New service offerings and business solutions need validation to ensure that they are successful in the marketplace, and agile MSPs need a system for ensuring that their offerings are delivering on the goals set out.

December 1, 2014

4 Min Read
Best Practices for Testing MSP Service Delivery

By MAXfocus Guest Blog 1

Last month I wrote about staying agile as a way to drive further success in a managed services business. I outlined the formula for building a perpetually valuable MSP, and then explored two of the best practices that these best-in-class MSPs deliver.  

This month I want to explore the best practices around testing that enable solution providers to be agile. Testing is a key skill for ensuring long-term success. New service offerings and business solutions need validation to ensure that they are successful in the marketplace, and agile MSPs need a system for ensuring that their offerings are delivering on the goals set out.

As we explore the concept of testing service delivery, three best practices come to the forefront:

1. One test at a time

No matter how many good ideas a company can come up with, the only way to accurately test whether an idea is viable is to approach them one at a time. Too many new ideas being tested at once can lead to a chaotic lack of focus, as well as false indicators (a problem where one test contaminates the results of another test). This approach requires companies to adopt two vital agile behaviors:

  • Prioritize new opportunities based on the combined values of customer relevance + adjacent skills + potential value.

  • Deliver fast prototypes and capture real-time feedback targeted to short-term, incremental milestones.

These agile MSPs understand that their ability to test requires them to examine one key concept, test it, adjust, and test again. By ensuring one test at a time, data is useful and actionable to make adjustments.

2. Test new offerings with rapid deployment

New products/services are, by definition, less capable and less predictable than established offerings. Companies need to adopt a mindset that new offerings do not need to be perfect, but are tested in limited rollouts when they have achieved “minimum viable functionality” for initial customer adoption. In other words, this is the opposite of “paralysis by analysis.” Do not insist on perfection for new offerings–improve them incrementally over time based on lessons learned.

Achieving perfection is the antithesis of releasing new products and services. By their very nature, there will always be new features and functions to release, and new refinement to service offerings. Attempting to make something perfect is futile, but making it viable is a very achievable goal–making something viable and then continually refining results in a much stronger product offering, and one that reaches the market faster.

3. Team resource allocation

It is much more difficult to build new capabilities by using a portion of time/energy from a larger team than it is to use the full effort of a small portion of a team. Instead of asking all members of a team to spend a little effort trying to do a new thing, companies need to identify willing participants who can jump in, give full effort, show early results and then spread the lessons learned to more members of the team incrementally.

One of the big mistakes solution providers often make is the idea of asking an entire team to try and take on a new project, rather than assigning individual responsibilities. For example, telling a team that “everyone should work on automation in their free time” results in no one working on that project, as it is quickly deprioritized. Assigning lead responsibility is a key success factor.

Testing is a skill, and, like any skill, it becomes better with practice. Building a culture of testing and refinement, driven by best practices such as these, ensures that solution providers and MSPs remain viable and relevant to their customers by offering appropriate solutions in a timely manner.

If you would like to learn more about being a perpetually valuable MSP, why not download our FREE whitepaper?

Dave Sobel, Director of Partner Community at MAXfocus, is responsible for fostering the growth and success of MAXFocus Partners. As Director of Partner Community, he helps promote collaboration, education and innovation among MAXfocus Partners and among the industry as a whole, ensures they have access to business, technology and market resources, and are utilizing the MAX Platform to achieve positive growth, enhance their offerings and become best-in-class solution providers.

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