Founded in 1983, Klein Financial Services, LP is a financial planning and services company based out of Houston. Although the company has fewer than a dozen full-time employees plus a handful of part-time and contract staff, it services some 800 clients both in and outside the state of Texas. In addition to personal financial planning services such as tax and estate preparation, Klein Financial Services provides bookkeeping and small-business consulting for numerous commercial clients and was called "one of Houston's most well respected financial management firms" by H-Texas magazine in 2007.
As a financial firm that provides on-site consultation for its business clients, keeping in touch with traveling agents and salesmen is a priority for Klein Financial Services. And with the large volume and confidential nature of the documents the firm routinely handles, traditional methods such as phone, fax, and email are either too cumbersome or not private enough. Yet with no significant IT infrastructure and limited employees, the company can't deploy the sort of complex software solution a larger company might turn to.
VENDOR OF CHOICE
5050BIZ is a SaaS suite that combines the business-oriented social networking features of a site such as LinkedIn with many of the virtual office and collaboration features of a more robust SaaS suite. Targeted at small and mid-sized companies, the service provides companies with social networking tools to communicate both inside and outside of an organization, whether with clients or other businesses. In addition to file sharing, video and audio conferencing, instant messaging, and bulk email capacities, 5050BIZ also lets users tap into a network of experienced professionals in numerous fields who have volunteered to provide advice on subjects ranging from advertising and accounting to human resources and labor laws. Businesses can also seek out and network with other businesses on the site.
THE PROBLEM IN-DEPTH
Despite being a small business, Klein Financial Services provides many of the same services as a larger financial planning company. Lori Klein prides herself on the range of services the company offers. "We cover you from birth to death, anything that has to do with your money," says Klein.
But in offering such diverse services, the company inevitably deals with a considerable amount of paperwork for both its business and personal clients, much of it of a private or confidential nature. And since much of the company's business is conducted off-site by its four traveling representatives, those documents need to be accessible remotely at a moment's notice.
Up until recently, the company used a decidedly low-tech solution: Documents were stored as hard copy and organized into binders. While that worked well enough for clients who came to the office, it presented problems when a field representative or client needed to check on a particular form or record from afar.
"You know, they call on the phone, you've got to go get the book, you've got to look it up," says Klein. "You may not have the emails. We have such security here, we can't go out to Yahoo! mail. We have several security settings that have to come in." All that referencing, reading, and calling generated a considerable amount of work for what is already a very busy office.
Although there are many software solutions that could provide remote document access and even collaboration features, Klein had neither the time nor the technical staff to implement a far-reaching platform. What the company needed was a compact, secure solution that would be affordable, easy to set up, and would not demand any additional IT workload in terms of deployment or service.