Closing Time

How Data Privacy Company Streamlines Operations with Insightly’s Enterprise CRM

In today’s digital age, data breaches have become a pressing concern for businesses of all sizes.

Incident response service providers play a crucial role in mitigating these risks, helping companies swiftly identify and manage sensitive information after a security incident.

Assessment First is one of those companies.

CEO and founder Kris Wasserman and his team provide data privacy solutions for data breach coaches and insurers.

In this customer spotlight edition of Closing Time, Kris speaks to the value Insightly has driven for his businesses since he became a customer in 2022.

From early struggles with bloated legacy CRMs like Salesforce to the seamless integration of Insightly’s enterprise CRM, Marketing, Service, and AppConnect tools, Kris provides a comprehensive look at how these solutions have streamlined his company’s processes. He also shares the innovative ways his team uses dashboards and integrations to enhance efficiency and client satisfaction.

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Key Moments:
Pains of Bloated, Legacy CRMs like Salesforce

Kris’s experience with CRM systems began early in his career. During the early 2000s, his company adopted Salesforce, but it quickly became apparent that it wasn’t designed for small businesses. Despite the challenges, Kris became proficient in Salesforce administration. However, by 2010, he grew frustrated with its increasing complexity, saying, “It felt like I went from algebra to requiring an advanced degree in quantum physics just to move fields around or adjust workflow.” Kris disagreed with the business model that forced businesses like his to spend thousands on Salesforce consultants to perform basic tasks.

When sharing his frustrations about Salesforce’s “overweight, bloated CRM solution” with a friend, his friend suggested Insightly—a simpler, more intuitive CRM solution. Insightly offered a low barrier to entry with its free plan, which was a game-changer for Kris. He started using Insightly as his personal CRM to support his sales activities.

Insightly proved to be a breath of fresh air. Unlike other CRMs that felt like monitoring tools, Insightly was designed to help salespeople succeed. It streamlined the process of tracking opportunities and contacts, allowing Kris to focus on closing deals. As Kris put it, “I had way more success as a salesperson getting the CRM to work for me as opposed to every other instance of a CRM that I’ve worked in. At larger organizations, it’s always me working for the CRM.”

Modern vs. Legacy CRM comparison

Kris’s success with Insightly highlights a broader trend in the CRM landscape. Legacy CRMs like Salesforce can actually do more harm than good for businesses both large and small. Insightly’s free CRM was not only the perfect fit for Kris as he started his business but has grown and scaled alongside it. Keep reading to learn how.

The Insightly Enterprise + All-in-One Advantage

When it comes to managing a business, having the right tools can make all the difference. Kris knows this well. Not only has he invested in Insightly CRM, but he’s also embraced the entire Insightly platform, including Insightly Marketing, Insightly Service, and AppConnect. His journey with Insightly is a testament to the power and flexibility of these integrated solutions.

Insightly's Platform

Kris didn’t approach Insightly like most enterprise customers. He started small, using a self-service pro subscription for himself and one other user. As his business grew, so did his curiosity about Insightly’s full capabilities. “I felt like I was only playing with half a deck,” Kris explains.

Opting for the enterprise level wasn’t just about scaling up; it was about customization. “They custom built a package that was unique to my use case scenario,” Kris says. As a small business owner, he values the ability to tinker and ensure the CRM does exactly what he needs. The future solutions offered by AppConnect, along with the Marketing and Service components, presented significant value.

Though Kris hasn’t fully leveraged the Marketing and Service features yet, he recognizes their potential. “We’ve been using [them] largely in one-off ad hoc scenarios,” he notes. For now, his priority is leveraging the CRM and AppConnect to serve as the central hub of their operations. This integration has allowed Assessment First to expand in ways that Insightly might not have originally envisioned.

Kris’s approach to marketing is unique. Instead of typical outbound campaigns, his strategy focuses on repeat business and personalized engagement. One creative example is their Christmas card solution. They send out physical postcards with QR codes that lead to Insightly landing pages, allowing clients to choose their gifts. It’s these innovative uses of the platform that highlight its versatility.

At the heart of Assessment First’s operations is the Insightly CRM, described by Kris as “the beating heart, the aorta of our business.” AppConnect serves as the “highways and byways” connecting various aspects of their operations. Even without AppConnect, Kris has managed to achieve a lot by creatively using calculated fields and building dynamic dashboards.

