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January 18, 2022
By David Weeks
Growth alone isn’t cutting it. The modern managed service provider wants success at scale. Here’s why: growth is an increase in measure — revenue, clients, team members — in the confines of the literal. Land a new client, hire another employee, bill them, pay them, repeat. Good, but not game changing.
Scale is about rapidly building your business — defining processes, onboarding new customers and bolstering revenue — all while making strategic investments over time, not overnight. From this standpoint, growth is a margin multiplier, and the opportunity for MSPs to attract new clients, and up-sell and cross-sell to existing customers prevails.
Today, lots of MSPs can, are, and will experience growth. Success at scale, on the other hand, will be reserved for those who have a defined model, a disciplined mindset and the right talent and tech to bring it all together.
1. The first action any business must take when building to scale is my favorite f-word: focus.
Focus is the foundation. Without it, you’ve got speed without direction and you’ll go in circles and end up nowhere fast. Outlining the strategy, tactics, and talent that will get you where you want to go is nonnegotiable. Define who you are and why they should care, and run with it. Your team and your customers must know the goals, share a vision, and want to grow together.
2. Your second move is all about process.
Setting the stage for how your company works will give your people and your customers greater confidence and create an environment where expectations are set, with experience that is easily replicated and managed. This one is weighty but the workout is worth the reward. By introducing processes and policies, as well as standardizing products, solutions, and services — especially security — you will remove the guesswork, close the gaps and stay focused. No one wants cookie-cutter service. Don’t shy away from customization entirely, but start with standardized value-based services where you know the juice is worth the squeeze.
3. Third is visibility. You know the phrase: You can’t fix what you can’t measure. Said differently: You can’t scale what you can’t see.
This step falls in line with the second. Having a single-screen view of your business and your customers’ environments is a necessity. Without it, you’re driving blind, without the data to be proactive and learn how else you and your team can enhance the experience for your employees as well as your customers. Obviously, a good remote monitoring and management (RMM) and professional services automation (PSA) solution will help, but you also want and need a curious and customer-minded team to make it actionable.
4 & 5. Steps four and five work together: Invest in your people and your partnerships.
Technology alone isn’t enough. Your people are the heart of the organization. Treat them well and they will treat your customers and partners even better.
Remember, your team and the partnerships you create are differentiators and core to your customer success. The best vision and technology matched with unhappy employees and unengaged partnerships will suck the success out of any strategy. Hire smart, and nurture and enable everyone in the org with the tools, training and tech to be their best. When it comes to your partnerships, aim for individuals and organizations packed with people who give a damn about you and your customers, are transparent and do what they say they’re going to.
Demand for IT and trusted advisers is at an all-time high. The MSP has quickly become the MVP for businesses and organizations everywhere. Don’t settle for growth. It’s time to go forward together and scale your success.
David Weeks is senior director, partner experience at N-able. N-able empowers managed service providers to help small and medium enterprises navigate the digital evolution. You may follow him on LinkedIn or @Nable on Twitter.
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