Guest Column | August 22, 2013

A Checklist For Your Managed Services Portfolio

By Dave Sobel, director of partner community for Level Platforms, an AVG Company

A rich managed services portfolio is a key approach for an MSP to ensure customer loyalty. The more MSPs can monitor and manage, the more vital they become to customers’ operations and the more “sticky” the relationship becomes. Stickiness ensures the MSP is far less likely to be displaced by a competing provider, as the MSP is able to show a considerable distinctiveness from the competitor.

  • To start, an MSP should focus on the basics. Inventory, monitoring, alerting, and asset management are the tenants of a good MSP offering, as this is a basic offering that most small SMBs are unable to manage well on their own.   
  • Everything that can be monitored should be monitored. This includes antivirus, backups, spam systems, email systems, and email flow. Some sophisticated MSPs even monitor customers’ domain names for expiration and to watch to make sure they aren’t placed on a spam black list.  
  • Every device should also be monitored. This includes routers, switches, printers, VoIP phones, firewalls, and the like. If it has an IP address, it should be monitored. Start with up/down status, and move on to service monitoring. Printers can be even more aggressively monitored, monitoring both usage and consumable levels. Those consumables can also prove to be a lucrative stream of revenue as well!
  • Cloud services should be monitored and managed. Office 365 and Google Apps are great places to start, but all cloud services can be monitored at some level. A good example is Reflexion, which exposes statistics about its anti-spam performance via interfaces that can be monitored, allowing insight into current performance data for the security service. This data can be critical to providing proactive support to an SMB customer.
  • With further sophistication, an MSP can move into true line of business application monitoring. From CRM systems, to SharePoint, to more specialized applications, MSPs can provide significant value in ensuring their customers’ systems are operational and functioning as expected.  
  • Even specialized manufacturing equipment can be monitored and managed. Some managed workplace partners are monitoring very specialized equipment — such as slicing machines on production lines and refrigeration units in restaurants — providing a very high value service to keep their customers operational on a very regular basis.  

The theme is monitor and manage everything possible. If it has an IP address, there is useful information that can be acquired from the device. Using this philosophy and approach will result in significant opportunities for MSPs to offer high value services to their customers.