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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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The Dangers of Choosing Vendors à La Carte

Posted December 26, 2013by Ray Vrabel

As a managed services provider (MSP), your job is to provide your clients with the best technologies for their businesses. Many MSPs do this by simply picking the right vendor for the job and even multiple vendors per client. While this may bring a number of benefits to your clients, (like providing the best RMM system on the market, the most secure file storage system, the highest rated service desk provider etc.), there are also many hazards that MSPs must be aware of when using multiple vendors.

Sometimes, the more tools you use, the heavier your tool belt gets, and the more it weighs you down.


Things to Be Aware of When Picking Different Vendors:

  • Learning different systems: While there may be some similarities between systems, there are sure to be many differences as well. It takes time to learn different systems and to feel comfortable monitoring, diagnosing and fixing issues efficiently in each.
  • Making the different systems talk: Many IT services platforms use APIs and can communicate with each other, for example, integrating a 3rd party BDR system with your RMM platform. However, this can lead to many headaches as well:
    • Setting up the integrations takes time and you should perform testing to make sure all necessary information is being passed accurately... which also takes time.
    • Too many cooks in the kitchen – having all of your vendors telling you about their product, recent updates and best practices can be a bit overwhelming.
    • Vendor accountability when something goes wrong might be another issue when dealing with multiple vendors. Vendor s may point the blame to another vendor if something goes wrong, or there may just be lack of clarity as to where the issue is taking place, meaning you’re spending time figuring out who to contact instead of working on getting the problem fixed.
  • Constant Upgrades: You obviously want your vendors to keep their systems up to date, but the vendors you have, the more often you’re dealing with upgrades. Upgrades can cause downtimes, take time to learn the new systems and can sometimes break integrations that you’ve already setup between separate systems. In other words, the more moving pieces you have, the more difficult it is to stay up to date and use them all to their fullest.
     

Benefits of an All-In-One System

Instead of hand-picking a multitude of vendors, all of which have different systems, interfaces and areas of expertise, MSPs can choose to use a unified managed services platform that has a variety of different features and services. Using a unified platform eliminates many of the hurdles listed above, and allows MSPs to be more efficient in terms of diagnosis and resolution of clients’ issues.

  • Operational Efficiencies: Although it may take longer to learn initially, using a unified platform will allow you to operate much efficiently as an MSP. The user interface will be similar across all channels and you won’t have to constantly learn new systems or re-adjust based on new upgrades. Additionally, since the system is fully integrated out of the box, you won’t need to worry about setting up integrations and making sure they all work.
  • Resolution Efficiencies: Using an integrated system allows you to identify issues more quickly, and many times can resolve issues on its own without your involvement.
     

What’s the Best Solution for You?

Ultimately, you know your clients the best and can determine which solutions are the most effective. This isn’t an “all or nothing” decision, where you either use the same system every time for everything, or use multiple vendors for all of your clients. Perhaps you have a platform for 90% of the work you do, but you don’t like their mobile device management software, so you swap that out with a 3rd party vendor. That’s totally fine! You’re in charge of making yourself the most efficient and most effective MSP you can be. However, it’s important to be aware of the benefits and dangers of using a variety of vendors versus a unified system. There is most certainly a threshold to using multiple vendors, and after hitting your tipping point, you’ll end up spending more time managing your vendors, than managing your actual clients.


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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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