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May 23, 2019
ConnectWise’s professional services automation (PSA) platform was one of the first in the industry and remains the most widely used. Back in 2015, the company announced an evolution of its PSA tool into a full-fledged business management platform (BMP) designed to holistically address how to improve its partners’ businesses.
“Decades of partnering with and listening to customers positioned ConnectWise to anticipate the change,” read a blog announcing the new features. “And we were ready with a powerful BMP support infrastructure offering unique tools, education and community all designed to enhance operational efficiency and grow business.”
The upgraded ConnectWise Manage places emphasis on training and education, the company’s longstanding and robust partner community IT Nation and a slew of third-party integrations. It remains the most prolific tool in the channel, but the market is growing more and more crowded every day. Just in the 2019 MSP 501 survey alone, Channel Futures identified 12 PSA platforms used by our readers and covered in our content. Narrowing it down can be overwhelming.
So what does the MSP 501 have to say about Manage? Here are three reasons to turn to ConnectWise, and three that may make you reconsider.
Integrations Galore. Every single 501er we talked to said that the massive list of third-party integrations ConnectWise offers is a huge selling point. Its robust marketplace not only has a plethora of add-ons to fill gaps in its own product, but also offers a vibrant integration community with popular providers like MSPCFO, Bright Gauge, Labtech (which it acquired in 2015) and QuoteWerks. It even integrates with competitors’ products in case you want to mix and match.
Covers All the Bases. As one 501er put it, “[ConnectWise] does everything you could possibly ever need.” While that may be a bit of an exaggeration, the product is designed to cover the full operational requirements of an MSP, including sales, procurement, inventory management, projects, service management and billing. Over and over, we heard the same praise: Manage gives that “single pane of glass” that gives partners visibility into every stage of the client relationship.
Onboarding resources. While there’s no shortage of complaints about ConnectWise’s customer support (see below), the general consensus is that the onboarding materials, training documents and peer group support makes it easy to get started.
Pricey. ConnectWise isn’t cheap. Partners say you definitely pay for the functionality above, and that the company has a tendency to “nickel and dime” partners. For instance, a lot of customers complain about substandard support, but if you want additional support, you’re definitely going to have to pay for it. We hear the sales teams can also be difficult to deal with and the company can overwhelm MSPs with contracts. This may be especially painful for smaller MSPs that need more attention than ConnectWise wants to give.
Aging Architecture. While improvements are being made, the architecture is a big pain point for our 501. It looks outdated, and over time, it’s accumulated lots of baggage, making it bulky, sluggish and difficult to read. The mobile app leaves a lot to be desired, and tiny changes in the interface can reportedly majorly impact configurations.
Doesn’t Support Modern Marketing. The consensus is that the sales and marketing functions just aren’t robust enough for today’s managed services businesses. That can hurt MSPs with limited resources that need all the marketing help they can get. We also heard complaints that the built-in reports aren’t super useful and there are too many limitations on ways to bill.
It’s critical to remember that there isn’t a tool on the market that won’t have people complaining about it and that every MSP has different demands for their business management software. ConnectWise is the market leader for many reasons and fresh from its buyout by Thoma Bravo, it will have more resources to devote to filling the gaps … but it isn’t perfect. Do your research, talk to your peers and make your choice with all the facts in hand.
Head of Channel Communities, Zift Solutions
Kris Blackmon is head of channel communities at Zift Solutions. She previously worked as chief channel officer at JS Group, and as senior content director at Informa Tech and project director of the MSP 501er Community. Blackmon is chair of CompTIA's Channel Development Advisory Council and operates KB Consulting. You may follow her on LinkedIn and @zift on X.
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