Back in the days, life for an MSP was pretty straightforward, basically, we tried our best and billed the hours we spent on a client. Back then a ‘fixed price contract’ for server or desktop management was still relatively new. From a back-office perspective, the only real challenge was how to price and bill this recurring model correctly, manage a bit of risk, and have the right technical know-how in-house.
Fast forward to now…
The pay-as-you-go model is pretty much the only way to go for most clients. Infrastructure and application landscapes have become increasingly fragmented, with a mix of Cloud and on-premise.
Just watching your customer’s workspace and servers is not what customers demand of you, and certainly does not make you stand out. Clients want their services “on” all the time, and they expect you to be the one-stop-shop for all their needs, whether that is business services, IT services, security, continuity and on-demand use of Cloud services, i.e. Office 365, Endpoint security, and BUDR, etc.
With the current technology available, small and midsized businesses (SMB’s) now have access to solutions and high-end services that were, not long ago, only available to large enterprises. Therefore, SMB organizations are not settling for anything less, including Enterprise level SLA’s.
As an MSP, you are now, more or less, obliged to move along with this trend and to transform from a ‘create your own’ service delivery business to a hybrid business that combines advisory, proprietary services, with third-party VAR and Cloud services, i.e. Microsoft and AWS.
Looking at this from a distance, this requires a significant shift in how MSP organize their business;
First of all, your staff will have to transform to a more customer-centric advisory role. From building and supporting IT, to buying, connecting, and managing business solutions.
Standard support tasks are still important, but your real added value is no longer in these often low-skilled, dull, and repetitive tasks. To be competitive, an MSP needs to maintain quality and control costs. Given the difficulty of finding good people you can afford to hire, you may even consider outsourcing these tasks.
Secondly, IT services are now consumed as a commodity, continuity is key, not how well or diligently you fix problems reactively.
Thirdly, your managed service operations have become considerably more complex: You are now delivering a mix of managed services, projects, out of SLA hours, a number of cloud services, and probably some devices, etc.
In order to deliver quality and remain profitable, it is absolutely crucial to do a number of things well.
Let’s zoom in:
- Know exactly what assets you are managing
- Know exactly what is agreed with the customer
- Know exactly which SLA’s are applicable, and have these reflected from ticketing to billing
- Know exactly what cloud services are being consumed and bill these correctly
- Have real-time insight into the above
- Automatically and correctly aggregate all your services and items on one invoice
- Avoid manual processing, and mistakes as a result, as much as possible
- Shorten the payment period and avoid related manual follow up (tied up working capital) as much as possible
- Reflect all services billed and your revenue collected, correctly into your accounting system
- Have real-time performance and utilization indicators
The only way and key to getting this kind of overview and control of your organization are to have seamless integration of all your tools, portals, etc. And to create a central, single source of truth, from where you manage your customers and automate as many repetitive processes as you can.
We believe a Business Automation platform can be that hub; under the condition that it is easy to configure, easy to use, and supports integration to your preferred managed services tools and portals, without any vendor lock-in.