Guest Column | October 1, 2012

Why It Pays To Oil The Machine

By Brian Sherman

“Work smarter, not harder,” is a refrain most everyone has heard, but unless there’s someone telling the how, or a manual showing them how to accomplish that goal, many will keep repeating their usual activities with little deviation. Process improvements should be a continual process with every business, though change often takes place only when a company or its employees encounter problems or respond to outside forces.

Of course, in the IT industry, change is a part of the everyday activities. As innovation and customer needs continue to grow at breakneck speed, solution providers have to adapt their business practices just as fast (if not faster) to stay ahead of their competition.

Consider the transformation that’s taken place in the IT channel over the past decade, between the introduction of cloud and managed services to the advances in IT security and mobility. Those changes go much deeper than the portfolio each solution provider manages, requiring a shift in the way they do business. With a greater focus on recurring revenue, process efficiency is more important than ever.      

To create that “well-oiled machine,” solution providers often seek the help of industry associations and experienced IT channel coaches, as well as vendor and distribution partners. Access to industry best practices and tools that can help them improve a variety of their business practices is invaluable, but the key to success is making sure every employee is on board.

Take a Total Team Approach

How can hard working solutions providers find the time and resources to build an effective plan to improve their operational efficiency? They can start by reviewing the CompTIA catalog of educational programs for VARs and MSPs, each designed and developed by the association’s members. That extensive list of IT channel business-specific resources includes general and vertical practice training sessions, self-study guides, live and on-demand webinars, and market intelligence.

What makes CompTIA educational resources most valuable to solution providers? Each one is created to meet a real world issue, addressing both the problems and opportunities identified by members of one (or more) of the CompTIA communities. These peer-lead groups not only inspire the initiatives, but design the best approach and the eventual outcomes for each program or project.

One of the latest tools created by the CompTIA Small Business Owners Community is the Quick Start Guide to Operational Efficiency, a document that provides step-by-step suggestions for VARs and MSPs looking to strengthen and streamline their organization. In addition to clear and actionable ideas, the paper offers solution providers tips to analyze and transform their current processes to improve their overall operations. The guide focuses on these four comprehensive steps: 

  • Control the “controllable” factors in operations,
  • Target principal margin leaks,
  • Keep score on real performance and
  • Take a diagnostic approach/apply metrics.

Whether your operations are already running like a well-oiled machine or could use a little tune-up, the CompTIA training and educational resources are cost-effective tools to make further improvements. Not a member yet? Check out the extensive list of association benefits and register today.

Brian Sherman is founder of Tech Success Communications and a CompTIA associate member. He has previously served as chief editor at Business Solutions magazine and senior director of industry alliances with Autotask. Contact Brian at