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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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Tasks Every MSP Wishes They Didn't Have to Do In-House

Posted July 27, 2017by Ian Waters

Tasks Every MSP Wishes They Didn't Have to Do In-House.png

Over the past few years, we’ve been making the move from the traditional break/fix model of providing IT support to the managed services provider (MSP) model. Moving from a reactive business to a proactive one means you end up doing a lot more chores for your clients in the background. However, there comes a point when managing and executing these tasks in-house can become a burden for your business.

From the smallest one-man-band to the largest of MSPs, there are always things we wish we didn’t have to do ourselves. Let’s take a look at the most common tasks every IT provider wishes they didn’t have to do in-house. 

Business Operations

Although most tasks MSPs perform are technical in nature, it’s worth mentioning some of the business tasks that you should consider outsourcing. You are likely not an accountant or bookkeeper, nor a master of marketing, so why spend your time learning these tasks? If you’d rather spend your valuable time growing your business into something bigger and better, outsource these tasks and let an expert do the job for you:

  • Accounting
  • Human Resources (HR)
  • Bookkeeping
  • General Administration
  • Sales and Marketing

Technical Operations

If you’re an engineer or a business owner trying to grow your business, then you know the technical jobs you wish you didn’t have to do. Here are some common ones I’ve heard time and time again:

Level One and Two Support

Every MSP needs its level one and two support engineers, but they can become a large expense. And, during busy periods, those engineers can easily become overwhelmed—failing to meet Service Level Agreements (SLAs) or maintain a high quality of work, no matter how good they are.

24x7x365 IT Support

Operating around the clock can be hard work. In smaller operations, it’s normally a task taken on by the business owner to keep costs down. This can tie you down in the evenings and weekends, making it difficult to truly relax or maintain a work-life balance. If you have your engineers operating after-hours, you’ll usually end up paying them for each day they are on call, creating even more overhead costs.

Backup Maintenance

Manually checking backups is a relentless task and can take precious time away from your team’s day. Verifying backups and sifting through tickets require a lot of attention and can eat away at productivity. Even fixing an issue can take longer than expected, tying up expensive expertise on mundane tasks.

Server Maintenance

Every now and then servers need maintenance, which is usually dealt with after normal business hours. Tasks such as databases shrinking, partition resizing and software upgrades can keep you and your team busy beyond the typical 9 to 5. Additionally, if someone goes wrong, it can be very difficult to call an expert for help.

Patching

Another relentless daily task that takes time to resolve is patching. Doing this properly is nearly impossible for a small team. Faulty patches usually take a long time to resolve and are more than ever a priority task.

Antivirus

With such a rise in cybercrime, we cannot afford to let out-of-date workstations slip through the cracks. Updating and maintaining antivirus is yet another important task, which if done manually can take quite some time.

Project Work

Us MSPs have lots of project work come our way. For me, and likely you too, it’s mostly been Office 365 migrations over the last couple of years. These tasks usually require a lot of prep work and expertise, some of which you may not have in-house.

So how do successful MSPs manage all of these tasks? How do the smaller organizations grow and expand their businesses? Well, the key to their success is in the processes and tools they use.

Leverage Smarter Tools

If you want to make your life easier and grow your MSP business, you need to start with an intelligent remote management and monitoring (RMM) solution. One of the great tools we leverage just happens to be Continuum, who’s platform MSPs can use to solve the headaches caused by the above tasks. Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways we’re able to turn to Continuum to make our life easier.

Patching and Antivirus

Patching is a great example of something we were struggling with in our old system. Every morning there would be dozens of tickets telling us that some desktops and servers couldn’t install updates. Sometimes, the tickets would say that the patch checking system failed in some way, when in reality, it was the RMM tool that failed! It cost us a lot of time and stress, which is not something an MSP should have to worry about.

Now, using Continuum’s Network Operations Center (NOC), we have a much easier way of life because the NOC experts will go into a desktop or server and resolve the issue for us. If they are successful, they simply close the ticket—reducing a lot of the “noise” we deal with daily. It’s been a revelation! Our engineers now have more time to properly deal with client issues and work on more revenue-generating projects.

After-Hour Server Maintenance and Project Work

We don’t have an abundance of engineers, so on-call issues are generally handled by one of the business owners or lead technicians. However, after a day of handling these issues left and right, the last thing we want to do is spend two more hours expanding a Hyper-V VHD and then expand a server partition just to increase space on a server drive. Equally we would rather not spend another two or three hours upgrading a server operating system.

I’m glad to say that now we don’t have to worry about these tasks because they can be offloaded to the NOC team to perform after-hours. I simply give them the instructions, and they confirm the work and schedule it for that evening. The next morning, I can come into the office with a ticket from the NOC waiting for me saying that everything has run successfully. Being able to outsource jobs like this means we can focus on growing our business without having to worry about the extra workload.

Summary

So, now you know the secret to growing your MSP business and how to make your life and the lives of your engineers easier. For us, working with Continuum has proven worthwhile, enabling us to take on more clients while not increasing our overhead. With a great RMM tool in your tech stack, you can see these results too and become a more successful and profitable MSP.

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Ian is a Senior Partner at MSP Southern IT Networks and works as the Technical Director. Ian has been working in IT for over 14 years since finishing his Degree in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence. He is also an Office 365 expert and author of the book Microsoft Office 365 – Exchange Online Implementation and Migration - Second Edition. Follow him on his personal blog here!

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