Since its founding in 1984, Industrial Fabrication Services (IFS), a metal fabrication company in Southern Minnesota, has not been reluctant to adopt new manufacturing technologies that have allowed them to increase their capabilities and serve an expanding multi-national customer base. Using the latest manufacturing technology to provide custom metal fabrication is the way that the company creates revenue, so the focus here is understandable. Information and technology, on the other hand, has not always had the same focus. That is, until IFS saw that investing in IT could improve the way they served their customers, and remain a strong competitor in the custom metal fabrication market place.
Design and drafting is an important piece of IFS’s contract manufacturing process, but the server situation at the company was hobbling their ability to keep up with demand. Updates were available for the AutoCAD software the engineers used for design work, but they didn’t have the sound advice they needed to move forward with the server upgrade that would support the beefed up application.
Email is the preferred method of communication with customers and vendors, and IFS knew that they needed to assure access to the numerous and lengthy trails of messages that contained important business information. But they had outgrown their hosted email service and had limitations in how much email data they could backup. In the area of backup and disaster recovery, they saw the need to modernize their procedures but were unsure of what direction to go.
Matt Doherty, President of IFS, was researching his IT options when he met with Thriveon. It didn’t take long for Matt to recognize that the approach to IT that was described would not only provide them with the advice and project implementation that would help them over their current hurdles, but would give them a way to turn IT into a business function that enabled their goals.
“I was impressed by their proactive approach. With Thriveon we would have more of a partner, and someone who had some skin in the game,” said Matt. “Until I met with them, I didn’t know that an IT company could operate that way.”
As Thriveon began to work with IFS, they addressed their immediate needs to update the AutoCAD server and the email system, as well as modernize backup and disaster recovery procedures. Consultation with the Thriveon, vCIO, resulted in the recommendation of a virtual server platform that would allow for individual roles to run on separate servers, enabling collaboration with maximum efficiency and future scalability. Email is now hosted onsite on a platform that is very stable, efficient and has industry best spam filtering. Updated data backup capabilities have been put in place in addition to improvements in security.
While these projects illustrate progress in the way that Thriveon helped IFS tackle the problems that were right in front of them, they aren’t the only results of the partnership that has developed.
“The biggest outcome that I see is just a lack of downtime due to Thriveon’s proactive approach,” said Matt. “I know of at least one instance when Thriveon replaced a hard drive in response to an alert. If that part would have been allowed to fail it would probably have resulted in a 1 – 2 day outage.”
In addition to now having a reliable and secure network, Matt also sees great value in the way that their customized IT roadmap has been able to help them look forward, to plan and budget for future needs. That’s all part of Thriveon’s proactive approach and the result of having a dedicated vCIO meet with them regularly to provide ideas on how technology can help them achieve their business goals. In this way, IFS’ goals also become Thriveon’s goals, and that’s what Matt is talking about when he talks about skin in the game.
Learn more about Industrial Fabrication Services on their website: http://www.ifssteelfab.com/