Managed Technology Partner: National Council of Farmer Cooperatives

Publication date: Jan 23, 2018

Last Published: Jul 01, 2021

Written by: Payam Pourkhomami, President & CEO, OSIbeyond

Table of Contents
Read Time : 9 minutes

NCFC Enhances Technology Experience Through Partnership with OSIbeyond

Through a strategic partnership with OSIbeyond as its Managed Technology Partner, the NCFC dramatically improved its technology capacity. The leadership at NCFC recognized that their existing IT provider did not meet the organization’s needs. The provider’s one size fits all service model was not adequate for NCFC. To address this, NCFC searched for a technology partner with in-depth technical acuity, and which focused on tailoring customized solutions to Client needs. By engaging with OSIbeyond, NCFC realized several key benefits:

  1. Flexibility and reliability of technical support services
  2. A custom-tailored solution focused on association and nonprofit operations
  3. Smooth transition and enhanced end user experience
  4. Strategic guidance and overall solution value

“OSI’s performance across the board has been outstanding from our point of view. They made a somewhat difficult migration feel easy on our part, which was valuable. OSI has been outstanding at every point along the way in terms of customer service. I think there’s tremendous value in company like OSI pulling in the same direction and engaged with their clients in a positive way.”

Justin Darisse, Vice president, communications

Lack of Flexibility and Reliability in Support Limited NCFC’s Ability

Prior to engaging with OSIbeyond, NCFC relied on a managed services provider for IT support operations, but this provider provided limited support. These vendor restrictions often hindered NCFC’s ability to function well, its efficiency, and put obstacles between the NCFC and its mission.

“Our previous provider had a very set way of doing things. There wasn’t a lot of flexibility provided…They took a one size fits approach. When you’re a small organization and you need to be agile and have staff in contact where ever they are – some of those security first, one size fits all solutions don’t really work for the organization. Interwoven with that part as well was looking for better customer support and responsiveness to our needs.”

Justin Darisse, Vice president, communications

In addition, the previous provider did not provide onsite support. In effect, the vendor compounded the technology challenges facing the NCFC.

“There was no onsite support, which was difficult because there were a few major issues that we had…with no onsite support, it’s up to our staff, many of whom don’t have IT background, to coordinate with the vendor remotely in order to resolve the issue. The ability to have someone onsite for support within 24 hours was very important to us.”

Justin Darisse, Vice president, communications

The most serious difficulty that the NCFC had with the previous vendor was that it did not provide the customer service and responsiveness that the NCFC expected. Responses were often delayed, or in some instances, the vendor simply did not respond at all to support requests from their Client.

“It is nice to get responses to service tickets. It used to be we would have to call to make sure a service ticket got into the system, but what we found with OSI that for a lot of things that just sending an email to the support address, things get resolved and tickets aren’t lost or kept open for two weeks while someone forgets about it.”

Justin Darisse, Vice president, communications

The Decision to Partner with OSIbeyond

NCFC decided to partner with OSIbeyond because of its reputation for unfailing customer service. Additionally, OSIbeyond’s ability to provide local onsite support as necessary was important.

“Having a general understanding of the type of work and functionality that associations need was important going in…but as we got further in the process and talked to OSIbeyond’s management, one of the strong points as well was the dedication to customer service and the ability of everyone that works there to relate to the average user sitting at their desk with varying levels of knowledge and how IT/computers/phones work.”

Justin Darisse, Vice president, communications

The OSIbeyond Solution

OSIbeyond completely overhauled NCFC’s IT infrastructure. This included migration of all data, email and systems to OSIbeyond’s eXos cloud platform. In addition, all user laptops and Local Area Network equipment were replaced through OSIbeyond’s Equipment Lifecycle Management services. The OSIbeyond solution provided NCFC with significantly more reliability and improved ease of access to data.

“On the basic level, everything seems to work well consistently, which we couldn’t say before. There hasn’t been any downtime due to things in OSIs control. I think there are added capabilities that have been provided that are useful to staff. The VPN solution has been a game changer in how we work when traveling for meetings/business trips.”

