There’s an old adage “If everybody is responsible for something, nobody is responsible for it”. This phrase has a lot of relevance to IT Solution Providers and Managed Service Providers (MSP’s) who, as a service provider, bear responsibility for a lot of, and in many cases all of, their clients IT infrastructure.
But while the MSP as a business takes responsibility as a whole, if individuals within that MSP aren’t assigned to specific responsibilities it’s easy for things to become overlooked.
Here are four areas that I typically observe MSP’s taking on responsibility without planning.
A good MSP should have their clients IT infrastructure documented - from Active Directory to domain registrations, from fixed IP addresses to DHCP ranges, from Firewalls and Routers to Network Printers and Wi-Fi Access Points. But often the responsibility for keeping this documentation up to date is given to the Service Delivery team or the Helpdesk as a department - and so each engineer either assumes his or her colleague will keep the details up to date, or even when they spot out-dated info, never schedule the time to bring that info up to date.
By making somebody inside the Service Delivery team responsible for client documentation, undertaking regular checks to ensure asset registers or configurations have been updated, you ensure that all engineers have the information they need when they need it.
Note that assigning overall responsibility for ensuring network documentation is up to date does not mean one individual has to do all the documentation. Quite often it’s the case that individual engineers have a much better insight into certain clients and so are better suited to updating the documentation for that client - but it’s the responsibility of your designated “Network Documentation Monitor” to ensure that the right engineers schedule the time to update that documentation, and actually keep that documentation up to date - chivvying the engineers involved where necessary.
How many times have you seen an SSL certificate expire on a mission critical server, or an anti-virus subscription become overdue on a network - all because nobody was tracking those expirations, or because the admin department assumed it was the Service Delivery teams responsibility, and the technical department assumed it was the sales teams responsibility?
All of your clients renewals should be recorded as configurations or assets, ideally within your Professional Services Automation (PSA) system or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system - or at the very least within a spreadsheet that is regularly monitored and acted upon.
Typical renewals to track are:-
Ensure that one individual within one team is responsible for alerting others to renewals. That person doesn’t necessarily have to process the renewal - so it may be a member of the admin team who alerts the sales team to the renewal requirement, but one person keeps track of all the renewals and escalates those that are due to expire as necessary.
Most MSP’s perform regular monitoring and maintenance on their clients networks - pro-actively alerting the Helpdesk to potential issues, alerting the Helpdesk to issues that need remedial action as they occur, and regularly updating and patching client systems.
In the case of urgent issues that require immediate attention - the Helpdesk typically responds quickly and resolves the issue rapidly.
But it’s quite often the case that pro-active alerts - such as a server running low on disk space, or a DHCP pool of IP addresses running low - are treated as important but not urgent, and if procrastinated about long enough, suddenly become important and very urgent!
By ensuring that one member of staff is responsible for keeping an overall view on pro-active work, and ensuring that such work is scheduled in a timely fashion, you can avoid situations where a known future issue becomes a very real and urgent issue in the here and now.
By assigning responsibility for important tasks to teams, you are running the risk of every member of that team assuming that somebody else has already taken care of things. This can result in important issues suddenly become urgent, and clients experiencing down-time that causes red faces for all responsible.
By putting in place checks for important processes, and assigning responsibility to those checks to individuals within your business - your business will run more effectively and your clients will experience better service.
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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!