Safe Access Cuts Costs

— August 25, 2014

At any given time, The Morse Group has projects in multiple states, as well as South America. To stay competitive, the company had to get creative while facing a tight market where most other costs, such as labor and raw materials, were fixed.
 
An industry leader and top 50 electrical contracting firm, The Morse Group has permanent offices in seven states with project operations both nationwide and globally. It is comprised of a strong network of member companies with more than $150 million in annual sales that deliver services in the electrical, energy and construction markets.
 
Collectively, these member companies bring specialty to engineering, construction, automation and project development services for the industrial, institutional, hospitality and utility markets.
 
The Case for Improvement
The top-notch foremen who run these projects are one of the company's main competitive advantages, so the company's owner challenged the IT department to find ways to cut down on their travel to and from the office and diminish costs.
 
"We were faced with a situation where a union foreman would be working in the field about an hour from the office. That foreman receives a billable rate of $1.50 per minute—an amount that really adds up with each trip back to the office or job trailer. Pretty soon it could cost over $200 in lost time to just check a drawing. We needed a way to keep them working in the field to cut costs and make our bids more competitive," said Network Administrator Ed Handschuh. "That's when our owner at the time challenged the IT department to create an office in the field."
 
In addition to improving overall competitiveness by increasing productivity and giving off-site employees full independence by creating an "office" in the field, The Morse Group needed to:

  • Provide access to data on corporate servers from any mobile device
  • Integrate with Microsoft Active Directory
  • Secure competitive and sensitive information
  • Quickly identify misuse through the ability to audit and log file movement
  • Eliminate the need to use VPN
 

When evaluating various options, Handschuh quickly realized that file navigation software paired with a VPN wasn't a great solution because the foremen would have to memorize exactly where each file was located or the IT department would be left creating over 150 shortcuts to all the files.
 
He also evaluated a VPN solution and a tool developed by the company who designed their accounting system, however, both options presented too much complexity and demanded too much training. He ultimately decided to use Acronis Access because of its easy-to-use functionality and auditing capabilities.

"The thing that Acronis Access brought was its ease of use. If I were to ask you to find a specific drawing for a project, with no understanding of our business, you would probably find and have access to that document in a very short amount of time. It provided the mobile access that we needed with ease of use that allowed our entire employee base to manage it simply," according to Handschuh.
 
Functionality and Benefits
The solution is deployed on premise, which provides IT with complete control. The Morse Group had been evaluating Dropbox, however, the idea of proprietary information resting on someone else’s servers made members of their leadership nervous.
 
It integrates with Active Directory making authentication, provisioning and user management seamless. With this feature, the Morse Group was able to secure access to their financial documents through provisioning. They restructured their Active Directory to form two specific groups within the company: those with access to financial records and those without.
 
In either case, employees are able to access the most up-to-date documents on corporate servers from any device and anywhere.
 
They could then easily construct the file structure within Acronis Access based upon those provisions, which ensure that employees in the field had access to drawings they needed and that all financial documents remained safe and secure. The audit log gives IT the visibility to see what users are doing, what documents they access, who they share with, etc.
 
The Morse Group had previously experienced a case of intellectual property theft, when a disgruntled employee saved a number of sensitive financial files in Dropbox before leaving, potentially leading to a series of lost bids. With Acronis Access' audit log, the IT department would be able minimize this kind of risk through significantly improved visibility into who had accessed and shared a given document.

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