November 18, 2017
    Out of necessity, this assn turned to the cloud. Now it embraces it

    It even improved the staff’s work-life balance


    Public Affairs Council faced a technology problem not unlike many other associations. Its website technology was cumbersome and faulty, and there wasn’t a staff member who had the background to really support IT in-house.

    Faced with an increasingly unreliable system, PAC knew it needed to find a permanent solution. Ultimately, a new vendor moved the association’s system to the Cloud. As a result, the staff has become more efficient, with the unintentional benefit of an improved work-life balance.

    PAC finance and administration director Reggie Nance said before the association moved to the Cloud, it’s technology was housed on-site in a server room. A consultant came in  twice a week to work on issues that might have come up in the past week.

    The problem began when PAC’s website started to experience more problems. The staff person who maintained the site was not an IT expert, so the consultant would have to be called. This situation was challenging enough when it happened during the week. But it was exacerbated when it happened on the weekend or worse, when key staff were at a tradeshow and the site went down.

    Another problem was in backing up. PAC would back up its system by manually taping it.

    When the situation became untenable, PAC reached out for a better solution and found Cetrom, a Cloud provider founded by Christopher Stark, who is a former CIO of a trade association.

    Stark said when they first started to work with PAC, it was discovered there was a simple virus/anti-virus problem, but “it became pretty clear that [PAC] needed a little more TLC if they were going to maintain an on-premise solution.”

    Because PAC already was going through a “technology refresh,” it was the perfect time to consider moving the association to the Cloud. It was decided that a full-time IT person was not warranted, but PAC “needed a little bit more attention or proactiveness than they had at the time,” and that’s when the Cloud was offered as a possible solution, Stark said.

    For Nance, it was the right decision.

    “Going to the Cloud actually helped us with our technology,” he said, noting that PAC did away with its on-site servers as all of its technology was now housed on the Cloud. Cetrom also became PAC’s IT support provider. Now, any staff member can call for support 24/7, which PAC did not have in the past.

    With technology housed in a more reliable way, and with support at-hand at any time and from anywhere, a lot of concern for PAC’s technology has dissipated. 

    “It was a pretty easy decision for us,” Nance said. “The expense in the very beginning was more because we weren’t used to paying for the support of the Cloud. As we found out, the benefit of having the Cloud greatly outweighed the cost of not having it. That along with the IT support just pays for itself and the piece of mind.”

    Besides piece of mind, Nance said benefits to going to the Cloud include freeing up the staff website person to focus on other things than IT issues. Also, Nance said staff have become “much more efficient. It was a 100 percent turnaround to what we were before.”

    But an unintended benefit to existing on the Cloud, Nance pointed out, is an enhanced work-life balance for staff.

    “Initially you just wanted to give staff a good product [by going to the Cloud]. Then we realized it helps staff work-life balance. If staff can’t go into office because child is sick, it’s great for them to know they can stay home, turn on a laptop, go into the Cloud, and see exactly what they see when you sit in front of your desk,” Nance said.

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