Tigerpaw Boosts PSA Platform With Mobile, Cloud Elements10:40 AM EST Fri. Sep. 28, 2012
Tigerpaw Software is making two long-requested additions to its professional services automation (PSA) platform: a mobile version of the software that allows users to do tasks such as expense logging and ticket creation from their mobile devices, and a cloud-based version that provides the functionality of Tigerpaw's desktop client delivered as-a-service.
The updates, unveiled this week's Tigerpaw National Conference in Chicago, are examples of Tigerpaw making its platform more flexible and taking man-hours and other hassles out of the various administrative challenges VARs, telecom agents and MSPs face on a regular basis, said James Foxall, Tigerpaw's president and CEO, during a main stage presentation.
Bellevue, Neb.-based Tigerpaw works with about 1,200 telecom agents and 1,200 IT solution providers, and while it's often grouped with other established PSA providers such as Autotask and ConnectWise, Tigerpaw's particular specialty is the telecom channel -- something that gives it a first-hand view of the IT-telecom convergence trend.
"I think our position of automating more telecoms than anyone else combined with our being one of the top three in the IT space has allowed us to see this in a unique way," Foxall told CRN in an interview before the conference. "We've not only been seeing it, we've been pushing it. It's happening, and the more progressive companies are already there and enjoying the benefits. Many more are trying to get there but are struggling with making it happen."
Some traditional VARs have had trouble making the leap to telecom, carrier and hosted services even if they've been somewhat successful with managed services and basic recurring revenue streams. It was important to Tigerpaw, Foxall said, to have both the voice and data sides represented at the conference and to continue to push the importance of PSA platforms as a logistical necessity -- especially if PSA software is used in concert with remote monitoring and management (RMM) offerings such as those from Level Platforms or Continuum.
"A good PSA application is crucial to running a successful VAR/integrator. Not all are created equal, however, and most can only run just your service center," Foxall said. "We'd encourage them to consider their business as a whole and choose a solution that not only has top-notch PSA features, but tools to manage your sales team and inventory as well."
The mobile and cloud-based versions of the Tigerpaw platform build on the summer release of Tigerpaw 12, which included details such as the ability to update service orders from within a task and rename book items by changing their term ID.
Tigerpaw Mobile is billed as a "hybrid application" using both local application and HTML 5 technology. For mobile device users, it offers an agenda and planning tool that includes room to update work completed, support for Apple, Android and BlackBerry devices, automatic syncing for work completed while offline, GPS integration, camera support, signature capture and integration with Tigerpaw's Dispatch Board, which displays information about field technicians at a solution provider's main offices.
Meanwhile, Tigerpaw Cloud is a version of the Tigerpaw plaform delivered as a cloud service to Windows and Mac environments. It's a lower-cost, more-flexible option for which Tigerpaw doesn't require software upgrades or hardware additions, and offers off-site backup and continuous monitoring, according to the company.
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Tigerpaw partners attending the conference told CRN that while some of the new technical details might seem trivial, they would lead to big productivity gains because of what can now be accomplished using a mobile device in the field.
"The biggest problem I have with technicians is getting them to log their time before they leave a client. Now, there should be zero excuses as to why they can't do anything," said Lawrence Reiber, owner of Tanda Technologies, a Toronto-based solution provider.
"My initial response was, 'Finally.' It felt a little slow to market," said Joe Little, general manager of Laketec Communications, a North Olmsted, Ohio-based solution provider. "I feel like half my current job description is asking my techs to get their times in. So, if this is in their hands all day every day, there's no excuse not to get them in. It seems like it will remove a lot of barriers and if they're getting those in on time that hopefully helps billing, cash flow and everything else."
Trans-West Network Solutions, a Phoenix-based solution provider, previously didn't have a mobile way for technicians to log time and asked them to call in their time for each job. Herbert Rosen, president, and Maria Mitchell, customer service manager, also agreed Tigerpaw Mobile would boost productivity in that area.
"I'm a process person, and what I've wanted to be able to do is tell a customer when they call in,'Yes, your tech is en route,' " Mitchell said. "This'll make life easier."
Mobile data collection will provide not only accountability for staff but also provide useful data patterns, said Fred Holzsager, managing member of Holzsager Technology Services, a Fairlawn, N.J.-based solution provider.
"I think this will give us greater metrics to identify shortcomings or gains in our business that we should be tracking," he said.
Tanda's Reiber added that he hopes Tigerpaw incorporates more features into the mobile platform.
"I'd love to see a mobile version of the Dispatch Portal," he said. "We don't have someone sitting there at a dispatch; we're only seven people."
PUBLISHED SEPT. 28, 2012