Is Your Lack Of Business Process Costing You Money?
By Gennifer Biggs, security, storage, and managed services editor
When I talk to managed services providers (MSPs), I often hear stories of mistakes made early in their evolution into the managed services business model. Namely, a belief that with the purchase of a remote monitoring and management (RMM) tool and a handful of customers signed up for a monthly IT subscription plan, you have a managed services practice. But in reality, there is a need for a great deal of process and procedure behind a successful managed services practice. Founder of Stringfellow Technology Group Edward Stringfellow learned that lesson early on. Now, he has a simple message for those struggling to turn a managed services practice into a lucrative business venture: Create a well-documented methodology to fuel growth and profitability.
Many MSPs struggle with why they need a process — documentation of the day-to-day efforts that create your product, which in this case is managed IT services for your customers — especially when the company is small. "Until you have two teams or two shifts, it really doesn't become patently obvious that you need a process," explains Stringfellow, adding that when a business is smaller, you are all in one room, or going to lunch together every day. That means the communication necessary for a successful business happens organically. "People don't like to implement processes because they think ‘our team knows, we don't need to write it down,' but you do. Well, unless you never intend to grow and hire new people."
Stringfellow's realization that something needed to change in his business happened about five years ago, a day he recalls with painful clarity. "I was a year into my business, it was June, and payroll was due," remembers Stringfellow. "There was no cash in the bank, and I suddenly realized that I had never done the May billing. I knew right then it had to stop." Reinforcing that decision was an incident only a few days later when one of Stringfellow's engineers arrived at a customer site to fix a problem, only to learn that it had already been handled remotely. "We looked foolish, and we were doing double the work," he says.
What is "process?" It is the standard methodology all your employees follow to handle any situation that arises in your company. For example, if the phone rings at your service desk, what are the actions every single employee should take to handle that call? They need to determine if the caller is a new or existing customer, determine the nature of the problem, open a ticket, capture the necessary information, and assign the ticket a priority and a person to handle it. But if you don't have that process written down, each person will do it differently, and that can lead to mistakes ranging from duplicate work orders to missed calls to lost customers.
Want to learn more about how better processes and procedures can improve your revenue stream? Listen to Edward's advice during the Business Solutions Lunch & Learn at 12:30 p.m. EST on Thursday, Nov. 18. Click here to register now!