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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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How to Get Technician Buy-In for an Outsourced Network Operations Center (NOC)

Posted June 8, 2017by Matthew Waters

How to Get Technician Buy-In for an Outsourced Network Operations Center (NOC)

Have you considered changing your managed IT services business model to cut and smooth labor expenses, thereby growing profit margins? If you have, you've likely thought about the advantages of working with a Network Operations Center (NOC), a team of highly certified technicians and engineers that you pay a monthly fixed cost for. This all sounds good, right? Unfortunately, not everyone at your company may be as easily sold. Your technicians may feel threatened that they'll be let go and replaced with this new team of experts. So, how do you get past this? Luckily, I've talked to many partners who've found remarkable success by leveraging dedicated technical support!

Contrary to popular belief, opting to utilize an outsourced NOC does not mean you have to replace your current L1/L2 staff. Sure, it helps eliminate the need to backfill positions lost to high employee turnover, but just as many partners use our domestic Help Desk as a compliment to—not substitute for—our NOC, so too do they use our NOC as an extension of their current IT support staff.

But how can you convince your technician team that this is the best decision for everyone at your company?

Give them more responsibility! Show them that you value their work, and invest in their continued success at your MSP practice. Some of our most successful partners have repurposed their technicians into "NOC managers," which gives them the opportunity to have their team work on more revenue generating tasks and projects. Let's take a look at some of the benefits of adopting this approach.

1. Their Work Will Take on Greater Meaning

As partners have described, when technicians accept this extra responsibility, they no longer have to manage tickets or machines. Instead, they manage the highly trained and certified team of 650+ NOC technicians available 24x7x365. What does that look like? When tickets are received, they'll determine which ones are handed off to the NOC and assign who's responsible for the work. Managing personnel is quite a step up within the company, and your technicians will feel like they have greater control over a potentially scary business model shift. They're not expendable; it's not just happening without their say. Instead, repurposing their talents in this way demonstrates that you trust them enough to put the success of your plan in their hands.

2. They'll Appreciate Your Interest in Their Career Path

Adding "NOC Manager" or "Solutions Engineer" to their resume is a career-defining move, which will open new doors and make technicians more attractive job applicants in the future. There's a big difference between being a leader and being a manager. Leaders empower and enable employees to grow their skillsets. The talent on your team is not disposable, and if you think it is, you're not thinking about long-term growth. Chances are, your technicians want to challenge themselves with new opportunities to continue building their careers. By providing them the avenue by which to do this, you'll earn their loyalty and help them become a more strategic employee for your MSP business.

3. They'll Have a Better Quality of Life

When you ask most technicians about their work-life balance, they respond with a laugh. That term is just not a part of their vocabulary. Explain to them that with a NOC, however, they can reclaim their nights and weekends. That means they can enjoy more of their time with family and even watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones LIVE! If they were on the fence about buying into an outsourced NOC model before, tempting them with more free time may be just enough to secure their vote.

Think about when the bulk of your tickets pile up. Often for our own partners, most disruptions occur after business hours. They need 24x7x365 technical support, but they don't want their team to have to work the graveyard shift. Not only is this not sustainable financially, it leads to tech burnout, low productivity and eventually, churn. Instead, some of our most successful partners set up NOC managers to receive all tickets during business hours, but then have the outsourced NOC technicians automatically complete work on weekends and from 6 pm to 8 am the next day.

4. They'll Have More Time to Get Certified 

Aside from the extra time they'll have to do higher value work, such as becoming account managers and building client relationships for your MSP practice, your technicians will now be able to get more certifications. Have they been wanting to get VMware or Citirix-certified? Now they can! With outsourced NOC technicians handling preventative maintenance and projects like server reboots, patching, patching issues and failed patch deployments, your techs can double down on their training. With more tricks of the trade, they'll be able to accept and support more project work, increase their value at the company and accept higher paying jobs down the line. This last selling point is important, as low compensation is one of the main reasons for technician turnover. By obtaining more certifications, they'll be worth more. If you can afford it, express to hesitant employees that the new job title could bring with it a pay raise. That will certainly get their attention!

What Are We Getting At?

When you take advantage of outsourced staffing and repurpose your team into NOC managers, you'll be more likely to retain the right IT talent. But wait, wasn't your whole concern about moving to an outsourced NOC approach that existing staff would leave you? It all depends on how you have that conversation with them. If technicians feel like their contribution to the team is irrelevant, why wouldn't they abandon ship? The key is to get them to understand that you're making this decision with—not in spite of—them. Frame your argument around these four advantages to earn their trust and buy-in, and you'll be well on your way to achieving faster business growth and higher margins! 

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Director of Sales – North America at Continuum. Matt has spent the last eight years in the MSP Channel working in Business Development, Account Management as well as Management roles. Matt specializes in Managed IT Services sales, including pricing and packaging strategies. He enjoys spending time with his family and is an avid Pittsburgh sports fan and fisherman in his spare time.

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