Datto believes there is no limit to what small and medium businesses can achieve with the right technology. Offering Unified Continuity, Networking, and Business Management solutions, Datto has created a one-of-kind ecosystem of Managed Service Provider (MSP) partners. These partners provide Datto solutions to over one million businesses around the world.
Datto was a fast-growing SaaS business. In just a few years, the business had doubled. Home grown systems were starting to hamper the scalability of the business. The clear answer was a transition to a new set of standard, industry proven systems across their lead to cash processes. The new solutions delivered CRM, ecommerce, and ERP capabilities. One of the key tenants of the system upgrade program was to deliver a robust self-service purchasing experience for MSPs. However, there was a serious gap between the industry leading experience that the MSPs expected, and the results Datto was seeing from their new platforms.
A few weeks after go live of the new order to cash process, it became apparent that both internal and external stakeholders were experiencing challenges in executing even simple tasks. In addition, the IT support teams were struggling to keep pace with issues and feature requests. Resources were firefighting instead of making progress on root causes. With each passing week frustration was mounting and had begun to impact Datto’s reputation.
Just months after going live Datto realized the challenges with their new systems went beyond just usability concerns in ecommerce. Most notably, their MSPs were reporting serious errors with their billing including invoices with inaccurate pricing, discounts not applied correctly and issues with cancelled orders still being billed. Given Datto’s rapid organic growth, some of this was to be expected, but the situation was extreme.
It was not looking much better internally at Datto either. The sales team was struggling with the time it took to enter new orders, and the billing team was inundated with calls from irate customers.
As frustration mounted for the MSPs, they started to share their experiences on social media. The general sentiment from the MSP community was that despite their love of Datto products, they were losing faith in Datto’s back-office capabilities. While they had always been loyal partners, their message to Datto was crystal clear: Get your act together, or we’re out.
Datto’s CEO, Tim Weller, reached out to Notch Above as he needed to determine just how big the problem was – were these the normal stabilization challenges that come with a large ERP deployment or did the issues run even deeper than initially recognized?
Of equal concern was the fact that the new system implementations did not include the full business portfolio. Additional Datto product lines needed to be migrated to the new platforms, but certainly could not achieve the same sub-standard results or the outcome would be catastrophic for the company.
The ask from Tim was clear. Fix the issues from the first phase and help the second phase get done right.
A Full-Scale IT Digital Transformation
As Notch Above engaged with the Datto team, it became clear that the scope of the challenges went beyond just the quote to cash system stack. In order to address the challenges from the first phase, deliver the second phase successfully, and improve the trust of internal and external partners, a number of critical improvements were needed.
- Build an IT organization that can support mission critical enterprise processes
- Create an improved framework for successfully delivering transformational programs
- Improve Quality & Speed with Agile Methodology
Creating a Solution
A few short months after the phase 1 launch, the IT team was under tremendous pressure to respond to partner challenges, fix invoice issues, and address critical usability challenges for internal users.
There was too much work and no process to help govern or prioritize the focus areas. Issues were being Slacked directly to developers who were trying to resolve software bugs and critical fixes. Business users were reporting issues to IT before was aware they existed.
With phase 2 deployment on the horizon, critical subject matter expertise was being pulled from phase 1 to focus on phase 2, which further limited capacity for support. In short order an overhaul was needed to respond to the critical needs and keep Datto business running.
Critical actions to address included:
Providing Mission Critical Support
Problem: As a $500M organization, Datto needed mission critical support for its users and partners around the clock. IT had neither the tools nor the team to make this happen. The team:
- Was not staffed for 24 x 7 support
- Did not have a proper tracking system for tickets and were using Slack to field support requests
- Had no way to prioritize, track resolution time, view open cases or resolved tickets
Solution: Notch Above helped to define the right framework and process for addressing the critical needs. Notch Above helped to form a dedicated team of global support specialists who leveraged standard support tools to allow for improved visibility, tracking and problem resolution.
- A dedicated team was formed to own support, including resources in EMEA & APJ for full coverage
- An entirely new Tiered Support System was born offering
- 24 x 7 support
- Response time & metric tracking
- Knowledge articles
- A governance process with the ERP vendor was created for product related issues to:
- Escalate and prioritize critical needs
- Improve overall performance challenges
- Influence product roadmap for future enhancements
Creating a framework for prioritizing capabilities
Problem: With challenges stemming from multiple areas, there was no governance in place to guide the prioritization of work, leading to:
- Partner facing issues taking too long to resolve
- Fixes that often addressed the symptoms and not the cause
- Frustrated users
Solution: A governance model was put in place to identify key stakeholders in the business to partner with IT on the roadmap.
