Quarterly Client Newsletter – April Edition (2023)

Welcome to our very first quarterly newsletter, written to keep our valued accountants informed and up-to-date on the latest developments at Tech Guru. With tax season in the rearview mirror, we’re excited to share insights and news from various departments of our team.

In this issue, we discuss our strategic shift towards cloud-based solutions, celebrate the exceptional service provided by our team, and highlight the operational improvements and innovations we’ve been working on to serve you better. So, buckle up and join us for an informative and engaging journey through the world of IT solutions and all things Tech Guru! 

Department Updates:

Daniel’s Developments

First, an introduction: My name is Daniel Derasmo, and I’m the newest addition to Tech Guru’s leadership team. If you’ve been with us for a while, we’ve probably worked together; in my nine years here, I’ve worked in every aspect of the company, starting as the dispatcher, then managing the Service Desk, and now as our official internal systems administrator and operations analyst. I’m responsible for our internal tools, as well as working with each department to improve & streamline workflows by integrating new technologies, developing automations, and occasionally just hitting the reset button and starting from scratch. 

In short, I see my job as finding ways to make life easier for our entire team so they can focus on what’s important: providing the best possible service for you and your company. Most recently, this has included integrating payments into the quoting system used by our Sales and Client Advocacy teams, which takes a big load off our Finance team and allows us to process your orders without delay. I also worked closely with our incredible Service Manager, Jarrod, over the past year to completely overhaul our service delivery and ticketing process. This allows our star Service Coordinator, Ashley, to prioritize and assign your tickets more efficiently and gives the rest of our top-notch Service Desk the freedom to put their energy towards solving your issues with increased speed and accuracy–with even more to come! 

So, what’s next? Billing. I’ve spent a lot of time over the past six months in a deep-dive through our invoicing, payment, and accounting systems and evaluating new products and processes to put together something that we plan to release very soon: The new Tech Guru Billing Portal, which will allow you to view your current and previous invoices, save and update your payment method, sign up for automatic payments, and even make one-time payments on multiple invoices simultaneously! (Note: If you’re currently using ACH, you may need to sign in and enter your account information into the new system for the initial payment—we’ll have more info to share soon.) 

Exciting times! 


David’s Direction

I hope this message finds you all in good health and high spirits. As the Chief Operating Officer, I am thrilled to share with you some significant milestones and exciting developments that have been taking place within our organization. Your continuous support and feedback have played a pivotal role in these achievements, and we are confident they will significantly benefit our partnership. 

Expansion of our service offerings: 

To cater to the diverse needs of our clients and stay ahead of market trends, we have broadened our service offerings. Our team has worked tirelessly to develop and incorporate cutting-edge, efficient solutions that add substantial value to your business. We will unveil these packages in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more details! 

Enhanced customer support: 

We understand that a seamless customer experience is essential for maintaining long-term relationships. As such, we have recently revamped our customer support framework by incorporating advanced AI technology and increasing the size of our support team. These enhancements will help reduce response times, streamline communication, and provide a more personalized support experience. 

New strategic partnerships: 

We are proud to announce that we have forged strategic partnerships with industry-leading organizations to strengthen our capabilities further. These collaborations will enable us to access new technologies, resources, and AI-backed tools to ultimately provide innovative solutions and services that help you stay ahead of the competition and drive down costs. Be on the lookout for new logos on our website, as these partnerships are inked. 

Operational efficiency improvements: 

Our commitment to delivering the best value to our clients has led us to reassess and optimize our internal processes. We have identified critical areas for improvement and implemented new strategies to increase efficiency and reduce overhead costs. These initiatives will allow us to maintain competitive pricing and provide exceptional service to our clients. 

Sustainability initiatives: 

We have taken significant steps to reduce our environmental impact in alignment with our corporate social responsibility. We have adopted a new solution that allows us to provide recycling services to our remote clients.  The program is currently limited to laptops and desktop computers, so get ready to clean that closet.  The fee is nominal, and for every asset recycled, a tree will be planted in replacement.  We are proud to contribute positively to a more sustainable future. 

Our commitment to providing exceptional service and solutions to our clients remains unwavering as we evolve and grow as an organization. We are excited about these new developments and are eager to share them with you soon. Your ongoing support, collaboration, and feedback are greatly appreciated, and we look forward to continuing to exceed your expectations. 

