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Join Forces Online

Web-based collaboration technology plays go-between when face-to-face isn't possible.
September 18, 2008
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/197116

Considering its focus on PBX and telecom, 24-by-7 Service Inc. felt awfully disconnected from its customers, and that was translating into too many delinquent accounts.

Adopting web-based project management application Clarizen not only improved internal collaboration among 24-by-7's employees, but it also helped the company connect better with clients and cut billing cycles by up to three days.

The subscription-based product allows you to track milestones and activities associated with an account or project. Because it lives on the internet, members of an extended team--and even customers--can view the information easily and determine, for example, whether a deadline has changed. 24-by-7 integrated Clarizen's features into its internal customer service portal and opened the information to key customers.

"We use [Clarizen] for any significant project," says Charley Ellison, 54, founder and CEO of the $1.6 million, Denver-based business. "We then give the log-on information to customers."

Ellison names two key benefits of using Clarizen for his company, which previously relied on spreadsheets to track project management tasks. First, it has erased the issue of location; 24-by-7 supports customers from Hawaii to Newfoundland. In fact, Clarizen was instrumental in helping 24-by-7 win a significant deal in New England because it showed the prospect how easily 24-by-7 could stay on top of the project remotely.

Second, 24-by-7 can now better track billing cycles and flag delinquent accounts. "When you're not working in the same time zone, it's easy to ignore a paper bill," says Ellison. "But because customers become part of our extended team with Clarizen, they're more likely to pay promptly."

Ellison pays $50 per month per user, but the software actually costs as little as $24.95 per month per user if you prepay for 12 months.

Heather Clancy, a freelance journalist and consultant, has been covering the high-tech industry for close to 20 years. She can be reached at hccollins@mac.com.