Measuring Performance at all Business Levels with Dashboards

Insightly’s dashboards are more than just data visualization tools for Assessment First. They are integral to client communication, individual performance tracking, and overall business strategy. Here are four examples of dashboards that Kris’ team leverages.

Performance Dashboards

Client-Facing Dashboard: This initial setup tracks all opportunity and project data within Insightly, providing clients with regular, consistent updates. “We start tracking all of our opportunity and project data directly within Insightly and use the dashboards to cobble together a framework for providing regular updates to our clients. It always looks the same way so that they become very familiar with our brand,” Kris explains. This consistency helps build client trust and ensures they receive information in a familiar format.

Individual Contributor Dashboards: Insightly’s platform supports the entire company’s needs, offering personalized dashboards for different roles. “The entire company is like everyone in every role has their own dashboard with their own cards that they’ve built for themselves,” says Kris. Personalized dashboards help streamline their daily tasks and track their performance. This level of detail ensures that every team member can see their impact and stay focused on their goals.

Executive-Level Dashboard: For Kris, as the CEO, the executive-level dashboard is vital. It includes financial data, utilization rates, and trend analysis. “I care about financial data, I care about utilization, and I care very, very heavily about trends,” Kris emphasizes. These insights help inform future decisions and ensure the company stays on the right track.

Manager-Level Dashboard: At the manager level, dashboards help oversee multiple projects and team members. Managers use these tools to perform a kind of “air traffic control,” ensuring that projects are on track and deadlines are met. “It’s largely a game of air traffic control, making sure that the projects don’t collide with one another,” Kris notes. With around 500 discrete steps involved in each project, from initiation to completion, having a clear view of who is responsible for each task and when is essential.

Kris firmly believes in replacing unnecessary meetings with efficient dashboards. “Anything that can be, any meeting that could be replaced with a dashboard, a report, or an email should be replaced,” he asserts. This approach minimizes disruptions and allows the team to stay productive and informed.

The Power of Integrations via AppConnect

In today’s fast-paced business world, efficiency isn’t just a goal—it’s a necessity. Kris gets it. By harnessing Insightly’s integration automation engine, AppConnect, Kris has transformed his operations into a well-oiled machine. Here’s how his team leverages AppConnect to seamlessly integrate tools and boost productivity, making their workflow smoother and more effective than ever.


QuickBooks Integration: One of the first and most impactful integrations was with QuickBooks. Kris explains, “Right out the gate, we integrated directly with QuickBooks, so all of my invoicing and payment information is updated in real-time in Insightly as things are done in QuickBooks. I don’t have to cut and paste anything.” Custom Objects in Insightly track invoices linked to projects, allowing Kris to instantly know when a project is fully invoiced and paid. This automation saves countless hours and ensures financial accuracy.

Office 365 Integration: Assessment First operates fully remotely, relying heavily on Office 365. “Everyone lives and dies in Microsoft Teams,” Kris says. They use a structured setup for their channels, with each engagement getting its own chat room. Automated alerts from Insightly are sent to these Teams channels, keeping everyone informed without cluttering inboxes. This integration ensures smooth communication and efficient project management.

On-Prem Solution Integration: A significant challenge was integrating with their on-prem document review platform, which has a SQL backend and is not cloud-based. “Most CRM integrations are designed to glue cloud products with cloud products. We were able to build in Insightly, through webhooks and APIs, to call directly into our document review database,” Kris explains. This setup allows them to extract metrics, monitor labor, and track project pace automatically, eliminating the need for manual data entry and saving significant resources.

PandaDoc Integration: PandaDoc is crucial for managing service contracts. Kris mentions, “PandaDocs is huge for us. That’s all of our service contracts.” This integration streamlines contract management, making it easier to handle agreements with clients efficiently.

Future State Custom Application: Looking ahead, Kris’s team is building a custom application to cater to different types of clients. Some clients use Assessment First’s tools independently, requiring access to certain information without direct CRM access. “We’re building essentially a portal, a separate layer outside of Insightly, that allows us to push information out and bring information in,” Kris explains. This “demilitarized zone” provides clients and suppliers with a fast lane to approve various stages of projects, enhancing efficiency and reducing the need for constant communication.

AppConnect plays a pivotal role in managing this complex web of integrations. Kris highlights, “Without Insightly and AppConnect, being able to do all of this carrying of buckets of water, if you will, there’s so much inefficiency that gets built into an organization as it scales.”

