Guest Column | October 16, 2013

5 Things To Have In Your Managed Services Portfolio

By Mark Glowacz, Owner, Tydan IT, ASCII Group Member Since 2011

A common conversation among managed service providers (MSPs) seems to be about the service portfolio. What do you include? Do you have tiered plans — silver, gold, and platinum? The answers can be difficult to nail down, especially when you research the variety of models in use.

Managed service delivery is about efficiency and keeping your costs predictable. The following five solutions are very well suited for managed services and are great starting points for a service portfolio. If you find yourself faced with a client’s hardware and software that doesn’t fit your service portfolio, it is perfectly acceptable to replace it with solutions that do.

  1. Managed UTM: Managing a network starts at the perimeter. Include a unified threat management device (UTM) that you can configure, troubleshoot and understand without having to call vendor support every time.
  2. Managed Anti-Virus: Similar to the UTM device, no network should be without endpoint protection. Juggling multiple vendor solutions, however, is a headache and can make you prone to mistakes. Pick your preferred solution and make it your standard offering.
  3. Managed Email Security: Spam is a nuisance, users are too quick to open attachments, and legal compliance can be troublesome. All of these factor into managing a client’s network. Even Office 365 can use a little help in these areas, so make it part of an offering.
  4. Patch Management: Patching and updating Windows is one of the easiest services to provide, yet we see unpatched systems at prospect sites all the time. Take this a step further and decide how you can patch and update third-party software also. Java, Flash and iTunes are constantly sending updates. Relieve your clients of this task.
  5. Help Desk/Remote Support: Learn as much as you can about your clients and prospects in order to offer remote help as part of your managed services. The ability to have regular touch points with your client and to be aware of the things happening on a daily basis, puts you in a better position to strengthen your relationship. Whether you deliver this yourself or you outsource a help desk, give your clients a value that is a little more tangible than the “Wizard of Oz magic” you usually deliver to devices.

Where Does Remote Monitoring And Management (RMM) Fit?

RMM is a tool, not a service. Protecting the client’s network includes monitoring. Knowing what to monitor? That comes first. Your decisions about the things to include in your portfolio will help you setup your RMM and deliver a more complete experience. Managing the network will include looking for trends on disk space, CPU and memory utilization, and Windows event logs. This will be your basis for conversations about upgrades or for spotting potential patterns that could be signs of trouble.

These solutions are a great place to start, but they certainly don’t represent an exhaustive list. Asset management, inventory reporting, vendor management, and backup solutions all have a place at the table. In the end, you need to know your service portfolio is profitable. Ask yourself what that means in terms of building predictability — operationally and financially — and you should start to identify the things you can offer. Don’t be afraid to start with a small list with the intention to add to your portfolio as you improve your processes — especially if you are still offering break-fix services. Build this foundation first and, before you know it, your services will be as robust as you envisioned.