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Customer Story

Building a centralized, remote IT management strategy at Heritage Credit Union

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Heritage Credit Union is a Canadian financial institution founded in 1948 dedicated to providing full financial services to its members. Heritage Credit Union manages over $200 million in assets, servicing communities across British Columbia’s Kootenay Region, with branches in Castlegar, Slocan Valley, and Greenwood. Heritage Credit Union also offers insurance and investment services through their subsidiary, Growth Financial Corp.

Jer Ratcliffe runs IT for Heritage Credit Union and Growth Financial Corporation and was responsible for bringing Ninja into the business. “Heritage Credit Union had been slow to adopt technologies across the business,” says Jer. “A lot of end-users at the company aren’t comfortable with technology. We even had a few insurance agencies without websites as they were convinced they didn’t need one.”

This lack of technology awareness was evident throughout the business. “We had been operating without any technology goals or strategy,” says Jer. “I laid out a modern technology plan for our leadership team, asked for budget to expand the IT department and its capabilities,  and set out to bring Heritage into the 21st century.”

One of the first things Jer did was begin evaluating a solution to remotely monitor and manage endpoints in the Heritage network. “The only remote tool we had was VNC for remote access. I had essentially no visibility, no automation, and only very limited ability to provide remote support. I knew a remote monitoring and endpoint management solution would give me the tools I need to get control of our IT assets.”

Why Heritage needed a remote management solution

Heritage Credit Union has multiple locations in British Columbia with branches as far as 150 kilometers apart. “If something goes wrong in one of our branch locations,” says Jer, “that’s three hours of total driving to fix a five-minute issue. I can lose a full day of work to fix a simple issue.”Heritage Credit Union also found the travel costs of these trips added up to a significant line-item on their budget over the course of a year. “One of the easiest ways to make the case for Ninja was to show the management team our travel receipts and how much we would save if my team cut out 90% of their travel,” explains Jer.

“Windows patch management was in a really bad state across the business,” says Jer. “We got to the point where software wouldn’t run on some of our endpoints because devices were so out of date.” With 2020 and 2021 being some of the worst years in recent history for “zero-day” vulnerabilities across the Windows ecosystem, Jer felt patch management need to be modernized and centralized. “Without Ninja, I wouldn’t have any hope of keeping our endpoints patched and secure.”

The remote access solution Heritage Credit Union had in place, did allow for 1:1 management of endpoints, but couldn’t come close to enabling full remote management. “We couldn’t run scripts, automate anything, install software at scale, or really centralize management in any way,” says Jer.

Onboarding Ninja could not have come at a better time for Heritage Credit Union “As a traditionally brick-and-mortar company, Heritage Credit Union would never have considered a work-from-home strategy. When the pandemic hit, management did a 180 and suddenly wanted everyone to work from home. Fortunately, we had Ninja in-place and we could transition to fully-remote work with almost no additional effort on IT’s side,” explains Jer.

Evaluating solutions

As a first step in evaluating solutions, Jer used the endpoint management comparison guide the MSP community has built on Reddit. Jer’s team was able to quickly evaluate and discard quite a few solutions based on missing features and general community feedback. They also then cut out about half the remaining solutions due to price. That left Heritage Credit Union with just a couple of endpoint management solutions to evaluate.

“Ninja checked all the boxes for what we needed and stood out immediately and was an instant hit with management. In addition to looking better and feeling more intuitive than other solutions, I think the biggest differentiator for us was that we felt we’d get support and attention from Ninja, even though we’re a small customer. We got really good feelings talking with the Ninja team,” says Jer.

A few key criteria Heritage had:

  1. The ability to automate Windows patch management
  2. Integrated, secure remote access capabilities
  3. The ability to remotely deploy scripts to endpoints at scale
  4. Solid reporting
  5. The ability to support a remote and distributed workforce

The value of ease of use

Heritage Credit Union’s employees use highly specialized line of business applications to run day-to-day financial operations. Finding an IT expert who knows these solutions in-depth would be almost impossible, particularly for a small business. Instead, when Jer needed someone to support end-users more effectively, instead of hiring externally, he transitioned an employee of the front-line banking staff to the IT team.

“We had her logged into Ninja on her first day – After about an hour of basic training, she was no longer overwhelmed by the new concepts, and was able to just run with it. While the learning curve for much of IT can be steep, she was able to understand Ninja’s user interface with almost no dedicated training. We knew that a lot of users were going to rely on her ability to support them, and day one,” says Jer.

Jer’s team has also replaced their remote-control tool with those built into Ninja and deprecated their use of Group Policy, instead favoring Ninja’s scripting and automation capabilities.

Moving technology strategy forward

“It’s been an uphill battle, transforming a technology-averse company into a technology-enabled one. Ninja’s RMM service is probably the easiest win we’ve had.  If we are going to remain competitive in our industry, we need to consistently nail our compliance and security goals,” explains Jer. “Ninja lets us plan every change, then make it, track it, and find out where we’re deficient so we can constantly improve.”

Jer’s team was able to leverage NinjaOne to deploy a modern patch management policy that significantly reduces vulnerabilities and ensures endpoints are operational while also supporting a centralized, remote approach to IT management.

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