosen as one of the top thirty-two 2019 Louisiana Growth Leaders by the Louisiana Economic Development agency.
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