Channel Futures MSP501 2021 Award Winner

Nerds Support is a Top 40 MSP in the World on the MSP501!

Nerds Support has been recognized as one of the premier Managed Services Providers (MSP) on the 14th annual Channel Futures MSP501 rankings for 2021, ranking in the Top 40 of all MSP’s in the world! Our team is proud to have been granted this honor for the third year in a row.

In 14 years, the MSP501 has grown from a competitive ranking list to an eclectic group of service providers, vendors, distributors and industry analysts that now define the managed services industry. And this year it was reported to have received the most applicants for the list since this award was founded!

Channel Futures MSP501 Ranking

MSP’s across the world complete an extensive survey and application reporting their services, rate-of-growth, annual total and recurring revenues, pricing structure and more to determine their eligibility. MSP’s are ranked using a unique methodology developed by Channel Futures that weighs revenue figures according to how well the applicant’s business strategy predicts and adapts to trends and growth within the industry.

Especially after last year with the boom in remote work technology, many companies experienced growth, so this growth’s significance is only amplified further.

Nerds Support’s History

Nerds Support is a Miami-based managed IT services company that provides IT consulting, support, cloud computing, Software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cyber security support to a variety of industries, specializing in manufacturing, logistics, financial/wealth management and CPA firms. Scott Richman founded Nerds Support in 2004, hoping to provide small to medium sized businesses the assets need to gain a competitive edge by the strategic use of IT and support technologies.

Using his knowledge as a Microsoft Certified systems engineer, Scott built infrastructures unique to each of his clients and partners to provide them with a fully functioning IT services department. In the 17 years since its founding, Nerds Support has become the reliable partner of now successful companies, and as they have grown, so have we. The success of Nerds Support’s partners & clients has coincided with our own, because our their success is Nerds Support’s as well.

Nerds Support now has a thriving team of industry systems engineers and IT professionals with a combined 30+ years of experience in Technologies support, services and security. “We have a real passion for helping our clients,” said Scott. “We want to make sure our clients have the IT infrastructure, tools, and support they need to succeed and develop in a world that’s becoming more reliant on technology.”

That is why Nerds Support was ranked “…among the most elite, innovative and strategic IT services providers on the planet,” according to Kris Blackmon, Content Director of Channel Partners & Channel Futures.

You can view the full MSP501 2021 list here.

An accounting firm considering to accept cloud technology.

Why CPA’s Need Cloud Services To Survive

Cloud Services For Accountants is More Important Than Ever

As a CPA firm you’re going to have to adjust to this new remote reality. No one expected the lock-down, however firms that operated on the cloud had an advantage over those who hadn’t yet or only did so partially.

Many accounting firms learned to understand how the right technology could help them access and review financial information, create reports, manage accounts and more.

There is no telling how or when businesses will open up. Moreover, reopening A CPA firm to its full capacity requires much more than opening the doors, turning the lights on and wiping off the dust from your desk.

It is a gradual process that will require much planning and the transition itself will depend on many factors.

That is why cloud technology has become so pivotal in the last few months. The lock-down put many accounting systems to the test, forcing everyone from individual practitioners to larger firms to operate continually outside of the office.

Firms that migrated to the cloud prior to the lock-down are doing well. Their client data secured in a data center and their applications on a cloud network ready to use. The Accounting industry has been discussing the impacts that would occur as a result of the cloud. Now, it’s no longer a theoretical discussion.

Experts predict cloud accounting to be a permanent feature of any CPA firm. Firms that didn’t migrate to the cloud previously might be asking if it’s too late for them. The answer is a definitive no.

Video Conferencing

Firms that use Microsoft 365 might be familiar with Teams. Teams is one of the many video conferencing applications firms are using to communicate while working remotely.  There are also applications like Zoom, Google hang outs, and Skype. These video tools facilitate collaboration and, with the right cloud service provider, can create an effective remote environment.

Financial services experts and CPA’s are discussing the possibly of permanent remote advising. Remote advisory services was always the direction technology was heading in. However, the lock-down that proceeded the COVID-19 pandemic only sped this transition.

These remote services will only be afforded to firms willing to migrate and adopt the virtual tools necessary to perform these roles efficiently.  That means finding a managed services provider with cloud hosting capabilities that are designed to meet your firm’s needs.

