Lightbulbs.com knows what it means to have unreliable ERP.
LightBulbs.com (a Service Lighting company) has provided lighting solutions for nearly 1 million businesses and homes. The company behind LightBulbs.com was founded back in 1951 and was built from the ground up to be a company focused on customer service. With over 65 years in the industry, Service Lighting’s online brand LightBulbs.com is the web's largest and most complete lighting store, with low prices, fast shipping and stellar customer service.
LightBulbs.com was growing at a rapid pace but felt that its lack of strength, expertise and redundancy in the IT category was holding the company back from experiencing unbridled growth. It wasn’t able to employ state-of-the-art systems and processes and was therefore experiencing very frequent crashes and frustrations.
Knowing that this was not an ideal setup for its growing business, LightBulbs.com fell deeper and deeper into technological debt. The company had very poor performing servers, only 1 days’ worth of backups at any given point in time, no redundancy, and its staffers were the only monitoring system for server uptime and performance. This resulted in very poor performance, extremely risky operations and a stressed out staff who was always on-call.
Prior to engaging with Columbus, LightBulbs.com’s IT support was supported internally. It had an on-staff IT Director who was the first-line of defense, as well as President, Paul McLellan, who would personally serve as a backup. The IT Director was not classically trained or educated and as a result, did not employ best-practice procedures when working on the LAN, servers or workstations. This lack of know-how created a very fragile infrastructure that was crippling itself under the company’s growth.
The largest hindrance of all was that aside from running the business and striving to grow in a very competitive space, Paul and the IT Director were forced to be on call 24/7 in order to respond to any issues.
“In 2010, we had experienced a failed upgrade attempt by our GP support provider and our business was suffering immensely,” says Paul. “Aside from having corrupt data, we were very frustrated with our support provider and had lost confidence that they could scale with us.”
After researching GP consultants and meeting with Columbus’ team, Paul was impressed with the CEO’s commitment to Columbus’ customer base. This resonated well with Paul, making him feel very comfortable in starting a relationship with this new consultancy.
LightBulbs.com chose Columbus to handle all of its GP support in 2010, as it had been experiencing some large frustrations with another GP support provider.
“We needed a firm that we could work with on a personal level to achieve our business goals,” explains Paul. “From the first time we met the folks at Columbus, our core management staff came to the conclusion that ‘we really like these people’, and connecting with business partners on an individual level makes all the difference in the world.”
Paul explained that when his team decided to work with Columbus for its Infrastructure Managed Services in 2016, they were at a crossroads. LightBulbs.com’s tenured IT Director had given his two weeks’ notice, leaving the company technologically hurting in many areas.
Having Columbus handle our IT needs is a life-saver, truly. For the first time in 15 years, I have my nights and weekends back. I’ve been able to go on vacations with my wife and children and actually turn off my work phone with the full assurance that a team of IT experts is watching over our most critical business components.
“Before we even signed on as a partner, Columbus was already working with us to protect and restore some of our critical servers that were crashing and causing massive disruption,” he says. “It was their friendly and expert service during this very difficult transitionary time that made us realize that we wanted this team to manage our entire IT infrastructure as well as maintain our GP server.”
LightBulbs.com now utilizes Columbus to handle all of its Dynamics GP support as well as all of its IT needs through Columbus’ DirectIT Infrastructure Services program.
Paul describes the transition as seamless with no dropping of uptime or performance, saying that Columbus was able to nearly immediately deploy a phenomenal redundant solution and long-term backup strategy to protect the company from disaster.
With LightBulbs.com’s previous GP partner, some of its upgrades were fraught with disaster and caused massive internal issues and even corrupt data. As a company that lives and dies on accurate data and immediate data availability, this was a crucial issue.
“Our first big GP upgrade project with Columbus went off perfectly, due to the watchful eye of their project managers and the expertise of their engineers,” explains Paul. “For our IT management, they were able to very quickly identify the weakest areas of our business and help to address our backups and redundancy needs.”
One of the main benefits that LightBulbs.com has realized since working with Columbus is that its management staff is able to focus more on their core jobs without having to spend time or worry about keeping systems operational. This allows more profitability as a company and much less stress about things out of its team members’ control.
Paying a full-time IT Director versus investing in Columbus’ DirectIT service has also allowed LightBulbs.com to save more money for its technology infrastructure. This service has also given the company state-of-the art backup and recovery systems, virtualized high-performance servers and vastly improved telephony connectivity. Paul believes that LightBulbs.com is lightyears ahead of where they were when they started with Columbus’ DirectIT Infrastructure Services program.
“Columbus DirectIT plan not only provides 24/7 monitoring of our redundant servers and systems,” explains Paul, “but it is 30% cheaper than our previous full-time IT Director’s salary! It is a scenario that has truly been a win, win for us.”
LightBulbs.com recently finished its busiest work-week of the year and its systems functioned with no issues at all. Just one year ago, its team members were struggling to keep things from crashing, so this year’s high-volume rush has been a massive success, on every level.