Wishing you continued success and prosperity! 

Warm regards, 

David J. Seligman 

Jarrod’s Jargon

Hello!  My name is Jarrod Gore, and I am the Service Manager over here at Tech Guru. I could not be more excited to humbly brag about our incredible service team! 

This past year has seen many changes in how we deliver our service to the most important members of our family, YOU! Whether you have been with us for five years or five months, you have all taken a journey with us on a road that leads to amazing and caring service delivery.  

Implementing the dispatch system has not been without its obstacles. This change completely shook up how we handle everything from taking phone calls to closing tickets. It also changed how you interact with us to resolve your issues. We know this shift has been a challenge, and we are eternally grateful for the patience and support we have received during this process.  

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new” – Socrates. 

This is the approach we took to our delivery model. Instead of trying to fix a process that was not working, we created a new one that focuses on what we do best, CARE for our customers! We are pleased to report that with this new system up and running, we have seen significantly reduced ticket times, with most issues being resolved the same day.  

Service delivery is not all that has changed! Jon Robinson, your Client Advocate, has joined the Service team to align your needs better. This puts your champion on the front lines with the individuals who can resolve the problem! Please continue to fill out those surveys, as they are paramount in identifying what is going well and areas where we can improve! 

More than ever before, we are a unified front working towards delivering the best experience for every client we are fortunate enough to work with. From Myself Jon, Alex, Nick, Ashley, Mark, Steve, Andrew, and Matt – Thank you for being the best part of what we do! 

Jarrod Gore 

Joe’s Journal

Whew!  Tax season is over!  

We have a lot to cover, so… 

Samuel Jackson – Jurassic Park – 1993

Many of you have had an opportunity to work with me in my various roles here at Tech Guru.  My customers, colleagues, friends, and family know I prefer to speak my mind, and the platform of this quarterly newsletter allows me to do that.  Special thanks to Daniel Derasmo and Justin Amundson, who helped me “check myself before I wreck myself” by ensuring that my tone is fixed before sending anything out to the masses.  As I divulge information to you through my writings each quarter, please read this and picture me jumping with excitement and banging the table with a passionate plea for attention. 

Now for the fun part… 

This year marks an exciting shift in strategic thought leadership at Tech Guru.  Like many IT service providers, we have been hung up on managing physical servers for our clients.  Whether they are in your office or not, we see these systems as significant opportunities for our clients to save money and take their dollars further.  It is, after all, what you are trying to do for your clients as well. 

The original thought process seems great, and in many ways, it is.  Invest a significant amount of money upfront into a high-end server with tons of performance and superior technology.  Depreciate that asset over three years and keep it for “free” for the next two years until it needs replacement.  That sounds better than spending $ $ $ $ per month, right?   

Apparently, it isn’t that simple.  Over the last couple of years with the staggering inflation rate, there has been a significant shift in the industry.  The increasing hardware cost have caused server prices to nearly double from 2021 to 2022.  However, with advancements in technology, and the assistance of A.I., hosting providers have been able to do more with less.  In numerous instances, they have been able to deliver comparable or lower-cost services.  The latest proposals we have put together for clients are staggeringly more affordable than they had been.  Take a look below at the scenario below. 

Client Name: The Hidden Comma 

Client Needs: They want a solution that allows their employees to work from home or in the office.  They are flush with cash because their clients paid them on time, and they have money to make a big upfront investment.  Additionally, concerns around long-term contracts exist because they don’t want to be tied into anything for more than three years.  To make things worse, they are evaluating their app stack and want to make sure they are flexible to swap in/out apps down the road. 

Staff Size: 10 

Base Applications: Thomson Reuters: UltraTax, Fixed Assets, FileCabinet, Accounting CS, Practice CS, Microsoft 365 

Storage Requirements: 750GB 

Breakdown of cost for on-premises terminal server 

Server Cost: $28,457 w/ 5-year next business day on-site support

Firewall Cost: $10,455 w/ 5yr subscription 

Labor to migrate: $7000 

Cloud Backups: $2400/year 

Est. Disaster Recovery Time: 1-3 business days 

Now, let’s look at what a hosted solution would look like. 

