Featured Community Member with Autotask IT Management Software

Featured Member: Trey Thompson
Posted Feb 08 2010, 09:31 AM by Richard Akullian

trey“When I started to look for a new Featured Member I couldn’t help but think of Trey Thompson.  I’m not sure if it’s the Clint Eastwood Avatar or how he always seems to be answering questions in the CommunITy that made him stick out to me.  He started with Verus Technologies (http://www.verustech.com/) in 2005 and while he does have the title of CEO he makes sure to point out that he still takes out the trash…Enjoy!”

How long have you been working in the IT Industry?

Since 1995.  Started working Tech Support for an Internet Service Provider.  Then Started an ISP, worked in Healthcare technology, and started consulting in 2003.

What did you do before getting into the IT Industry?

School.  It’s all I’ve ever done.

What would you say your IT specialization is?

My true specialization is consulting with business owners to plan how we can better utilize technology to help them reach their goals.  Too often people think technology will solve all their productivity issues, when in reality the underlying issues are usually related to an individual’s personal habits.  We actually try our best to minimize a customer’s use of technology.

What was your worst IT/work related moment, and what did you learn from it?

This is a hard one.  I really can’t remember any disasters that weren’t recoverable, data that was permanently lost, or projects that went horribly wrong.  The one event that sticks out in my mind was related to a customer that we had a great relationship with.  We provided great service, they enjoyed it.  They had a problem with one of their pieces of software which we regularly maintained, but are definitely not what you would consider experts.  We recommended that we contact the vendor, which cost $299 for the support incident.  They said no, and asked us to just take a look.  We kept them informed all along the way.  We took several steps, and were stumped.  We got approval to contact the vendor, and when we did, they had us walk through all the steps that we had already taken, plus one final step.  That fixed it.  The customer’s response…  “Why didn’t you call them in the first place?”  After providing documentation showing their refusal to take that route, they didn’t care.  They terminated the relationship, and have yet to pay our bill.  We’re still going after it though.  What did we learn?  We have a STRICT policy of “Let the experts be the experts.”  In the future, we won’t provide the option, we will require that we contact the vendor if we are stumped.

What is your favorite IT related product?

Man oh man.  This is a tough one.  I think I like the flux capacitor the most.  After designing it, I was able to travel in time, causing all kinds of trouble.  In fact, my friend Marty almost disappeared from existence.  Thankfully, his father George got the guts to knock out Biff (the school bully), and fall in love with Marty’s mom.

Now that I think about it, while it may not be considered IT, it is a technology, and that’s Solar Power.  With the exception of plain old politics, I truly don’t understand why we aren’t putting every dollar we have into maximizing this technology.  The supply is endless and it exists everywhere on Earth (obviously some places more than others).

How long have you been using Autotask?

Over 3 years.

What do you like most about Autotask?

Without sounding like a commercial…  Autotask has allowed us to focus on the parts of our business that make us money, NOT on administration.  I’ll say it over and over again, technology as a whole, is evil.  Yes, that’s right, I said it.  Evil!  While technology provides us with so many great advances in so many fields, it has also contributed to laziness (TV/DVRs/HD/etc…), a reduction in the quality of personal relationships (email, texting, IM), reduction in the quality of work performed (spell checking, grammar checking, sending things without proof reading, accidentally sending an email to Trey Thomson instead of Trey Thompson), a reduction in customer relationships (use CRM, deal with many people quickly, not few people well), reduction in location awareness (I can’t get anywhere in Dallas without my GPS…  I’ve only lived here my whole life), etc…  Granted ALL of those have good, legitimate uses that can be beneficial, and increase the quality of life for individuals.  But I would argue that the majority of the effect they have is actually negative.  Autotask is different from other technologies because I believe that it actually IMPROVES the quality of the service provided to the end customer in MOST cases, instead of it being the other way around.  I know you’re probably looking for a feature, or something that’s less of a ramble session on technology, but that’s my overall view of why we have “latched on” to Autotask.

If you could change one thing about Autotask what would it be?

As a company, I would recommend that the future of Autotask be community approved.  Post your enhancement plans, let us vote on them, and let us decide on the future of the product.  While you make good changes, sometimes I think that if you polled your customer base, we might have a different opinion of what bug fixes, enhancements and other changes would be a priority.  It would be relatively easy to set this up, track and report on.  We’re a community of users, and if you notify all your customers of such a system, those that really care will participate, and those that don’t, won’t.  Your product would mature in exactly the way that your customers wanted.  I managed 9 developers for 4 years, and this was how we treated out customers, it worked perfectly.

Feature wise?  I would do a complete rewrite of the report engines, workflow engines, help interface and mobile access.  I know you asked for one, but come on, did you really expect me to list just one?  They all are pretty good, but it’s time for a change.

What do you wish someone would have shared with you when you first started using Autotask?

Customize Customize Customize.  Learn the concept of WAL (Within Acceptable Limits).  Don’t take the attitude, “We’ll just get started small, and add in enhancements later…”  BAD IDEA!  Spend the time and investment up front to try and utilize as MUCH of the system as possible.  For instance, I’ve spent hours and hours over the years starting to implement email notifications.  I’d get most of the way there, then stop for one small item.  If I had been thinking “Will this do what I want, even though it’s not perfect?”, we’d be in a much better place than where we are now, from an information management standpoint.

Start at the marketing process, and work all the way through to Invoicing.  Get the process down, get it streamlined, and do it NOW!  The hours and hours you will save over the years while you procrastinate customizing, will end up costing you the growth of your business.

Other interests/hobbies?

Sailing, camping, backpacking, hunting, working on cars, poker, playing with my kids, gardening and clipping my toenails.

What is the coolest thing you’ve ever done?

One time many years ago, I took a trip to Egypt.  I was sent there to try and recover an ancient artifact that was thought to hold the stone tablets that Moses wrote the 10 commandments on.  The *** were after it as well, believing it had mystical powers that would help them take over the world.  After lots of hard work, sheer perseverance and the use of my handy bullwhip (which was very handy against the machine guns the Nazi’s had) I was able to recover the item, and bring it back to the U.S. to a secret government warehouse where it is being kept for safe keeping away from those that would use it for evil…  Or is it…? I had many adventures after that.  The second one was awful, but I remember it well.  The third one was cool, and the 4th adventure?  Well, I’m embarrassed to even admit that I went on that one.

What’s with the Clint Eastwood Avatar?

Come on!  If you don’t love Clint, and you don’t love Josey Wales, then I don’t even recognize your existence.  Some people post boring pictures of themselves looking goofy (Travis), but I prefer to post something people will actually enjoy.

For more pictures of Trey check out our Flickr page… http://bit.ly/TreyAT
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