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Annette Strom

Associate Business Manager, Carolina Performing Arts

Over the past year, Managed Desktop Services has served as a valuable partner to Carolina Performing Arts as we transitioned away from having an in-house IT generalist position who assisted with our day-to-day desktop support and general IT needs. Having relied on this internal resource for years, we at CPA have had to create brand new habits to understand and communicate what our needs and questions are as they pertain to desktop support, IT hardware inventory management, etc.

The MDS team has been patient and generous with us as we have learned how to work with an outside resource to address our IT needs. They are a warm and approachable team that is willing and able to support our staff who have varying levels of technical knowledge and fluency to articulate problems or questions.

With MDS’ partnership, we have navigated multiple new employee workstation on-boarding processes; completed an inventory of all technical assets; begun developing a plan to address and budget for computer life-cycling needs for the upcoming fiscal years; established computer equipment standards to ensure all our staff have access to the same resources that are sufficient to meet our business needs; and equipped of a number of our staff whose work involves activities like high-impact graphic design, 3D design and drafting, and data analytics, with computer workstations and software optimized for those functions.

MDS is also assisting members of our staff with the early stages of a transition to Microsoft OneDrive, which will enable us to work more efficiently and collaboratively, share ideas and manipulate content more seamlessly and in real time, and access materials anywhere, which is particularly useful with staff often traveling across campus and around the world.

CPA’s process of designing each performance season relies on significant collaboration between every team in our department, with new information coming in on a daily and sometimes hourly basis that we utilize to set our annual budget, build out a complex calendar of presented performances along with numerous campus and community events, produce storytelling and promotional materials, and shape the artistic vision for our season. As MDS helps us shift more of our work over to OneDrive, we expect our capacity for creative collaboration, innovative problem-solving, and timely decision-making and information-sharing to increase significantly.

MDS has invested time and energy to develop relationships with our staff so that they are seen as a knowledgeable resource that understands our departments’ principle functions and needs. As a performing arts organization, these needs are often outside what you would find in a traditional classroom or office setting – we manage performance facilities that utilize specialized audio, visual, and lighting technology and we present artists and shows with highly varied technical requirements – and ensuring that our technical needs are successfully met has a significant public-facing impact.

The support MDS provides CPA enables us to spend less time troubleshooting the technical systems and resources needed to accomplish our goals and to focus instead on the exciting work we are doing and the impact we are having across campus and throughout the community.