Month: October 2017

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Culture Surveys

Keller Schroeder President-Jeff GormanJeff Gorman – [President]

The importance of measuring key performance indicators, or knowing the ‘score’ of your progress toward goals, is a widely held view among leaders.  Without some consistent manner from which you can evaluate your progress, it becomes difficult to maintain clarity within an organization regarding the current state of key efforts.  Successful businesses frequently apply this mentality to financial performance, budgets, timelines, and other key initiatives.   Seeing the trend in share value, a comparison of year-to-date financials to budget, or comparing project milestones to forecasts are all great tools of measuring ‘lag’ indicators, those indicators that show the final impact of previous actions on current performance.

At Keller Schroeder, we strongly believe a key performance differentiator for our business is our ownership culture.  Because our employees are owners in the business, we believe they engage with a different level of commitment, they more strongly value client relationships, and they feel more connected to the purpose of the business.  To help assess and measure our performance with respect to our culture, we regularly perform employee-engagement surveys.  We have engaged with nationally known organizations who focus on effective ways to measure culture and employee perceptions of key aspects of the organization with the expectation that we want to compare how we align against those who set the standard nationally for having great workplaces.  Much like reviewing a financial statement, we use the output from the surveys to identify areas where we need to focus for improvement, and we look for areas where we are performing strongly and discuss how to leverage those strengths.  We use the baseline numbers from the top organizations as our ‘budget’ for knowing where we are currently against where we want to reside.

Best Small Workplaces 2017 LogoI am very excited and proud to share, based on the feedback from our employee-owners this year, Keller Schroeder was named to the Fortune magazine and Great Places to Work ’50 Best Small Workplaces’ in the United States this year.  Our results were scored against hundreds of other companies with surveys covering over seventy-thousand employees of small and medium businesses across the country.  From our collective scores and information provided about our benefits, our behaviors, and our focus on the community, Keller Schroeder was rated as #21 on this year’s list.  We have plenty to work on to continue to improve as an organization focused on making positive, personal impacts on our employee-owners, our clients, and our communities, and yet we are very proud of where the scoreboard shows us in our pursuit of that purpose.

It is consistently insightful and invaluable to get candid feedback from a wide swath of employees to create a scoreboard for your culture. It can be both very humbling and very rewarding.  It also should be a requirement if you support the view that the organizational health of your company is the most critical ‘lead’ measure, having direct impact on the ‘lag’ measures you have been using as a scorecard for years.  Research consistently shows the value to an organization, in all measurable ways, of ‘engaged’ employees over ‘content’ or ‘discontent’ employees.  Determining the best way to build a scoreboard to allow an organization to start tracking that key metric should be getting consideration.  We view our culture as a key difference maker in how we add value to our clients; we would encourage others to invest the time to measure those traits in their own organizations.  The benefits to knowing your culture ‘score’ can have a direct impact on all aspects of a company’s performance, and in a marketplace where competitiveness for business and for employees is extremely high, the insight gained from the assessment can help an organization turn culture into a positive differentiator.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

Thanks to our Totally Rad Clients!

Each year in October, Keller Schroeder invites our clients to join us for an on-site event that serves as our opportunity to thank them for their continued business. Around 400 of our clients, prospects, and staff members get together for lunch, prizes, and a lot of fun. Each attendee receives a thank you gift for attending (we’ve given laptop backpacks, Maglites, Tervis tumblers, lunch coolers, etc.), and are also entered to win prizes which are drawn every half hour during the event.

Keller Schroeder Totally Rad 2017 Client Appreciation Event

KS Client Appreciation Event Tent

In 2017, we went retro with an 80s-themed “Totally Rad Client Appreciation Event.” We are proud to say we took this theme to the max with lots of neon, Rubix cubes, cassette & VHS tapes, Slinky’s, floppy disks – the works!

 

KS Client Appreciation Event Prize WinnersKS Client Appreciation Event Retro Arcade

Thanks to the Cisco Team at Tech Data, we were even able to secure a retro arcade- complete with Pacman, Galaga, Frogger, Asteroids, and more. Attendees were also entered to win some pretty sweet 80s-themed door prizes including a 50” 4K TV along with a Nintendo NES Classic, an adult-sized big wheel, a retro-style turntable with 80s vinyls, and an updated Polaroid camera.

KS Client Appreciation Event Give Back TentOur Client Appreciation Event also involves a unique charitable aspect, as we ask our employee-owners and clients to bring along a donation for a different charity each year. They are always exceedingly generous, and our chosen charities come away with truckloads of useful items they have requested. This is a major contributing factor in the Client Appreciation Event being our largest and most anticipated event every year.

