Join the dots!

Chris Martin

Connected dots. In a past life, or some time ago at least… I ran a fairly successful and fast growing IT support company here in the UK.  From a standing start we trampled over the local competition, doubled in size every year while doing good work for our customers.

One of the reasons we managed to do this was successfully joining the dots between different systems in use in our IT company.

The leg bone was connected to the knee bone

We had to pay a developer to do the magic for us, but it worked well and allowed us to scale with very little falling between the cracks.

GFI MAX RemoteManagement sent alerts to our helpdesk system.  Our helpdesk system was joined to our billing system.  Our billing system was joined to our accounting system. Our sales quoting system was joined to our billing system, etc, etc.

In any event, by building these all together we were able to scale quickly while retaining profitability and delivering what our customers wanted.

Fast forward to Today

These days it’s much easier.  Most pieces of software that you can buy or rent to run these businesses are very capable of being tightly integrated via API (application programming interface).

Consequently, it’s possible to build a coherent uber-system by building your systems together using APIs and perhaps a tiny bit of coding.

My Take

To my mind, as long as integration is tight and relatively simple – it’s probably best to use the best tools for the job rather than looking for one ‘monolithic’ system which claims to do them all (but probably doesn’t), is likely to cost a fortune and will probably have you using just 10% of it anyway.

I guess it’s much like the 7 layer model, allowing you to swap in pieces of technology to run particular layers of your operation ever more efficiently.

And I’m thinking, there’d have been no interweb without the 7 layer model.

3 Comments »

  • Steve Lane says:

    Do you have recommendations for an integrated system based around GFI MAX RemoteManagement? We use Xero for accounting and derivative of SugarCRM for managing contact with customers. What would be your best of breed tools that would integrate well?

     
  • Chris says:

    Hi Steve.

    Errr, i don’t actually have an answer. It totally depends on your operation.

    By that I mean, I spent months looking for a helpdesk system which would fit our existing business model which in turn was setup to deliver what our customers wanted us to do.

    For example: it was important to us that we could say which category of equipment was under contract as we covered some by monthly fee and some by time and materials.

    Little quirks of business.

    I do know that we’ve a very tight API level integration with ConnectWise & Autotask, where you can automatically share tickets/assets information/etc.

    Also, for example in the UK – we tend to use Sage for financials but Quickbooks tends to be bigger in the US.

    So our angle is: use the bits that are right for you – but join them up.

    Hope this helps.
    Chris

     
  • Gina says:

    It looks like you ran a very tight ship with your company, which is no easy feat I know. But it’s good you addressed the organizational concerns right from the start. We’re currently overhauling our company structure, and it’s a very bloody process (which we all expected it to be).

    Removing all redundant systems, while managing to keep fail safes in tact is hard enough as it is. But hopefully, we’re going to achieve what you have done; allowing better communication and workflow within the company.