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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreement (SLA)

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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

SLAs are the foundation of your MSP business. They are essential to building strong client relationships and must be clear, reasonable and well-constructed.

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4 Steps to Help Keep Your Sanity in Managed Services

Posted September 21, 2015by Lisa Person


No matter how much enjoyment you get from running your own business, everybody needs to escape once in a while. Routines get old and tiresome. The pressure associated with managing employees and dealing with difficult clients builds over time. Conversations, even those with the nicest business partners, tend to get stale. A little time away to “recharge the batteries” can be vital for the continued success of your organization and the sanity of your employees, the people who make it all happen. Repetition, no matter how pleasant it may seem, can be toxic to business owners' and employees' morale and concentration.

Of course, for managed services providers, the “routine” operations are what keep their clients’ business systems online and ensure their customer support remains top-notch. As most everyone in the IT industry knows, when these tools and support processes are not perfectly aligned, the life of an MSP can get quite complicated. That’s why it’s so important to not only implement industry best practices, but to continually refine them over time to ensure their effectiveness. That also makes employee onboarding and training much easier, which helps ensure long-term business stability and allows an owner to occasionally step away for a little rest and relaxation.    

For those who wish to maintain their sanity AND successfully grow their businesses, process continuity and automation are crucial. Routine operations are best delegated to subordinates or, when possible, computer applications and other machines. When those everyday tasks are removed from an owner’s list of responsibilities, he can focus more attention on the company’s strategic plans and other imperative business pursuits—and maybe even have more time for family, friends and non-work activities.  


Implement Proven Industry Best Practices

While Labor Day has come and gone, it’s a great time for MSPs to introduce changes that could help them get extra days off for the holidays ─ or an afternoon off whenever needed. The following four best practices can help providers achieve their quality of life goals AND improve their operational capabilities so they can more effectively grow their businesses. These suggestions (and many more) can be found in the free Quick Start Guide, Six Steps for Building an Effective and Profitable Managed IT Services Business:

 
1. Fully implement a PSA platform

Professional services automation applications (PSAs) are much more than ticketing systems. They offer a variety of integrations and features that allow MSPs to streamline their operations, but many companies utilize an extremely small percentage of these capabilities. Just connecting the company’s remote monitoring tools or its accounting package can shave several hours from your workload each month.    

 

2. Automate when it makes sense to

Most MSPs implement the same technologies in their own business that they recommend to their clients, and link them into their managed services tools and PSA. Cutting-edge providers employ automatic marketing systems and unified communications, linking CRM and web processes to speed client acquisition and customer service operations (while reducing the manual labor and associated labor costs).

 

3. Leverage business partners

MSPs who collaborate with peers and contractors have more options for building new practices, improving sales and getting away from it all. Partners often offer support for specific vertical market applications and unique technologies, or lend resources or a helping hand when needed. Training and education companies make great allies, and help desk providers can often scale up their support levels as needed.     

 

4. Cross train employees

Ensure that the “home team” has the skills and expertise needed to manage multiple job responsibilities, especially when needed. Does every key staff member have a backup who can step into the role? A bench full of cross-trained techs gives an MSP more scheduling flexibility and offers options when the star player needs a day (or week) off—or leaves the organization.

 

None of these best practices can be implemented overnight, so take time to do it right. Start a list of the things you’d love to have more time to accomplish today, and put it in a prominent place on your desk. Then, build a plan that ensures you can do every one of these activities ─ as often as you like. 

Improving your internal processes most often results in increased profitability and additional revenue opportunities. Follow these four recommendations, and I bet you'll have more options for next year’s vacation!


Go ahead - hand off those mundane tasks!

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Lisa Person is the director of member communities at CompTIA and is in charge of our Managed Print Services, Managed Services and IT Security communities. Lisa has spent the last twenty years in the channel, working on both the manufacturer and solution provider side. This experience allows her to identify industry pain points and act on initiatives that will positively impact the IT industry at large.

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