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Integrating ConnectWise throughout business operations while merging two companies and streamlining a time-consuming invoicing process.
ConnectWise PSA Consulting Services
ConnectWise consultants helped INTRUST GROUP, an Inc. 500|5000 Company, integrate its systems, a step expected to save an estimated $20,000 to $25,000 a year. INTRUST is already saving $6,000 a year from its improved invoicing process.
The current INTRUST GROUP was formed in 2010 when INTRUST GROUP and LAN Solutions merged. INTRUST GROUP was founded in 1999 in Chicago, and LAN Solutions was founded in 1992 in Cincinnati.
When the owners of LAN Solutions and INTRUST GROUP merged their IT companies, the excitement of forming and growing a new company was soon overshadowed by the reality of combining their business operating systems and software.
Both companies used ConnectWise, but merging two companies while integrating their systems and data created additional challenges. Before seeking help from ConnectWise Consulting Services, they tried to integrate their systems on their own, but failed miserably. In retrospect, they say they could have saved months of time if they had just used ConnectWise Consulting Services from the start.
By integrating ConnectWise correctly throughout their company, INTRUST GROUP is already saving $6,000 a year, and they estimate they’ll save an additional $20,000 to $25,000 a year in the future by being more efficient. Plus, they don’t think they’ll make any more costly invoicing mistakes, like the one that nearly cost them $24,000.
“If your ConnectWise system is not set up right, you’re dying a very grueling death,” said Chad Adams, business development manager, INTRUST GROUP.
Today’s INTRUST GROUP was formed in March 2010 by the merger of LAN Solutions of Cincinnati and INTRUST GROUP of Chicago. The new company kept the INTRUST name and maintained its offices in Cincinnati and Chicago. INTRUST provides managed services to nearly 150 clients, including law firms, educational and manufacturing facilities, property management companies and government entities.
The relationship of the two companies began when leaders from LAN Solutions met Rick Phipps, a founder of INTRUST, through the HTG technology peer group. Eventually, the owners decided to merge their companies, a process that began in late 2009 and was completed in early 2010.
The new company’s growth has been so rapid it’s received numerous regional and national awards. It was listed as #635 on the 2011 Inc. 500|5000 List of fastest-growing private U.S. companies and #65 on the 2011 MSPmentor 100.
“As we grow in size and expand the number of services we offer, we feel ConnectWise can grow with us because it’s so flexible and scalable,” said Rebecca Moix, controller. Having reliable business automation software that ties together payroll, accounting, procurement, sales and other systems and processes is essential, Adams said.
“In the service industry, the name of the game is to do as much as possible with as little staff as possible,” Adams said. “To have it wrapped up into one package, such as ConnectWise, is the key to helping us grow and grow wisely.”
Before the two companies merged, both offices used ConnectWise, but neither had fully integrated the software into every aspect of their business operations. After the merger, integration became a priority.
“When we merged, the Chicago office was using ConnectWise in a more organized way, while we, in Cincinnati, were using it in a more limited way,” Moix said. “Cincinnati used it mainly for time entries, ticketing and to track help desk support. We used a different system for invoicing.”
That created a major challenge. They exported their data from one system to another for invoicing, a process that created double entries. They also managed procurement, purchasing and contract management in another system, which added to the confusion. Additionally, the office in Chicago wasn’t using the Procurement and Inventory modules of ConnectWise, since they rarely sold hardware and software.
Moix summed up the challenge facing the newly-formed company: “We were not only integrating two companies, but we were trying to integrate everything, to include agreements and contracts, into ConnectWise.”
With high hopes of solving their issues, INTRUST initially put their heads together in an attempt to integrate the systems from both companies, while introducing new ConnectWise modules and procedures. “We really worked hard to put our woes behind us, but we lovingly call it “hell week” here at the office,” Adams said.
“We literally spent a week in a conference room going through everything to learn how to properly set up ConnectWise and get things configured correctly,” Adams said. Then, they continued trying to make improvements as time permitted over the next few months.
Although they could configure basic functions of ConnectWise and implement some modules on their own, INTRUST’s complex set up exceeded their knowledge. After four months, they had made little progress and learned later they wasted countless hours developing processes that couldn’t support the company’s operations. “Weeks later, we’d discover problems in invoicing, projects, agreements and other areas because they weren’t set up correctly,” Adams said.
