Most companies can probably benefit from improving their back-office software solution. However, many IT directors or whoever would be charged with software implementation across the organization are probably hesitant about what they perceive to be a grueling process with kicking-and-screaming co-workers. That wasn’t the case, however, for Adam Mejia who oversaw ConnectWise Manage software implementation for ClearTech Media.
The Southern California-based integration firm had a specific goal in mind when it selected ConnectWise Manage software. It wanted to leverage project and customer relationship management (CRM) features to help its transition from product- and project-based revenue to a more service-oriented business model. With the ConnectWise solution the plan was to streamline communication and consolidate information to make it easier to deliver on customers’ service contracts.
As client relationship manager, Mejia was involved in choosing the software and then charged with overseeing implementation. CI talked to him about how it went:
During your search for software, what were some features that were important to you?
Mejia: Initially it was more a search for a ticketing system because we were starting a service department and that mandated we have a ticketing system. We were looking into some open-source ticketing systems.
Once we began having others within the company advocating for ConnectWise, that’s what made it easier.
In that search, we came across a more robust, full featured system called ConnectWise [Manage] which is like a company management suite. Finding ConnectWise was actually birthed from the search for a ticketing system and it happens to have so much more than that.
What were some of the more robust features that appealed to you?
Mejia: It offers a more centralized platform for managing projects as well as a built-in CRM. It has the built-in ticketing system, built-in procurement and all these different modules. It showed us we could centralize all that stuff.
Were you nervous about the software implementation phase?
Mejia: When we actually started implementing it, one of my big fears was that we’d have to have everything ready all at once in order to roll the whole package out all at once. The good thing about it is that since it’s module-based — they have the sales module, the company module, the marketing module — we were able to implement module-by-module.
This made it so it wasn’t as disruptive for us. We were able to do baby steps. We started off with companies first. We imported all our company contacts. We were using Act! at the time as our CRM so we pulled all our contacts from there. It was relatively easy to put them into ConnectWise [Manage] and that allowed us to bring our sales team online.
One of the first things we had our sales team doing was their CRM-type activities and after that we rolled out the service desk out of necessity. That’s because ticketing was the whole point of us investigating ConnectWise and we were hot on the trail of the service department. Ticketing was relatively easy because we had our contacts in there already and creating tickets for all of our clients was a pretty easy thing to do.
Since I was the one who was implementing and managing the service module as well, it was a pretty easy one for me. Sales was easy too because it was similar to a lot of CRMs that our sales team had worked with in the past, so they were comfortable migrating into ConnectWise [Manage].
One of your colleagues handled staff training, but what did you observe in terms of how people adapted?
Mejia: As with most things, if there’s change there’s going to be some resistance and there was a learning curve. But it was relatively easy getting people going with it. I was originally concerned it’d be difficult getting our sales team using it. However, because all these CRMs are so similar in these sales modules, once we got them past the hump of actually using it they became very comfortable. They fell right into it.
With the service desk, that fell on me, and because I was the one who kind of brought ConnectWise [Manage] online and did all the initial configurations and stuff, that was pretty easy, too.
You mentioned some resistance. Was the cultural shift challenging?
Mejia: With the cultural shift, I think what helped us was that initially it was just me and I felt I was pushing this on the rest of the company. Once we began having others within the company advocating for ConnectWise, that’s what made it easier.
We had processes for everything ConnectWise Manage was capable of doing and we intended to use it for that. It’s just making that final push and making everybody use it that one time. Once they use it that one time and use it a little bit, that’s it.
That’s really the big challenge. We’d have all-hands-on-deck meetings where we’d go through the process of creating a new project, or through the process of creating a new sales contact – and we had about 10 ConnectWise training meetings and that was all it took. I think once the staff started using it they realized it wasn’t such a big, scary monster and it was relatively easy to work with.
So you did some outside training?
Mejia: ConnectWise includes ConnectWise University for its customers and that’s like an online course [catalog]. You get different kinds of accreditation based on the coursework you take. I found on an introductory level it was helpful and there are about 20 hours of coursework they recommend for a ConnectWise administrator.
Personally, I found it was more helpful to dig through their extensive documentation library rather than watching 20 hours of videos. I found it more helpful to use the search functionality on their website to go through all their documentation and look specifically for what I needed. So that was very helpful that they have such good documentation on all of their modules and every aspect of ConnectWise Manage. It’s very well documented.
At what point did you realize that time investment in the software would pay off?
Mejia: Centralized project management had been an issue for us before and we were curating our project files on a shared server. We’d have duplicate folders and project management scattered by creating this cradle-to-the-grave atmosphere.
In ConnectWise Manage you’re able to create a sales opportunity, then you can convert that into a project and connect that project to service tickets. The way everything is connected together, the program’s namesake, was a huge benefit for us.
The whole centralized project management thing is difficult to describe in words but when you start using ConnectWise Manage you see that all these modules are connected and it becomes easier to find things, it becomes easier to see what happened and adding notes on a project is easier. We’ll have an all-hands-on-deck meeting to discuss certain points on a project that we can’t forget about and a month later when I come back to look at it, they’re all still there. It’s very helpful.
Beyond the outside training you mentioned, how was the customer support during implementation?
Mejia: When we were first getting started there were weekly or bi-weekly calls with our ConnectWise implementation rep. She was very helpful. Basically, we’d do remote connect sessions and some of the first connect sessions were her taking us through all the different aspects of ConnectWise Manage.
They basically give you a bunch of homework to do and you create a list off your company’s internal processes and things you’d like to get out ConnectWise, etc. You give that to them, they take that information and they kind of build a custom game plan for you.
In subsequent meetings they’ll walk you through how to configure this model or how to configure this aspect of it. Our rep was great. They’re very helpful.