“We can’t assume that someone will call back to buy a ticket tomorrow if the system is down today,” says Stephen Wilson, Executive Director of the Fresno Philharmonic. For a non-profit every dollar counts, so being down for a day isn’t an option. That is why it was so fortunate that they called us when they did. We caught multiple failing components on their server that would have put them down for weeks.
If We Hadn’t Come Along, It Would Have Been Curtains
“We can’t assume that someone will call back to buy a ticket tomorrow if the system is down today,” says Stephen Wilson, Executive Director of the Fresno Philharmonic. Like many city orchestras, the Fresno Philharmonic runs their own box office using software which is tied into every single one of their sales outlets: the ticket window, the office, phone sales and their website. If that software isn’t working, if their website is down, or any part of their network isn’t talking, then they are losing sales.
“With a concert event every month during the season, as soon as one is done, we’re right into the next one. Any interruption in sales creates a loss for us. When someone calls, it is absolutely critical to be able to make that sale right now,” emphasized Stephen.
Tried Other Providers, But They Didn’t Pan Out
That’s why it became a serious problem when their old I.T. support guy threw his hands in the air and said he wasn’t going to touch the system anymore. It was too advanced, too complicated and the Fresno Philharmonic had too many questions for them. This is typical of many I.T. service companies which are “well-known” but don’t always have the highest level of expertise. At J – I.T. Outsource, we’ve handled much larger systems with even more complexity and never missed a beat.
The Fresno Philharmonic system had many pieces but it was well within our expertise. And while some organizations get the bigger issues, they let the small problems go. We always make sure that the basics are handled as efficiently as the big problems. For the Philharmonic’s previous I.T. firm, turns out that even the basics of getting their email to work with mobile devices and making sure the server wasn’t heading for a final coda were beyond them.
Yikes! Another Near Disaster?
The server had multiple failing components which were causing a domino effect. The old computer repair guy wasn’t seeing any of these problems yet – which admittedly aren’t simple to find for less sophisticated I.T. technicians – but this is what you pay a professional firm to do! Continued neglect would have resulted in a complete server failure. We were able to catch these problems during our standard initial audit. We kept the music flowing while we worked on a feasible solution to the problem.
Because they are a non-profit and we knew they were on a tight budget, replacing the server would have been a big hit to their budget. We were able to fix and upgrade the failing components and let them get another season’s use out of their existing core setup.
Even Seasoned “Veterans” Couldn’t Figure Out The Email Problem!
They couldn’t get their email server to synchronize with their phones. You might think it’s easy, just use Gmail or Yahoo, but this is a professional business that needed robust email running off their own domain name. A modern professional is accustomed to being fully connected. Just because they are a non-profit doesn’t mean the Fresno Philharmonic wasn’t going to be up-to-date. In fact, because they are a non-profit their staff is going to be working in and out of the office at all hours.
With such a small and mighty team – and a concentrated business season – it meant they were not always in the office to answer crucial, time-sensitive questions. They needed to make sure they could respond to their customers and their very valuable patrons’ needs whenever and wherever they could.
The problem was that their former I.T. guy couldn’t seem to get their email set up properly in the first place. While setting up an Exchange server is beyond the capabilities of many I.T. firms in town, we feel email is something that absolutely should be part of the skill set of your I.T. provider. We were able to find and solve the problem this “veteran” computer guy couldn’t handle.
“Will You Help With Our Proprietary Ticketing Software?” Of Course!
How many times have you called a software provider to get help with a problem and they tell you, “You’ll have to call your I.T. person.” So you call your I.T. guy and he says, “No, that’s a software problem, you’ll have to call the vendor.” You’ll never hear that from us – in fact, when a software vendor tries to pass the buck, we’ll take it! We prefer to let our tech people speak to their tech people and leave the client to do what they do best. No I.T. firm should ever push you back to the vendor. It’s our job to do that tech-talk and make sure your system is working.
So once the server was reconfigured, loaded up with a modern operating system and ready to play again, we were in touch with the techs from their box-office ticketing software to get it reloaded and up and running. They said, “No problem, we’ll be done in four hours. Call us then and we’ll get you going.” Four hours turned into twenty-four hours and then three days of downtime, which they attempted to pass off as the Philharmonic’s fault. Let’s try that again! J – I.T. Outsource was there to counter every one of the vendor’s stall tactics. We stayed on them every minute and kept things running as smoothly as possible. The moment the software was ready, we pounced and the Fresno Philharmonic was back in tune.
“Instead of Thinking About Computers, We’re Thinking About Music.”
“We sought out J – I.T. Outsource because we needed a different sort of I.T. model than what we had. Their model gives us predictability. We can budget an annual amount instead of guessing about repairs and hoping nothing major breaks,” says Stephen. As the Executive Director of a non-profit, with a board of directors who need accountability, this model made great sense to them. It did require an initial budget increase for I.T., but Stephen emphasizes that it was worth it not only for smooth operations of the network, but in the savings of time for their staff.
“The way J – I.T. Outsource works saves us a lot of staff time. Instead of getting tied up in trying to fix things, we just call. We spend a lot less time with people sitting around, not being able to work while waiting for a response from an I.T. person. We feel like we get priority service. It has significantly reduced our downtime,” says Stephen.
That translates directly into dollars saved. Just one hour of downtime per week could cost $4,940 in hard labor costs every year. Take away another $4,853 in revenue if just one sale was lost during that same downtime for a total of nearly $10,000 that great I.T. management can save in explicit, hard costs for a company. And this doesn’t even begin to take into account the lost productivity, frustration and loss of credibility.
These are some things it’s hard to put a price on. “My staff says that the great relationship we have with J – I.T. Outsource makes it much easier to get their work done. They have increased our morale and productivity and have helped make the office run more legato (smoothly).” Thanks Stephen! We’re proud of our relationship with the Fresno Philharmonic and glad to be part of bringing great concerts and culture to our Valley.