MSPmentor Blog

Changing Markets Could be Perfect Time for Report Automation

Changes in the way companies receive and consume data are forcing many MSPs to change the way they manage that data. And as that relationship becomes more complex, so, too, should the way MSPs manage the information about that data.

In short, MSPs need to be able to provide meaningful reports on how they’re managing their customers’ data to meet service level agreements. And they need to be able to deliver those reports in a timely manner. But when an MSP’s reporting tools don’t keep up with the rapidly changing times, the information it provides its customers can be neither timely nor meaningful.

“One of the things we have to acknowledge about this industry is that’s it’s maturing very rapidly,” said Erik Hille, senior principal product marketing manager at CA. “We look at, for instance, the advent of cloud computing and the number of companies that are taking small pieces of technology or increasingly large pieces of technology from their own IT organization. What we see is that a lot of the ways we’ve been looking at SLAs in the past are going to need to mature along with that.”

Hill shares deeper insights in this MSPmentor FastChat Video:

MSPs, he said, must amend their service level agreements to reflect performance measures for those new technologies. Along with that, the reporting MSPs provide also must mature to prove they can meet -- and are meeting -- the service level agreements set forth to their customers. Or, Hille said, MSPs run the risk of losing those customers to an MSP that can.

Yet traditionally, MSPs offering reporting to their customers have used manual-intensive processes such as creating spreadsheets by cutting and pasting silos of information into one document -- a process that not only takes time, but also can introduce inaccuracies due to human error.

“When you insert people into the process, what [MSPs] are in essence doing is always waiting until the end of the period and then assembling [their] report, which may or may not be accurate to the customer, who may or may not have problems with the inaccurate report, and then making corrections at, in the best case, maybe halfway through the next period,” Hille said. “But more than that I think the notion is we want to get better things out of our people -- a person who is just assembling data into a spreadsheet and delivering it to a customer is probably not adding that much value to our company. For MSPs who are typically running lean, it’s a big deal. We need to get the most thought process we can out of the folks who are working for us.”

That’s where automation can help, he said. By using programs such as CA’s Business Service Insight, which automates the reporting process by collecting data from an environment and compares it with the SLAs attached to that environment -- plus offers an internal dashboard so MSPs can monitor their progress -- MSPs can help ensure they’re not only meeting SLAs, but also more effectively managing their customer relationships.

“With automation ... you can [be more proactive] and hopefully actually create something where you’re continually improving the services you are offering your customers,” he said.

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