Remote Advising Through The Cloud

Remote advising is the future of the financial services industry. Technology was already in the processes of changing the role of CPA’s towards more advisory positions. With software automating much of the compliance work once handled by an accountant or bookkeeper.

James C. Bourke, a CPA an accountancy technology expert, predicts that if CPA’s are not spending on technology solutions that are accessible remotely, they will be revisited.

“Priorities are going to change on technology spending, once we are all back in the office,” he said in a recent podcast.

Adopting a cloud storage system that can handle any project without downtime can help your business succeed with remote work.

Migrating  Your Firm to The Cloud

Can you migrate mission critical applications to the cloud now? Specifically can you migrate Document, tax, engagement, and practice management to the cloud?

According to Bourke, currently, migrating to the cloud will be difficult but CPA’s should do everything they can to prepare themselves for a cloud migration when we return to normalcy.

That requires firms to research the best cloud providers, checking to see if they have the right security and compliance tools to provide your firm with the proper IT support without failing to meet regulation standards.

Technology disruption and the shifting to more advisory services are creating a professional environment where accountants must offer more valued and diverse skill sets.  However, this also means shifting focus to the client’s specific needs and away from other aspects of your practice like software, cyber security and IT services.

Leveraging the Cloud

If you plan on working as a trusted advisor you need to understand the implications of these shifts and what these tools mean for your firm. It’s not only adopting a cloud solution but adopting one that has the services that benefit your firm the most. Migrating to the cloud is like purchasing a car. Just because it has four wheels and an engine doesn’t mean it will be the vehicle you.

There are many types of cloud providers and every cloud provider has different assets, strengths and weaknesses. There are public, private and hybrid cloud. Different cloud companies like Azure have cloud services but require you to pay an extra fee for support services. Nerds Support’s accounting cloud services utilizes software that complies with SOX and FINRA standards for example.

Other cloud providers like AWS are public clouds with thousands of clients. Their service would be less personal and contacting support is difficult.

Cloud Accounting is The Future

A Survey in The New Jersey Society of CPA’s, revealed that 40 percent of participants expected a decrease in revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The development of cloud technology and remote services will work to mitigate revenue loss once properly implemented.

The abrupt switch from in-person accounting services to remote focused work was jarring. Firms were unprepared for the demands of a remote work environment. However, now that industries, not just Accounting, have seen the results of a shut-in, firms will work to eliminate this vulnerability by revisiting cloud technologies and focusing on remote tools.

Managed IT Services Providers expect an increase in demand for public cloud services. Specifically, a an increase in SaaS, industry- focused apps. These include collaboration and other productivity and business continuity tools.

The social shift towards online platforms (VOD, social media platform, and cloud gaming) shift focus towards cloud infrastructure automation/management software.

In other words, cloud environment reliability, optimizing online platforms and the performance of your infrastructure determine the success of your firm in the future. Clients now and in the future will require and request online services.

Make sure your firm stays protected and ready for this new shift.

Cloud computing grants businesses the flexibility, scalability, and security to be successful with remote work.

Why Cloud Flexibility & Remote Work are the Future

The Flexibility of The Cloud & Remote Work

How does cloud flexibility allow for a remote work environment? When you migrate to the cloud, your data is hosted in an off-site data center instead of on premise.

You can then work from any location as long as you have a device connected to the internet. By eliminating the restrictions of an on-site server, you can increase your mobility exponentially.

You can work from anywhere as long as you have the right credentials, a secure device and an internet connection.

Remote Work Promotes Business Continuity

Business doesn’t stop for anyone. Having the option to work off-site has many benefits. When you consider how chaotic things can be you start to appreciate the flexibility of the cloud.

Many businesses struggle and even fail after a natural disaster or an unforeseen event. The Pandemic of 2020 showed us that the world can come to a crashing halt at any given moment. Investing in your firm’s future is not about ignoring an uncomfortable reality, but adapting to it.

We learned in a matter of a few short months how quickly the standard model can fail when tried. And a pandemic isn’t the only natural disaster that brings these conflicts. If you live in the east coast, hurricanes, tropical storms and other weather events can limit access to your business. Storms cause outages and often floods. What happens to your business then?

