Implemented in response to employee requests for flexibility to work from anywhere, Citrix enables business continuity when pandemic strikes
In 2018, Neider & Boucher’s IT team surveyed attorneys on their technology needs. One of the top demands was for greater work flexibility—working from home and client sites more easily. The IT team moved quickly from request to audit to an overhaul of the current remote access system. What no one knew—and couldn’t know—was that being responsive to employees helped the law firm avoid disruption to business operations and client support when COVID-19 hit in 2020.
Neider & Boucher is a well-respected law firm headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin. Its 20-plus attorneys serve mostly small businesses. It also offers a range of legal services for individuals, such as estate and tax planning. The excellence of its legal team has been recognized in U.S. News & World Report, Madison Magazine and Wisconsin Super Lawyers.
Neider & Boucher is as attentive to its employees as it is to its clients. In 2018, the IT group conducted an employee survey on technology needs. “One of the top findings was that attorneys wanted the flexibility to work remotely,” says Forrest Fuller, IT specialist. Attorneys work long hours, and the ability to work from home occasionally is essential to work-life balance. Attorneys also work at client sites—sometimes for extended periods of time.
The firm had a remote access solution, but it was so slow and hard to use that attorneys rarely used it. Neider & Boucher’s IT team moved quickly from audit to action. They hired Envision IT to help with vendor selection and implementation.
“IT’s top priorities were stability, security and speed,” says Bill Crahen, chief technology officer, Envision IT. “We recommended Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, part of Citrix Workspace, because no other solution supports all of these requirements and does it as well as Citrix.”
Security had to be as rigorous as it was in the office. “Employees might work remotely occasionally, but security had to be strong continuously,” says Crahen. “Compared to other solutions, Citrix has well integrated security, including policies and the ability to use multifactor for user authentication.”
With their experience (and maybe a little prescience), Envision IT also recommended Citrix ShareFile. “The firm shared large documents with clients in a wide variety of ways, from electronic transmission to snail mail,” says Crahen. “When we implemented ShareFile, it gave attorneys more control, security and synchronization over the document sharing process.”
While ShareFile wasn’t in demand at the time, things would change dramatically when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020 and teamwork became entirely virtual.
In the first stage, Envision IT virtualized and deployed desktops and applications in a production pilot. “We liked this approach because we could collect feedback that everything was running as expected,” says Fuller.
Only critical business applications were set up for remote access. But Neider & Boucher’s IT team found it remarkably uncomplicated to add in additional software and peripherals as employees asked for them. “Rolling out new applications was fast and easy; we just added the Citrix piece,” says Fuller.
As the IT team and Envision IT rolled out applications, slow and steady, the unthinkable happened. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Attorneys were classified essential workers, which meant they could legally be required to work in the office. But what were the health risks?
Fortunately, the firm never had to make that difficult choice.
“The Citrix solution took us from occasional remote use to 24/7 off-site operations overnight. We were able to reassure our principals that our entire workforce—including administrative and legal service professionals—could work remotely,” says Fuller. “In the midst of a terrible event, knowing we could keep employees safe and deliver uninterrupted service to our clients was a great feeling.”
Envision IT used both Citrix Cloud Services and on-premises server infrastructure in the original design. The old remote access system was so unreliable that it was only used perhaps 10-15 percent of the time by attorneys working remotely. Once Citrix was in place, attorneys used Citrix 100 percent of the time—in the office, from home and from client sites. This familiarity and confidence undoubtedly contributed to a smooth transition to off-site operations during the pandemic.
Using Citrix, attorneys access some heavy-duty applications, including: Worldox, a document retention and management platform; Juris, a time management and billing platform; Time Matters, a practice management platform; and HotDocs, a document automation platform. “Employees work with a huge volume of files, but Citrix makes it transparent to do it remotely,” says Fuller. “It’s such a fast, stable environment. And attorneys can now collaborate and share files more easily than they could working in the office.”
Most of the applications are hosted on-premises; however, several offer SaaS options. With Citrix, IT has the flexibility to choose which applications to move to SaaS, and when.
“We started out listening to individual employees about their technology needs. But the Citrix solution that Envision IT put in place gave us business continuity for the whole firm,” says Fuller. “No matter what the new normal is after the pandemic, we know we can continue to do the very best work for clients, under any circumstances, from any location.”
Envision IT’s business is technology optimization. Envisioners ensure that technology is an enabler to employee engagement and not an obstacle. In life people need to know that they matter, and this holds true at work too. Employees want to effectively contribute and know they and their efforts are valued. Today, technology is a key factor to people being productive at work…so their technology needs to work. That’s what Envision does…make.awesome.work.