Why I love Autotask: It’s the process, baby!
Behind every great business practice, there’s a great tool and someone who knows how to use it. One of the many tools FAR uses to keep our employees productive and our customers happy is Autotask.
Every business has key productivity tools and one of the most critical to FAR is Autotask. Autotask is delivered as a “software as a service” (SaaS) or what is now commonly referred to as “The Cloud”. That means that Autotask hosts the application centrally, and FAR’s employees can login from anywhere.
The same is true for all of our customers. Autotask provides us with strong project management tools to organize our internal communications and workflow, but equally important, with ways to make that process and its status transparent to our clients. The Client Portal allows clients to login and track their tickets, issues and project status any time they like 24 hours a day,7 days a week.
What makes Autotask important to FAR?
We currently have 10 employees with a plan in place to grow to 15 in Q1 2010. A 50% increase in headcount is no small task by itself. Keeping everything smooth requires regular and expected process, but also the ability to improvise in real time to meet customer expectations when necessary. Autotask helps FAR do both.
A competitor enters
No business practice, no process, no tool, and no employee’s performance is ever entirely perfect. I was recently approached by a key competitor to Autotask. I’m mostly agnostic about technology: best tool for the job is the mantra at FAR, and like any business, FAR is always looking to reduce our costs, serve our clients more efficiently — or both!
When I asked this competitor why I should switch from Autotask, the response was surprisingly anemic. For FAR to switch out Autotask for this alternative solution would have provided us with less functionality, fewer benefits at greater cost. It was a no-brainer for us to stick with Autotask.
The moral of this story: if it ain’t broke, plan to continuously improve it.
To stay ahead of competitors, your business needs to improve continuously, and that means your business processes and information technology need to keep up. Human resources, business processes and information technology all require continuous improvement.
What’s important for a small and medium enterprise is to plan and execute that improvement over time — otherwise, you end up with an inflexible business process and an aging tool set that no longer helps your employees get the job done (or, just as likely, makes their jobs more difficult and less productive). In that situation, you go from continuous improvement for low, planned costs, to rip and replace for high and unpredictable costs. Having a plan for your business processes and how they should integrate and make use of your information technology is a simple way to save money and time for your business over time.
Also, businesses should be prepared to use the best tool for the job. Sometimes that means using the “The Cloud” and SaaS, but just as often, it means in-sourcing key components of your network (like your phone system, your Exchange deployment and other business critical tools). Watch this space for the next few weeks as I plan to be writing about The Cloud, and what small and medium enterprises should (or shouldn’t) host.