Albion Fellows Bacon Center LogoFor this year’s event, we partnered with Albion Fellows Bacon Center as our give back organization. For over 35 years, Albion Fellows Bacon Center has been strategically working toward preventing domestic and sexual violence in our community and offering services to empower victims. Their services assess barriers to safety and self-sufficiency as well as the emotional and psychological needs of victims.

Albion Fellows Bacon Center Dryers

The generosity from our clients and employee-owners was once again overwhelming, and Albion left with tons of needed supplies. Keller Schroeder as a company was also able to provide two high-capacity dryers and laundry supplies for Albion’s shelter.

Thank you once again to our clients, employee-owners, and our vendor partners for making this year’s Client Appreciation Event an incredible success!

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

What is Visual Studio Team Services and How Does It Differ From TFS?

Carrie Rudolph Microsoft Business Unit DirectorCarrie Rudolph – [Microsoft Business Unit Director]

Best practices say that any custom development team should use a source control tool for versioning and collaboration.  Microsoft’s historical source control tool has been Team Foundation Server (TFS), released in 2006 and still a leader in source control today.   Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) is the online version of Team Foundation Server (TFS), and while these two tools have many similarities there are a few differences as well.

Microsoft Visual StudioBoth provide an integrated and collaborative development environment that provides tools for version control, planning, and work tracking. They both offer much more than source control they are application development lifecycle management tools. TFS is an on premise installation with a SQL Server backend.   Previously known as Visual Studio Online, VSTS is a cloud service backed by Microsoft’s cloud platform, Azure.  For TFS, you typically connect to an intranet server and authenticate using Windows Authentication and Active Directory.  This authentication is normally transparent and most users do not realize it’s even occurring.  With VSTS you are connecting over the public internet, and you authenticate with a Microsoft account or using Microsoft Azure Active Directory.

Microsoft Visual Studio Screen ShotThere are several advantages to using VSTS instead of TFS.  Since VSTS is a cloud hosted service there is nothing for you to install or maintain.  You can eliminate cost of servers, time to install, update, and backup the software, patches, and OS. VSTS ensures that you will immediately be able to utilize the latest and greatest features and functionality.    With the online access to VSTS, the need for developers to connect via VPN to access source code is eliminated.  This can be a big benefit for development teams spread out over several locations.  VSTS can also host GIT projects as well as traditional team foundation projects, which allows you to manage all of your source code in one place and eliminate the need for multiple services. Lastly, VSTS also includes a marketplace with hundreds of available plugins, from Slack Integration, to Code Search, and Trello; there is an ever growing list of plugins available for free at the click of a button.

VSTS is free to those individuals with Visual Studio memberships.   A small team (up to five users) can access Basic features free of charge, and for larger teams, there is a per user monthly fee.  An unlimited number of project Stakeholders can also be added for free; they can view and edit work items but not manage code.

Microsoft Visual Studio Screen ShotThere are several options for migrating from TFS to VSTS.  Projects can be added to VSTS one at a time, in which case previous version history will be lost.  Projects and their related history can be migrated directly from TFS 2017 to VSTS using the TFS Database Import Service from Microsoft. . Finally, you can use a public API, but please know that many of these will not move all of your TFS artifacts and their history. If you have added customizations to TFS, these may cause errors that must be resolved prior to migrating to VSTS.  In some cases, customizations may be lost.

If you are looking to reduce time and cost related to hosting TFS and increase your team’s accessibility to source code, you will definitely want to consider Visual Studio Team Services. Contact your Select Account Manager to learn how Keller Schroeder can help.

by Carissa Carissa No Comments

CLIENT SUCCESS: Improved Experience For Employees And Customers with Cisco

In partnership with  Tech Data, Keller Schroeder was able to obtain a series of case studies depicting recent client experiences with our team and Cisco technologies. Keep reading to learn how Keller Schroeder helped Jasper Chair Company improve their employees’ and customers’ experiences with an upgrade to the company’s IT network and security infrastructure with Cisco network and VOIP technology.

The Challenge

Jasper Chair Company LogoJasper Chair’s IT network and phone systems were outdated and systems were disjointed. In fact, it was starting to affect the workforce and it was slowing down production. Jasper Chair needed to find an IT company to help them build a roadmap to overhaul their existing IT infrastructure and replace it with faster, better performing technology that would enable them to offer an improved experience to their employees and customers.“Offering better technology that works together well is an essential backbone of any successful business. We knew we needed to heavily invest in new technology infrastructure, and we were looking for a trusted provider to help us build a strategy and a roadmap to gain a competitive advantage with the new technology,” explains Chad Barth, Vice President at Jasper Chair Company.

