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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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So You've Moved to Managed IT Services...Now What?

Posted February 26, 2015by Ray Vrabel

move-to-managed-it-services


You've finally seen the light. You've embraced managed IT services. 

You outgrew your old, outdated business model and instead, opted for monthly recurring revenue (MRR), stronger client relationships, a larger portfolio of services, and proactive IT management. But how do you get it? How do you become the ultimate MSP?

Whether you started out as a telecom service provider and added managed services, or transitioned from break-fix, you're in a new space. The moving van has pulled away. Are you ready to make this house your home?


Hiring the Right Talent

Ask yourself, “What does my staff currently look like? Do I need to hire new people, if any? What expertise and experience do I need?" There’s a big difference between hiring someone who only has a few years of experience vs. a senior level tech with several Microsoft and Cisco certifications. Think about what you want to accomplish, the voids you need to fill and how much you are willing to stretch your budget for employee salaries. Or, if you were previously a telecom provider who has added managed services, perhaps reallocate current staff toward higher revenue-generating opportunities, rather than basic phone projects. This way, they feel they have gained your trust because you have selected them for additional responsibilities, which potentially leads to more money in your respective pockets.

Related: 4 Immediate Benefits to Becoming an MSP – And Ditching Break-Fix

Aside from your technical staff, reevaluate your sales staff by preparing them and setting the proper expectations with the new business model. With managed IT services being the future, how will your salespeople continue to perform? Are they accepting both the change and the challenge? They need to be fully trained and aware that they can no longer simply sell projects and phone subscriptions — they need to sell the full services package moving forward.


Insourcing vs. Outsourcing

I’ve discussed how you can reevaluate and repurpose staff, but how do you go about actually putting those people and plans into action? The answer might be to either partner with another MSP on some larger projects or, if you have the resources, to acquire an MSP that’s looking for similar services that your company can offer. For instance, if you are a telecom provider looking to offer managed services or vice versa, it could be a solid fit.

Another idea is to connect with a vendor that already has the infrastructure, talent and expertise in place, and the tools to help get your managed services practice off the ground. I have seen a very small percentage of MSPs move to a managed services model on their own without any outside help. If you can do this successfully, then I commend you. However, there are so many moving parts that it just might be a bit too daunting to take on by yourself. You might make more margins going it alone, but even if you hire a great NOC manager and the best techs available, it probably won’t equal what you can do with help from a trusted vendor — and you would have to spend a lot more money in the long run, negating the better margins. Remember, any vendor that specializes in managed services tools is already aligned with your business model, and their account managers are aligned and invested as well.

Related: What it Means to be Channel-Exclusive


Reviewing Client Contracts 

Be sure to offer a contract assessment to all of your clients and revisit the types of services they currently utilize. Review budgets and revisit their needs. Are they a good candidate for managed IT services, or do they just want someone to upgrade their phone each year? Reaching out to each client personally and finding out what their long- and short-term goals are at the beginning of the year makes perfect sense. Make sure you do it before their current contract expires.

While it’s always great to seek out new business, those who are going to start fresh with a new managed services model also want to take care of current, loyal clients. Don’t be afraid to upsell them. To be honest, if you aren’t doing this, then one of your competitors is. You won’t be doing your clients a disservice by discussing new options.

Related: How to Stay Top of Mind and Upsell Clients - MSPtv Episode 35

Remember that just deciding to make the move to managed IT services is a big step for which you should be proud. Don’t feel as though you have to go it alone, however. Remember, first review your current employee talents and figure out what needs to be filled. Think seriously about outsourcing IT services to get your business selling those services faster and more easily. There are many vendors and partners available that can help, and you can start by reaching out to those who you already have relationships with for other technology needs. And throughout the process, keep your clients’ needs and best interests at the forefront – servicing them optimally keeps them as clients, and it’s what your business is all about.


The preceding blog post was taken from Ray's guest series on Channel Partners Peer-to-Peer Blog.

 

 

Ray Vrabel is Continuum's Director of Technical Account Management and participates in product and service growth initiatives, and also manages Continuum's Technical Account Management team, which supports over 3,500 partners worldwide. Prior to Continuum, Ray joined Zenith Infotech in 2005 and held several positions including Service Desk Manager, Sr. Technical Account Manager and Sr. Manager of Service Operations. He currently has over 15 years of experience in the IT industry, specializing in Managed Services, Disaster Recovery, and Cloud Solutions. Prior to Continuum and Zenith, Ray worked at ANH Refractories, a world-class provider of Refractories products, in their Service Desk Department supporting 53 locations and 1,500 employees. Ray also worked for a startup venture at Body Media a pioneer in wearable body monitoring systems as a technical lead in their Technical Customer Support Department. Ray holds a Bachelors of Science in Business Technology Support and Training from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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