MSPs Must Be Agile If They Are to Increase Their Value

The ability to change and adapt has not traditionally been built into MSPs' business models, despite the need for constant adaptation.

October 29, 2014

3 Min Read
MSPs Must Be Agile If They Are to Increase Their Value

By MAXfocus Guest Blog 1

Last month, I wrote about the “perpetually valuable MSP” and discussed how the most successful MSPs have three core characteristics: operational process discipline; understanding of customer requirements; and insights into market conditions and technology progress. In this article, I want to look at the ability of MSPs to change and adapt. This is not something that has been traditionally built into their business model, despite the need for constant adaptation. However, we have identified the formula for business strategy that integrates this ability.  

This formula is:

Business agility = (Present fitness + Future vision) x Agile development.

• Present fitness is the capability to optimize performance in current operations to generate investment resources and the flexibility to pursue alternatives.

• Future vision is the capability to see and understand new opportunities that will provide value for your business and for your customers, and to plan a roadmap for when to adopt relevant options.

• Agile development is the ability to assess the impact of market drivers and take fast, deliberate action to incorporate new offerings, retire offerings that are no longer valuable and maintain predictable results.

Most solution providers are naturally inclined toward the first two, but are weakest in the third. This is ironic, considering that the idea of agile development is a management concept developed in the IT market.   

To address this, we have focused on identifying the traits of those MSPs that are strong in agile development, and understanding how they have created the complete business agility package. This has enabled us to build up a list of best practices that are crucial for any MSP looking to develop this area of its business.

Shift in Planning and Forecasting

We have discovered that these perpetually valuable MSPs have made changes to the way they plan and forecast. Rather than conducting slow, complex annual planning processes, they adopt a more responsive quarterly planning cycle in which long-term forecasts are adjusted according to real-time feedback and experiences, and updates are planned into the numbers several times a year.   

By shifting to a quarterly process, the organization’s vision and direction is well established for a full 12 months, but, at the same time, remains nimble and flexible. Plans are adjusted based on market conditions, customer needs, business changes and external forces. These plans are adaptable and always relevant, ensuring they are a core part of business operations.

These “agile” MSPs also engage their customers differently. Not only do they seek and review customer feedback on technical offerings and services, but they also engage non-technical leaders and users in conversations that are intentionally not about technology. Instead, these exchanges focus on what the customer is trying to accomplish from a business perspective.

Creative responses to business challenges often take the form of technical solutions, but they must not be initially conceived within the boundaries of current technical capabilities. These non-technical discussions bring business outcomes to the forefront. Ultimately, focusing on business outcomes ensures that the MSP is delivering solutions that are relevant and important to the end customer.    

These are two of the 10 factors we discovered in our research. During the coming months, we will continue to explore these best practices, examining the traits of the most valuable MSPs. 

sobel-dave.jpegDave Sobel, Director of Partner Community at MAXfocus, is responsible for fostering the growth and success of MAXFocus Partners. As Director of Partner Community, he helps promote collaboration, education and innovation among MAXfocus Partners and among the industry as a whole, ensures they have access to business, technology and market resources, and are utilizing the MAX Platform to achieve positive growth, enhance their offerings and become best-in-class solution providers.

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