Justin Darisse, Vice president, communications

OSIbeyond also implemented a cutting edge unified communications solution based on Skype for Business to replace NCFC’s traditional on-premise phone system. The new solution has enhanced NCFC’s daily operations.

“Your ability to take work calls from your cellphone or home phone or wherever you happen to be, makes it convenient for staff when they’re out visiting members or attending conferences. People are using the capabilities more and more as they become more comfortable with it. We have seen staff adopt more of the capabilities as time has gone on. It has helped increase productivity and has helped manage the flow of information coming in. I do think staff appreciate the technology that’s been provided and is helping them in their everyday work, in terms of them being more productive and responsive to members and to get a better grasp on information flow.”

Justin Darisse, Vice president, communications

 The OSIbeyond Partnering Experience

During the transition, OSIbeyond prepared for the migration through meticulous project planning and communication with NCFC. The objective was to clearly define what the staff could expect during the migration.

“The entire pre-migration process was handled well and went very smooth. At every step in the process there was an appropriate amount of detail in the transition plan that was provided right off the bat once we got the contract signed. The communication throughout the process were to my mind were very good, and OSI provided me with the appropriate information that I could then disseminate to staff here so they could understand what the milestones from the process were and what to expect.”

Justin Darisse, Vice president, communications

The migration occurred after-hours over a single weekend. OSIbeyond managed all communication with the legacy vendor on NCFC’s behalf, minimizing the time spent by NCFC staff on the transition process and ensuring the smoothest possible migration.

“Folks left on Friday afternoon and came in Monday morning and most everything was up and running as it had been on Friday morning. There was very little disruption from the average user’s daily experience… we were up and running Monday morning as if nothing happened.”

Justin Darisse, Vice president, communications

 Strategic Partnership & Value Provided by OSIbeyond

OSIbeyond now provides NCFC with continuous recommendations through scheduled quarterly strategic calls and biennial technology assessments. Without dedicated IT staff in-house, NCFC’s technology posture has moved from a status quo, reactive approach to a forward thinking and technologically advanced profile.

“It is something that we didn’t have before, so it’s nice to have a partner who looks at the landscape… what we have now, and where we need to move… OSI provided a vision of new technologies being rolled out. Staff here are excited about those, which will help productivity even more. As we move forward, the knowledge that there is someone to answer those larger overarching strategic questions on IT is very reassuring to us.”

Justin Darisse, Vice president, communications

 As a Managed Technology Partner, OSIbeyond’s objective is to keep the NCFC current with the latest technologies. As part of regular strategic discussions, OSIbeyond will routinely suggest new technologies that will benefit the NCFC.

“The new capabilities being rolled out to ease file sharing beyond the VPN solution are going to be extraordinarily useful for us. We’re a relatively small staff and have a number of trusted consultants that we’ve used for a long time. Anything that can help ease our work with those outside consultants is greatly appreciated and I think that solution being rolled out will be very useful in that regard..”

Justin Darisse, Vice president, communications

 The purpose of OSIbeyond’s strategic partnerships is to deliver the greatest value from a range comprehensive solutions.  An engagement with OSIbeyond is straightforward, transparent, and flexible.

“The value we get from OSI, the entire package, is just extraordinary. It is a lot of bang for your buck. It may not be the cheapest solution out there, but there is the adage of you get what you pay for. I think that the customer service, the knowledge, the ability to inter-relate with the client and to think strategically and proactively for us on these issues are valuable.”

Justin Darisse, Vice president, communications

About NCFC

Since 1929, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) has been the voice of America’s farmer cooperatives. Their members are regional and national farmer cooperatives, which in turn consist of more than 2,500 local farmer cooperatives across the country. The majority of America’s 2 million farmers and ranchers belong to one or more farmer cooperatives. NCFC members also include 21 state and regional councils of cooperatives.

Farmer cooperatives handle, process and market almost every type of agricultural commodity; furnish farm supplies; and provide credit and related financial services, including export financing. Earnings from these activities are returned to their farmer members on a patronage basis, helping improve their income from the marketplace.

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