“Clearly the Right Networks selling point about specialization in the accounting and CPA [professionals] has come true. Everybody I talk to understands the software packages we work with.”
Friedman Kannenberg & Company, P.C. (FKCo) is a 10-person accounting firm based in Farmington, Connecticut. FKCo primarily serves clients in the music industry, including music product retailers and manufacturers, musicians and bands, recording studios, record labels, music venues, and music education facilities.
Founded in 1985, the firm provides tax and accounting services to an international list of clients, including bands such as King Crimson, Living Colour, Porcupine Tree, Marillion, Simple Plan and Within Temptation, among many others.
FKCo specializes in helping both domestic and international clients navigate the US tax system and guiding musicians who tour in multiple states through the labyrinths of state taxes that exist across the country.
While the firm routinely meets with many of its local clients, staffers rarely meet in person with the firm’s domestic clients located across the United States or with international clients. FKCo therefore needs to have strong telecommunications capabilities to serve its clients.
The firm had a managed IT partner for decades, but after the partner sold to a larger company, service started to decline, says Evan Kalish, accountant and administrator at FKCo. According to Kalish, who is also a drummer and percussionist for several local bands, the new service provider focused on serving clients in industries such as healthcare and just seemed too big or too busy to take care of a 10-person CPA firm focused on the music industry.
For FKCo, which is staffed entirely by accountants and has no IT employees, the decline in service was a problem.
“The new partner’s specialization was moving in a different direction,” Kalish says. “There were a handful of issues that took too long to fix. They were spread a little thin.”
Plus, the previous provider employed thin-client computing, a model that required employees to use stripped down, specialized devices connected to a central in-office server rather than standard laptops connected to a cloud provider’s secure data centers. Thin clients can suffer from performance issues, particularly with video. The model became especially cumbersome as the COVID pandemic forced more staffers into working from home.
In September 2022, FKCo switched to Cloud Premier from Right Networks. Kalish said the cutover was largely a smooth process, requiring about a month—a bit less time than he expected—and he took the lead on the cutover project himself, even though he’s an accountant and not an IT expert. He said there was basically no disruption for other employees as the firm transitioned to Cloud Premier.
“If you have a lead who handles the situation, the Right Networks implementation process pretty much has no downtime except for the cutover morning,” Kalish says. “I took the lead on the project. Nobody else was disrupted at all.”
FKCo also adopted Security Awareness Training from Right Networks, which enables the firm to teach employees how to avoid cybersecurity threats.
The tip to call Right Networks came from an unexpected source: the CEO of FKCo’s former IT partner, who had sold his company to a bigger provider. He stayed on with the new organization but expressed concern about the bigger provider’s ability to serve a firm of FKCo’s size and specialization.
“He was a little bit worried that they were outgrowing us,” Kalish says. “He finally said, ‘I need to tell you about a different partner. Let’s see if this is a good move.’ He told us about Right Networks. We always managed IT. It never made sense to hire somebody full-time just for the 10 of us. It was cost-effective to have managed IT and have a full team behind us.”
Cloud Premier turned out to be a good move. Since cutting over, FKCo has purchased laptops for its employees rather than having them use thin-client devices. Cloud-based hosting has made online meetings smoother, Kalish says.
“We have been seeing better mobility now that we don’t have thin clients on our desks. Thin clients have terrifying internal graphics, and they’re very choppy for remote calls.”
Kalish has also seen a 10%-15% increase in performance speed since switching. Cloud Premier has delivered other big benefits as well.
“We no longer have to do software updates for certain tax products,” he says, because the Cloud Premier service updates the firm’s software automatically.
Kalish also says the deep expertise Right Networks has with accounting and tax software has been a major advantage over the firm’s previous provider’s service.
“We always had fast response times from our prior IT company but not necessarily fast resolution,” he says. “We’re seeing faster resolution. Clearly the Right Networks selling point about specialization in the accounting and CPA [professions] has come true. Everybody I talk to understands the software packages we work with.”
Another major advantage of Cloud Premier for Kalish is reliable support. “If something’s really bad, we have a lead tech support person. I know his name. I have his contact information.”
FKCo has also experienced benefits from Security Awareness Training. As Kalish notes: “Our insurance company is happy about it. We’re happy that we’re getting that training for our users and that I can actively manage it. I can have a broad conversation with the whole team about who’s taking risky actions and how to avoid them.”
In general, Kalish likes that Cloud Premier offers comprehensive managed IT services with a flexible level of autonomy for his staff.
“We’ve always had it in our minds that we need to trust our IT provider because we’re all accountants,” he says. “You allow us to do some of the administration and the details that we can understand while doing the heavy lifting for the things we don’t understand and don’t have any desire to understand. It’s autonomy in a way we can understand.”
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