By automating information flow and reducing manual tasks, AppConnect helps Assessment First maintain a streamlined and efficient operation, allowing them to focus on what truly matters—delivering exceptional service to their clients.


We have data privacy consultant Kris. Wasserman from Assessment First with us
Kris and his team use the entire Insightly platform, especially Insightly
CRM and AppConnect, Insightly’s integration engine.
He’ll talk really, really deeply about the benefits
that the Insightly platform drives for his business.
Thanks for tuning in to Closing Time.
I’m Melinda Prescher, senior marketing director at Insightly.
And today, I have the great pleasure
of hosting a special customer. Spotlight edition of Closing Time.
This episode will give you great insights into how our customer Assessment
First uses Insightly.
Now, without further ado, please welcome our guest, Mr.
Kris Wasserman of Assessment First.
Thanks so much for joining me today, Kris.
Hi, Melinda.. Thanks for having me. Glad to be here.
Kris, It’s so great to have you and to kick things off I would really love
to have you tell us about yourself and about Assessment First.
We’re a specialized service provider that markets
directly to law firms, insurance carriers
that specialize in cyber liability insurance and their respective clients.
Essentially what our company does is we help companies
on the heels of a data breach or a data security incident
largely to identify
and extract sensitive personal information that may be buried
deep within extremely large volumes of unstructured data.
Ultimately, the problem that we solve for is identifying
who needs to be notified and why on the heels of a data breach.
You mentioned a little bit that, you know, you possibly have been involved
or have known about Insightly for quite some time for many years.
I’d love to hear kind of what your history with Insightly has been.
Sure. So kind of as a passion project.
Early in my career,
I was always trying to find better ways to track the work that I was doing.
So this is in the early 2000s when was starting to make
a little bit of a splash in the CRM world.
And the company I worked for
had purchased it and handed it to me and said, Kris, figure it out.
I’m like, Guys, this is not built for a small company.
We were like, maybe $5 million a year revenue business.
At the time.
There was one and a half sales people
and it just didn’t make sense for us to have Salesforce.
But being that early adopter and being thrown into the fire,
I had to learn how to become an administrator
and that’s what I was using for years, working underneath
the umbrella of a number of different companies throughout my career.
Everywhere I went,
they always seemed to have some sort of lackluster deployment of Salesforce.
And by early call it 2010, maybe give or take a year or two.
I’m like,. This is getting way too complicated.
It felt like I went from algebra to requiring an advanced degree
in quantum physics just to move fields around or just to adjust workflow.
And I think that was part of the business model that they were doing
at that software company, is they wanted to build kind of an ecosystem
where other businesses could exist to consult on how to deploy.
And I’m like,. This doesn’t make sense, right?
I’m not going to drop 50 to 100 grand to have a consultant come in
just to move fields around or just to customize this to my own needs.
And that’s when I was complaining to a contact of mine.
I’m like, I lose so many hours of my day just trying to re-learn
how to use my CRM or how to re-learn how to administrate the CRM.
And now it’s requiring so much knowledge in terms of being able to write code.
And a friend of mine said, Look, if you’re banging
your head against the wall, you know, with these overweight,
you know, bloated CRM solutions, check this out.
This is somewhat I think it was somewhat new on the market at the time,
and it was just a CRM solution.
And the barrier to entry was really low.
I think at the time I was able to get like one or two free users
if your use case was very limited and all you needed was like
opportunity tracking and maybe some light contact tracking.
And then that’s how I started playing with it.
I use it for like largely for myself, as my own
CRM to support me as my own salesperson.
I had way more success as a salesperson getting the CRM to work for me
as opposed to every other instance of a CRM that I’ve worked in
at larger organizations it’s always me working for the CRM.
It was a way for like the folks up,
you know, at the top of the food chain just to make sure I was doing my job.
And it was largely me tracking, you know, what did I get out of bed and do my job
that day as opposed to am. I funneling up the right information
at the right time to help me close deals or identify opportunities
or stuff slipping through the cracks?
Kris you’ve invested actually in Insightly’s entire platform,
not just Insightly CRM, but Insightly Marketing, Insightly Service
and also AppConnect, Insightly’s integration engine.
So I’d love to hear about your decision to do this as well as your decision
to choose our enterprise level solution for your business.
I didn’t come to Insightly the way probably most enterprise customers do.
I was basically self-service.
I went to the Web site and the most you could purchase at the time directly
without having to talk to a salesperson was I think the pro.
And we were. I had a pro subscription for me
and one other user for about 5 to 6 months.
