Why MSP Software Companies Show Peer Groups So Much Love

Question: How can software companies and hardware companies quickly engage managed services providers? One obvious answer: Start hanging out with MSP-centric peer groups like HTG Peer Groups. Over the past two years or so, dozens of hardware, software and cloud companies have showed HTG and other peer groups lots of love -- in hopes of winning more business with leading MSPs. The latest example: Kaseya has launched a Kaseya Champs Group in conjunction with HTG. Here's the update -- and a reality check on MSP software adoption within peer groups.

Let's start with the news. According to a prepared statement, the Kaseya Champs Group will provide key HTG members with product resources, including training and best practices, as well as offer a venue for Kaseya to gain valuable customer feedback and guidance. The group will be available to members of HTG in the first quarter of 2011. Kaseya has been a vendor partner of HTG since 2008 and recently upgraded to the platinum vendor sponsor level within HTG, which is the highest level of commitment to the group, according to the prepared statement.

The Bigger Story

Truth be told, sit in a peer group and you'll understand the business value to MSPs within moments. The discussions can be fantastic. Moreover, peer groups can influence how scores of MSPs -- and maybe even hundreds of MSPs -- build their businesses for years to come. Most of the peer group discussions involve business chatter -- finance, sales, marketing, HR, etc. But the peer group discussions also involve IT platform considerations, automation tips and more.

With that market reality in mind, dozens of hardware and software companies work closely with HTG. Perhaps most notably, ConnectWise has built a deep relationship with HTG Peer Groups, and most HTG members have standardized on ConnectWise's PSA (professional services automation) software. On the flip side, Kaseya is best known as a remote monitoring and management (RMM) platform for MSPs -- though Kaseya has been developing a PSA platform of its own. Numerous HTG members use ConnectWise and Kaseya in tandem. But I'll be curious to see if Kaseya attempts to educate HTG members about its own PSA plans.

The Big Challenge

Generally speaking, it sounds like the HTG-ConnectWise relationship has been successful; standardizing on a single PSA platform has allowed most HTG members to make apples-to-apples business comparisons during quarterly meetings.

Still, relationships between vendors and MSP organizations sometimes don't work out. A prime example: I'm aware of a U.S.-based reseller franchise that tried to standardize hundreds of VARs on a single RMM platform. But the uptake has been extremely low because the RMM prices are too high, and each reseller had a slightly different remote monitoring and management need. (I'm still trying to get folks involved with this project to talk on the record...)

Bottom line: Peer groups and franchise organizations can be great ways for VARs and MSPs to compare business notes and improve their performance. And vendor-peer group relations can be extremely valuable, especially when negotiating volume licenses and sharing best software practices. But just because there's a relationship in place that doesn't mean the peer groups will standardize on a vendor's product.

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