In a recent blog post, I talked about Why Your MSP Business Must Eat It's Own Dog Food.
Dogfooding, as it’s sometimes known, refers to a company demonstrate confidence in its own products or services.
The idea is that if the company expects its client to buy its products or service, it should also be willing to use those products or services.
The term is said to have come from a 1970’s Television advert in which actor Lorne Greene was advertising Dog food which he was so confident in, that he fed to his own Dogs.
Whatever the origins, “Dogfooding” is an important way to demonstrate credibility in the products and services your IT Solution Provider or Managed Service Provider (MSP) business sells to a client, and avoids the hypocrisy of a “Do as I do, not as I say” attitude.
Here are three ways your MSP can “Eat its own Dog food” and demonstrate credibility to a client.
While the Cloud isn’t a fit for everyone, if you’re an MSP and are selling services such as Microsoft Office 365 or Google Apps to your clients - then you really should be using these services yourself internally.
It’s not difficult to do. For any Microsoft partner, Microsoft give away free internal licenses to use Office 365 - including services such as Sharepoint Online and Lync. If your business is selling Office 365 but still using Small Business Server (SBS) 2008 or Google Apps, what message does that send to your client?
All IT companies know the dangers of using an Electrician to wire CAT5 Ethernet around an office. While their intentions are good, Data Cabling isn’t a good for an Electrician, in the same way that wiring up a consumer board is not a job for a Data Cabler - and you often end up with unlabeled wall ports, untested connections and a general lack of documentation that can cause a nightmare for any MSP to manage.
Why then do I see so many MSP’s insist that their clients use experienced Data Cablers, but when it comes to their own office they believe they can save time and money by laying the cable themselves?
If you’re asking a client to take on the expense of having structured data cabling installed by the professionals as opposed to the supposed “cheap and cheerful” approach of an Electrician, when your client asks you who cabled your office, how will you answer?
I’m always flabbergasted when I visit an MSP’s office and their Comms or Server room is a broom cupboard in the corner with a dozen servers piled high, network cabinet overflowing with unlabeled cables, and no sign of a working UPS Battery Backup.
For me, this is the most common example of MSP’s not “Eating their own Dog Food”. I believe that any IT business should have a Comms Room/Data Cabinet that is a showcase of what should a facility should look like.
Ask any MSP managing a client what they’d like their clients Comms Room to look like, and they’d suggest lockable cabinets, labeled servers, UPS Battery Backup and structured racking. Likewise, an IT Professionals life is made easier when a Data Cabinet is properly labeled, features cable management and color coded cables.
So when you suggest your client takes on the expense of doing things properly in regards to their Comms Room or Data Cabinet, and the client asks how your Comms Room and Data Cabinet are setup - how will you answer?
We’ve looked at three examples of how your MSP can “Eat it’s own Dog food”. One was a product - Office 365. The second was a service - Data cabling. The third example was to avoid falling into the trap of “Do as I say, not as I do” and demonstrate that your company follows Best Practice as you’d expect your clients to with a tidy, secure Comms Room and Data Cabinet.
The bottom line is to treat yourself as a client - insist on the highest standards and use the products and services you believe in. Then, when asked, you can stand behind your decisions with the view that “It’s good enough for us, so it will be good enough for our clients”.
Richard Tubb works with MSP's to help them focus on what is important, free up their time and make more money. You don't have to do it alone any more!