When Bonstra | Haresign ARCHITECTS decided to change IT support companies, they had no idea how much this decision would affect their ability to continue business operations in the coming weeks. Their first day of onboarding with XPERTECHS was on March 1st, 2020 and at that time, no one had any idea that the country would soon be submerged in a public health crisis that would force the company to send all their employees home to work. Fortunately for them, the work that XPERTECHS started on day one set them up for a smooth transition to remote work that could otherwise have been a very rocky road.
Bonstra | Haresign ARCHITECTS is a firm of 32 people who work together to create contextually designed places and buildings for a diverse range of projects. Located in downtown Washington DC, the firm is led by founding partners, David Haresign, FAIA and Bill Bonstra, FAIA, LEED AP.
Bill and David think strategically about technology and have invested in cutting edge software tools. They understand the role that technology plays in their creative process to bring their design work to life, and to efficiently run business operations.
They found XPERTECHS when they decided that they needed more proactive, strategic input into managing their IT. XPERTECHS’ approach to managed IT services was appealing because it was focused on preventing problems before they happened, and in finding ways to use technology to improve operations.
Simultaneous Onboarding and Project Implementation
Because of their in-depth discovery process and previous experience working with architecture, interior design and engineering firms, XPERTECHS very quickly identified the pressing issues that needed to be addressed in the Bonstra | Haresign ARCHITECTS IT environment. Improvement initiatives began concurrently with onboarding in order to have an immediate impact on their new client’s technology experience.
“We had a project team work seamlessly with our onboarding team to develop a plan to make changes immediately and to create a phased plan for improvements,” explained Joe Mellott, Project Manager at XPERTECHS. “Our goal was to keep them working and eliminate frustrations while simultaneously making progress on the phased plan.”
Strategic Roadmap for IT Improvements
The XPERTECHS team produced a documented roadmap with their recommendations for IT improvements along with a timeline that would take place over the course of the next several months. This is exactly the kind of IT guidance that David and Bill were looking for.
“We made the switch to XPERTECHS based on recommendations of other companies. They came up with a strategic adjustment plan for us that’s executable, and it’s not going to break the bank,” said David.
Work began immediately to upgrade hardware and software. Although only a handful of employees worked remotely, a new Virtual Private Network (VPN) was being installed to enable fast, secure access to the company’s servers. Server equipment was also being upgraded.
Then came the COVID-19 pandemic. Non-essential businesses in the Washington DC area were shut down and the exodus to remote work began. Though firms associated with constructing buildings and infrastructure are considered essential businesses, Bonstra | Haresign ARCHITECTS elected for the bulk of its team to work remotely in order to reduce health risk.
Improvements in Progress Facilitated Transition to Remote Work
Luckily, upgraded replacement computer hardware for 25% of the office that was already on order soon arrived. Bonstra | Haresign directly retrieved the newly configured computers from XPERTECHS and distributed them to appropriate team members. The VPN installation that was already underway was expanded to include the entire staff, permitting all of the firm’s members to gain remote access.
XPERTECHS worked with each individual team member to guide them through using remote desktop and VPN to access the servers located in the office, where their software and files were located. They also rolled out multi-factor authentication as an additional security layer to keep data and access to the Bonstra | Haresign IT network locked down.
“One of the wonderful and amazing things was that we didn't really have downtime,” said David. “There were some very minor stumbles because we had not fully installed a new VPN when we went remote. We had started transition for select team members, but we implemented more than two dozen new VPN installations immediately after we went remote. XPERTECHS did a great job.”
Communication Integral to a Great Technology Experience
For XPERTECHS, a great technology experience includes great communication. As they follow the plan that they developed in Bonstra | Haresign’s strategic IT roadmap, Joe keeps David and his team in the loop to talk through what’s going on, to make sure that they understand any changes that are being made and the impact that they might have on workflow.
“The development of our relationship with leadership and the Bonstra | Haresign ARCHITECTS team, and the communication over the past few months has been very strong,” said Joe. “This helps not only me and our leadership team, but it helps our service desk and our technology alignment team to better serve the client.”
Decision to Switch to XPERTECHS Validated
During the few months that they’ve been working together, XPERTECHS has demonstrated to Bonstra | Haresign ARCHITECTS that an IT support company can truly operate as a partner and not just a vendor. They’ve shown that they don’t bend under pressure in an emergency situation, and they’ve shown that the road to IT improvement is the same one that leads to resilience in times of uncertainty.
“I think XPERTECHS has done a great job with us. They have helped us a tremendous amount move into this emergency remote work environment that we find ourselves in,” said David. “I think that compared to where we were at the beginning of the year, we’ve upgraded our hardware, software and operational strategy significantly. XPERTECHS has been over the top great. You can quote me on that.”
Read more about Bonstra | Haresign ARCHITECTS' experience with remote working: Remote Work Slows Creative Process But Reveals Resilience at Bonstra | Haresign ARCHITECTS
About Bonstra | Haresign ARCHITECTS
Bonstra | Haresign ARCHITECTS is a full-service architectural design studio founded in 2000 in the heart of Washington, DC. We are a firm of 30 highly qualified creative architects and designers – problem-solvers who thrive on finding innovative solutions to the challenges of cities and neighborhoods. Our team works on a variety of projects ranging in size and complexity from residential renovations and adaptive use to large-scale, commercial and mixed-use developments. We operate in a collegial studio environment where each team member participates in all aspects of project design, development and execution. Our projects succeed based on our ability to listen to our clients, to communicate effectively with each member of our team and to maintain a balance between a view of the larger picture and a precise focus on the details. We believe that architecture should be expressive of its time, fulfill client and community aspirations, respond appropriately to its physical context, and inspire the public with memorable and creative placemaking, buildings and spaces. www.bonstra.com