Priority Number 1 in an MSP Business: Automation
by Brian Sherman
Remember the old saying that the average individual uses less than 10% of their brain? Though it’s been disputed by a number of neurologists, most agree that men and women employ just a small fraction of their true intellectual power. Despite their enormous contributions, neither Albert Einstein nor Stephen Hawking could tap into the full potential of their minds.
Of course, you don’t have to be the next Sir Isaac Newton to see the parallel between the human brain and the latest IT services management software. Each is essential for day-to-day operations and ensures long-term success through encoded controls and standards. Professional services automation (PSA) platforms are essentially a management grid, helping MSPs organize and manage their businesses with a minimum amount of human input. And like a human brain, the more of it you use, the more successful you’ll be.
From PSA (professional services automation) and remote monitoring solutions to disaster recovery and email systems, many are underutilized by both solution providers and their clients. Many include product features that can help MSPs and VARs create greater operational efficiencies, reduce costs and gather crucial business intelligence. But if these tools aren’t fully utilized, or the available integrations aren’t completed, it lowers the ROI and makes business more complicated than it needs to be.
There are a number of reasons why managed services tools are underutilized, and most of them are related to a lack of commitment. That may sound harsh, but solution providers need to develop a comprehensive plan for every new service they offer or each business system they invest in. Many successful MSPs appoint “project champions” to manage any new activities that require lengthy implementation steps, employee and end user training, and/or frequent evaluation. These individuals (or teams, when necessary) need the full support of the management team to be successful, but have to be held accountable for completing the tasks as well. As Uncle Ben told Peter Parker in the first Spiderman movie, “with great power comes great responsibility.” That holds true for project or product champions, and their accomplishments can greatly enhance the organization’s overall success.
Implementing a PSA solution without a comprehensive plan in place is akin to taking a road trip cross county without a map or GPS-enabled device. It’s a sure way for an MSP to get off track, wasting valuable resources that could be used in a number of ways to improve the business. Lack of a plan is a true disservice to employees, stakeholders, clients and vendor partners. The most successful organizations prioritize the products or features that will have the greatest positive impact on their business, and implement those with the most value first.
The project manager must properly document the process and keep management (and other employees) updated on their progress at specific intervals. Additional details may be required for more complex implementations and training procedures, enabling other employees to help or assume the management role if needed. Consider what would happen if the project leader were hit by the “proverbial bus.” Would someone else be able to step in and pick up where they left off? That’s why some MSPs appoint an assistant to closely follow each project and serve as backup to the primary product champion.
The key is not to spend more on the tools you use, but get more efficiency from the investments you already made. Don’t let a PSA platform set on a shelf for 3-6 months or inventory half the RMM licenses you acquired to get a better price. Build a plan to implement them to maximum benefit ASAP and assign a project manager to get it all done.