The business adjustments involve far more than flipping a few switches and embracing a Work From Home (WFH) mindset. The ConnectWise executive team started to hunker down in February, meeting regularly, and drawing up a WFH game plan that rolled out in March, CEO Jason Magee told ChannelE2E in an interview last week.
Magee compares ConnectWise's business preparations to that of an airplane flying through a massive, unavoidable storm. The big focus areas for the flight:
- Protect the company;
- protect ConnectWise colleagues; and
- protect partners.
"And the fourth area focus for us has been social responsibility -- which overlaps all of the other focus areas I mentioned," Magee says.
ConnectWise Coordinates Its COVID-19 Response
Up in the cockpit, the executive team needs to keep its eye on all the gauges, steady the aircraft, and minimize the in-flight turbulence -- for the sake of the crew (i.e., roughly 2,300 employees) and the passengers (i.e., partners and customers).
"We did various test scenarios in February and had teams work from home," Magee says. "We were a little ahead of the curve. From there we stepped up internal communications, with managers on company calls the last three or four weeks."
The enormity of the challenge soon settled in. "All of us have gone through Y2K, the dot-com bust and the 2008 financial crisis. But overnight, to have industries shut down? That never been seen before. So we really had to mobilize our team."
That mobilization involves communication between the cockpit and the cabin -- where the ConnectWise crew prepared to assist the passengers (i.e., partners and customers).
"When you're on an airplane and the oxygen mask comes down, you're always told to put the mask on yourself first. You need to take that first step to make sure you're best positioned to help those in need around you. In our case, we had to take certain internal steps to make sure ConnectWise had its own mask on, and then we reached out to help partners and customers."
Those steps involve chatting regularly with peer vendors, partners and ConnectWise's own Advisory Council. "We got the pulse of what they were experiencing, and as we developed some ideas to help partners we didn't want 'Perfect' to get in the way of 'Good.'"
ConnectWise: Partner Outreach
Armed with feedback, ConnectWise rolled out special offers and webcasts to help MSPs shift customers to Work From Home (WFH) models in a secure, managed way.
The efforts include a free Remote Workforce solution that's available until June 30, 2020. And in partnership with SentinelOne, ConnectWise provides up to 100 free licenses to Continuum Fortify for Endpoint Security at no cost until June 30, 2020.
That endpoint security offer is backed by Continuum 24/7 SOC support monitored by accredited security experts, the company says. MSPs that need additional Endpoint Security seats can explore more information here.
ConnectWise Taps Into Its DNA
ConnectWise also found a way to tap into its IT Nation heritage -- a key piece of the company's DNA. The term IT Nation describes an ecosystem of IT solutions provider (ITSPs), MSPs and technology entrepreneurs who typically band together to learn from each other -- in a quest to build more successful businesses.
IT Nation gatherings typically blend hands-on, brutally honest, peer-to-peer conversations about specific MSP business goals and performance issues. But those same IT Nation conferences and peer group meetings can also be lighthearted -- with just the right amount of comic relief thrown into the mix.
So, how do you capture the spirit and harness the power of IT Nation -- without organizing a Face to Face event?
The answer involves a fundraising effort known as ConnectWise Hand Wash Karaoke. Basically, the video Karaoke calls on the IT Nation to raise money for small businesses and the technology solutions providers (TSP)s that support those businesses. For a look at the videos, check out ConnectWise VP of Strategy Tony Thomas's LinkedIn feed.
I don't sing. I don't like being on video. But yes... even I felt compelled to participate (though in an unconventional way).
Amid all that progress, Magee concedes that challenges remain. For instance: ConnectWise has roughly 16 offices worldwide. Before the pandemic and the rise of WFH, many of those offices depended heavily on face-to-face interactions.
At the company's Tampa, Florida, headquarters, employees are used to working closely on projects, and gathering regularly for in-office meals. At the same time, employees from ConnectWise and the Continuum business -- acquired in 2019 -- are still developing closer working relationships worldwide.
The challenge? Shifting to a Work From Home model can potentially trigger stress and anxiety for employees who are used to those in-office bonds, and for those employees who were just getting used to new ownership and new management.
Aware of those challenges, Magee says ConnectWise is committed to building bridges -- even if they have to be built remotely. Company-wide video meetings, and virtual department meetings, are rapidly becoming the norm, he notes.
And yes, ConnectWise continues to brainstorm additional ways to assist partners during the pandemic. Stay tuned.