For many fledgling MSP’s, once a few clients have been won and are taken on under Managed Service contract they often get caught up in continuous fire-fighting. They are always reacting to issues on their clients networks, spending all their time fixing issues but never any time doing preventative maintenance.
This fire-fighting mentality has a knock on effect on all areas of the business. Winning new clients takes a nose-dive as the business is too concerned with dealing with the clients they already have under contract. Engineers become burnt out, continuously dealing with emergency situations. Clients become frustrated at having to wait for issues to be fixed. The ability to win lucrative project works is hit, as all resources are used on day-to-day support.
All in all, whilst an MSP can survive with a handful of clients in this fire-fighting scenario, they can’t thrive and grow. It’s simply not sustainable.
It is my opinion that one of the keys to becoming a successful Managed Service Provider (MSP) is to always be looking for opportunities to carry out work more efficiently. Let me be clear here – by “efficiently”, I don’t just mean mean “faster”. Whilst finishing work quickly is good, getting work done correctly first time is better – as the old saying goes, “If you haven’t got time the time to do it right, how will you find the time to do it over?”
Efficiency for MSP’s typically means a number of things:-
But if you’re an MSP that has already slipped into the downward spiral of “fire-fighting” – and spend all of your time responding to client requests – how do you find the time to become efficient?
The first step is to use tools to Pro-Actively monitor your client sites.
Dictionary.com defines the word Pro-Active as “serving to prepare for, intervene in, or control an expected occurrence or situation, especially a negative or difficult one; anticipatory” – and in MSP terms this means looking for situations that if left un-checked, will create an emergency and require fire fighting.
For an MSP, this might be as simple as:-
The above are just four basic checks that all MSP’s worth their salt need to undertake to prevent client systems experiencing issues. Once you’ve become efficient at Pro-Actively monitoring these basic requirements, you’ll find that the amount of fire-fighting you do for clients is significantly reduced, and you now have time to breath and start becoming efficient at everything you do.
Pretty soon, you’ll begin to look at all aspects of your client sites to see how many other things you can pro-actively monitor and maintain. This might include:-
The list goes on. Once you begin to pro-actively monitor client systems, you’ll want to monitor and automate maintenance and/or remediation for everything you can – helping you become more efficient as a business. Once you start to become efficient and are spending less time fire-fighting, you’ll have more time to spend pursuing and bringing on-board new clients. And so your business grows.
Then, the true nature of Managed Services becomes crystal clear. Managed Services is not about how much time you spend working for a client, but how much value you deliver to them in keeping their systems running without issue.
Richard Tubb is an IT Business Consultant who works with ambitious IT companies who want to grow their businesses in a scalable and sustainable way. You can e-mail him at email@example.com or connect with him via Twitter and LinkedIn.