- Strong partnership and input from the business on key areas of focus
- Agreement to address partner facing issues and challenges first
- Acceleration of major improvements through coordinated releases
Establishing Robust Analytics & Monitoring
Problem: Datto did not have sufficient application or user experience monitoring in place to notify the team of issues and relied on user tickets.
Solution: Through a joint partnership with RapDev and technology from DataDog and Akamai, a robust monitoring solution was built allowing Datto to replicate a partner experience and actively monitor if there is a degradation of service, locate where it’s failing, and walk through the experience of our external and internal users.
- Real time reporting of user experience
- Monitoring of business activity
- Realtime notification of any integration failure
- Revenue metrics to confirm business activity
- Performance monitoring across the stack
Delivering Transformational Programs
On top of stabilizing the existing platform from the Phase 1 deployment, the team was under immense pressure to deliver Phase 2. However, the business could not afford for the outcome to be the same as Phase 1. This had to be a success, as Datto’s future and brand depended on it.
When the Notch Above team engaged, the plan of record was a go live in 30 days. Wanting to validate the readiness of this plan, Notch Above pulled the key stakeholders together to walk through the end-to-end design. Many gaps were identified, and it was clear another go live would be catastrophic. A comprehensive approach was taken to reconfirm the scope, design and timeline to deliver successfully.
A set of critical guiding principles was shared with the team to ensure success, including:
- Strong business engagement throughout to define and implement the right solution
- Critical ownership and oversight of data conversions
- Thorough end to end testing including comprehensive invoice validation
- Robust Change Management approach to properly prepare business and internal stakeholders for go live
In addition to ensuring the program had the right cross functional participation to ensure the guiding principles could be met, there were a series of critical activities that the team addressed including:
- Detailed cutover playbook orchestrating the key data and migration activities to minimize disruption and downtime
The result of these efforts was a seamless transition that had immediate benefit to the 4000+ Datto MSPs impacted by this phase. Partners were thrilled with the product enhancements that were delivered and most importantly, the solution delivered an improved user experience for partners and a simplified invoice that was accurate and easy to understand.
For internal users the transition was equally as seamless. Through extensive readiness activities, both the business and IT teams were staffed to support the solution and any issues that arose. Good news though, the go live was so seamless not a single critical ticket was raised, and the business saw an immediate uptick in usage and revenue.
Improving Quality & Speed with Agile
With phase 1 and phase 2 on better trajectories, the next major area of focus was to improve the quality . Almost 50% of the code migrated to production had to be retrofitted or backed out. Teams were trying to move too fast and quality was suffering. However, demand for IT capabilities remained high and the business was in dire need of more reliable solutions quickly.
To respond, Notch Above took a comprehensive look at opportunities to improve Datto’s agile processes and tackled the following:
- A robust code management strategy which improved testing rigor and quality control in their release management and sign-off process
- Implemented cross team dependency management to improve overall coordination amongst scrum teams
- Reallocated resources and address critical capacity gaps; including refinement and testing improvements
The results of these efforts were sizable:
- 30% increase in output delivered to the business in each sprint
- Less than 2% of issues requiring retrofit postproduction migration
- Comprehensive inventory of test cases to be used for future regression
- Documented release cadence for improved collaboration and delivery
- Foundation laid for building a scaled agile framework across IT
- Business trust in quality of the deployments
- Improved employee satisfaction due to better role clarity
Through a continued focus on role & responsibility clarity, a disciplined approach to prioritization and a quality first mindset, not only has our throughput increased but the value being delivered. We have established a new level of credibility, which has allowed us to bridge the gap across the IT and business teams.
I would highly recommend Notch Above Consulting for your Agile journey."
The results of this full IT Transformation could not have come at a better time. Just as Phase 2 completed, Datto went public on the NYSE! The improvements delivered by Notch Above and the IT team helped provide the confidence that the systems were ready to support this critical growth step for Datto. The hard work of the team has enabled a solid foundation to support today’s business as well as Datto’s bright future!
Datto Key Business Wins
- Ability and confidence to successfully IPO on October 21, 2020
- Addressed critical invoice and billing gaps
- Reduced invoice related tickets significantly
- Delivered phase 2 seamlessly, and saw an increase in product sales as a result
- 70% reduction in production defects
- Proactive business & system monitoring to detect and respond to issues as soon as possible
- Global IT support 24×7 with support Tiers; and KPI tracking to drive continuous improvement
- Overall increase in development output and project capacity
- Employee satisfaction improvements due to role and responsibility alignment
At the end of the day, it’s the results that impact the business that count. So we’re proud of not only solidifying the Phase 1 deployment and setting Datto up for the future with a rock solid Phase 2 platform, but we have equipped them with staff, processes and infrastructure that will impact the bottom line in a positive way for years to come.