Freeing up your time with automation

Ben Taylor

Running a successful MSP is a time consuming business. For this reason, it makes sense to examine the minutiae of your daily tasks to identify any repetitive activities that could be automated.

Many of the small tasks that go towards running systems efficiently are simple but essential; things like keeping track of updates, checking backup jobs are running successfully and ensuring Internet security software is up to date. Neglecting these chores can lead to all kinds of glitches and problems – many of which will cause stress and potential issues with your client relationships.

The best strategy, therefore, is to accept that these tasks are never going away. Then you can work hard to build and configure infrastructures in a way that minimizes the time you have to spend on the routine stuff, whilst ensuring nothing crucial gets missed.

Here are three suggestions that will help you automate your repetitive tasks and free up your time for other aspects of running your MSP.

1. Consider Managed Backup and Internet Security

If you’re still using local backup and antivirus software and have yet to investigate managed / cloud based alternatives, you are missing the opportunity to save time and earn significant ongoing income.

There is no need to be constantly remoting in to individual PCs and servers to fix virus issues when solutions exist which allow you to gain a central, dashboard view of Internet security across your entire client base.

Similarly, online backup is far simpler to manage from a distance than old-fashioned tape based systems and allows you to stay in control rather than relying on those on site to remember to change tapes and check logs.

2. Use Alert and Notification Features

Even if you edge your clients in the direction of managed services such as those mentioned above, there are sure to be elements of the IT infrastructure that need monitoring in the “old” way.

Luckily, software writers do plenty to make things easy for network admins. Software ranging from UPS control utilities to backup applications usually includes sophisticated notification functionality, which will tell you when there’s something that needs attention. If you’re not using it to its fullest extent, you’re only increasing the frequency with which you have to remote in and check things manually or, worse, the frequency with which you miss opportunities to fix issues in a proactive way.

3. Centralize Patch Management

Staying current with patches and updates is essential to maintain stable systems, but every IT professional knows how laborious it can be.

Everything from checking patches in a test environment to deploying them in a timely way is both dull and time-consuming, and with everything from operating systems to browser plug-ins needing constant updating, it can feel like a battle that’s impossible to win.

The solution is to convince your clients of the benefits of an integrated patch management system that can manage the testing and deployment of patches across the entire infrastructure. As well as helping you to ensure you don’t miss anything, this can reduce the level of manual intervention required, and, in turn, the number of long evenings and weekends spent updating machine after machine.

With the right tools in place (of course we recommend GFI MAX RemoteManagement) these small changes to the way you do things can soon result in a time saving of a couple of hours a day. Extrapolate this over a year and across your team, and you’ll soon realize that introducing extra automation can only be a good thing.

Do you find extra time in your day through automation? Which tools do you prefer to use? Share your advice in a comment below!