Case Study: SBLR

How Calligo helped a start-up be “born in the cloud”

What the client said 

“Calligo’s value comes not only from their strategic and practical input in making us as productive and cost-efficient as possible from day one, but also from their day-to-day support. We don’t have the time and resource to deal with the daily management of our IT, so having such a responsive, willing and capable team to call on is absolutely vital.”

Howard Lerner, Founding Partner at SBLR

 

 

Key objectives were to reduce start-up costs, provide immediate scalability and help a new start-up challenge its competition by being more efficient and agile.

 

Calligo was chosen due to its longstanding track record in serving the CPA industry and its ability to even support CPA tools, including CaseWare and CCH Taxprep.

 

Calligo's team guided SBLR in its data residency obligations, and provided a cloud strategy and managed cloud infrastructure to match.

 Industry

Chartered Professional Accountancy 

 

 Location

Ontario, Canada

 

  18
Employees

 

 3,500,000
In annual client fees

 

 0
Pre-existing infrastructure

The client

In August 2016, a small group of accountants from SBLR LLP – a Toronto-based CPA that had in 2013 become part of one of the largest independent accounting and consulting firms in Canada – decided to part ways with the larger group and re-establish the original company.

 

As part of the agreement, they took with them long-standing clients worth CAN$3.5m of annual fees, 18 employees, most of whom were fee-earners, and some laptops and computers borrowed from their previous employer.

 

They were ambitious and starting fresh. But the high pressure of tax season would start in five short months, and with no IT infrastructure and limited IT skills and resource, they had to extract all their clients’ data from the group’s systems and secure it in their own environment – and all the while, maintain excellent service and repay their clients’ trust in them during the move.

 

This new environment was to be built entirely from scratch. Though despite the time pressure and the size of the challenge, SBLR saw it as a rare opportunity. They could create a modern, “cloud first” infrastructure, unencumbered by legacy systems or hardware and that had agility, flexibility and cost-efficiency built into it from the very start.

Calligo services in summary

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Managed Cloud Services

“Most of our competition have legacy infrastructure. In contrast, we could take a shortcut to relying on agile, scalable cloud platforms, giving our team flexibility and access to modern tools, while reducing CAPEX.”

 

 

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CPA application support

“This was by far the most complex part of setting up our infrastructure. Without Calligo’s deep knowledge and relationship with CaseWare, this transfer would have been an almost insurmountable burden on us.”

 

 

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IT Managed Services

“Calligo’s value comes from their strategic and practical input in making us as productive and cost-efficient as possible from day one. Having such a responsive, willing and capable team to call on is absolutely vital.”

 

 

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Service 1: Managed Cloud Services

 

The first step was to set up the cloud environment. Calligo designed and created a multi-VM Virtual Datacentre in its Tier 3 Toronto facility, with private resource allocation running on the latest Microsoft virtualization technology.

 

The Toronto location of the Calligo datacentre was important due to the data residency requirements incumbent upon CPAs. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) requires Canadian citizens to be able to provide a copy of their tax records for audit purposes, and if those records are kept on cloud infrastructure, then at least a copy must be physically stored in Canada so that the CRA does not have to contend with other jurisdictions’ privacy laws to audit its own citizens. There was also an additional policy requirement of SBLR’s own, in that they did not wish to expose their clients’ data to other countries’ data access laws by storing it or any copies of it outside Canada.

 

 

Service 2: CPA application support

 

Off this cloud platform, Calligo delivers and maintains SBLR’s core systems, including CaseWare and CCH Taxprep. The CaseWare migration was a particularly complicated project. Naturally, CaseWare does not easily permit the transfer of client data from one account to another, and yet $CAN3.5m worth of client data needed to be quickly moved from the larger group’s system to SBLR’s. Neither company wanted the process to drag on, and nor did the clients, but moving the data required client-by-client authorisation, which alone took more than six weeks to receive back from all the clients.

 

In the meantime, SBLR had been creating new files in their own CaseWare system for some of those clients that needed immediate assistance. This created a potential duplication problem, as without careful management, the arrival of the historic files from the larger group could overwrite the newly-created records in the SBLR system. Calligo however worked with SBLR and CaseWare – who had to create a special program for this project, such was its complexity – to prevent any loss of data.

 

 

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Service 3: IT Managed Services

 

As part of its ongoing IT Managed Services, Calligo provides network monitoring, proactive support and patching and a helpdesk that tackles user issues ranging from technical queries to “how to” requests. The Calligo team also provides on call on-site support when needed, plus additional maintenance services, including new user set up and device optimization.

 
Calligo also set up and continues to manage Microsoft 365 for all of SBLR’s users. Microsoft 365 gives the teams access to the Office suite including Word, Excel and PowerPoint, plus Exchange and OneDrive, plus additional collaboration tools such as Teams and Skype. Not only do these tools have the advantage of being well-recognised and having common interfaces, but they are also made available on a subscription model, in line with SBLR’s preference to avoid CAPEX investment.

What the client said

"The agility of being able to easily scale up our infrastructure as we grow saves us the cost of over-provisioning, and is valuable for any company, whether a start-up or not.

"Also, the flexibility and accessibility naturally improve our productivity, which boosts our earning potential. All of these advantages are only possible because of the support and guidance Calligo could offer.” 

Howard Lerner, Founding Partner at SBLR

More about the services in this case study

 

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Managed Cloud Services

Ensure the continuous availability, security and data privacy protection of your data with high performance managed cloud infrastructure 

 

 

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IT Managed Services for accountancies and CPAs

A proactive and strategic outsourced IT service specifically for accountancy firms and CPAs, built from decades of experience supporting businesses like yours.

 

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IT Managed Services

Keep your teams productive and boost profitability with a proactive, strategic and tailored managed IT service

 

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