Now that the lockdowns and restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic have subsided, it’s time to look around as the dust settles. The IT managed services industry was crucial in ensuring that many other industries were able to remain productive and profitable during that time.
For many clients, MSPs were a life raft, ensuring they could cope with a seismic shift in where and how they work. Those who harnessed the waves of pandemic policies found success, as Nick DaCosta-Greene, Operations Director of Curatrix Technologies says, “The businesses that can scale down as well as up are the ones that survived through COVID.”
And while we are still enduring waves of illnesses, most clients and MSPs are now well-equipped to handle potential restrictions and employee illnesses. We spoke to four ScalePad Partners to see how their business has been impacted by the pandemic, and how it has shaped their perspective moving forward.
The realities of lockdowns meant clients had to adopt new technology to continue working. Before this, digital transformation was just an option. Now it’s essential for businesses to remain profitable.
One example comes from Ann Westerheim, Founder and President of Ekaru. They had a client who was still retrieving voicemails by driving to the office, “They just had one of these ancient systems, so we converted them to our system.”
This was just one of their clients who realized how much they needed technology. “The whole pandemic, I think, made everybody realize how dependent we are on technology,” Westerheim said, “It also gave folks who maybe weren’t all that into technology a little more appreciation for what technology can do for us.”
This appreciation for technology is founded on the rapid digital transformation many clients experienced. “People talk a lot about how digital transformation was moved ahead during COVID, and I think we really see that,” said Westerheim. In this case, she was talking about Ekaru but the sentiment applies to the entire industry.
Digital transformation drove changes in home offices, security, cloud services and backups. Which explains why 26% of MSPs we surveyed said COVID policies led to growth in their business.
For some, growth was as simple as adding additional endpoints to existing customers. As employees went home and started working remotely in masses and started remote working, the number of new computers, monitors, servers, and other technology needs went up.
“As people started working remotely you now had two systems. One that they took home, and one that they worked on in the office. So then the endpoint count went up and so our revenue went up.” says Luis Alvarez, CEO of Alvarez Technology Group.
“But then the importance of cybersecurity became paramount in the minds of business owners, especially after we had conversations with them about the importance of it. And so there was a lot of additional work that we did that led to growth, and it’s ongoing.”
Flexible MSPs were able to make the most of the circumstances. For Joe Markert, CEO of TransformITive, change was already in the cards and became the new, “We had already been on a path of discussing digital transformation and ultimately led to us rebranding the company and shifting our focus.”
And while “COVID and digital maturity go hand in hand,” Markert says it’s become such a core part of their business model that clients have come to expect continued transformation. “They’re already [asking] ‘what’s next?’ They’re hungry.”
Even as offices reopen, remote and hybrid work aren’t gone for good. Markert says clients are ensuring remote workers can communicate with the office, “We just had our first client and another one right behind them, asking for a demo or ready to pay for improving their conferencing solutions.”
Now that many people have experienced a better balance between work and life, they’re not willing to return to the status quo. Business leaders are responding, and it’s creating opportunities for MSPs to help clients improve their IT infrastructure for a better work-life balance.
Embracing change doesn’t always come easy, but after being forced to evolve clients are understanding what MSPs have understood for so long.
“People just realized that technology is so core to being able to run any business,” Westerheim said. “When you’re able to work remotely and share slides and stuff, they realize, wow, this is actually really a benefit.”
Markert’s sentiments are similar, as his clients are also seeing the benefit of a hybrid work model, and they have realized moving forward, the digital transformation brought on by the pandemic isn’t over.
“I think our clients are realizing across the board that as a side effect of improving and maturing their operations, it enables people to have a better balance and work from where they want to work,’ said Markert. “It’s a good time though. Clients and businesses really are looking ahead. Those who are getting it are not gonna slow down.”
Building out a roadmap will help you show clients the path to digital maturity, no matter what stage they are at. With ScalePad Lifecycle Manager you can quickly create white label roadmaps that are easy for anyone on your team to contribute to. Book a demo to learn more.
Whether it’s truly quarterly, yearly, or whenever the clients accept an invite – all MSPs want to run a successful Quarterly Business Review (QBR) meeting. Yet common planning mistakes can cause major problems like wasted time and resources and disengaged clients.
Having good QBR meetings is the key to improving your relationship with clients and ultimately growing your business. Get started with these five best practices for planning your next QBR.
Your QBR meeting is a service, but have you thought about the value it provides? Defining the value of the meeting is an MSP best practice that helps you plan out what information to share.
The value of a QBR may vary depending on the client. Start by identifying each client’s needs and how a QBR can assist them in achieving their goals. For example:
Not sure what your clients’ needs and goals are? Simply ask them “what’s most important to your company?” and think of ways your MSP can help them achieve that.
Think about their needs while planning the meeting. Making their goals the basis for your QBR will lead to more valuable discussions and planning. The more value your QBR meeting provides, the more engaged your client will be.
While all clients are valuable, how you approach a business review should be different depending on the size of the client you’re meeting with. A larger, high-touch client is going to need more time and preparation than a smaller account. Consider dividing your accounts into three categories:
Categorizing your clients is a best practice to help MSPs determine how often you need to meet and how much preparation you’ll need to do. Streamlining your QBR preparation will save you time–and money–in the long run.
Having the right people in your QBR meeting will help everything run smoothly. For example, if you’re outlining a big project, you’ll want to ensure that decision-makers are present. That way you can answer their questions and details won’t be lost in the shuffle between tech liaisons and executives.
Depending on the size of your client, certain people may wear many hats. But ultimately it’s best practice to have the right people in the room to have a conversation. Here’s the ideal list of people in the room:
Set yourself up for a successful QBR meeting by making sure you’re talking to the right people for the information you want to share. Can’t get everyone in the room? Knowing who’s there and what role they play will help you tailor your presentation to what matters to them. That shows you’re respecting their time —- and even saves you prep time!