Breakdown of cost for SaaS/Hosted terminal server 

Server Cost: $800/mo 

Firewall Cost: Included 

Labor to migrate: $7000 

Cloud/Off-Site Backups: $2400 

Est. Disaster Recovery Time: Under 24 hours 

 On-Premises Cloud Savings $ 
Year 1 $   48,312.00  $19,000 $29,312 
Year 2 $     2,400.00  $12,000 $9,600 
Year 3 $     2,400.00  $12,000 $9,600 
Year 4 $     2,400.00  $12,000 $9,600 
Year 5 $   48,312.00 $12,000 $36,312 
Year 6 $     2,400.00 $12,000 $9,600 
Year 7 $     2,400.00 $12,000 $9,600 
Total $ 108,624.00  $91,000 $17,624 

In summary, a few specific things should stand out to you.  First off, the cost of ownership is quite a bit higher than the hosted solution.  Remember, the cost of server hardware has skyrocketed since the beginning of last year.  This SAME exact project would have been under $30k back in 2021.  Secondly, notice the disaster recovery time is significantly longer when you own your server.  This is because you don’t have a spare server to fail-over to.  If you want that capability, go ahead and throw another $20k at it.  You can’t spell accountant without C-O-U-N-T, and you don’t have to be an accountant to know which one makes more sense. 

Sure, there are still rare times when having a physical server may make more sense, but we are running out of those scenarios.  However, once we appropriately factored in how much more time, energy, staff, and money go into supporting physical servers for our clients, we realized how costly it is.  To do it well, we have had to grow our staff size, constantly research new products, expand our service hours, invest in additional training, address downtime, and more.  Unfortunately, who bears the burden of our added costs?  I think you get the idea… it isn’t free. 

Tech Guru sold our last server in 2021 before inflation got out of hand.  Today we have no plans of changing that.  Many of you reading this might be concerned about what this means for your existing server that we support, and the answer is nothing… yet. We will be happy to continue supporting your server until it comes up for replacement ahead of its 5-year birthday.  However, if you can justify the transition to a hosted solution sooner, I am certain we can work something out that is in your best interests and budget.  We will happily work with you to assemble the cloud-based solution that will give you the performance, flexibility, savings, and peace of mind you deserve. 

In summary, we are excited to begin working on all the “off-season” projects you have on your to-do list.  If you have a server, I implore you to consider bumping a cloud migration project to the top of your list.  It takes about 4-6 weeks to make this project a reality for most clients, so don’t wait.  Connect with your Client Advocate, Jon Robinson, or myself right away to get all the details you need to decide.   

Finally, ensure you are reviewing your Lifecycle Report and getting ahead of your replacements.  This will also help you forecast when the timing is right to move your firm to the cloud properly and cut ties with your server(s).  I created a handy video for you in case you need help understanding the report. 

Thank you so much for being the best part of working at Tech Guru.  I say that a lot, but if it weren’t for our clients, we wouldn’t have a job.  I truly enjoy working with every one of you.  Well…most of you (wink wink). 

All the best, 

Joe Kessler 

Robert’s Report

From our Engineering department, we would like to address the recent LastPass security breach. We’ve received many questions about the situation, and there is well-founded concern about the platform’s security. We continue to watch the case carefully, and we will update our guidance as needed, but currently, we do not see any strong reason to move away from the platform. There are four primary reasons for this: 

  1. LastPass is an extremely high-value target. Why do people rob banks? Because that is where the money is. Any company storing passwords and similar data will always be high on the target list for a malicious actor, and leaving LastPass does not change this. 
  1. Following the breach, LastPass is under intense scrutiny. The whole computer security industry is now singularly focused on this one company, and the outcome will be even greater security on their platform. 
  1. LastPass has been transparent about what happened, and we’ve learned a lot about how they run their systems and secure your data. This information has largely been positive; LastPass demonstrated good security practices. 
  1. The research around this attack strongly suggests that the attack was carried out by what the industry calls a “nation-state attacker”. This means that it was likely a country’s hacking organization that broke in. Unsettling as it may be, history has shown us that it is practically impossible to defend against such a coordinated and determined attack. 

The key takeaway for anyone using LastPass is this: The Master Password you set in LastPass is critically important to how secure you are. Your Master Password needs to be strong, and you need to change it a few times a year. I know it’s a hassle to type it in and remember it when you change it, but it’s the most important thing you can do to protect your password database. If you’ve not changed it since the LastPass breach, now would be an excellent time to do so. 

Robert Woulfe

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