With summer on its way for many readers, vacation season is already starting to kick in for many of us. After a long winter—and this one has been brutal for much of the U.S. —who wouldn’t want to get away from the everyday routines and stress? Even if Hawaii and Paris aren’t in your plans, taking a break from your managed services business is necessary to rejuvenate your mind and spirit. All too often, planning all the work-related actions required to take a vacation is virtually impossible. The result is all too often working through a vacation; attached to your smartphone and unable to relax. If you include yourself in that group, it’s time to develop a plan that can restore some “peace of mind” to your life and some viable structure to your business.
The key value in a managed services practice is the “managed” element. While consistent billing is a great benefit, without effective delivery and retention strategies the managed model will eventually bleed the MSP business of customers. By creating greater efficiencies in your clients’ operations and IT environment, you create value and earn predictable compensation. While emergency outages or equipment failures are inevitable, the cloud and managed service technologies available today allows an MSP to minimize number of required “truck rolls.” The true “peace of mind” comes from being organized. When your business and customer-oriented procedures are clearly defined and follow industry best practices, the processes can then be automated. That’s how successful MSPs get their life back and bring sanity to their workplace.
Step 1: Take time to assess roadblocksStart out by evaluating your current services workflow. Is your team able to create and complete customer service requests consistently, effectively, and efficiently? If your honest answer is no, you should detail and track how specific issues are managed by your staff and work to improve them. If you’re able to make the investment, join a peer community and acquire tools to help you determine your individual business metrics. Understand how your business compares with other MSPs in service delivery, financial performance, and continuous improvement activities. Take that knowledge and leverage to drive process improvement throughout your organization.
Step 2: Make the commitment to managed servicesNext, take and inventory of your organization’s skills sets. Is your technical team transitioned fully from the break fix model to a proactive management role? If any members haven’t bought into the managed services business plan, it’s time to evaluate their true value to your organization. Just one or two disgruntled or disillusioned technicians or sales professionals can create more headaches than they are worth, whether they are your least experienced or most skilled team members. Some employees will never make the mental transition and commit to the new business model, and the organization will benefit in a million different ways by replacing the “old guard” with your next managed services superstar.
Step 3: Appoint or hire a process championIf you haven’t already assigned a process champion in your business, do it now! Even if it’s been years since you transitioned from a traditional service model, one person should always be responsible for assessing your workflow; with an ultimate goal ensuring client support is able to function like it’s on autopilot. While you may be that individual initially, be sure to assign someone else as your business grows so you can focus on other strategic objectives. Review major changes they recommend before implementation, but give them the moral, financial, and technical support needed to accomplish their goals. Ownership must be shared among the entire team, but someone has to hold each contributor responsible for meeting deadlines and encouraging their progress.
Step 4: Leverage existing technology fullyAfter you can confidently say your processes are tweaked to maximize business efficiency and customer service delivery, it’s time to put your automation tools to work. That means getting the most out of the systems you use to run your business as well as those used to manage your clients’ infrastructure, from remote monitoring and remediation (RMM) tools to the client console for backup solutions. But that’s just the start…
Many MSPs don’t leverage all the features of their RMM. For example, are remote monitoring alerts integrated into your professional services automation (PSA) platform so the ticketing system is automatically routed to the proper technician? That can save time for each occurrence, reducing the number of manual procedures required every time an issue occurs. The time invested now to properly implement the integration will save you a significant number of billable hours later on. Elimination of manual and repetitive tasks in this fashion will improve your staff morale, create greater efficiencies, and lead to faster response times. The end result is a happier staff, satisfied customers, and fewer of those stressful, “immediate need” demands on your time.
Cloud based backup and recovery solutions, hosted email and anti-spam tools, and cloud security products that integrate tightly with RMM and PSA systems can each streamline your workflow; automatically creating and directing service tickets to the appropriate support personnel. When your team is able to work primarily from one tool, and dispatch is centralized through integration, entire workflow processes are simplified. Training occurs faster, employees communicate more effectively, and reporting both internally and externally is enhanced. Additionally, response times are generally shortened when tickets go directly to the tech in charge of that site or technology. That’s good for you and good for the client!
Step 5: Go on Vacation and RelaxWhen you look up and realize that your processes are both effective and managed on a daily basis, and your management tools are working together effectively, you might feel just a little like you don’t have much to do. That is the perfect problem to have! What is the next step? Take a vacation with your loved ones and focus your attention on them. When you come back refreshed and ready to take on the world, you’ll find that the business continued to function well in your absence.
Ted Roller is VP of channel development at Intronis. Find out more about Intronis’ partner program. Guest blogs such as this one are part of MSPmentor's annual platinum sponsorship.