Taking IT Management to a New Level at Epiphany Church and School
RYMARK helps Epiphany Church and School move from a ‘break-fix’ to a proactive IT management model, improve security and support, and implement new technology solutions that enhance its operations.
Epiphany Church and School is the centerpiece of a vibrant Roman Catholic parish in Coon Rapids, Minn., a northern suburb of Minneapolis. The organization sits on a 72-acre campus that includes the Church of the Epiphany, parish offices, a cemetery, a gift shop, and Epiphany Catholic School. The school serves 500 students in pre-K through eighth grade, providing a high-quality curriculum founded on faith-based principles.
With almost 100 full-time employees, Epiphany Church and School is heavily dependent on technology for its operations. For more than six years, the organization has relied upon RYMARK to provide expert guidance, responsive support, and proactive maintenance of its IT environment.
Moving from “break-fix” to proactive IT management
“We had an in-house IT person and were very much in a break-fix environment, which isn’t helpful when you’re trying to run a functional organization,” said Jay Tomaszewski, Parish Administrator, Epiphany Church and School. “We moved to a third-party IT service vendor, which gave us more consistent response time, but we were still in break-fix mode. It wasn’t forward-looking.
“RYMARK came in and did a complete assessment of our environment, and made many recommendations for improvements — in terms of both IT equipment and overall protocols and procedures. When they first started, we probably had close to 90 support tickets a week. Now we’re down to about 10. We’ve gone from a break-fix environment to a proactive, best-practices environment.”
After engaging RYMARK, Epiphany Church and School reduced the number of weekly IT support tickets by over 85%
Remote and Onsite IT Support
A primary value RYMARK brings to the table is remote monitoring and maintenance of IT systems. RYMARK performs proactive management, including the prompt installation of software patches and updates, and uses well-defined methodologies to handle support requests. The RYMARK team is always on the job, giving Epiphany Church and School peace of mind that its systems are secure and performing optimally.
Additionally, RYMARK’s engineers are alerted if a problem occurs, a security threat is detected, or system resources reach a predefined threshold. This enables them to remedy the issue quickly, often before users are even aware of it.
Epiphany Church and School takes advantage of remote monitoring and maintenance but opted for a hybrid service plan in which RYMARK comes onsite one day a week. Tomaszewski says this allows RYMARK to see firsthand any issues users are having and enables Epiphany staff to put a face with a name.
“Remote support is great, but I think it’s really important to have an integrated relationship with your IT vendor,” he said. “We have a big operation for a nonprofit, and it’s helpful to have someone come to the campus to troubleshoot things, and see some of the difficulties users run into in their job. You can’t always describe that over the phone.
“Having onsite service is very important to us. We think it’s money well spent.”
Upgrading the Network Environment
In addition to proactive, day-to-day maintenance, RYMARK has implemented a number of upgrades to Epiphany’s environment. A key component is a comprehensive business continuity plan, including server replication and offsite backup.
“We sorely lacked a backup system,” Tomaszewski said. “Initially, we started doing physical backups onsite once a day, but a security issue made us realize that was not sufficient. RYMARK helped us create a virtual backup environment that we can access at any time if needed, but it remains protected against anything that might happen onsite.”
Wi-Fi is especially important to Epiphany Church and School given the size of the campus and number of buildings. RYMARK initially installed Epiphany’s wireless network and has since performed an upgrade to support growing numbers of users and devices.
“We had no campus Wi-Fi system, so they installed that, replaced several network switches and helped us redo all of the network connections in the server room,” said Tomaszewski. “They’ve consolidated and virtualized our server environment. They’ve done many big projects for us that have improved our operations.”
Security controls are incorporated into every aspect of the IT environment. Epiphany Church and School is now protected by Webroot cybersecurity and threat intelligence services and utilizes encryption to prevent the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive data. RYMARK also helped Epiphany implement a uniform password policy.
Value-Added IT Services
Effective IT management requires careful tracking and documentation. RYMARK helped Epiphany Church and School develop and implement an asset tagging system so that it could track IT equipment across all of its facilities. This facilitates maintenance and cybersecurity and enables the organization to make more informed decisions about upgrades.
“This has been one of the biggest things for me because my role is kind of like a CFO,” Tomaszewski said. “I need to know how many desktops and laptops we have, what kind of equipment we have, what our IT assets look like. We have about 150 active machines, and when you add in the computer labs it’s over 200. That’s a lot of assets to track, and we’ve already replaced all of our infrastructure once. It has been very helpful to have this system.”
RYMARK also helps Epiphany Church and School manage its equipment maintenance contracts and nonprofit and educational Microsoft licenses. The RYMARK team serves as a management layer between the organization and hardware manufacturers, software vendors, and service providers.
Epiphany Church and School moved from a reactive IT environment to one that is proactively managed and supported by a team of highly trained and experienced professionals.
“RYMARK has changed our IT environment for the better, improving the reliability of all the technology tools and resources we use. We’re very happy and, I’ve strongly recommended them to multiple other parties.”