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An open letter to ConnectWise

For the last year, my company has been wrestling with a PSA – Professional Services Automation – tool named ConnectWise. Despite a year of effort – on our part and theirs – the tool has not worked effectively for us. What follows is my “last straw” email to ConnectWise.


Hello,

I think there was a bit of a misunderstanding, so please read the following email carefully and if there is any misunderstanding, call me directly so that I may clarify.

We have had it. We have been trying to make ConnectWise work for over a year, and it simply does not work for us. Let me clarify that I am not saying that when I double-click the icon, the program doesn’t fire up, although that has been the case at times. I mean that yes, your software has features and yes, technically, it could meet our needs, but it is so convoluted as to be nearly impossible to use effectively. We have been using ConnectWise for all of our client ticketing and timekeeping for over a year now, and it has been a miserable experience. It’s not that we don’t know the product or haven’t used it; we know it all too well and it’s time to step back and reexamine our position.

Not a week has gone by where either I or my operations manager were not cursing ConnectWise for one thing or another. I have been an IT professional for twenty years. I have used a computer since elementary school. I have served clients ranging from individuals with home computer problems to Fortune 10 corporations.

And never before have we felt such displeasure or disdain for a software solution.

Today I heard about the new features coming in 2015, and, with the exception of the new email features – which I admit do sound nice – they are a blatant attempt to catch up with Autotask’s new UI announced earlier this year. While a convoluted, complex, buggy UI has been a cause of much consternation among my staff, it does not end there. On the backend, we have experienced extremely poor performance. During the first several months of using the product, the desktop performance was ungodly poor. We were told to just use the web version. While this worked for my techs, it did me absolutely no good as my primary job functions required access to the sales, marketing, finance, and accounting interface features, which are not available on the web version. After the 2014 release, which admittedly improved performance, we still experienced other poor performance issues. Any attempts to update multiple activities take several seconds or sometimes even a minute to process, and when dealing with multiple activities throughout the day, day after day, these add up, especially when clients are on the phone and you’re waiting to get something done.

This leads me to another concern: The “ConnectWise way” of doing things seems to just assume that things are going to run slowly and take a long time to complete. It’s no wonder Arnie Bellini claims we will increase profits when it takes an extra 5% of time just to create and close a ticket entry! As someone who has historically run lean, mean, and with high profit margins, I cannot stand this cumbersome overhead that ConnectWise has added. Let me point out that I did not say ConnectWise is too “robust,” but when the lady on the phone suggested that was the problem, I decided to take the path of least resistance and just go with it. ConnectWise is too convoluted, cumbersome, and clunky. When experienced IT personnel who have been in the industry look at the screen to create a new ticket or “agreement,” and say “what the f— is that,” you don’t have a “robust” solution, you have a needlessly complex one.

There are other things that just do not align with our way of thinking. ConnectWise staff think nothing of using a “block time/one time” “agreement” to create a monthly recurring contract. In the language we use, using the phrase “one time” to describe a recurring contract is not just stupid, it is wrong. Similarly, it makes no sense to us that one would need to mark time as “billable” in an “agreement” where the client won’t be billed for it, yet that’s standard ConnectWise practice. Similarly, we call them contracts, not “agreements.” Don’t ask me why, but that has just rubbed us the wrong way from day one. We call them contracts, out colleagues call them contracts, and our clients call them contracts – in our world, they’re contracts. On that same note, we have clients, not customers – there is a difference.

Along those same lines, ConnectWise seems to assume that we will have a dispatcher, yet we do not. We’ve never needed to dedicate someone to this, as my staff have been intelligent and trustworthy enough to monitor and take tickets on their own. For a presently small organization such as ours, the additional overhead of a dedicated staff member just to handle dispatch is simply not practical.

Our onboarding process was rough, to say the least. There was a chasmic disconnect between us and our implementer, who did not seem to grasp core concepts to our way of doing business, such as a retainer. Note: in case this is a foreign concept to you, this is where someone pays us an amount of cash which we then work against until exhausted, at which point the retainer is replenished. This is a very common practice among professional services firms, yet our implementer appeared to have no concept of what we were talking about while trying to create these. At our implementer’s advice, we created several departments and roles and other things that we simply do not need. Our processes can be simply broken down into internal, sales, and support. We did not need so many departments and work roles and work types, and their creation simply caused confusion, wasted time, and billing errors (which we were still sorting out as of our last billing cycle).

Among this list of things that are just plain sloppy was a delinquent customer status which displayed a popup, informing the resource that the customer was far behind on payments, and to “offer to transfer the call to Rosanna.” There’s no Rosanna with us, but we assume there is – or was at one point – one with ConnectWise, and she lives on in the templates you’re supplying your customers.

Later on, when I asked about contractor accounts, I was told by my account rep that there was an option to use a contractor account, but that we really should use something called StreamlineIT because it was “exactly the same only cheaper.” With an offer like that, why would I ever choose a contractor account? Simple: because they’re NOT exactly the same. Only after setting up one of our contractors with a StreamlineIT account and finding out – In typical ConnectWise fashion, after several hours of troubleshooting and several confused clients – that it was because of this that invoices on which he worked were watermarked “for reference only.” Again, sloppy. Nobody selling your services should be telling your customers that two products are the same when they are clearly different.

Back to terminology again for a moment. I know you like to refer to us as “partners,” but we are not. We are not even your clients. We are your customers, and we are not happy. I would recommend you look up the definitions of these words in hopes that an understanding would bubble up to the top, but it is clear that the ConnectWise culture is set in stone and, again, it does not fit with ours.

Your mobile app… I’m going to save everyone’s time here and just say it’s a complete, utter joke.

Believe it or not, I could continue on for quite some time, but I would hope that, by this time, I have made my point.
Admittedly, given that ConnectWise is either the largest or second largest (it seems to depend on the day and who you ask) PSA in your space, obviously there are firms out there that use and love your product, and I am not denying this. However, we are not one of them. Due to the factors I’ve outlined, among others, it should be clear now that we are not a fit – something we have had to invest considerable time and money to discover.

We have done our part. We have made every effort to make ConnectWise work for us, to the point of even changing how we did business in an attempt to make it work for us, and that is just plain wrong. Your tool should work for your customers, not force them to bend to your methods.

At this point, we are making plans to move to another PSA. Prior to signing up, we were told that should we decide to leave, we would be provided with a MSSQL backup of our database. We would sincerely appreciate your cooperation in providing us with that at this time so that we can examine the data and prepare to import it into another system. We are hoping to migrate to another system by the end of the year, and would hope to terminate our agreement with ConnectWise at this time.

Thank you for your time, your understanding, and your assistance with this.

Peter

Peter Nikolaidis
CISSP, GCFE, GPPA, GSNA, SCA-UTM
Paradigm Consulting Co.
MA:617.517.2940 * NH:603.676.7119 * VT:802.234.6368

http://pa.radigm.com