How to define roles and responsibilities within your MSP business

Karl Palachuk

Understanding how the different roles and responsibilities within your MSP fit together is essential once your business starts to grow. Karl Palachuk offers crucial insight.

The service manager

managerOne of the most important roles in any service business is the service manager. This is the person who connects your company to your clients. This is the person who keeps your technicians on task, focused on the most important priorities, and constantly improving. The service manager is a lot like a conscientious parent who keeps everything going.

Here we talk about the Service Manager’s roles and responsibilities. These are based on a managed service business – not a break/fix shop. You can modify for a break/fix operation, of course. You can also modify these roles to fit comfortably in your own organization.

Some of these items are mental reminders rather than actions you tick off a list. Perhaps these could go on a poster next to your desk. And, of course, you can add as much detail as you wish.

Service Manager Daily Roles and Responsibilities:

  • tasksFocus on making every work hour a profitable hour for the company.
  • Follow all company standards and procedures as currently documented.
  • Track all work billable or not for the entire technical team.
  • Provide an excellent example of customer service on all levels for the company.
  • Mentor Technicians on any aspect of their position.
  • Coordinate and schedule resources for service requests.
  • Manage activities of all technicians.
  • Manage the workflow of all service requests.
  • Work Service Requests as assigned according to the company workflow procedures.
  • Provide clients with one-to-one or one-to-many customer service as needed.
  • Review tech time cards to ensure they are being kept up to date in real time.
  • Review and manage the Service Request (SR) backlog as needed to ensure all SRs are correctly prioritized, scheduled and moved through the system as desired.
  • Check with each technician at the end of the day and note all issues requiring priority attention.

Service Manager Weekly Roles and Responsibilities:

  • Review, revise, and annotate the proposed invoicing for the past week.
  • Review all requests for Personal Time from technicians and ensure they are on the schedule.
  • Preview the upcoming weeks and schedule technicians to tasks as early as possible.
  • Coordinate any planned out-of-town services with the technician and the client.
  • Plan for the Monday Morning Meeting and draft an agenda.
  • Review time cards and submit for approval by the close of business on the last day of the work week.
  • Review time cards and see them all through the submission and approval process.
  • Monitor and support the progress of technicians written quarterly goals.
  • Prepare the tech schedule for the next week. Verify that technicians are aware of any changes from their normal schedule.

Service Manager Monthly Roles and Responsibilities:

  • Review and revise previous month's Monthly Maintenance Checklist as needed.
  • Implement any system-wide changes to the Monthly Maintenance Checklist.
  • Monitor Monthly Maintenance progress and manage the process.
  • Plan and schedule Final Friday Training.
  • Review Monthly Tracking Sheet and proposed items to monitor progress and manage the process.
  • Create and review the Monthly Checklist for the next month.
  • Manage the SharePoint data and access to that data.
  • Schedule any short notice training for technicians as required.

Service Manager Quarterly Roles and Responsibilities:

  • Schedule Quarterly Reviews for each Technician in the second week of the quarter.
  • Prepare each Technician's Quarterly Review including their new Quarterly Goals.
  • Plan and, if possible, schedule any training for the technicians.

Service Manager Yearly Roles and Responsibilities:

  • Review the year and summarize successes, and fails. Pay special attention to the goals agreed upon for the year.
  • Establish goals for the year ahead.
  • Participate in the annual company roadmap meeting.
  • If you have budget authority, prepare your department budget for the next year.

Implementation Notes
Customize this definition based on the processes and procedures of your company.

So what do you do with this document? First, you need to make sure that you have "buy-in" from the service manager and anyone above the service manager (general manager, president, owner, whatever). Second, you need to make a point of evaluating and fine-tuning this document at least once per quarter for the first year you use it. Make it truly reflect this job position.

Third, you should inform the technicians about this process. It will help them see that the Service Manager is evaluated on many things that affect them. These include keeping the service board up to date, getting time cards in, working in real time, and much more.

