MSP Exclusive: John Morris from Spark Alliance Talks About Ditching ConnectWise for Kaseya’s Next Generation PSA

Kaseya Customer Q&A Series - Spark

John Morris is CEO of Spark Alliance, an MSP based in Central California. Morris was a ConnectWise customer before successfully adopting Kaseya BMS.

Recently Morris spoke with MSPmentor about the economic value of BMS based in part on its low pricing, telling the web site “I don’t want to spend more than I need to run my business.” That is only part of the value. Morris also argued the importance of increasing business efficiency and increasing the speed of both closing deals and getting paid after the work is completed.

Kaseya spoke with Morris about the value of the next generation PSA solution and a little bit about what MSP 2.0 means to him.

(Questions from Kaseya have been bolded and italicized)

We know you switched from ConnectWise to Kaseya BMS. What was behind the move?

Morris: I’m always looking to see what’s in the market and what’s available.

I like the entire concept of the product and the platform starting in IT and telecom and going after people that are more savvy as far as utilizing the system.

Being “in the cloud” meant having the ability to not have any dependencies from the customer or consumer or endpoint technology standpoint, and is pretty significant. Obviously there are other competitors out there that are doing the same thing, but they’re not quite as evolved. They started with other solutions and have now migrated a lot of their code and a lot of their platforms.

From the standpoint of even being web-based, you may have all kinds of add-ons and plug-ins and extensions and all these different things that are dependencies to make the system work. That either becomes heavy for the web application or it becomes a nightmare with stability and providing consistent service and operation.

What makes BMS a next generation PSA?

Morris: Why is BMS second-generation or modern day? You can use the system anywhere on any platform. It really supports the cloud model ― just the nature of this thing ― trying to streamline every process and every system and basically be a full-blown web-based ERP. Where you don’t have to have four, five, six disparate systems that you’ve got to try to blend or hook or whatever. The price point, the subscription-based model, and all the components that support the concept of cloud- and service-based technology just sells itself.

And there really isn’t any CAPEX. You’re just using the system and you pay for the usage. That is the next generation of all service-based technologies.

Were you looking at any specific features that you absolutely had to have in this product?

Morris: The full functionality of the system is the highest point ― the nature of how many different modules are within a system that actually flows. There are business-process deliverables that exist from start to finish from the second you engage with a customer ― from the first contact, all the way to complete closure and follow up. Whether it’s a financial closure and invoicing or receiving payments, to doing a process of following up with customers and customer satisfaction and surveying and being able to report, it’s got everything you need to run a business.

The BMS functionality is all integrated for the most part. With a lot of other products like Autotask and ConnectWise and Tigerpaw, they have all these acquisitions that they made. So they have two, three, four layers of systems and platforms. The truth is there are three, four, five systems that are all integrated on the back end, but aren’t seamlessly integrated the way BMS is.

How you use it to run your business? What kind of tasks do you do?

Morris: I use the custom report writing tool probably more than anybody. There are dashboards, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly reporting and the ability to send reporting to customers on a regular basis. This keeps them in the loop without having to do manual meetings and phone calls.

One thing I hear is that BMS feels too simplistic, which is not a bad thing. It’s just reframing people when they use the system because it is so transparent or surface-level. You don’t have to drill down four, five, ten, twelve levels deep to be able to do things like creating customers and creating opportunities. Here you could be doing customer meetings or doing follow up calls or you’re scheduling presentations or you’re actually creating sales orders. Whatever it is, all of it is very high level.

What kind of business processes have you seen improved or streamlined?

Morris: The ability to collaborate with my internal resources and customers simultaneously is probably one of the largest improvements. You can accomplish that with multiple systems, but then you add the concepts of mobility, the universal platform, and cloud accessibility.

Now you can engage a customer and show them invoices and show them sales orders. I can do everything from within my side of the system, and have them viewing their side of the system and directly interact.

You now have the ability to be efficient and turn around work and close deals. The time it takes to actually get to doing the business and getting paid has probably been cut by 70 percent.

I’m now able to present different options to the customer, and let them make a decision. If they’re not happy with the initial presentation we can make adjustments during that discussion. We can close the deal in that same session as opposed to revisiting it two, three, four, five times.

My efficiency rate in closing deals is well above 70 percent on the first encounter.

Bells and whistles and features are great but if you can actually take it and show how your revenue is going to increase on very fundamental levels, it’s hard to say no to using the system or switching over to it.

What benefits can people expect to see as they streamline business operations?

Morris: Your cost drives down because you can do much more through automation. You don’t have to have human involvement.

For example, if someone puts a request in to me and they send an email to a specific address, it comes into the system and automatically creates an opportunity. It triggers a person that’s assigned to that customer or that region with customers and it brings it to their attention. It tells them they already have things to work on and to try to close deals. They spend more time trying to get money received as opposed to opening the opportunity.  Another thing would be the ability to rapidly do billing review and invoice. I typically invoice, I would say, no more than 48 hours from closure of anything we do.

When I started using the system it was a 6-7 week turnaround to get accounts receivable closed. I’m at the point now where it’s literally between, from a full business hour standpoint, anywhere from 36-48 hours business time.

I have displays up on screen where I look at my service closure rates, so all my SLAs. When I first established the SLAs in the system I was horrible. It was like 380 percent over my SLAs for the first several months until I got it all figured out. Now I’m actually at 92-94 percent meeting all my SLAs because I finally got a handle on it.

One of the coolest things from an ROI standpoint is the more I use the system, the more I’m measuring my ROI costs from the standpoint of system costs not personnel cost. One of the biggest overheads per hour per dollar is human. When I’m able to calculate based on what it cost me per hour per customer per asset, I’m talking pennies and dollars as opposed to tens of dollars realistically per person per hour kind of thing.

We heard that sometimes people need a dedicated technical admin for other PSAs. But BMS is so straightforward and intuitive you don’t need that anymore.

Morris: There is no admin necessary because I’m just subscribing to usage of the system. I don’t have any on-premises assets.

When I had ConnectWise, I spent two and a half resources worth of time to actively deal with the IT side of things. This meant dealing with the servers and the network and all the millions involved in upgrading and all my hours on the technical components side. Then I had another person who had to deal with understanding the SQL database and ConnectWise as a system and a platform and the process and procedure to go through. This was all to do the correct steps to do updates or changes or enhancements or whatever. Then I had a whole other person that spent half their time doing audits and checks and balances against the use case of the system.

The power of extending the admin’s capabilities is like going from a two-armed human being to an octopus. They can use the system and expand what they do in automation and central management. The kinds of things they would do singularly they can reproduce and do it in multiples of whatever factor, all within the same duration of time. If I’m going to make a change to one thing but I need to make a change to 500 things, the central system and the automation makes it so I can execute change on some or all of the 500 things simultaneously. I would not be able to do as an individual if I had to touch all 500 instances.

What does MSP 2.0 mean to you?

Morris: If I’m living in the same ecosystem that I’m offering to my customers, that makes me a “2.0 MSP.”  There are a lot of companies now that are trying to use their 10-15 year model and apply that and retrofit it or hybrid it and trying to integrate it as services and solutions to a customer.

If I’m still operating my business in last-generation stuff, I’m not truly at a point where I can facilitate and integrate completely with my customers.

For more information on how you can accelerate and grow your MSP business with BMS, visit our website.

Posted by Doug Barney
Doug Barney was the founding editor of Redmond Magazine, Redmond Channel Partner, Redmond Developer News and Virtualization Review. Doug also served as Executive Editor of Network World, Editor in Chief of AmigaWorld, and Editor in Chief of Network Computing.
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