MSPs: Choosing the Right Tools – Best of Breed, Best in Class, or Best of Both?
The challenge for any managed service provider (MSP) working to add a new offering is which solution (relative to that offering) to choose. The solution selected can materially impact your business’s efficiency, productivity and profitability, as it defines the very way by which you do business. With so many vendors vying for your attention, claiming they’re “best of breed” or “best in class,” selecting the right tool for the job involves a lot more confusion than clarity.
So, which type of solution should you choose?
Let’s begin by defining each claim, and dig a bit deeper to see how each can meet your specific needs.
Best of Breed Solutions
Best of breed solutions usually refer to a high-quality, single-purpose solution with deep expertise and capabilities in that one area. It’s the “adamantium,” 24 karat, gold-plated, diamond-encrusted screwdriver of a solution. In your world, it’s a solution that’s laser-focused on performing one task, or one aspect of your tech’s workload. Think patching, inventory management, or remote control – a “best of breed” solution is the master of its relative domain.
Best in Class Solutions
Best in class has everything, does everything, and covers a wide range of tasks or services – as its focus is breadth over depth. It’s Doctor Who’s sonic screwdriver. (What can’t that thing do?) But, rules of marketing dictate “if your product does too many things, it doesn’t do any one of them very well.” While not entirely true in most cases – since these kinds of solutions usually do several tasks with relative depth – it does raise the thought that a given software vendor can’t be a master of every type of software. Even the largest software manufacturers in the world lose sales (on a per-product basis) to plenty of smaller vendors making an arguably better product.
Let’s say you’re trying to find a new means to manage endpoints, which includes their security, software, users, etc. You could go the route of best of breed and get the very best remote monitoring and management, patching, endpoint protection and inventory management solutions. But that means you need to purchase, learn and manage multiple solutions. You could also go the route of getting a single solution that does it all, but it likely means you won’t have all the functionality you need. (For example, you can patch the Microsoft OS and applications, but have no ability to patch third-party solutions.)
No matter what kind of solution you’re looking at, it’s difficult to decide what will be best for improving current operations or augmenting service offerings with a new revenue stream, .
So, which kind of solutions should you choose?
Going for “Best of Both”
Your business has specific needs – to align with the way you want your business to operate, as well as to meet the demands of the customers you choose to do business with. Sure, best of breed sounds great, but it also means potentially paying for functionality you’ll never use – and doing so repeatedly for each best of breed solution you purchase. Perhaps, best in class begins to sound like a better choice, but then you realize all those “bells and whistles” are there to mask the lack of functionality – which could mean your business simply cannot operate the way it needs to.
But, who says you need to settle for one or the other, anyway?
Your MSP business shouldn’t be pigeonholed into choosing from one of two buckets. It’s just not realistic. Plenty of solutions have taken a route where they know there is a measure of expectation that the tools used are proficient, powerful, and productive all on their own, but are also aware that MSPs want integrated tools to augment where the vendor doesn’t focus. What you should be looking for is a “best of both” solution. Such a solution inherently gives you the 80% of functionality you need, but then makes up for the missing 20% by providing integrated solutions. Best of both is often offered in a subscription model as an added cost to the base product, to level up the solution’s capabilities to meet the needs of growing MSPs.
So, what should you be looking for in a best of both solution?
Regardless of the type of solution you’re looking for – whether it’s RMM, backup, service/help desk, etc. – a best of both solution should meet a few criteria:
1. Base functionality of its own: A balance needs to be struck between “it’s part of the product” and “it’s integrated functionality from another vendor.” You don’t want a solution that’s simply a fancy dashboard that puts multiple solutions under a “single pane of glass.” If that’s the case, the productivity gains had better be really impressive to even be worth it! In reality, solutions that leverage integration should do so to augment the impressive functionality their base product already has. In short, you should see value in the base product and see the integrations as a welcome bonus.
2. Right measure of integrations: Sometimes, too many choices can be a bad thing. Just as your customers are looking for you to provide them with needed guidance, you don’t have time to investigate, say, 10 different antivirus solutions that all integrate with a single RMM solution. You want your solution vendor to provide you the same guidance by providing a small number of possible related integrations (for example, antivirus, remote control or backup) that they recommend.
3. Integration adds value: Take the example of an RMM solution that integrates with a given remote control solution. Using the two together should be easier for your tech than just using the remote control on its own. Otherwise, why would you be paying for it? Right. You wouldn’t.
4. Financial benefit: This is a two-fold factor in the equation. First, it should be less costly to get both the base solution and the integrated solution together over purchasing/subscribing to them separately. Additionally, taking a nod from #3 above, the use of the integration should increase productivity, thereby reducing the cost of support and improving your profit margin.
Choosing Which “Best” is Best for You
As you look to expand and improve your service offerings, you can’t afford to be wrong about the solution you choose. So, rather than listen to the never-ending battle between being “best of breed” and “best in class,” be certain to first start with your own business and determine what “best of both” needs to look like to make your operations more predictable, productive and profitable. Once you’ve determined what you need, take that shopping list out for a spin and find yourself a solution that meets your needs … and not their claims.
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