For small businesses, the recovery from hurricanes and other natural disasters might take years — if they even recover at all.  After Katrina, Louisiana businesses suffered a lot of damage.

Those with data backup & remote capabilities can function in these types of circumstances since they are not limited by a physical office space.

Small Businesses Struggle After A Disaster

Many small businesses are not as lucky as the larger franchises, however. According to a government study, 40 percent of small businesses never reopen following a weather-related disaster. The reason for that is unfortunate but simple: a halt in productivity is a halt in revenue. Businesses that shut down during these disasters are still growing, don’t have adequate cash reserved to repair damage and pay bills once they stop operating.

Even without any physical destruction to property, businesses that shut down can lose money and fail to pay for their monthly overhead. We’ve seen this happen to shopping malls and retail stores. A retail store owner will pay a mall for space but when they shut down, there’s no money coming in. As a result, the store closes down.

How about if an employee gets sick or has to suddenly leave town? How about businesses that are impacted by earthquakes or reconstruction?

Companies whose workers can work remotely have a better chance at survival than those who rely on in house servers and technology.

What’s worse, none of these events are within the control of a business owner. Not having remote capabilities is like living in a house without insurance or an alarm system. You’re at the mercy of the elements.

Remote option Increases Productivity Even in Unforeseen Situations

Another example is when an employee gets sick, or has to care for a sick child, and can’t get to the office. Without the flexibility of the cloud and remote work, the will inevitably fall behind.
If they are able to work from home, however, business can continue without major interruption.

Working from Home Business Can Continue with The Cloud

The benefits of cloud computing and remote work are for more than managing disasters and illness. When workers have access to their files and data, they can make last minute changes to a project or document. They can collaborate and improve the quality of the work outside the office as well.

Conversely, an employee might want to make progress with the work they are doing to prepare for a busy week coming up. That way they can clear up their schedule and move on to other projects and tasks. Employees can access their important files through the cloud at a moment’s notice.

When given remote access, employees experience a boost in productivity. Having a quieter environment away from the distractions of the office makes a big difference.
Offices can be very distracting environments. Away from office banter and side-conversations in the break-room, employees are more focused on the tasks at hand. They also take shorter breaks and work to the end of the day.

Increase Productivity With The Cloud

Remote work opens up new opportunities for employees and business owners alike. There are Gallup polls showing a 37 percent increase in productivity when moving to a remote environment.
The only thing is, you have to make sure you have the right technology in place to succeed. Ensuring you have the data and cyber protections in order to keep your business information safe. Migrating to the cloud and adopting remote work methods is useless if it makes your business more vulnerable to cyber attacks.

Remote Work Is Green Work

As we alluded to, employees and employers work longer partly because they don’t have a long commute. But if you think about it, that also means no commute at all. Remote work decreasesw traffic congestion, greenhouse gasses and air pollution by working from home.

In fact, remote workers take 600,000 cars off the road each year. On a cloud-based platform, greenhouse emissions will plummet to an all time low. That doesn’t mean people won’t go out to their favorite restaurant or shopping center. It simply means vehicles will be used more sparingly.

Not to mention the added bonus in savings on gas and repairs from the natural wear-and-tare that comes with car use.

Do Your Research

Look for a Managed IT services partner that fits your specific business goals. Nerds Support, for example, focuses on financial services and logistics firms. Therefore, we focus on compliance, auditing processes and cyber security for financial firms.

Other cloud providers are made for marketing and creative projects. There are plenty of Managed IT services providers that offer IT consulting for hospitals or local businesses. Here are 10 examples of cloud computing if you want to learn more.

Cloud Flexibility Allows you To Adapt And Overcome

When companies are faced with any disaster or problem they have to rise to the occasion and pivot their business to adjust. Spotify, the massive music streaming service, is a good example. When the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 came, advertisers had to make budget cuts.

Knowing this would threaten Spotify’s business model, they chose to focus more on streaming podcasts rather than just music. Spotify recognized a massive uptick in the number of individuals streaming podcasts and decided to adapt by capitalizing on the unique opportunity.

In much the same way, companies must embrace remote work or be replaced by those willing to make the change.

