The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective Managed Service Providers (MSPs)Source: Business Solutions Magazine
Written by: Dan Shapero, senior VP, KaseyaHighly effective people run highly effective businesses. That holds true in the world of managed services — highly effective managed service providers deliver highly effective managed service businesses.
Anyone in the IT services business who is still physically driving to customer sites for routine maintenance or to repair a system cannot be considered effective in today’s IT landscape. With the automated IT management software platforms available today for managed service providers, there is no need to spend the time and gasoline moving from customer site to customer site for routine duties. That time is better spent identifying and automating IT services to build business.
What have successful MSPs realized about their business operations? What makes them so effective at delivering IT managed services? The answer lies in seven identified habits or behaviors of successful managed service providers. Theoretically, any MSP who adopts the following seven habits can effectively improve his or her business operation and deliver a highly effective managed service business.
1. Be proactive. Prevent any IT problems by doing proactive maintenance such as automated patching, antivirus scanning, and backup. But, in the event that there is an issue, make sure you are actively monitoring the system so you can inform your customers before they inform you. If their systems are experiencing a slow down or problem, know about it before they do and alert them that you’re on the job to deal with the issue.
2. Begin with the end in mind. Think about your future and how you want to work and then implement it. Create an SLA (service level agreement) that is realistic and keeps your customers happy.
3. Put first things first. Address the work that meets the important and urgent criteria first without having to put out customer fires every day. This is where an automated IT management system can help — one that includes integrated help desk technology to prioritize work.
4. Think win-win. Find out what your customer expects from you and deliver it. Plan work times that are convenient for customers and don’t interrupt their businesses. Even the most proactive and nonintrusive system may need to come online when a customer’s staff is sound asleep in their beds. In addition, make your offering like an insurance policy for IT. This allows customers to predict a large portion of their costs on IT and IT management, and it gives MSPs the predictability of monthly recurring revenue.
5. Think first to understand, then to be understood. The key is ensuring you understand what is happening within your customer’s IT system. Knowing what services are delivered in a break/fix model and how to gain efficiencies by automating those services is critical. Automated audits and log checks can provide data on system details. Reporting tools found in some vendors’ IT automation software can deliver that data to customers and ensure that you and your customer have the same information for services delivered. This takes out any subjective views of service value. On a more abstract level, it’s also important to understand customer requests. Good communication only happens when the person listening understands the message the way the person talking intends for it to be understood — meaning, if you don’t understand something the way I want you to understand it, then we haven’t successfully communicated.
6. Synergize. On a technical side, look for ways to leverage the knowledge gained in various networks from either managing them separately or, in an ideal world, managing them through one console where you can monitor, manage, and deploy networks. From a business growth position, learn to take advantage of the partner network you find through various platform providers. Often, there are technology partnerships in place with IT automation software providers, such as Kaseya, that make it easy for MSPs to offer extended services in an integrated and easy-to-manage fashion.
7. Sharpen your saw. Continually look for ways to improve your IT service by automating recurring work using scripts or other tools provided by IT automation software providers. Use automated reports to measure performance and foster greater understanding between you and the customer. Look for ways to extend your automated services by working with your platform provider to add more offerings such as backup and endpoint security.
In the end, the habits and behaviors of highly effective MSPs touch on learning to automate IT services where appropriate. These best practices can help reactive solutions providers transform their businesses and become highly effective managed service providers.
About The Author:
As senior VP of marketing at Kaseya, Dan Shapero brings a wealth of expertise in devising ”go to market” strategies for the technology industry. Since joining Kaseya, a leader in providing IT automation software, in 2006, Shapero has been responsible for developing marketing initiatives that support the company’s business as it continues to see fast-paced growth and market acceptance of its software and service offerings. Shapero holds a BA from the University of California, San Diego, and earned his MA from San Diego State University.