Michigan-based MSP Safety Net has worked to keep their clients compliant with industry standard regulations and deliver high quality service since the company was formed in 2003.
Jeff Fulton, fCIO at Safety Net, said the ability to balance internal growth and deliver enterprise level service to their clients is a big part of how the team have been able to find continued success. With more than 40 employees, Safety Net serves clients across Michigan with a focus on security and keeping their clients in compliance with the various industry regulations needed such as health care, legal services, and banking.
Some of the compliances that come into play are due to customers that have Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard requirements they must follow.
“In the compliance world there’s a lot of requirements that you’re keeping track of your fleet and you know what your inventory is. So it’s an inventory management solution,” Fulton said.
So, Safety Net isn’t just providing IT services, they are sure that their clients are able to meet the standards of regulatory institutions without fail.
For clients that must keep their processes in line with specific regulatory requirements, tracking their inventory has been a key method to keeping clients in compliance with those regulations.
As the fCIO, Fulton asks clients about the standards they need to comply with. If working with a credit union, Safety Net needs to keep the client in line with Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which requires financial companies to protect their customer’s sensitive data and explain their data sharing policy.
Once they know the regulations, the Safety Net team begins to mold their service around those needs. If clients are deficient in certain aspects, then Safety Net can work with them to develop better policies to meet those goals. With the Lifecycle Manager report, clients get an accurate snapshot of their assets that can be extremely helpful in determining regulatory compliance.
“The [Lifecycle Manager] report is an audit artifact that we send to the auditors in most cases. A banking auditor is going to say ‘I need a copy of everything in your fleet, age, and OS,’” Fulton said. “Because they’re going to look at it and see Windows 7 or something like that. So we’re providing them that level of documentation.”
By working with clients in this way, Safety Net can be proactive when it comes to making process improvements for their clients. They don’t need to wait for something to go wrong, or for notification that their client is not compliant with an industry standard. Safety Net’s support efforts allow clients to improve internal processes and technology beyond the minimum standard for compliance.
“Instead of putting those reports together manually, the time saved with [Lifecycle Manager] reports allows our staff to be more proactive,” he said. “That proactivity allows more chances to update, switch firmware, and look over firewalls on a regular basis. We are making progress on new projects and preventing issues before they happen.”
Fulton discovered Lifecycle Manager when searching for a tool that would give Safety Net better lookup capabilities and create reports faster. The process to collect data, export it into a spreadsheet, and create reports had become extremely time consuming. Fulton was looking for a way to make those processes faster and easier so that time could be spent on more meaningful tasks.
“The lookups on our existing RMM tools were not great, and there it took a lot of work to go in and create a spreadsheet, export, create it, and clean it up. It was very time consuming to generate those reports. That’s when I found [Lifecycle Manager],” he said.
Once incorporated into their workflow, Fulton said the automated asset monitoring and reporting created easy-to-understand reports that both Safety Net and their clients valued. They didn’t need to spend time manually writing reports when Lifecycle Manager was able to automatically generate and email them to clients on a regular basis.
Speeding up the reports process and getting it into the hands of clients was a big benefit for the collaboration between Safety Net and their clients on compliance. With a complete understanding of the clients’ assets, Safety Net meets with client leadership to discuss the regulations their business needs to adhere to.
“I will see the reports on the [client’s] CEO’s desk, printed out along with some of our other reports because they follow along and they’re very keen on having good intel and actionable info with them, which is pretty neat,” Fulton said. “When a CEO brings [the Lifecycle Manager report] into an IT meeting, when they come in and ask what’s going on, that’s important to me.”
Old hardware can introduce security vulnerabilities and be a point of failure when trying to meet regulatory standards. Safety Net uses Lifecycle Manager’s asset monitoring to help convince their clients to update assets when they are old or unsupported. Being able to show them the report that clearly shows old hardware, like a years old server, has been a good way to help clients understand the reasoning behind why old assets need to eventually be replaced.
“Some clients like to get the most out of their equipment, and they did, but then they end up paying the price when something fails,” Fulton said. “It helps tremendously for resource planning when you start talking about keeping your fleet of computers and servers at a reasonable age. It helps with budgeting because I can have the report in front of me and say ‘Look, we need to replace 15 PCs this year and 15 PCs next year.”
For Fulton and the Safety Net team, their success has been a result of dedicated efforts to provide a detailed and high-quality service to their clients, while also being proactive in their efforts to protect client security and regulatory compliance.
That proactivity, Fulton said, was part of the reason why they have been able to add more clients without dramatically increasing the workload of their team. With high-quality, automated services like Lifecycle Manager and a proactive MSP approach, Safety Net looks to continue their success for years to come.