Our on-demand library is a collection of informative and engaging videos focused on business development and growth. From sales and operations to remote management and network security, our videos provide the latest trends and best practices for the technology industry.
Corey Simpson of CompTia moderates for Tim Brien of OKI Data and Mark Sokol of ConnectWise in a discussion about where the industry is heading and how MSPs can better prepare their businesses for continued success within the channel. They discuss the current state of the market, why you need to evolve your business model today, the importance of Help Desk and Vendor Management, why managed print should be a key part of your service offering and how managed print has evolved to fit within your business.
The proliferation of smartphones and tablets are accelerating the demand for mobile device management. More than ever, clients are bringing their own mobile device (BYOD) to the office and expect support for those devices both inside and outside of the office. In this session we'll look at how the mobile device management market is growing and outlines the steps for building a successful mobility practice, including tips on bundling, pricing and sales techniques.
Uncover hidden opportunities with MSP legend Gary Pica, who will share his proven methods to increase sales and profits by 30% from your current client base. He discusses the top 3 mistakes IT providers make, how to increase sales and profits with resources you already have, and the one process that could increase your sales immediately.
ConnectWise partners Josh Oakes from Thrive Networks, and Michael Kemps from Innovating Computing Systems, give firsthand experiences about how they found a competitive edge using Quosal. By stepping up from a quoting tool to Quosal's complete quoting and proposal platform, ConnectWise partners were able to become a more efficient sales organization and close more deals.
It’s easy to justify any software purchase that pays for itself through immediate improvements in efficiency, customer service or other major benefits. Just think of the ROI, however, if you generate nearly $6 million in annual sales and double your bottom line. Austin-based RIATA Technologies describes ConnectWise as instrumental in achieving this end result since they installed the integrated solution two years ago.
In addition to substantially increasing the utilization of system engineers, "ConnectWise enabled us to move into managed services," explained the company’s president, Tommy Wald. "It’s been a great tool for consolidating our services practices as we established our MSP model."
Wald says other packages aren’t nearly as effective in addressing the workflow dynamics or SLAs of a VAR. "ConnectWise is developed in the way we do business -- by a partner with an insider’s perspective and knowledge."
End-user satisfaction rates have also improved markedly with ConnectWise, Wald pointed out, noting that RIATA operates throughout central Texas and is expanding into other markets. "Scheduling and tracking features prevent service delays, and we’re able to convert more sales opportunities as we expand. ConnectWise is incredibly versatile and a great choice for maximizing profitability in our industry."
Network Management Group, Inc. (NMGI) clearly did a lot of things right to become a diversified IT solution provider with a 22-year history of growth. ConnectWise, however, put this $5-million Hutchinson, Kansas-based business on a new course for greater success – and profits that increased 10 to 15 percent annually as a direct result of installing the professional services automation software two and a half years ago.
"Team members, workgroups, divisions and ultimately our entire company gained tremendous operational advantages," commented Steve Harper, president and co-founder of NMGI, which designs and implements IT solutions for CPA offices nationwide and SMB customers within a 200-mile radius. "ConnectWise works seamlessly with the products and services we choose to offer while smoothly integrating with other applications we leverage."
"ConnectWise Revolutionized How We Conduct Business."
Harper explained that NMGI no longer loses billable hours with ConnectWise in place. "Reports give us keen daily insight, tracking all activities and reflecting ways to continually improve results. Another advantage is the ability to clearly demonstrate ROI to customers on a project-by-project basis. ConnectWise revolutionized how we conduct business."
Harper evaluated many alternatives for running NMGI’s operations, "but nothing comes close to delivering this level of value. It’s built by VARs for VARs. ConnectWise knows our business. They live and breathe this industry. When the channel experiences significant changes, they respond rapidly with an understanding of our needs and pain points. Their passion for our industry, and their total commitment to service excellence, makes a huge difference."
With 70 people in seven offices across four states, accountability has especially important meaning for Heartland Technology Solutions (HTS). The Harlan, Iowa-based solution provider has grown from $3.5 million in sales five years ago to $15 million today. With service expansion, acquisitions and geographical diversification central to their growth, Heartland carefully chose scalable, integrated software to replace manual and disparate systems: ConnectWise.
"We’ve always taken great pride in the people we hire and develop," says Arlin Sorensen, HTS president. "It’s not about whether we trust them or not, it’s about having a tool in place that makes our sales and technical personnel fully aware of and accountable for every billable hour. ConnectWise eliminates any doubt."
Before installing ConnectWise last year, the fast-growing VAR could not sufficiently track all activities. "Now we have the checks and balances to ensure proper reporting from our standpoint and the customer’s. Built-in notifications keep our people on top of the details, and utilization is up 10 to 15 percent."
