Community Spotlight - Meet Al Farmer

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Having been with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) since 1989, Al Farmer has watched his organization go through many changes due to the incredible technology developments over the past two decades.  As Computer Services Manager, Al’s role is managing IT for the state organization of Southern Baptist churches in Arkansas, an organization that helps churches from the smallest to the largest contribute to worldwide causes, relying solely on voluntary contributions from members.  As he puts it, “If it connects to our network, I am responsible to make it work.”

Here are some insights and answers straight from Al on how they use Bomgar and IT in general.  Take a moment to read about yet another great Bomgar user.

Describe a bit of the changing IT landscape at ABSC since you started working there.

I have been employed at ABSC since 1989. When I started here, we had a “data processing center.” Now we have a network.  We progressed from IBM mainframe to PC network in 1993; connected to the internet by T1 in 1997; moved from Novell to Windows 2000 network in 2001. We bought Bomgar in 2008. In 2009, we moved into a new building with CAT6 wiring throughout.

Tell us how and when you first heard about Bomgar and how you came to make the Bomgar solution part of your IT arsenal.

I heard about Bomgar from two other Baptist state convention IT directors - one from Illinois and one from Florida who were talking near me. I kept hearing “…Bomgar…Bomgar…” and I had to ask, what is that? They told me about the Bomgar product, and I had to find out more.

How has Bomgar changed things for your organization? Has it brought any unexpected changes you didn’t forsee?

The original purchase was to support our online application that we use once per year to have churches update their information. Churches are like our “customers.”  I bought Bomgar months before I needed it for that application. A few days after Bomgar was installed, one of my satellite offices needed help with their PC. I established a help session and was EXTREMELY IMPRESSED that I could do EVERYTHING to that PC except power it back on after power off. I fixed the problem, and saved travel time and down time. I was only planning to use Bomgar to support my members. I discovered I could enhance my support of employees, too.   So, we use Bomgar to support both internal and external users.

What specific support problems or challenges does your business face?

We have offices scattered all over the state. Before Bomgar, when a satellite office PC needed help, the box had to be transported to our central office. Now, we have all of our PCs “pinned” so if the machine is online, we can get access to it.

How does a tool like Bomgar specifically address issues in your industry?

Timely support. Customer satisfaction and comfort (the hardest thing is to get them to type the URL in the “address” block instead of Google).

What’s the most interesting Bomgar session you’ve conducted to date?

I received a phone call from a church “begging” for help. They had network problems and had spent more than $1,000 with a consultant who had not fixed the problem. I established remote sessions with the two PCs involved and started debugging the issue. It was easier for me than if I had actually been in their building. The two PCs were located two floors apart, so I would have been running up and down stairs. The problem was solved, I made them happy, and that is my job.

Has BYOD and/or supporting mobile devices become a n important topic of discussion at your company?

We are trying to figure out how to make iPads do office work, besides webmail.

What has been your biggest frustration as an IT professional?

The rate of change in technology is faster than I can comprehend and plan for.

What tip or advice do you find yourself giving most to your support peers?

Even though you may have run the application hundreds of times and answered the same questions hundreds of times, this is the first time for the customer. You have to treat the 100th customer as politely as the first.

If you could be any super hero, who would it be?

Not super hero, but Bible hero: Solomon.

Anything else you would like to add?

The Bomgar support appliance has far exceeded my expectations. It installed easily. Technical support from Bomgar has always been timely and expert. We are a small shop, but Bomgar still “fits.” I can see by the management tools built into the system that it can accommodate shops with dozens of support personnel. If we grow our support team, we will not outgrow the Bomgar.