Guest Column | March 13, 2014

Differences Between A World-Class MSP And A Typical MSP

Managed Service Providers

By Douglas R. Grabowski, Jr., managing partner of Grabowski Group Inc., ASCII Group member since 2010

“World-class” is used to explain “of the highest order.” Here’s how to ensure your company is performing better than everyone else.

Numerous marketing materials abound touting “world-class,” “best-of-breed,” and even “unmatched” when in reality they’re just doing the same things you’re doing. Until now. If you really want to be a “world-class” managed services provider (MSP), and truly separate yourself from the rest of the pack, here’s how to do it.

World-Class MSPs Engage

World-Class MSPs are tightly embedded and integrated with the client. The client isn’t just a check-writer; they view technology as a critical asset and enabler of their business, each and every day. The world-class MSP anticipates needs that the client has not. More bandwidth? A new application? A refined paper-based procedural process? Not every solution has to be a new technical widget! Some of the most successful client improvements aren’t technological at all. Engage with business, own the entire end-to-end of their processes, and assist them in reducing their operational costs, regardless of where those costs may be.

World-Class MSPs Accept Risk

Technology risk assumption is very expensive. Contingency, redundancy, and fault tolerance are huge, especially for business data. Your clients want to have minimal (near-zero) downtime, problems, and help desk calls. So do you. As you’re aligned with your clients, and any minute they are in trouble — you are too. And you’re the one assuming all of their risks. So take the time to provide them services that have redundancy and contingency plans, or create them and execute them accordingly. Help your clients understand that you’re not just providing them a backup solution; you’re providing them business protection.  

World-Class MSPs Are Secure

Work with client leadership and all departments to rein in business units that might be pursuing their own plans unaligned with those of the organization. Many SaaS solutions will creep into a business without your visibility; and many of those solutions aren’t secure. Even the ones that you would think are highly secure have had serious breaches. Have a client using popular personal file hosting services for corporate data? I’m sure you do. The risk is huge, and a world-class MSP will ensure that corporate data is left securely at-rest (and in transport, too). Don’t be a hero when a breach occurs. Be a hero because your client is isolated from any such risk or breaches. Have a great policy. Then you’ll never have to explain why you don’t.

World-Class MSPs are Flexible

Businesses want to leverage managed services in many different ways. One might be standardized on a single vendor’s equipment, while others may have multivendor environments. One might want to mix new technology to wring more from prior investments; another might have a lot of technological debt. One might want to have you assume all of their technological risk, and another might want to pass off just a small amount. What is my point? World-class MSPs offer flexible options that meet client needs. Customize services (and value-price solutions) with their goals in mind. Be flexible with every aspect of your solutions, including customized SLAs (not everything needs to be 24x7!), and be adaptable when you’re out of your comfort zone.

World-Class MSPs Are Truly Great At What They Do

Recently I was at a very large industry event and it was a race to the bottom for everyone: per-seat pricing. “Oh, we do it for $13.95 and everyone else does it for $14.95.” Competing on price is a deadly game. Everyone loses. I want my employees working on enhancing the client’s operations. As pressure grows, execution is key! Utilization should be very close to zero. I don’t want employees working on issues. There shouldn’t be any. 

Douglas R. Grabowski, Jr. is Managing Partner of Grabowski Group, Inc., a strategic technology advisory firm, with offices in NYC, Connecticut, and Florida, that develops and delivers services to improve the way businesses use technology to achieve strategic, operational, and financial goals. He can be reached at