While it’s often been said that the shoemaker has no shoes for his own children, sometimes a similar thing can happen with a software company. Only in this case, InfinityQS, a supplier of data-driven enterprise quality management software, had an aging on-premises IT system, all crammed in together in the traditional “server room.”
But, sometimes a software firm’s experts expend more effort on helping their users—and rightly so—than taking some time out to look after their own computer and software systems. So when a series of power outages occurred in 2018 in the Fairfax, Virginia area, InfinityQS’ headquarters found itself without a phone system, internet and network servers. When your business is software, and you rely on all these systems working, having them all out at the same time means there is no positive cash flow.
Doug Fair, InfinityQS COO, knew it was time to take action to prevent similar failures in the future. Fair spearheaded a top-to-bottom overhaul of the company’s IT infrastructure, modernizing and consolidating IT systems to the cloud for better uptime and security. Making the necessary changes produced quantifiable results to the tune of saving more than $1 million a year and reducing down time in excess of 3,000-plus man-hours. When the work on the replacement systems was done, Fair found that he had also incidentally prepared for something he hadn’t seen coming—the coronavirus, aka COVID-19. He soon realized the biggest payoff of the new system was the ability to keep operations running even with external disruptions.
For many publishing companies today, working at home is nothing new. In fact, I’ve been doing it for more than 15 years. For Fair’s company, however, prior to 2018, working at home wasn’t an option. But now, with the coronavirus all around, InfinityQS seamlessly shifted to remote, home-office work while avoiding any interruptions in operations and maintaining a high-quality service for its clients around the world. The software company also launched an initiative to offer its quality management software free during the pandemic—InfinityQS’ way of helping manufacturers through the crisis.
A little notoriety for a job well done
Not only has Fair’s new system been successful in providing resilience in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, he’s received a little notoriety as well. He’s been named IT Executive of the Year in the 18th Annual American Business Awards. Earning a Bronze Stevie® award in his category, Fair was honored for spearheading a team including InfinityQS’ Chief Technology Officer Chris Kearsley and IT Lead Omar Raoufi to complete a major overhaul of the company’s IT infrastructure. The judges commended Fair specifically for his achievements in helping InfinityQS streamline system operations, realize significant cost savings, and build business continuity in the face of disruption.
While the 2018 outages fortunately did not negatively affect customer service, the team resolved to take proactive action to combat future interruptions by instituting a top-to-bottom re-imagining of InfinityQS’ entire IT infrastructure, focusing on system modernization, consolidation, uptime, and security.
Fair’s team took several steps to make improvements, which consisted of:
- Re-architected the company’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) product, ProFicient™ on Demand, consolidating multiple data centers and platforms to a more robust and secure Microsoft Azure environment. Upgrades to the software, servers, operating system, and database have improved the solution’s robustness and performance for clients worldwide.
- Streamlined three communication systems (phone, instant messaging, and web conferencing) into one with Microsoft Teams, which also enables staff to continue working during outages using their smartphones.
- Migrated all InfinityQS operating systems, back-office data, and software to the safety and security of the Microsoft Azure cloud.
- Eliminated all on-premises software and hardware systems, allowing the server room to be converted to a storage room.
- Removed duplicate vendors, standardizing on a single cloud platform for all corporate operating systems and SaaS client offerings. The team also simplified its internet technologies and standardized on a single antivirus vendor, reducing waste and inefficiency.
The team’s efforts have generated more than $1 million in annual savings from hardware and software elimination, the migration to Microsoft Azure, and a reduced list of vendors. Since employees are equipped to work through external disruptions, InfinityQS has virtually eliminated downtime due to power outages. The company is also saving over 500 man-hours per year as the IT team no longer needs to perform troubleshooting or maintenance of on-premises systems. Most important, the changes enabled employees to seamlessly shift to remote, home-office work at the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, avoiding any interruptions in operations or client services.
“What began as a response to an external crisis has inspired InfinityQS to overcome, adjust, and optimize our operations,” says Fair. “While I’m proud of the millions of dollars saved and thousands of hours gained in productivity, I believe the greatest outcome of our IT revolution has been the re-invigoration of InfinityQS’ company culture. We now have an IT team of change agents, problem preventers, and modernization promoters, who have been more than ready to adapt to unseen disruptions—most recently again with the current pandemic. This award is as much theirs as it is mine.”
“Despite the toughest business conditions in memory, American organizations continue to demonstrate their commitment to innovation, creativity, and bottom-line results,” says Stevie Awards President Maggie Gallagher. “This year’s Stevie-winning nominations are full of inspiring stories of persistence, ingenuity, resourcefulness, and compassion. We celebrate all of their stories and look forward to showcasing them during our virtual awards ceremony on August 5.”
More than 230 professionals worldwide participated in the judging process to select this year’s Stevie Award winners. Full details about the American Business Awards, the 2020 Stevie winners, and the virtual awards ceremony are available at www.StevieAwards.com/ABA.
Stevie Awards are conferred in eight programs: the Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards, the German Stevie Awards, the Middle East Stevie Awards, The American Business Awards, The International Business Awards, the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, the Stevie Awards for Great Employers, and the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service. Stevie Awards competitions receive more than 12,000 entries each year from organizations in more than 70 nations. Honoring organizations of all types and sizes and the people behind them, the Stevies recognize outstanding performances in the workplace worldwide.