And then once I started adding employees, I’m like, all right,
this is you know, there’s more behind the scenes here.
I want to play with it. Right?
So some of it was, you know, show me all the cards.
I feel like I’m only playing with half a deck here.
And that’s when I started.
So I think to I think to sign up for the enterprise package, right,
you have to talk to a salesperson because there’s a lot of discovery
involved making sure that the right because it’s not, you know, one size fits
all solution.
I really feel like they custom built a package
that was unique to my use case scenario.
I’m also I’m a small business.
I like to personally get in there and tinker.
I know the CRM does exactly what I need it to do.
There are these future state solutions that I need that are going to be solved
by AppConnect and the Marketing and Service piece had a lot of value.
I’ve used, you know, similar platforms to the marketing.
I’ve used competing platforms to the marketing solution.
And to be completely candid, the marketing and the service solution
that we have in place, we’ve been using largely in one off ad hoc scenarios,
we haven’t fully extracted the full potential out of those just yet.
And it’s largely just because of where our priorities are right
now, as is leveraging the CRM and AppConnect to become,
you know, the hub in the hub and spoke system
or that single centralized source of truth for our business,
which is expanded quite a bit.
And we’re doing a lot of things that. Insightly was never built for probably
and quite frankly, our marketing,. We don’t do a lot of outbound,
you know, what I call spray and pray marketing, where you just blast
people with,
you know, spam email saying we’re the great,
we have the greatest solution since sliced bread.
And that’s not really how our sales process works.
It’s not finding new logos, finding new customers.
Were largely a lot of repeat work.
So the marketing and service we’ve we’ve used a little bit.
I’ve created landing pages for quick surveys and
to get feedback from our customers and track those responses.
We built some really cool. Christmas card solutions
where we actually send out a physical postcard that has a QR code on it
that people scan and it takes them to actually an Insightly landing page
and they get to choose their client
gift as opposed to just everyone getting a dusty bottle of wine.
So some neat little solutions that we’ve put together.
But most of them are ad hoc, really, the, you know, the beating heart,
the aorta of our business is the Insightly CRM.
And, you know, the the highways and byways, all the different,
you know, organs, if you will, that make up, you know,
this $6 million man of a business are funneled through AppConnect.
So that was the big boon for us.
And then
honestly, even without AppConnect, we’ve been able to do so much with just,
you know, bending, calculated fields to our will
and building really, really cool dashboards around it.
Kris, I’d love to hear more about how you’re using dashboards,
what you’re looking at and how you use that to drive your business.
First and foremost, the first thing we built was,
in essence, a dashboard that’s meant to be client facing.
So we started tracking all of our opportunity and project data
directly within Insightly and use the dashboards there to cobble together
something like a framework for providing a regular update to our clients
so they get information the way they need it.
On a regular cadence, it always looks the same way
so that they become very familiar with our sort of brand, right?
So it’s consistent.
And anytime you’re dealing with databases, anyone who’s done it a long time,
you start with the end in mind.
What information
are you trying to extract and what story are you trying to tell with it?
And so we started there with the client facing stuff.
But in terms of the dashboards, this has become like a huge push.
The entire company is like everyone in every role has their
own dashboard with their own cards that they’ve built for themselves.
So think about the three probably most common
sort of lenses that you’re looking through.
So you’ve got someone like me who’s on more the CEO ownership level.
I care about financial data,
I care about utilization, and I care very, very heavily about trends.
Having historical information inform future decisions.
You could do that with a simple bar chart,
but then you’ve got like the leadership layer, right?
These are the folks that are overseeing, you know, the ten, 15, 20 practitioners
that are hands on in any given project and being able
to it’s largely a game of air traffic control, right?
Making sure that the projects don’t collide with one another.
We’re not missing deadlines.
You know, there’s legitimately 500 discrete steps from
we find out about a new engagement to we’ve delivered it.
It’s out the door.. The bills have been paid.
We’ve purged all of the customer data off of our systems.
And usually it’s like one person doing steps one through five,
another person doing six through ten,
and then someone the first person jumping back in doing 11 and 12.
So all those baton handoffs is really painful to manage
if you’re doing it in the team’s chat or if you’ve got to do multiple meetings
in a day.
I’m always of the mind.
Anything that can be, any meeting that could be replaced
with a dashboard, a report or an email should be replaced.
Well-said, Kris,
I’d love to hear specifically what tools you’ve integrated AppConnect with.
The easy ones, the top of the list that were most impactful.