Moix was at a breakout session on finance at a ConnectWise user group meeting in Chicago when she saw a light at the end of the tunnel. One of the Senior Business Consultants for ConnectWise was speaking during the session.
“As people asked her questions and she provided solutions, I knew she had the answers to all those odd little questions that we couldn’t figure out how to handle,” Moix said. “She clearly knew the technical and accounting side of ConnectWise inside and out.” At the end of the session, Moix asked Sullivan for help.
Starting in early 2011, INTRUST began consulting with their ConnectWise Business Consultant during weekly phone calls. They also met for a one-on-one, day-long session at IT Nation 2011, an industry-wide conference that brings together ConnectWise partners and IT professionals to share ideas and best practices for business success. During the three-day event in Orlando, sessions are offered for IT executives and service, sales, finance, marketing and operations professionals.
Before meeting with the Business Consultant at IT Nation, they began keeping notes of issues and arrived with a list of problems. They left with a greater understanding of how to resolve their issues. “We brought our laptops, opened our database and worked with her to solve problems,” Adams said. “She started knocking them out, one item at a time.” Moix said, “We could fix some things on the spot. It was pretty impressive when we could ask her a question and have our problem solved immediately, rather than spending a week trying to figure it out.”
Even though Moix and Adams often consulted the software’s documentation and ConnectWise University, they found they could get more help on more complex issues from Consulting Services.
“Even though the software is the same for everybody, we don’t all do things in exactly the same way,” Adams said. “It was a great help to be able to call a consultant and explain how we were using the software and doing things differently.
Adams expects that in the future, INTRUST will save an estimated $20,000 to $25,000 a year in salaries because the staff is able to work more efficiently with business operations streamlined in ConnectWise. “The consulting dollars we spent are being exceeded at least three-fold, if not ten-fold, in saved time and productivity,” Adams said.
One of the biggest issues the ConnectWise consultant helped INTRUST solve is how the company handles invoicing. Gone are the days when the staff took the time to print invoices, place them in envelopes, apply stamps and drop them in the mail.
The system is now streamlined enough that INTRUST can send invoices by email from ConnectWise, which saves the company nearly $6,000 a year in time, money and paper. INTRUST is also experiencing fewer issues in other areas and is better able to manage clients and their projects through ConnectWise.
Another huge benefit of incorporating ConnectWise correctly is that it lets INTRUST focus on how to best grow its business, rather than troubleshooting its business operating software. “There is a lot going on in our industry,” Adams said. “It’s fast paced, and it changes with the wind. You have to keep your eye on the ball and be ready to roll with the changes. “If you’re constantly babysitting your CRM, help desk management or ticketing tool, you really don’t have time to focus on how technology is changing and what it means for your clients.”
And, as Adams discovered, having the right business operating software and the correct systems in place give him a greater peace of mind.
“One day, I was going through invoices and found $24,000 in services we hadn’t billed for because we had a service board set up incorrectly,” he said. After talking to their ConnectWise Consultant, they corrected the problem and made sure the service boards were set up correctly. “That was $24,000 we could have missed out on,” Adams said. “I’m confident we’re not doing that anymore.”
Adams and Moix agree that if they had worked with ConnectWise Consulting earlier in the merger process, they could have saved a lot of time and pain. Plus, they could have saved more money by operating more efficiently sooner after their merger.
“Businesses rely on managed service experts to help them manage their IT systems, and Managed Service Providers should do the same – rely on the experts,” Adams said. Unfortunately, because of the costs associated with using a consultant, many MSPs think they can do it on their own.
“The real answer is, no you can’t. IT is here to stay and if you make the jump to ConnectWise, it doesn’t make sense to try to learn every aspect of the package on your own when there is someone who has the expertise to help you become more efficient and refine your processes,” he said.
“You have to consider the value of your own time and your employees’ time. If you truly believe your clients see value in your company as their IT provider, you need to believe that a ConnectWise consultant can bring the same value to you, so you can get the true lifeblood of your organization pumping through your system correctly.”
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