Besides increasing accountability, HTS has also become more proactive with customers, Sorensen said. "It’s easy to make excuses when you don’t have the right systems and controls. ConnectWise gives us the daily monitoring and long-term strategic decision support to make the most of our resources and end-user budgets."
When IQ Systems outgrew its home-grown IT services system, they looked for a solution to match their business model. They initially selected and implemented another solution, but after six months of struggling, the company knew that was not the answer.
As a traditional IT services company moving into Managed Services and rapidly becoming an MSP, IQ Systems' leadership also knew they must capitalize on a short window of time to successfully build their offering in this promising market segment. "We had difficulties obtaining the information and reports we needed to run our business from the previous system," explains IQ Systems VP of Operations Jack Dawson, who personally invested countless hours attempting to resolve numerous issues. "When you operate in a fast-paced, highly competitive industry like ours, you can't afford to waste valuable time. It's senseless." After implementing ConnectWise, Dawson says he now saves up to 20 hours a month, and reports are just a click away.
“ConnectWise saves us $30,000 a year.”
"ConnectWise works the way we do. It streamlines workflow and makes it much easier to do my job. Migrating to ConnectWise took us to an entirely new class of product - a solution that includes comprehensive integration with the leading MSP tools we use as well as the Great Plains accounting package we deployed to help support our rapid growth." Dawson underscores seamless accounting integration as a major advantage, noting that ConnectWise enabled the reduction of a staff position and annual cost savings of at least $30,000. "ConnectWise understands the solution provider business model - a critical distinction when you're evaluating systems to help you aggressively grow into a new market segment such as Managed Services. By knowing the industry nuances and incorporating that expertise in its products, ConnectWise clearly helps companies like ours achieve ambitious objectives."
Larry Shulman, president of LMS Technical Services Inc. thinks it’s too easy to present business efficiency as a matter of qualitative feelings. “I like to talk about numbers,” he declares.
In business nearly 30 years, the Farmingdale, NY, company (a provider of network support and IT architecture) is having perhaps its most profitable year ever. LMS expects to earn $4.2 million in 2007, with profits in the range of $1.2 million.
Labor and managed services will likely account for $2.8 million in revenue this year. It’s in this arena that Shulman finds justification for seeing true efficiency, and he’s ready to cite a contributor to success. “ConnectWise was critical in literally doubling our labor revenue using the same number of employees we had three years ago,” he says.
“The Management System for Managed Systems”With ConnectWise, Shulman now has the ability to instantly track how he and his staff of 14 use their time. They can then apply information garnered from the ConnectWise solution to improve business processes and adjust service offerings accordingly. ConnectWise lets Shulman, and more importantly employees themselves, identify revenue-producing work versus unbillable hours, redundant work or dead time. “ConnectWise gave me my first shot at connecting my people back into the business process,” he says. “I think the information has given us the ability to turn to our employees and make them understand how valuable their time is and raise their self-esteem.”
“In a changing, dynamic market, where everybody is under pressure from labor costs, the price of gasoline … you have to look at ConnectWise.” Shulman believes, “ConnectWise could be considered the management system for managed systems.”
Too much work? Not enough people? For Roswell, Ga.-based Extremely Productive, scoring more business when there’s already plenty on the plate isn’t some crazy sales goal, it’s sport. The six-person shop, which specializes in helping businesses leverage technology to realize improved efficiency, thrives on doing more with less. After all, it’s what they do. So when they learned one of their customers would nearly triple in size because of an acquisition, they knew that even with their stellar efficiency they’d better further tighten their game – and quick.
In reality, the situation wasn’t all that unusual for many small firms supporting other small businesses. The good clients sometimes get acquired, creating a whole new set of challenges ranging from disparate systems and IT demands to new management and constrained budgets. For most, it means a 50-50 shot between retaining the business and seeing it walk. For Extremely Productive President Josh Ovett it meant game on.
“Extremely Productive is a results-based consulting firm. Unlike a lot of people in the software industry who have a product looking for a problem, we basically figure out what the problems are and then tell leadership how to fix it,” said Ovett. “So when this much bigger business took over, we knew we had an opportunity to shine because we knew the landscape. Their internal teams didn’t.”
What they didn’t know was that they had less than two weeks to scale support from 65 to 170 users – over the Christmas holiday. That’s when they turned to ConnectWise.
