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by Eric P. Jackson

ConnectWise at Keystone: Lessons Learned from Change

On January 2, 2017, everyone at Keystone came back from the holidays to an entirely different world. Over the course of our 13 years, we'd had change, but nothing like this. All at once we switched systems we'd been using to manage: 

  • Invoicing
  • Time and expenses
  • Customer relationship/data management
  • Service agreements
  • Service tracking, delivery, and communications
  • Purchasing
  • Project management
  • Proposal development

Describing such a change as "difficult" would be an understatement. Everyone at Keystone was required to abandon the tools and habits that had become part of their daily work life for, in many cases, over 10 years. Formerly easy tasks felt like learning to walk. 

Eight months later, we can now look back at all the problems and assess the wins and losses. And maybe you can learn something from our travails. 

Answering "Why?" 

It's typically the first question everyone in your organization is going to ask. "Why are we doing this?" And we all know "because" is not an answer for a two-year old or a work team. The explanation for us was simple: every item on the bullet list above lived in a silo. Even those that lived together in Quickbooks weren't easily analyzed and managed. Our new system, ConnectWise, could bring everything together. It was easy for everyone at Keystone to comprehend why this change had to occur; we all had experienced the vagaries of not having a smoothly functioning platform. 

Takeaway:  Answering "why" and painting the picture of success was imperative. 

Roadblocks Are Everywhere

If you don't identify and plan for addressing roadblocks, they can derail the entire process of change. The list of roadblocks was long and daunting. I expected that there would be myriad problems followed by a litany of complaints and excuses. By addressing the roadblocks before they appeared, we were able to overcome them and produce wins quickly. Everyone pulled together to work toward our goal. 

Takeaway:  Addressing, managing, and working together as a team to plow through the roadblocks at every step is possible if you know what they are and you can paint a vision of the future destination. 

Knowledge and Coaching are Critical

Each person at Keystone watched hours and hours of instructional videos before we went live on January 2. Each video was followed by a quiz, testing our knowledge. As we abandoned the old systems and began using ConnectWise, we each experienced problems that didn't have easy answers. Small groups of Keystone staff began to huddle together trying to make sense of their difficulties. We openly shared knowledge as each of us gained insights into our new system. Slowly, subject matter experts (and there were many subjects) began to emerge. The coaching and knowledge transfer happened in small, impromptu gatherings in office doorways. The gatherings led to "ah-ha" moments which became department meetings and "here's the way!" emails. The wins began to pile up. 

Takeaway:  Knowledge + practice + teamwork = Victory! 

Today, we're mostly comfortable with the changes that have occurred. New habits and processes have been established that make us better at what we do, and our awesome Keystone customers have given us invaluable feedback and grace when things didn't exactly go according to our game plan. Thank you! 

Photo by Japheth Mast on Unsplash