Fourth, when the time comes to hire a new Service Manager, this document can go a long ways in defining that position for your help wanted advertisements.

Three take-aways for service managers:

  1. The service manager is your company’s most important connection to your clients.
  2. Technicians should know that a great deal of what they do affects the service manager’s job description.
  3. Keep fine-tuning the service manager job description the first year. Make it truly represent the job within your company.

The Technician

technicianThe Technician has fewer specific responsibilities than the Service Manager, which makes sense. They are generally not involved with scheduling, keeping track of other techs, or budgeting.

You may have more than one level of technician. Normally, techs are designated by the tasks they perform. A "Tech I" will normally work on desktops while a "Tech II" or senior tech will work on servers and higher-end network issues. You should create job descriptions for these positions for hiring purposes. With luck, this chapter will help to create those job descriptions.

Your technicians play a critical role in your business because they are "hands on the street" with your clients. They will represent you to the clients. And, just as importantly, they will represent the client to you. Their perception of how things are working, and the client's level of satisfaction, are very important.

As you might expect, the most important part of the job description for the technician is the daily responsibilities. For the most part, monthly, quarterly, and annual tasks will be scheduled in the PSA system. So the techs will see these items coming up on their schedules. The most common example of this is the Monthly Maintenance Checklists for each client.

Of course, you will revise this, fine tune it, and make it fit into your company's standard operating procedures.

Technician Daily Roles and Responsibilities

  • tasksFocus on making every work hour a profitable hour for The Company.
  • Follow all company standards and procedures as currently documented.
  • Track all work – billable or not.
  • Provide an excellent example of customer service on all levels for the company.
  • Share technical knowledge and help mentor fellow techs wherever possible.
  • Work Service Requests as assigned according to The Company workflow procedures (highest to lowest priority; oldest to newest).
  • Provide clients with one-to-one or one-to-many customer service as needed.
  • Review time card to ensure it is being kept up to date in real time.
  • Check in with the Service Manager or the acting supervisor at the end of the day to report general status and any issues needing attention.

Technician Weekly Roles and Responsibilities:

  • Preview the upcoming week's schedule and mark all assigned items as Acknowledged.
  • Submit any requests for personal time and verify it is on the schedule.
  • Coordinate any planned out-of-town services with the service manager and the clients.
  • Take notes for any items to be presented in the Monday Morning Meeting.
  • Review time card and submit for approval by the close of business the last day of the work week.

Technician Roles and Responsibilities – Miscellaneous:

  • Participate in your Quarterly Review including the Quarterly Review of the Service Manager.
  • Develop a training schedule (along with your supervisor) and make sure you work this training into your schedule.
  • Take certifications in a timely manner so you meet your quarterly and annual goals.

Implementation Notes
As with the Roles and Responsibilities for the Service Manager, you need to make changes to this and use it to advance the goals of your company.

Make sure that you review this with the technician(s) and get buy-in from everyone in the tech department (service coordinator, service manager, etc.). This document should be evaluated and updated at least once per quarter for the first year you use it.

If appropriate, you might post a version of this on the bulletin board.

Note: Technicians Can Get Overwhelmed

Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that it’s hard to be a technician – or an employee of any kind. Technicians often don’t know why the company is doing something. In addition, they don’t have access to all the details that the service manager does.

As a result, techs can become overwhelmed with a long list of responsibilities. This is especially true if they don’t see where these tasks tie into the overall health and success of the company.

That’s why you should post this list and refer to it from time to time. Like a parent, the service manager may get tired of saying the same thing again and again. But it needs to be done until it’s ingrained into the tech’s daily routine.

Three take-aways for technicians:

  1. Technicians represent your company – but they also help you stay informed out client happiness.
  2. Technicians have a lot to worry about. Help them keep this list top-of-mind.
  3. It’s a good idea to post this list where everyone in the tech department can see it.

(Used with permission of Karl W. Palachuk, SmallBizThoughts.com)