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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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Confessions of a Formerly Burned-Out Technician

Posted November 17, 2015by Tonya Barnett

I started my IT career as a technician, originally working in a high volume call center-type help desk, and then later moving to a desktop support/system admin position for a local IT company closer to home. Within a few years, I found myself at a dead end with no vertical movement within the company. I was not learning anymore, as each person had a niche and refused to train anyone else on that product, which left me and my fellow technicians feeling rather bored with large gaps in our trainings. I enjoyed my job, but my growth was stagnant, and I wasn't being challenged with any new issues. Can any of you relate?

 

How It All Started

I used to have to do things the long way. I'd run around the office from cubicle to cubicle pushing applications, running Windows updates and ensuring the antivirus was up to date. One by one, our team of technicians touched each computer. It wasn't until our network was attacked by CryptoLocker, that I realized the need for a change. Our current approach just wasn't sustainable.

Thank goodness we had a decent backup in place and were able to restore the thousands of corrupted files after the fact, but I wanted to prevent us from having to scramble in the future. After attributing the ransomware infection to an outdated antivirus, lack of a malware protection and poor customer training, I looked for a solution that would allow me to better manage the network, and also give me more time for end user and personal training.

 

What I Found

In my search, I discovered Continuum’s Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) tool. I quickly learned about the quality and quantity of tools, and wanted to test it on our network. I recognized that we needed to expand our work load, but couldn't afford to hire another team member. Their integrated RMM and Network Operations Center (NOC) solution allowed us to get around this and made life easier, helping us to work smarter, not harder, on a daily basis.

This seems like it would be an easy sell, right? When I presented this to management, however, they said these tools would make our techs obsolete, since their work would just be outsourced. There'd be no need to keep them employed. So they declined my pitch to try out the Continuum platform because they did not see the value of the product. I was pretty disappointed. I can't speak for every technician, but most of us thirst to learn and use the latest technology that lets us offload the daily, mundane work and helps us become more streamlined and impactful. At this point, it was extremely clear that I was stuck in the Stone Age, destined to work reactively, rushing to put out fires.

 

My Action and Advice

Needless to say, I switched gears, interviewed for a technical account management position for Continuum and was hired a few weeks later. I now work with thousands of IT companies and stress the importance of proactive management tools that save tech time on a daily basis. I have heard that the burnout rate of a help desk technician is generally around eighteen months. According to CIO Insight, the annual turnover rate for these workers exceeds 30 percent. Perhaps you've experienced employee churn in your own business. I've talked to many MSPs who've struggled with tech turnover. From my own experience, I can say with total confidence that partnering with best in breed technology and supplying technicians with intelligent remote support tools gives them a better quality of life and job. As an MSP owner that leverages this advantage, you'll prevent your technical staff from burning out. How? Your staff won't have to solely support the large volume of end client calls they receive. Only having to take a percentage of these requests will give them back time to produce more valuable work. You'll also make higher margins since you won't be forced to hire additional technicians to compensate for skillset gaps, and existing staff won't have to waste time handling Level 1 issues. By receiving the 24x7x365 support of an extended IT team, you'll generate higher productivity and output without having to increase your labor expenses. 


I have been on the technician’s side of IT for a few years now, so I know the challenges and frustrations that accompany the position. Through my time at Continuum, I also know that working with a dynamic vendor that understands these hurdles and acts as a true partner ensures growth for both the company and the employee. Equipped with the right tools and training that help them achieve a work/life balance and professional development, IT professionals will feel more fulfilled and responsible for your business's success. At the same time, your customers will continue to invest in your company since your proactive monitoring and remediation will deliver speedy resolution and minimal downtime. Finally, with the buy-in from your staff and client base, and the transition to a more scalable managed IT services business model, you'll be able to introduce new services, increase monthly recurring revenue and remain competitive for years to come. 

 

Continue learning the benefits of fully managed RMM:

RMM 101: Must-haves for Your IT Management Solution

Tonya Barnett has cumulative 15 years of IT experience, starting with 6 years active duty in the United States Air Force as a system Analyst. From there, she worked as a System administrator for an IT Company for 4 years and now works as a Technical Account Manager with Continuum. Tonya is married with two daughters, Kali 12 and Kaci 9.

RMM 101: Must-haves for Your IT Management Solution
MSP Guide to Managed Services SLAs  [white paper]
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