Within the first week this new, larger client generated more than 150 service tickets. Normally that might have been a problem, but only weeks prior, Extremely Productive had implemented ConnectWise to fully automate many of their IT systems. The change enabled Ovett and his team to more efficiently track and respond to service tickets through automated processes that triggered each member of the team in the order and priority assigned. Ovett also leveraged the ConnectWise Client Portal to show the client a vast array of account-specific reports that very clearly demonstrate how quickly and efficiently Extremely Productive was turning around issues. Basically, they were able to instantly document and improve metrics and even with the increased volume, nothing fell through the cracks.
“When this new company first acquired our client, we were told we were there to help sunset the operation,” reflected Ovett. “Instead, with ConnectWise’s help, we were able to easily outperform their existing teams – and it showed. Immediately. In just a few short weeks we’d completely changed the acquiring firm’s perspective on the situation so much so that they not only acknowledged our capabilities were much better than theirs, they more than doubled the number of users to 400 and threw a bunch more business our way.”
The Challenge: Getting multiple components to provide unified service excellence.
Being a managed IT service provider is a complicated business, best served by a simple solution — even if you have to find it on the other side of the world.
With a focus on providing managed IT solutions to CPAs, other financial services and legal firms, Leap Consulting in Perth, Australia relies on a complex mix of solutions to serve their clients. Their product portfolio is comprised of solutions from vendors such as Microsoft, Citrix, IBM, Lenovo, Trend Micro, HP, Symantec, Storage Craft, Dell, SonicWALL, Quantum and 3Com.
“Each solution was chosen because of its compatibility in an accounting infrastructure environment and the resulting vendor support,” explains Leap Consulting Operations Director Zaun Bhana. “We have found our solution set works equally well in legal practices, financial planning firms and other associated service-based businesses.”
At the same time Zaun notes that accountants may use up to 20 different applications during the course of a single day. The challenge then was getting everything to work together. Zaun points out, “The last thing (our customers) want is an IT partner who doesn't understand or won't work with their applications.”
As of 2007, Leap was using Microsoft CRM for the company’s client and ticket management. But “the significant amount of time it took for us to get it to work the way we needed prompted us to seek alternatives,” Zaun says.
“We looked at a number of local offerings in the Australian marketplace, but most were just pure ticketing systems and offered none of the other features we wanted — such as integration with our Kaseya operating platform,” Zaun says. The company then began an extensive research that included checking forums, newsgroups and reading industry publications. ConnectWise was a clear favorite.
“The more we investigated the ConnectWise offering, the more we were impressed with how much it matched our requirements.” In August of last year, Leap Consulting went live with ConnectWise.
The first order of business was integrating ConnectWise into Leap’s Kaseya system. Zaun was very pleased with the result. “The ease of access and operation of the Kaseya platform through ConnectWise has made supporting and managing client sites much easier for our engineers,” he says.
As the integration proceeded, more positive results followed — with seamless implementation of automation and standardization standing out as the greatest benefits delivered by ConnectWise. “It has dramatically increased the effectiveness of our service delivery, which in turn increased customer satisfaction and loyalty,” he notes.
“With so many different applications, hardware dependencies, constant updates from software vendors, varied deployments and a standard expectation of rapid resolution, ConnectWise has become our glue,” Zaun says. “All the different facets of the ConnectWise platform enable us to turn what is an extremely complex and niche level of expertise into a very responsive, reliable and streamlined offering to our clients.”
According to Zaun, Leap would have been at a tremendous disadvantage as a managed services provider without the automation provided by ConnectWise. But with the PSA solution, there is no guesswork regarding such considerations as engineer utilization, support usage by client, ticket resolution timeframes or profitability of service. Zaun says, “Our plans are now based on solid and identifiable benchmarks which alone are worth the price we paid for the ConnectWise platform.”
Additionally Zaun comments, “ConnectWise has really put us on a different trajectory. It has been a paradigm shift from having so many disparate, rudimentary systems to having a single tool we can utilize to run all aspects of our business.”
“More than anything, ConnectWise has allowed us to take advantage of the true potential in our business model and put in place the structure we needed in order to move forward,” he concludes.
The Challenge: Establish a completely integrated operational process
Sure, it’s your job to ensure that client systems stay up and running – all day, every day. It’s what you do. In fact, you might even say you’re responsible for the overall health of your clients’ technology ecosystems; the trusted family physician seeing to every need. Eric Hanson does.
As CEO of Inland Productivity Solutions, Eric likes to think of his business as one similar to that of a general physician’s practice, performing a wide range of services from startup to upgrade. “We’re a cradle-to-grave provider,” says Eric. “We do it all.”
But with only nine employees, Eric increasingly noticed that healing his clients’ IT ailments was far less daunting than running an efficient IT services business. As the business grew, invoicing clients became much more time consuming than it should be. Systems weren’t connected, making information-sharing tough. The prognosis? Inland needed to integrate and automate their business functions.