The Solution

Great Strategy and IT Roadmap for the Future  –    Jasper Chair needed to build a cohesive IT network and completely overhaul its existing phone system. Jasper Chair reached out to its IT manager, who then referred the company to Keller Schroeder. When Jasper Chair hired Keller Schroeder, their engineers and account managers were able to hit the ground running. The Keller Schroeder team listened to Jasper Chair’s concerns, they took time to understand the company’s technology wish list, and fully learn the current IT landscape. “We have really put our faith in Keller Schroeder, and they successfully laid out a plan to help us build the IT infrastructure we needed to be successful. We are confident in the technology selected because we chose Cisco,” adds Barth. Keller Schroeder created a roadmap and added in security solutions that would meet the IT needs of Jasper Chair. This new infrastructure included Cisco VoIP phone system, a server, Cisco Adaptive Security Application (ASA), and a new network. “Most importantly, Keller Schroeder helped us choose the best Cisco security products to protect our company from ransomware or cyberattacks.”

Benefits

High-Performing, Driven, and Organized – Throughout the project, Keller Schroeder was organized, attentive, and thoughtful about meeting Jasper Chair’s needs. The Keller Schroeder team led the charge in effectively managing the projects, and the company worked well with the Jasper Chair IT team.

“What most stood out to us with Keller Schroeder was their people. They were great to work with. They are all so effective and driven, and you can definitely tell that they love their job and the work they are doing” – Chad Barth, Vice President at Jasper Chair

Cisco LogoKeller Schroeder’s extensive knowledge about the Cisco products and solutions provided Jasper Chair with a guarantee the final solution would be high functioning and reliable. “They were cohesive with our IT systems, they integrated the projects well, and their engineers worked with the network team to ensure everything was working well together.” Managing the budget efficiently is a large part of successfully seeing the project through. Jasper Chair’s headquarters is located about an hour away from Keller Schroeder’s office, so the company took the time to conduct video conferencing sessions as much as possible to help control the costs. Barth says, “Keller Schroeder really put us first. Once they had the IT infrastructure in place, they really worked with us on the budget by accommodating us remotely.”

Thorough Support

Building and installing a new network and VOIP phone system can be complicated. Throughout the process, Keller Schroeder provided Jasper Chair with end-to-end support. From planning and purchasing and all the way to installation, Keller Schroeder was organized and set expectations for Jasper Chair to ensure the project’s success. “Keller Schroeder brought so many good ideas to the table, and we depend on them for that. They not only helped us build our new network and VOIP phone system, but they also gave us a plan for the future,” says Barth.

Results

Carefully Vetted, Secure Solutions – When building an expansive IT network, it is important to make sure all the products and solutions work together well. It is also important to ensure the best products are used to meet the business needs of the customer. Keller Schroeder carefully vetted the products and provided a cohesive ecosystem to help Jasper Chair’s business thrive. Barth adds, “With Keller Schroeder’s guidance, we decided to go primarily with Cisco products to build our IT network, VOIP phone system, and data center. Their solutions are reliable and secure. Protecting our data is a high priority.” Like many companies, Jasper Chair had been a target of malicious cyber-attacks. Now that they have Keller Schroeder on their side building reliable IT infrastructure with Cisco solutions and security, Jasper Chair has not had any further issues.

Happy Employees, Satisfied Customers – Prior to their engagement with Keller Schroeder, Jasper Chair’s employees had experienced a slow network and other technical issues that were distracting from their day-to-day tasks. Now, with the new system in place, employees are happy and more productive. “Keller Schroeder provided us with incredible service and they helped us find exactly what we were looking for. They have done a fantastic job with our current projects, and now they are already working on taking us through the next phase.”

Throughout the projects, Keller Schroeder worked to exceed Jasper Chair’s expectations and accomplish all their project goals and objectives. “They did everything we asked them to do, while exceeding our expectations on all levels. We don’t get as many complaints from employees anymore because things are working effectively.”

“The team at Keller Schroeder went the distance with us and has taken care of everything. Their commitment to our success was really felt by all of the employees at Jasper Chair.” — Chad Barth, Vice President at Jasper Chair Company

Exceeded Expectations – Keller Schroeder prides itself on going the distance to satisfy its customers. They don’t just meet the customer’s needs, but it exceeds them on all levels. Throughout the projects, Keller Schroeder was attentive to Jasper Chair’s needs and thoughtful about providing them the best customer service in the industry. “We look for consistency and trust and believe that slow and steady wins the race. For me, the most important factor for any business partnership is reliability, consistency, trustworthiness. We want reliable performance on a steady basis. Barth explains, “Keller Schroeder offered us the performance, quality, and expert knowledge we were looking for from an experienced and professional IT service provider. They were able to help us with all of our IT needs and build a roadmap for the future.”

For more information about how Keller Schroeder can assist your organization with Cisco technology, please contact your Select Account Manager.

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