The Channel

Business Automation Software Companies Address Managed Services

By Paula Bernier

Managing all the internal and external jobs and workflows at an IT company can be a daunting task. But business automation software companies like ConnectWise (News - Alert) and Tigerpaw Software Inc. help networking, telecommunications, and systems integration companies manage their various processes. Both companies, which have close relationships with the channel, recently have made some significant changes, as well as introduced new initiatives to help better address marketplace requirements, such as needs related to the emergence of managed services.

Tigerpaw Software this spring named as its president James Foxall, previously senior vice president at the business software company. James is the son of Dave Foxall, founder and CEO of Tigerpaw, who remains at the company in an advisory role.

“I have been with Tigerpaw in some capacity since its inception, and I’ve enjoyed being a part of its growth and evolution,” says James. “While the last 25 years have been very successful, the best years are still to come. I have never seen more opportunity for our company, and I look forward to leading Tigerpaw to even greater success through customer-driven software design, communities, professional services, and a host of new initiates that we will be revealing soon.”

Tigerpaw sells a software suite that helps somewhere between 1,200 and 1,500 VARs and other companies that sell telecom and IT solutions and services today manage their businesses on a variety of fronts – from managing prospects, to generating quotes, managing their employees and materials, and keeping tabs on what’s happening with their customers’ services. The family-owned company, which has about 44 employees, last year had more than $5 million in revenues.

The company counts B&L Telephone, Carousel Industries, CTS (News - Alert) of Sparta, Decision Digital, Decision Systems Plus, Protel Networks, Tops Telecom and Worldlan Technology among its customers.

Tigerpaw also recently extended its relationship with Technology Assurance Group, an international organization of independently-owned unified communications providers representing $400 million in annual sales. Tigerpaw hopes to automate functions such as MSP integration, TAG’s Current Technology Assurance Plan (better known as C-TAP), TAG’s Seven Step Sales Process and more.

“C-TAP has revolutionized the way telecom equipment and converged applications such as VoIP are deployed in the marketplace,” says Ginger Clay, director of marketing at Tigerpaw Software. “This will provide the selling tools their members need to become more efficient in day-to-day operations and to better compete in today’s marketplace.”

Additionally, the younger Foxall has been working lately on allowing Tigerpaw customers to take a more active role in the company’s software development by creating a customer advisory group.

“I personally run those meetings, and they’re incredibly productive,” says Foxall, adding that the group meets about once a month.

Foxall – who has written more than 14 books on Microsoft (News - Alert) technologies, including “Practical Standards for Microsoft Visual Basic” for Microsoft Press – says one of the big changes we’re seeing in the market is the move to managed services. For example, he says, a Tigerpaw customer might want to offer its customers a managed server service. However, the end user customer in such a scenario might want to make changes over time. As a result, the Tigerpaw customer also will need to adjust its network and records to ensure billing remains accurate over time. Tigerpaw software enables that, he says.

Tigerpaw not only makes sure correct invoices are provided, it also manages ticketing and offers a remote management tool that can help a service provider watch to see if disk space on a particular server is running low, for example, and use that information to trigger the appropriate response, Foxall explains.

As for ConnectWise, it’s a Tampa, Fla.-based company that’s been around since 1982. The company offers IT services companies software that helps with CRM/contact management, ticketing and more.

Earlier this year the company launched ConnectWise Capital, which is now the funding arm of ConnectWise. Armed with $20 million, the new entity will incubate innovative solutions to be sold exclusively through the IT channel.

“Making these investments is another way ConnectWise can nurture and empower innovative suppliers to the IT nation,” says ConnectWise Co-founder David Bellini. “We will be introducing our partners to new and unique companies that will help strengthen their businesses by creating new market opportunities for them.” IT