MSP 501 Profile: Fidelis Says It’s All About Process
Company Name: Fidelis Inc.
Company MSP 501 Rank: 303
CTO: Paul Zimmerman
Headquartered: Tukwila, WA
- Managed IT Support
- Tech Support
- Business Phone System Support
- Structured Cabling Systems
- Cloud Services
- Cybersecurity/IT Security Services
- Hardware and Software
- Business Continuity
- Help Desk Support
A few years ago, the urgent business transformation du jour was the switch to monthly recurring revenue (MRR). Recently, a new strategic imperative has been sweeping the channel conversation: operational efficiency.
That’s certainly been the case for Fidelis Inc. As demands from customers continued to grow, the MSP knew it had to implement internal processes and procedures in order to scale up its managed service practice.
“We’ve been systematizing our implementation and operations, creating standard operating procedures, internal training videos [and so on],” says Paul Zimmerman, CTO at Fidelis. “Focusing on consistent practices allows us to move faster, avoid mistakes, learn from our mistakes and adjust in the future.”
Zimmerman says the company’s staff likes knowing exactly what to do and when to do it. A big added benefit? When their peers are involved with a project, they know they’ll be able to step in during or after the fact and understand how things are configured, where to find documentation and so forth. In short, they can be more effective and provide better service to Fidelis clients.
But the improvements don’t stop with in-house processes.
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“We also have strategic partnerships with vendors and use their staff as an extension of ours when possible — for example, our help desk and NOC partner can perform small projects for us, perform after-hours maintenance on systems [and so on],” says Zimmerman. “This allows us to have a smaller internal staff, but to serve more customers at a higher level of quality than we would be able to do if we were trying to do everything ourselves internally.”
Here, Zimmeran talks with Channel Futures about the challenges facing his MSP business and how Fidelis uses its unique assets to rise above the competition.
Channel Futures: It’s such a crowded market, and sometimes it seems like every MSP uses similar products and offers such similar services that it’s hard to stand out. How does Fidelis approach the competitive differentiation problem?
Paul Zimmerman: Many of our competitors can’t install a rack, run cabling for a wireless access point, tone and test a cable, or install, configure and install a phone system. Being able to provide more than just IT support, we can work with clients at a deeper level.
For example, when a client outgrew its existing building, we were able to help design the low-voltage cabling and server room for their new building in addition to the typical coordination that would be required during a move. We installed all of the data and voice cabling, server racks and so on. We coordinated with vendors such as the ISP, voice circuit provider, alarm/access control system vendor, meeting room AV vendor, and security camera vendor for the successful install and migration of services from one location to the other. During the actual move, our crew came in and moved all of their server and network equipment, and hooked up and tested all the computers and phones in the new location.
Without having the expertise on the voice and cabling side of our business, we wouldn’t have played as big of a part, and the move would not have been as smooth.
CF: We all know that managed security is the cash cow of the future, but it can be hard for an MSP to develop a true MSSP program. How is Fidelis approaching that evolution?
PZ: Managed services is a great start, allowing [customers] to have patches that are kept up to date, systems monitored, and endpoint protection monitored and kept up to date. We consider this the baseline. The next step is a more proactive approach to reducing the risk event further.
We’ve been investing in developing client security training for senior-level management to educate …