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MSP G.O.A.T. — 7 Ways to Make that Happen

Adopt an opportunity mindset. Provide management and tech services so clients can focus on specific projects.

December 28, 2022

5 Min Read
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By David Weeks

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David Weeks

By David Weeks

Tom Brady. Michael Jordan. Serena Williams. These athletic superstars are among those who have pursued and earned the “greatest of all time” (G.O.A.T.) title. In the MSP world, we must embrace and enable more of that same drive.

Like pro athletes, not all managed service providers are performing at the same level of intensity. They’re good, but what does it take to become great?

Listening and learning from the highest-performing MSPs, what we call elite partners, the way for MSPs to thrive in 2023 is to push forward with intense focus, listening skills, and accountability. These steps help them capture new opportunities, fine-tune relationships, standardize their portfolio and execute superbly on delivery and customer expectations.

Adopt an Opportunity Mindset

To achieve G.O.A.T. status as an MSP you must adopt a mindset of opportunity, not challenge — turning headwinds into tailwinds and always finding ways to step up your game and take others with you.

To get a bit more granular on how this can be done, here are seven plays to consider:

  1. Listen (more) to your team and your customers. Can your team name the top priorities of the business and for your major customers going into 2023? Aligning with your customers’ business goals gives you a clearer direction for adding services and growing your business. For example, Gartner reports sustainability is a key 2023 strategic technology trend. Where are your customers in terms of sustainability, and can you offer services and solutions that help decrease their carbon footprint?

  2. Nurture your people and partners. We know our employees, stakeholders and partners comprise our ecosystem and are a powerful asset in moving from concept to sale to execution. Tom Brady and Michael Jordan had great teams behind them. Take the time to engage with your ecosystem, and listen to what they are saying, as they work on the front lines with their teams and customers. Talk to your vendors. Ask them for support and create new road maps together, with key features and solutions you need to support your market.

  3. Tame the red ocean, create your blue ocean and win. Due to the evolving global economy, there will be a sharper lens into investments. MSPs who see this as a competitive “red ocean” market — a competitive strategy and tools that help a business operate in existing, highly competitive markets — can win if they present new services and solutions as enhancing enterprises’ own competitive stance. One area of opportunity is the IT talent gap. MSPs can help enterprises fill the gap by providing management and technology support services. It is also another excellent chance to listen, to be on the “inside,” and hear what customers need, identifying new MSP growth opportunities.

  4. Co-innovate and co-manage. Staffing shortages are driving fast growth in co-managed services, notably in the midmarket and larger enterprise space. MSPs can co-innovate, bringing to their customers specialization that internal IT teams lack. Automation is a key service as these enterprises cannot develop or manage automation platforms. Many enterprises need specific services to augment their ability to focus on high-value projects and other areas of support within their organization. Entrance points here that are highly successful are patch management and EDR. MSPs that have embraced co-managed services continue to see escalated growth in the double digits, outpacing the market growth rate.

  5. Standardize solutions and your services stack. Emerging MSPs and growth MSPs need standardization to survive competition and to drive positive bottom-line results. Organizations moving from timed to managed services will protect margins by building their service stack and marketing this standardized approach. Established MSPs, focused on growth and scalability, need to empower their teams with standardized processes to solve their clients’ biggest challenges. The key to this is to automate what can be automated, bringing more efficiency to your company and promoting your fiscal viability.

  6. Deliver exceptional experiences. For MSPs, delivering exceptional service means fully using automation and standardization to provide technology solutions on time and with well-managed support. Competing in a tougher market demands stellar service and continual feedback from customers to quickly solve any performance issues and promote customer retention.

  7. Own the future, own the cloud. MSPs can position themselves for the future by owning the cloud, building a service stack that gives their customers an efficient way to manage the various software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, for example, and get a better handle on SaaS sprawl.

Gartner, at its IT Symposium in October 2022, named …

… packaged industry cloud platforms as a top 10 trend. By 2027, the study noted, more than 50% of enterprises will use industry cloud platforms to accelerate their business initiatives. MSPs need to have an early response to these trends. Enterprises will be looking to you to help them deploy key cloud solutions that support their employees and their use of technology, supporting productivity with a careful eye towards budget.

Stepping Up Your A-Game

Building your company’s economic resiliency is key. Today’s MSP is the MVP. By stepping up your approach to the business fundamentals — listening to the customer, offering exceptional services and adding logical standardization of the service stack — and defining your “why” for your team and your customers, you will only elevate your game and increase your value.

Another tip from members of the elite MSPs: Use automation and orchestration at scale to define processes, sustain service levels and conserve operating costs while giving your team more actionable data and less busywork.

Remember, time is money, and the cost of capital today is significantly higher. It’s the right time to scrutinize the services offered, revisit your balance sheet, and fine-tune your financial strategy, while understanding your debt structure and how prepared you are for next year.

The G.O.A.T.’s of our industry — the world’s most successful MSPs — are those who combine the best of business with the best of technical practices. They maintain fiscal intelligence, a forward-thinking approach to their service stack and, most importantly, they nurture and retain their associates and their customers.

David Weeks is senior director of partner experience at N-able. You may follow him on LinkedIn or @Nable on Twitter.

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