Consider this: It's 9am Monday, and your world seems to be turning upside down. You have one client who has had a server crash. Another is breathing down your neck because he needs a crucial file restored yesterday. You are late for an onsite appointment...
You're Busy. But Are You Productive?
As an IT professional working for an MSP (managed service provider), your job can get pretty stressful. You have a lot on your plate, and if you are going to respond in the most effective fashion possible to crisis situations, and hopefully keep as many of them as possible from happening in the first place, it's critically important that you remain productive.
Today, let's take a look at some of the top productivity tools MSPs can use and benefit from. Our focus will be on tools that help you manage your schedule and day-to-day activities, not on network and technology management solutions.
But first, here's something to keep in mind: Don't use a tool just because it's currently the “in thing”. And don't use tools willy-nilly without forethought or planning. Develop a productivity strategy, and use the tools that will help you effectively carry out that strategy.
Another thought: Don't use too many tools with overlapping functions. This could add confusion and inefficiency into your day-to-day routine and hurt the very thing you are trying to do with these tools – boost your productivity!
One more thing: It's not enough to have access to a productivity tool. To get the benefits you want from it, you need to use it.
That being said, here's the list...
Going “Old School”
Keep in mind that not every productivity tool you use as an MSP needs to be high tech. Many IT professionals still use an old-fashioned white board. It can be extremely effective as a way to keep track of your to-do list.
One way to use the whiteboard for more productivity is with the Kanban method. It's simple: You divide your whiteboard into three sections. You put the items needing to be finished (your backlog) on the left, the items in progress in the middle, and the items finished, on the right side. Create a post-it note for each item you need to do (big or small), and put it in the backlog.
Then figure out which items are your highest priority, limiting it to three or so, and put those in the in-progress category. Focus on those tasks only, until they can be moved to done (or back to backlog if you can't finish them yet, or are waiting for something, etc). Why is this such a great productivity tool? It limits what you are actively working on.
If you want to use the Kanban method, but prefer using it in a high-tech format, there are plenty of apps and digital tools available. KanbanFlow offers a powerful free version that gives you an unlimited number of boards and users, with no time limit.
This is a group productivity tool that helps you take control of team communication, workloads and priorities. Among other benefits, it helps MSP team members share important information with each other. With it, you can balance workloads and track project progress. Bottom line: AllThings helps you save time and money and be more productive. It offers a 14-day free trial.
Gliffy is useful for producing network diagrams, floor plans and flowcharts. It also works for client documentation, procedures handouts and for planning routine service details. Purchase options start at $14.85 per month with a 20% savings for annual billing.
This is a convenient, easily accessible, cloud-based tool that can help boost your productivity. It enables you to produce, edit, store and share files with your team. These files can be accessed and edited in real time, allowing for seamless collaboration by MSP staff members. Google offers a free version of this tool.
As an MSP, you are well aware that success in this business is about much more than handling the technical details well. Of course, technical skills and effective project and schedule management are important. But you still have to market yourself and your company and win new clients.
Charlie can aid you in your marketing efforts by helping you research potential clients more effectively and thoroughly. It automatically scans hundreds of information sources and sends you a one-page summary on the people you are going to meet with, before you meet with them. And here's some great news for you: Charlie is free!
Work smarter, work harder
We've all heard the old saying, “Work smarter, not harder”. I'm guessing you feel like you already work hard enough. The right productivity tools can help make your life easier while also helping your company to be more productive and profitable.
You may even want to get a ping pong table or basketball hoop for the office. Who knows? You might become so productive, you have lots of spare time to work on your free throws!
So what are your thoughts? What tools, tips and tricks do you use in your role as an MSP to be more productive? Tell us in the comments section below.