 

A business owner thinking about choosing a Managed IT Service Provider

5 Mistakes When Choosing a Managed IT Service Provider

What is the Role of a Managed IT Service Provider?

One of the biggest misconceptions about working with a managed IT services company is the idea that you have to replace your IT department.

However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Managed Services companies are usually brought in to augment and assist existing IT personnel.

Small and medium sized businesses often hire a managed IT services company to provide the same support they would have with an advanced IT department at a lower cost.

Co-managed IT services are options as well. Co-management services are for businesses that already have an IT department but want to improve upon it while taking advantage of the cost savings and structure of an MSP.

The benefits of a managed services company are numerous. For one thing, they handle application and network security issues while lightning the workload for I.T. departments.

Every business wants to grow, but growing too fast comes with its burdens as well. Rapid, exponential growth could start putting a strain on your resources and time. IT is no exception.

But, should you make the decision of hiring a managed IT services company, you have to know what to look for.

Unfortunately, business owners fail to consider some very important factors when choosing an MSP that is right for them.

Here are 5 BIG mistakes businesses make when hiring an MSP and how to avoid them.

1) Letting Managed IT Services Handle ALL of your Problems

Outsourcing all of regular applications and security to an MSP doesn’t rid you of responsibility. It’s still very important that you develop a strategy alongside your IT department and review it with the Managed services provider.

Businesses have to stay in the know when it comes to IT solutions and requirements. An MSP might know your industry well, but only you know your company.

As a business owner you need to discuss compliance, security, infrastructure and strategy regularly and frequently. This ensures the MSP is doing their jobs according to your business goals and complimenting them.

2) Relinquishing Control

Some providers gain popularity simply because they are large. But that doesn’t make them right for your business. Especially since they are so large that establishing a point of contact is nearly impossible.

This is a big problem among large public cloud providers. Public cloud providers have so many clients that they don’t have the time to cater to a individual client’s needs. It devolves into a tenant/landlord relationship rather than a partnership.

You are sharing their services with other businesses and they don’t have time to review your concerns. There are even cases where support is sold separately from the cloud service.

At the end of the day an MSP is an extension of your business, not a business unto itself. They are there to consult and contribute but not control. Choose a provider that is transparent and easy to access.

Which leads me to mistake number three.

3) Choosing a provider that is indifferent about response time.

Downtime is a significant issue for all businesses. However, not all MSP’s act accordingly when it comes it comes to downtime.

Choosing a provider that fails to properly respond to down time is particularly horrible because it can be frustrating, agonizing and terrifying.

Imagine your business goes down and not only is the response time slow, but support is nearly unreachable. The average response time for a large MSP is 5.5 hours. They often market themselves in a way that de-emphasizes their response time in favor of their durable network and security. But, that’s just a trick.

A great MSP has multiple alert systems and responds to downtime in twelve minutes or less. Anything beyond that is negligence. It doesn’t matter how popular, “efficient” or “secure” an MSP is when during an outage or downtime they’re nowhere to be found.

54 percent of companies experienced a downtime event that lasted more than eight hours. That means over half of all companies, regardless of size, experience downtime of over a full work day. Furthermore, that could lead to massive hits in profit and revenue.

According to a Ponemon Institute Study, the average cost of an outage is $9,000 per minute. Let that sink in. Eight hours, sixty minutes an hour, $9,000 per minute.

4) Thinking all MSP’s are Essentially the same

All MSP’s are different. Managed IT Services companies have resources and tools that suite different companies. Don’t assume that all MSP’s offer the same services or have the same expertise.

For example, Nerds Support works with many financial services companies and CPA’s. As a result, we put a heavy emphasis on cloud compliance and regulations. Financial firms are heavily regulated due to the sensitive information they work with on a regular basis. So whatever MSP a financial firm hires has to closely follow those same regulatory guidelines.

To achieve compliance we had to undergo SOC I and SOC II audits to ensure our clients felt secure relying on us with securing their data and systems.

You have to make sure you ask any potential MSP the right questions. If you want to know exactly what questions to ask a prospective MSP, check out our e-guide Top Questions to ask Your IT Provider.

