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Client Success: How a Nation’s Leading Marine Association Navigated the Transition from Office to Remote During the Pandemic

Client Success: How a Nation’s Leading Marine Association Navigated the Transition from Office to Remote During the Pandemic
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Published Jun 09, 2020

Robert is the senior vice president of operations at US’s leading trade association representing the recreational marine industry. The company has 73 full-time employees, but up until about two months ago, they had closer to 100.

“Unfortunately, the pandemic put quite a strain on our business very rapidly,” added Robert.

Until recently, the company had an internal IT team comprised of four staff, with some responsible for tech and others handling the system.

“That worked for a number of years,” offered Robert. “Our business was growing, so as we started to see the need for a more rapid response to employee tech issues, and the scope of our activity becoming more dynamic, we had to allocate a lot of time to the information system side of the business.”

The trade association is active in a variety of capacities, from product certification to boat shows. So, their need for reliable IT systems can’t be overstated.

The Challenge

When Technology (and a Global Lockdown) Prevents Operational Efficiency

The company had a history of spending a great deal on information systems, including Customer Service Management (CSM), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and even custom modules.

The fragmentation and lack of connection between tech modules is a common issue in a lot of businesses, and the trade association was no exception.

As Robert explained:

“We are living in a number of systems to meet a number of our functional area needs, and quite frankly all of those systems don’t necessarily play nice with each other – we’ve found that we’re not at a level of operational efficiency with these fragmented systems.”

Robert shared that operational efficiency was also a major pain point. But as the need to make the switch from an office to a remote workforce became urgent, all other concerns suddenly became less important.

The Solution

Strategic IT Solutions Can Grow Business

Robert knew that the company would be unable to meet its IT needs with a small internal team. He recognized that they didn’t have the ability or means to afford the talent required.

He expressed this challenge by saying:

“For our needs to be met, we would have required several individuals working in IT. Not only is this cost-prohibitive, but we don’t have enough demand for each of those skills on a daily basis. For us, the periodic access to skills was going to be more beneficial.”

Robert originally learned about XL from an internal technology officer liaison. A meeting with XL was held only a day or two before they had to shut down their offices due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The next day, they were working together to turn their company into a remote-operated business. “We figured that out and found a way to make it happen in a matter of hours,” Robert shared.

When you consider that the trade association only had the capabilities for a few to work remotely prior to the lockdown, this is nothing short of stunning.

“We didn’t have VPN for everyone, licenses for everyone, or even Windows updates that allowed for technology we were highly dependent on such as Microsoft Teams – we just didn’t have those capabilities across our entire staff.”

Much of this was sorted out, as Robert mentioned, in a matter of hours.

Robert, however, added that they didn’t just find a meaningful solution to working remotely. Today:

“Not only do we have access to a helpdesk to help solve real-time, real application problems, but we have access to an individual that can wear a much larger hat and look at our entire structure very holistically and provide advice on how we can look to solutions and integrate our systems.”

The Results

Technology Increases Profitability

Plainly, in recent history, the trade association’s greatest challenge was figuring out how to enable telecommuting for over 100 employees.

The day after lockdown, Robert spent most of his day problem-solving, analyzing, and ensuring their staff had remote access.

Robert had this to say about XL:

“They were able to provide fast recommendations so that we could work remotely. They brought the solution and ability to implement rapidly for 100 individuals.”

When asked what the number one result he got from the strategic IT partnership was, Robert said, “There isn’t one single thing above another I can pick. It’s the entire package.”

But he did share that the helpdesk was of great benefit to him and his team. As well, he found a lot of value in the fast response times and XL’s ability to help him find and integrate the best tech solutions for their situations without internal bias.

“The great thing about working with XL.net is they maintain a very well-rounded and broad team of experts on hand and available to us pretty much 24 hours a day.”

Aligning Tech Solutions with Company Goals

In closing, we asked Robert if there were any big goals his company was looking to achieve. Not surprisingly, they are ambitious, to say the least.

Robert shared specifically about events. Likely, this was top of mind due to the recent lockdown.

“One important part of our business is events – things that require 10s of thousands of people to gather at one location at one time. We’re confident those are going to continue into the future, but we are now looking to augment in-person events with a virtual element.”

He added:

“As we start to go down this path, the integration of fast, precise, and user-friendly systems is going to be paramount to our success. With XL.net at our side, we’re confident we can connect all the dots to ensure the solutions meet our business needs.”

Interview recording:

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