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Two MACC clients collaborate to make a great team

“One of the things about a great team is that the whole exceeds the sum of its partners.”

This quote by author Tracy Hickman accurately sums up an on-going collaboration between COLTONTEL and MONITOR TELECOM. Since January of 2016, these Oregon-based MACC clients have shared their resources for the betterment of both companies.

Marlene Muhs, Assistant Manager at COLTONTEL, said “The goal of the collaboration is to utilize our resources and streamline processes to work smarter, more efficiently, and maybe even save some money.”

Sharing staff and ideas
She said to meet these goals, the two organizations share a general manager that splits her time evenly between each location, two supervisors who share management duties at both companies and four techs who take turns being on-call for afterhours support. COLTONTEL has seven associates while five are at MONITOR TELECOM. The two companies are 17 miles apart, which equals a 25-minute drive. Their phone systems are combined so overflow calls from one office can be handled by the other location.

The companies don’t stop at sharing employees and phone systems. They also share a server containing Customer Master, which reduces costs and gives employees from both companies easy access to service orders, trouble tickets and other important account information. Both companies also have Margaret Stoltz as a Customer Master Software Support Representative.

“The fact that both companies were already with MACC definitely helped with some of the changes. We were able to see the whole process from each company’s perspective and find out where we could align,” Marlene said. “Having Margaret be our go-to person for both companies has been a huge asset.”

Thanks to the collaboration, the companies were able to exchange ideas on using Customer Master. There was a review of each company’s processes and then a discussion on the pros and cons of each method. How the companies used the service order suite, trouble tickets, credit card payments, equipment tracking and other Customer Master modules were all reviewed. Having the two companies compare operations allowed management to facilitate changes to benefit both organizations.

From the collaboration, Marlene said the two companies have realized cost-savings, efficiency, and an overall increase in knowledge as employees learn from each other.

“Having the additional help from each other has proved beneficial on almost every level,” she said.

Overcoming challenges
As with any organization, Marlene said communication is a challenge. To improve communication within the individual organizations and between the two companies, there are regular management, staff and board meetings. At least once a year, the boards of both companies get together for a formal discussion. Additionally, they try to host a social event in the summer and one during the Christmas season for both companies to give employees and board members an opportunity to get to know each other outside of the office environment.

She said another challenge was bringing together two different company cultures and ways of doing things. When the collaboration began, and each company’s processes were reviewed, Marlene said the management team was careful to listen, watch, and understand why some tasks were handled in certain manners at each company.

“We only implemented change when it was necessary or made sense,” she said.

For other companies considering similar arrangements, Marlene posed a good question. “It takes teamwork and everyone has to be willing to change,” she said. “After all, if you aren’t willing to change, then how can you get better?”