5) Misunderstanding Service Level Agreements

The contract between a company and a Managed IT services provider is called a Service Level Agreement, or SLA. Make sure that the contract and the agreement are clear that all relevant staff knows the ins and outs.

That includes where and when these services are available, where their servers are located, how to contact support and what is covered in the terms of billing.

The MSP should provide you with a non-disclose agreement that needs to be signed before the provider gains access to your company’s confidential data.

There should also be an understanding of how to report and analyze resources and services. If something isn’t working to your expectations, know how to report it and who to report to.

SOX 1 & 2 Financial Compliance Thumbnail

What is SOC 1 & SOC 2 Compliance?

What are SOC 1 and SOC 2 Reports ?

Service organizations, like finance and accounting firms, are required to meet compliance requirements. The two most common compliance frameworks are SOC 1 and SOC 2. But what exactly are they? More importantly, how does SOC I and SOC II work exactly?

SOC 1

Service Organization Control 1, or SOC 1, reports are for businesses that handle financial information for their clients, also known as service organizations. This report ensures that financial information is managed securely by the business itself.

In other words, SOC 1 reports assure customers that your business has the appropriate controls in place to protect their financial information. Furthermore, SOC 1 features Type 1 and Type 2 compliance reports.

This report is conducted by a third party SOC Audit service and usually applies to businesses that provide financial related services.

The SOC 1 report focuses on the service organization’s controls and key control objectives decided by the organization.

A SOC 1 report is part of the SSAE, the Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAE) 18 AT-C Section 320. SOC 1 reports were established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

The purpose of SOC is to evaluate service controls. However, a service organization is responsible for deciding key control objectives for the services they provide clients. Control objectives refer to business processes (controls concerning processing client information) and IT processes ( controls concerning the security of client information).

A service organization that needs a SOC 1 report can be companies that offer payroll services to clients. Typically, outsourced services provide their customer or client with a SOC 1 report as proof that they have reliable internal controls in place.

Type I Reports vs Type II Reports

Now that we’re clear on the difference between SOC 1 and SOC 2, we can go into the types. A type 1 exam evaluates the design of controls as of a particular date.

A type II exam also evaluates design of controls, however it also includes testing operation of controls over a period of time. The type II exam covers a minimum of six months.

Type I reports

Essentially, Type I reports allow auditors to perform risk assessments and let businesses know they can perform critical assessment procedures. The report describes an organization’s system and how it works to achieve goals clients and customers. These reports also test how controls achieve specific objectives on a chosen date.

Type II

A type 2 report demonstrates the effectiveness of those controls over a period of time. Moreover, type 2 reports are a review of an organization’s internal controls over a period of 6 to 12 months and includes an in-depth review of those controls.

When an organization undergoes the audit, they are continuously audited either annually or semi-annually. Additionally, a type 2 report analyses an organization’s environment to evaluate if the organization’s internal controls design and functionality are effective.

SOC 2

The difference a SOC 2 report have from SOC 1 are that the SOC 2 report addresses an organization’s controls pertaining to operations and compliance standards. The AICPA developed Trust Service Criteria, or TSC, which determines the standards for trustworthy controls.

Things like security, integrity, availability, privacy, and confidentiality are all aspects of TSC. However, the only TSC required in SOC 2 is security.

So, if a service organization chooses, they can take a SOC 2 report that focuses solely on security or all five TSCs depending on their specific requirements for audit.

Managed IT services companies, like Nerds Support, can achieve SOC 2 certification in order to properly care for and handle sensitive client data.

SOC 1 & 2 AICPA Regulations values security, privacy, confidentiality, processing integrity, and availability.

In Summary

  • SOC 1 reports deal with internal controls pertinent to the audit of a service organization’s client’s financial statements.
  • A SOC I audit allows service organizations to report and examine internal controls that pertain to its customer’s financial statements.
  • SOC 2 reports deal with  service organization’s controls pertinent to their operations and compliance. This is detailed by the AICPA’s Trust Service Criteria (TSC).
  • A SOC II audit covers a combination of five distinct criteria:  Security, availability, process integrity, confidentiality and privacy.

For more content regarding Compliance, cyber security, Cloud technology, news and more visit our blog.

SOC 1 & 2 Financial Compliance Leaderboard