Along with new synergies and efficiencies, corporate mergers often bring challenges, too — especially when integrating IT systems and networks. Maria Gollnick, Director of IT at California-based BloodSource, one of the premier blood centers in the world, ought to know.
Founded in 1948, BloodSource merged operations last year with San Francisco’s Blood Centers of the Pacific (BCP) and as of January 2017, has fully merged with Blood Systems, Inc. (BSI), a Scottsdale, Arizona-based nonprofit. The joined organizations now comprise 20% of the nation’s blood supply.
“Merging your infrastructure with another organization is never easy,” says Maria. “But this effort was especially complicated.”
That’s because BloodSource was expanding its own operations while BSI was in the process of acquiring additional companies. “You can imagine,” Maria says, “the challenges and conflicts this generates as we get all the distinct systems and networks to play well together.”
15 years’ support and guidance from Quest
For support and guidance, BloodSource turned to Quest, its long-time trusted technology partner. Over the past 15 years, BloodSource has employed both Quest’s Professional Services, including on-site experts, and Quest’s Managed Services, including monitoring and managing core, mission-critical BloodSource systems as well as its network.
“Quest designed our network as well as our voice system and call center, and they worked on a couple of network refreshes — all of which are critical for an organization like ours that uses telerecruiting to solicit donors,” Maria explains. “We knew we could benefit from their expertise as we transition to a new corporate infrastructure.”
Going beyond technical expertise
She notes that Quest’s help has extended beyond technical expertise. “The engineers from Quest, like Sam Eddings and Virgil Dacasin, know the challenges that’ll appear and have provided ideas and direction. They’re sounding boards for the corporate IT group formed from our recent mergers.”
“By exploring ideas and suggesting various alternatives, Sam has helped us determine the best solutions. And Virgil recently presented an extensive overview of our current network capabilities, helping us highlight its robustness and stability as well as the need to continue support for its functionality.”
It’s also about the relationship
BloodSource has stayed with Quest for other reasons, too, Maria explains.
“Relationships matter,” she says. “Quest understands that in order to develop effective solutions for your organization, they need to understand your priorities, your business, and your people.”
As an example, she points to Quest’s very proactive nature. “We’re contacted frequently by our Quest account manager, Steve Hill, and our service manager, Laurie Henry, to see how things are progressing, make us aware of any performance problems, or alert us to vulnerabilities on the horizon that could impact us.”
She adds, “Quest tries very hard to make sure we’re not caught off-guard. This has become doubly important as we deal with the complexities of merging several organizations’ IT systems.”
When it comes to technology partnership, Maria suggests, “Rely on managed services for help dealing with the really critical parts of your systems. Look for partners like Quest that appreciate the reality of budget constraints and only sell you what you need. Their approach should focus on helping you be smart about what you use.”
Sustaining service levels no matter what
BloodSource faces many changes as it evolves. Yet, says Maria, some things are non-negotiable.
“One of our chief goals going forward is to continue delivering the same level of service we’ve given our users, our donors, and our patients over the years. To that end, we’ll keep upgrading all of our software, applications, and networking so we stay current, and Quest will play a big part in that effort.”