It was about two and half years ago when Eric caught a tradeshow demonstration presented by ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini. That’s when he got a glimpse of what ConnectWise could do for his company.
In what might be a bit of “doctor-heal-thyself” irony, Eric was initially attracted by the prospect of ConnectWise eliminating the “pain” associated with invoicing. Since then, Inland has fully embraced all of ConnectWise’s features — tools which go far beyond compatibility with Inland’s favored applications QuoteWerks and QuickBooks. “We use every part of ConnectWise,” Eric says.
ConnectWise allows tracking of actual and work-in-progress hours against invoiced hours, support of exception write-up or write-down, and numerous billing arrangements. For Inland, which prides itself on providing timely response to service calls, ConnectWise makes it easy to accurately measure performance and report results to customers.
“ConnectWise has allowed us to build a completely integrated business process from sales and service through project management and invoicing,” Eric notes. “It brought order to our internal chaos.”
Eric credits ConnectWise with helping him and his staff better grasp “what’s going on” at Inland. Not coincidentally, the now more efficient internal business processes also enable Inland to better serve its customers and meet their service-level agreements.
Still, like any entrepreneur, Eric has his eyes on growing the business that was founded in 1988. He’s anticipating 15 percent business growth in 2008 and expects ConnectWise to play a big role there, just as the solution has already helped Inland quadruple net profits.
“ConnectWise has afforded our employees with the additional bandwidth to grow our business without adding staff,” Eric observes. “It is the primary tool for growing our profitability.”
The Challenge: As a provider of out-sourced IT services, match the responsiveness of an in-house staff.
With the emergence of managed services, the efficiency and effectiveness of a help desk operation is central to an IT service provider’s success. Customers require fast response to their issues and clear communication during the entire resolution process.
Axcell Technologies is a provider of outsourced IT services based in the Chicago area. Industries represented in Axcell’s client base of 35 companies include manufacturing, real estate, healthcare, transportation, and finance.
Axcell itself has five employees. With an average of seven companies per Axcell staff member, Axcell President Rick Vines had a very specific requirement for any professional services automation (PSA) solution he would select: He wanted an application that would ensure responsiveness to customer service requests and keep everyone notified via e-mail that the work was being done. Because, as Rick notes, “The people who are doing the work are never in the office.”
Seeing the issue from the client’s perspective, Rick says, “When you have a problem — even if it’s a printer that won’t print — you want to know that a human being is working on that right now, because you need that document right now.” Though immediately working on an issue may be impossible, Rick recognizes that simply acknowledging the service request is important to the customer’s peace of mind.
What Rick found, however, was that the PSA solutions on the market failed to deliver the kind of two-way communication he was seeking.
Then about a year ago, Rick got a call from ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini. “What are you trying to accomplish with this idea?” Arnie asked.
Rick explained that a major failure of the closed-loop feature of PSA applications was requiring customers to log on to a web-based interface to make service requests. “They’re just not going to do that. They just want to send an e-mail,” Rick said. He wanted two-way communication between Axcell and the company’s customers to take place via e-mail as the service ticket was being tracked by the PSA application. He also wanted other team members copied by e-mail so that there would be across-the-board awareness of what everyone was doing and when.
As he conveyed his thoughts, Rick saw that Arnie was becoming “sort of excited about it.” Rick was asked to take part developing implementation of the new feature, and he accepted the invitation.
Apart from the prospect of finally getting what he wanted most from a PSA application, Rick was also impressed by Arnie’s desire to meet Axcell’s requirements. “For the CEO of a company to be this involved in development at this level is really something. Arnie really keeps his finger on the pulse of the industry.”
Today ConnectWise — with the closed loop feature as Rick envisioned it — is in place at Axcell. When a service appears on Rick’s Palm® Treo™ he simply responds to the customer that he will take care of the issue and other team members are copied on the message. At the same time, the application records the activity for improved billable hours tracking, reporting and invoicing.
“This is just such a simple way to operate,” Rick says. “We are able to promise our customers that we will respond to every ticket within 30 minutes.” In the vast majority of instances, however, Rick notes that customers are actually notified that they are being taken care of within five minutes — thereby surpassing service level expectations.
Satisfied that the built-in responsiveness of ConnectWise’s closed-loop ticketing has helped strengthen Axcell’s position with his customers, Rick is just beginning to explore the many other features of the PSA application. Looking specifically at such functions as CRM, integration and reporting Rick says, “It’s a very deep program and there’s a lot that can be done with it. ConnectWise helps us keep a handle on the business and a handle on all our clients.”