Right out the gate, we integrated directly with QuickBooks,
so all of my invoicing and payment information is updated
in real time in Insightly as things are done in QuickBooks.
I don’t have to cut and paste anything.
We build Custom Objects in Insightly that tracked the invoices that went out,
they’re immediately linked to our projects.
And I know the second a project is closed in air quotes
because all of the invoices have been sent and they’ve been paid in their entirety
and that just saves countless, countless, countless hours.
Beyond that, we’re heavy Office 365 So
and we do everything, our whole company is remote.
We kind of were born out of the pandemic and we don’t have a single brick
and mortar office space.
So everyone lives and dies in Microsoft Teams
and we have a very structured setup to our channels.
So every engagement that we have gets its own chat room
and there are certain internal processes
where again, clearing out the clutter from people’s inboxes is key.
So we’re able to take ephemeral information, conversational data
and store it in Teams
and not have it clutter up our CRM and it’s not cluttering up our inbox.
And a lot of it is driven by automated alerts.
As key things happen in Insightly, we’re actually sending emails
into a Microsoft Teams channel
and it pins that post for everyone who’s working on that project.
So the little ones here and there, or a big one
is we use a document review platform that’s an on prem solution
that’s got a sequel back end that is not cloud based.
So most of the CRM, like the Insightly AppConnect integrations
are designed to glue cloud products with Cloud products.
And we were able to actually build through like web hooks and through APIs, we’re
able to call directly into the document
review database that we use to house all of our client data.
We’re able to now extract metrics out.
How many documents got loaded in, how many documents survived
after calling it down, after applying searches,
how many documents have had human beings put eyes on it today versus tomorrow?
What’s our pace?
All of that metrics, all of those daily logs of utilization
that would otherwise require a human to cut and paste
and track and manage a bunch of stuff on a spreadsheet happens automatically.
And so now my leadership team can actually monitor our labor, right?
How much are we pushing through?
Is this project harder than the last one?
What’s our pace?
In order to do that manually,
it would require us to hire five more people just to do data entry.
And now, just through the magic of AppConnect,
we’re able to automatically pull some of those utilization
specs from an on prem system that no one’s ever heard of.
Unless you’ve worked in the legal space.. Right?
Then sky’s the limit, right?
Like anything I can, so PandaDocs is huge for us.
That’s all of our service contracts.
We’re doing a lot right now in terms of building
a, so we have a couple of different types of clients.
We have clients that are managed sort of services that serve them,
service themselves, right, where they just
utilize our technology and our tools and our workflow.
But we don’t actually do the work for them, we just give them the tools
so that they can do it themselves, but they need access to certain things.
So we’ve we’re building essentially a portal
which is a separate layer outside of Insightly
that allows us to push information out and bring information in.
But still having that sort of separation between our users and our
internal systems, which are the CRM, because our CRM is plugged into so much,
we can’t give our external users direct access to the CRM.
We need to create this
sort of demilitarized zone where we can push information out and pull it in.
And so this is allowing us to effectively create an app
for lack of a better term, that’s unique to our business
so that our suppliers have a place to go, our customers have a place to go.
And all of this is again, trying to funnel as much as possible through,
our existing repeat customers, they know our workflow,
they don’t need a phone call, they don’t need an email,
they just need to hit go and approve things at various stages.
And now we’re giving them a fast lane.
So without Insightly and AppConnect, being able to do all of this
carrying of buckets of water, if you will, which is I mean, half
my career has been carrying this information over here,
updating this person with what just happened or playing telephone.
There’s so much inefficiency that gets built into an organization
as it scales with just trying to funnel the right information to the right people
at the right time.
A big part of our future development cycle is largely based on
what can we do in Insightly, right?
And if the limitations of Insightly don’t allow
for us to move quickly with a certain initiative, we’re like,
Let’s put that one on the shelf and let’s focus on this one.
Because it’s low hanging fruit.
The return to value is that much quicker.. That’s great.
Okay, Kris, that’s all the time we have for this episode.
Thanks so much for these insights and for joining the show.
Thanks for having me, Melinda.. This is great.
Looking forward to what you guys come up with next over there at Insightly.
Always fun. Thanks.
And thanks to all of you for tuning in.
Remember to like this video.
Subscribe to the channel
and ring the bell for notifications so you don’t miss a single episode.
We’ll see you next time on Closing Time. She

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