The ABC’s of Managed Services (Part 2)
Last month we talked about what I consider the three foundational elements of a successful MSP business. A is for Availability, and last month I composed a list of questions that MSPs and aspiring MSPs might want to consider as they build and grow their MSP practice. So this month, let’s dig deeper into the tactics associated with trying to achieve 100% uptime at your customer’s site with my special guest, MJ Shoer, founder and President of Jenaly Technology Group.
And yes, I know this is a blog, but I also know when I am in over my head and need backup (pun intended).
Ted Roller: MJ, how do you know your customer’s networks are up and running?
MJ Shoer: We have been using Kaseya as our RMM tool since 2004. Kaseya, and many of the mainstream RMM tools, gives us single-pane of glass insight into our clients’ networks in real-time 24×7. Using the various functions within the RMM toolset, we are able to monitor basic availability all the way down to specific protocols, services and line of business applications. We audit these activities on a daily, weekly and monthly basis and provide accountability reporting back to our clients to underscore the value we bring to them every day. When an event occurs that could impact operations, we employ self-healing actions to immediately remediate the issue or we seamlessly update our PSA solution, ConnectWise, to ensure that our Help Desk is on the issue without delay. Several of our solutions, including Intronis Cloud based Backup and Recovery, are fully integrated with Connectwise, allowing us to seamlessly dispatch resources to proactively address problems before they become issues.
TR: Are the employees who work at your customers’ locations able to do their job effectively every day? How do you measure and report on that?
MJ: I’d like to say yes and the answer really is yes, but there are certainly times when that may be impacted by any number of causes. The key here is that their overall efficiency and uptime is excellent and when there are issues, we are able to respond in very short order and resolve the issue to maintain the effectiveness. We report on this with metrics from our RMM, PSA and online backup tools on a monthly basis and review in more detail during quarterly or semi-annual meetings.
TR: Is the resilience of the customer’s network appropriate to their uptime requirements and budget? How do you identify answers here and make sure your information is current?
MJ: I think so. Budget is really the key. As you know, with time and money, you can do some amazing things with technology. I think the important thing here is to take the time to get the client to focus on their true needs. Every business has a different requirement and the level of uptime and availability has a direct correlation to what the client is willing to invest in, maintain and test. I like to setup a meeting, preferably offsite, where we can focus on all the core activities and technology that the client employs and then assign a priority to each and develop the plan from there. I often ask clients to approach this without concern for the cost. Let’s look at the utopian solution and then work back into their current reality and what it will take to close the gap. This leads to some very engaging conversations and the end result is always better than expected.
TR: Are you able to effectively measure uptime and do you have a methodology to report that performance to the appropriate decision makers at each customer location?
MJ: Definitely. Again, the tools we use provide detailed uptime reporting metrics. We share these via a summary overview on a monthly basis and then dig into the details during meetings that are specifically scheduled for that purpose. At any time in between, the client may want to see more detailed reporting and we make that available to them whenever necessary.
TR: Finally, can you prove your value on a quarterly basis – demonstrating how much their uptime increased as a result of your efforts?
MJ: Yes. Through all of the things I have mentioned previously, we continuously demonstrate the value. The longer we work with a client, the more accustomed to a high level of uptime they become. The meetings then transition into more of a validation of that fact and the focus becomes much more strategic. As an example, we just had a quarterly review with a client last week and the tone of the meeting was one of our clients thanking us for their high level of uptime and us thanking them for being a great client to work with. This all came about as a result of implementing a clearly defined network management protocol that erased a history of poor uptime prior to our coming on board as their IT partner. The meeting focused on some strategic business objectives they have and the necessary infrastructure changes that are required to support these goals over the next 12 months. It was one of the best such meetings I’ve participated in and a great validation of our service model and deliver.
That’s it for now. Tune in next month when we get into a subject near and dear to my heart: Building a backup practice that will help you create, maintain, and profit from you customer relationships. Thanks MJ!