You're a VAR, and you're nervous about betting your business -- and the money in your wallet -- on a specific managed services platform. Dan Wilson, president of Waypoint Solutions Group, has some advice for you. Already a successful managed service provider himself, Wilson has 15 tips for choosing an MSP platform. Here they are.
Wilson shared his thoughts with me during a phone call on Thursday. The following list paraphrases many of his tips on choosing an MSP platform:
- Determine Your Goals: Before you select a third-party tool, you have to know what services you want to offer to your customers. Once you've outlined those specific services (i.e., endpoint security, online storage, etc.), it's easier to start the hunt for the most ideal MSP platform.
- Can You Resell Their Product?: Find out if you're allowed to resell the MSP solution on your own.
- Check Their Back Office: Find out what type of back-office support they have.
- Compare Business Models: Does the platform provider's business model match your business model and goals? If not, this relationship may not be a match.
- Margins, Please: Ask the platform provider what type of profit margins you can expect to generate. Then, speak with other MSPs to see if the estimates seem on target.
- Start-up Costs?: Find out what type of upfront costs the platform requires.
- Features and Functions: Now that you're getting a feel for the platform provider's business model, start to dig a little deeper and look at the product's actual capabilities. Also, determine what functions are unique to specific products.
- Partner Program: The best product won't be a match for you if the platform provider's partner program is lousy. Check in with other partners to see how they are supported. And check with the platform provider to see what type of partner perks they offer. And make sure their partner program matches your business model.
- Complex or Simple?: Find out if the managed services platform matches your company size. If you're a small MSP, you don't want to get sidetracked by complexity.
- Branding: Ask if you can you re-brand the managed service as your own?
- References: Lots of people know about tier-one platform providers. But be extra careful to check references for emerging platform providers that may not be well-known yet.
- Speed to Market: Once you sign up for a managed service platform, how quickly can you activate that service with customers?
- Customer Support: What additional customer support services does the platform provider offer? The goal, after all, is to keep existing clients happy even as you attract new clients.
- Sales, Marketing and Collateral Dollars: What type of marketing support can you expect from the platform provider?
- Negotiate: Don't settle for the vendor's terms. Feel free to negotiate on price, payment schedules and other variables in order to make sure the solution fits your financial expectations.