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Managed services revolve around monitoring IT devices and applications from afar, but what if you could also monitor the technicians?

ConnectWise, which makes business process automation software for channel companies, believes it has just the thing. Don’t worry, though, it isn’t some sort of LoJack for humans or ankle-bracelet monitor.

The company’s new DownStream IT service extends the software’s automation capabilities beyond the solution provider’s location into client sites. In doing so, it keeps track of activity inside the client’s IT department, gathering information on staff utilization and performance, as well as project status and outcomes.

"This is the ultimate managed service," says ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini. "It’s a silver bullet."

Though not a managed services platform, ConnectWise’s professional services automation software integrates with platforms from vendors such as Level Platforms, Kaseya and N-able, automating processes that are key to running its business. Those processes include ticketing, project and resource management, invoice tracking, and customer quotes.

With DownStream IT, ConnectWise is extending the automation capabilities into the customer’s environment so the solution provider can either control it or help manage it. Instead of support requests from users accumulating in a technician’s e-mail in-box, for instance, the software keeps track and helps prioritize those requests.

Overburdened IT staff can get relief, while others without enough to do can receive a bigger share of the work.

Level Platforms CEO Peter Sandiford says DownStream IT complements his company’s own software.

"The beauty of this for ConnectWise and Level Platforms Partners is that we have complete two-way integration with ConnectWise running as a single seamless application," he says. "This is a great total solution for internal IT groups that want advanced tools to manage their own IT while tapping into specialized MSP services. It’s also a great, new opportunity for MSPs."

Bellini says DownStream IT creates accountability and improves resource utilization at the customer end.

For years, Bellini has studied the dynamics between end customers and solution providers. Customers have a tendency to grow their IT departments despite staff under utilization, first by hiring an IT manager who, eventually, starts asking for additional resources, Bellini says. "They start to multiply. The guy that gets in there wants to build a department."

The more the staff grows, the greater the friction with the solution provider because the staff wants to protect its turf, he explains.

DownStream IT controls this by keeping track of the activity in the customer’s IT department and feeding the customer information about where to invest and how to better use existing staff. A provider using the software at the customer site can position it as complementary to the internal IT staff. Rather than working against each other, the provider and the internal staff have the opportunity to collaborate.

"It really solves the problem of the adversarial relationship," Bellini says.

DownStream IT helps identify IT improvement opportunities, which could translate to sales of products or services, or both. In the process, the customer has the opportunity to become more strategic about IT utilization and planning.

Tony McMillan, president of solutions provider McMillan Consulting Services, says DownStream IT helps his company boost the high level of professionalism it delivers through it services to customers.