Beacon Now Streamlined with ConnectWise!

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The past three months has been filled with its ups and downs its twists and turns but we as a collective team persevered through it. “Why”? You must be thinking. It started back in June when I was given the assignment to take on the internal project of moving the company from multiple internal independent systems to one fully integrated platform, ConnectWise, to stream line our internal processes and hopefully make us just a little better then we already are.

ConnectWise is to house our client base, manage service requests, drive sales and marketing objectives, and of course, facilitate time reporting and billing. I must say this was not going to be a small task. I started out learning all I could about this new system through on-line courses and watching many, many helpful videos. This was all that was available at the time, for the system had not been installed on our servers yet so no hands on training. Once we had ConnectWise loaded on the servers, I was able to get into all the different components and start getting a feel for the system. Next it was time to put in place what I had taken in from all those hours of on-line courses.

So July is here and we have assigned a project team and an initial plan of attack along with an aggressive deadline of September 1st to go live.  Being a small company, it was critical that we migrate quickly, but smartly in order to minimize administrative time and duplication of work in two systems.  The first thing that needed to happen was the initial set up of ConnectWise – the parameters and business rules specifically for Beacon’s needs. This entailed several meetings with department heads to determine what their current and future needs would be and ensure ConnectWise could fulfill the requirements. Meetings with the financial team were also essential to make sure all accounting and billing processes were being handled, and ensure we were headed in the right direction.  This may sound straight forward here, but trust me; it required many meetings and discussions about internal processes – whether to keep 13-year old business process in place – or possibly modify some of them to make things simpler.  Once the plan was complete and the management team was satisfied with the direction, it was time to make it happen.  First step - loading our customer base, followed by setting up the agreements for all of our existing clients to ensure proper billing (and templates for the future!) – which took us into August to get accomplished.

Now it’s August.  Launch date is looming close.  Testing time… especially now that we have some true testing now that we have some actual data to test with.  We expected multiple cycles and most everything tested out to be as we intended; however, as expected, some minor adjustments were required before management approved the system as production ready.  Thankfully, we just had minor issues and more importantly, they were discovered prior to going live - but still, a painful and stressful step with such a tight time frame.  With dedication, lots of support and total company buy-in, the light at the end of the tunnel became brighter week after week.

September is a week away and we need to get the Beacon Team up to speed on how to use ConnectWise. So onward we roll down the valleys and around the turns of the path laid before us to get each member transitioned, depending on their department and responsibilities. I must stop and say that when you work with a great team, it shows during major business changes like this.

Fast forward to today, November 11, with two billing cycles behind us, I feel comfortable in bragging on a job well done by our entire team.  As with everything here at Beacon, it’s all about the team.  Yeah, I was tasked with overseeing the project and bringing all the pieces together, but I couldn’t have done it alone.  One of the biggest challenges I faced during this project was not having any prior knowledge as to how Beacon operated on a daily bases for you see I just started with Beacon in June and this was my very first assignment. So not only did I have the critical task of consolidating the company under one integrated system, but I had no previous knowledge of how the company operated or even used the variety of individual systems that were eliminated with this transition.  Maybe that was all part of the master plan !   As usual, I jumped in with both feet, rolled up my sleeves and accepted the challenge.  I have learned over the years that you can’t hit a target if you are not swinging at one.

One Comment

  1. Posted November 14, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    After 13 years of business, the good news is that we built several internal systems and processes that withstood the test of time. The bad news was that with the growth of the company and volume of clients, the lack of integrating many of these systems made us less efficient than we could be. As a small web technology company, it’s easy (and common) to keep doing things the same way because you want your resources working on billable client tasks. It’s one of those things where we’ve been talking about integration for a long time and finally made a total commitment to make it happen. So far, so good. Everything is centralized now. The transition was fairly straight forward, but getting every employee to move to something brand new was the challenge – and, of course, we took the opportunity to improve some of our business processes. Special thanks to Suzanne Bugg for fighting through all the upfront work and pulling us through, especially with very little experience with our existing (now legacy) systems. It was also a total Beacon Team effort. Everyone bought into the ConnectWise product and supported the move – and ramp-up. I need to also thank Kristy Scaramuzzo who assisted and carefully tested the conversion of our billing processes and integration with backend accounting systems. Lastly, John Scaramuzzo and his tech support team handled the supporting architecture. In my days at AT&T, when we retired a system, we would print a head stone with the name of each system and hang it on the wall. We could have several head stones for this effort! GREAT JOB. -Mark