You know every detail of your clients’ tech. But that doesn’t mean you need to talk about every detail. Will you have clients that want everything laid out? Probably. Does every client want to comb through spreadsheets of data? Probably not.
A good QBR meeting respects your client’s time by giving them the information they need in a way they’ll understand quickly. You can keep it simple by using:
You can also ask your client what info they’re most interested in. Next time you can focus on prepping that info and avoid over-complicating things.
Still want to provide a detailed report? Go for it — just don’t spend your entire QBR reading through every detail. Highlight what’s important, and then let your client do the reading on their own time. Make sure to follow-up to ensure they don’t have any extra questions.
Once you know what your clients want to hear about, MSPs can start using the best practice of standardizing and optimizing your QBR prep. Having a checklist or a QBR cheat sheet are two ways you can start doing this.
If you’re just starting out and haven’t had many QBRs yet, you can simply start with a few questions to ask yourself each time:
From here you can start adding more points based on the value you want to add, the size of the client, who’s attending, and what level of detail you want to provide.
With ScalePad Lifecycle Manager you can optimize the QBR preparation process by generating reports. They’re designed to be client-friendly and easy to understand. In the video below, Matthew Bookspan, CEO of Blacktip IT Services, talks about how these reports have improved his client relationships.
By following these 5 best practices for planning a QBR, MSPs can start making a strategy to tackle these important meetings. Find out how your MSP can streamline QBR preparation with Lifecycle Manager. Book a demo today or jump in with our free edition.
Asset lifecycle management (ALM) is the process of optimizing the profitability of assets throughout their useful lifetime. Or to make it dead simple: making sure everything is as useful as it can be while your clients own it — and knowing when it’s time to get rid of something.
In IT asset lifecycle management, ALM is properly managing the useful lifetime of every IT asset. This includes both physical assets (servers, desktop PCs, monitors, laptops, etc.) and software assets (operating systems and programs).
Every asset goes through this cycle. Whether it’s a pen in a drawer or a PC on a desk — or even the desk itself! When considering the lifecycle of an IT asset, hardware and software follow the same steps, even if the timeline between steps is different:
Your clients entrust the management of their assets to you, so ALM is already an essential part of your MSPs services. Whether you admit it or not, you’re already doing it. Using automated IT asset management software could make your approach more efficient and effective.
Here’s four reasons why proactive IT asset lifecycle management benefits your clients, your MSP and your employees.
Your clients pay you to keep their environment humming along without issue. As time passes and their equipment ages, they’ll become frustrated as their devices slow down, freeze up, and break down on a regular basis.
As an MSP, part of your job is managing your clients’ assets and replacing obsolete equipment before it becomes a problem. If you don’t, you’ll end up in a lose-lose relationship with your client. They’ll be frustrated with unreliable assets, and your team will waste hours putting bandages on equipment and closing tickets. It’s not profitable for you or your client.
So how does an MSP turn around a lose-lose client relationship? Simple: ensure your clients replace old hardware before it’s too late. Why? Better technology provides a better experience because everything works smoothly. Clients are happy because they can focus on their job instead of waiting around for the IT guy.
Actively managing assets ensures your clients experience minimal downtime and don’t lose productivity due to old technology.
You’re probably thinking, “That’s easier said than done! My clients don’t have the budget for that.” While it is ideal to have clients replace old assets, it’s not always possible. While replacing hardware may not be the right fit, many of these older devices are out of warranty. This increases risk to your clients’ business operations if something breaks. Extending a warranty is the best choice here, because:
To help get your clients on-board with warranties and replacements you can provide them with a risk acknowledgement form.
Imagine if all your clients had the same tech — maintenance would be a breeze! Unfortunately, for most MSPs this is more of a dream than reality right now.
However, strategically implementing ALM can help you standardize your clients’ environments across the board. This makes your job and your team’s job so much easier.
With standardized client environments you can do more with the same staff. Now your business can scale or invest in new initiatives without hiring more techs.
Asset management is often associated with hardware, but it also applies to software. Software can be exploited for vulnerabilities — particularly unsupported OSs — so it’s critical that you reduce risks from your clients’ software assets. This protects them and your MSP business.
There’s three categories of software risks to look out for:
As software evolves, out-of-date titles are retired and unsupported. Remember Windows 7 and Adobe Flash? Now that they’re unsupported, these titles are critical security risks.
Every endpoint running unsupported software is a huge risk to your clients — and potentially your reputation if something goes wrong.
Your MSP needs to stay on top of auditing your clients’ software inventory on a regular basis. This can be time-consuming to do, but automated software monitoring makes it simple. See a red flag? Make sure to remove it to keep your clients safe.
Despite meticulously installing anti-virus software, it’s not uncommon for end-users to disable or remove it from their systems “because it makes things slow.” The trade-off isn’t so great once a virus brings their system to a crawl.
It only takes one user removing critical security software to expose your clients to risks. As an MSP, you need to regularly confirm the correct software installed and operational.
Software is constantly being patched, and it’s not just for new features. These patches also remove security risks. That’s why out-of-date software is a vulnerability for the whole organization and your MSP too. Your team needs to monitor what’s installed on your clients’ endpoints and keep it updated.
No MSP wants to be responsible for allowing a virus to slip through gaps in their client’s security. It’s your business to monitor your clients security and ensure compliance for their safety and yours.
This might seem like a time-consuming process, but automated software for MSPs makes it simple. ScalePad Lifecycle Manager uses a color coding system to flag software that needs your attention and makes the client risk conversation simpler. By keeping software updated, your clients get the latest tools, your team has less risk to deal with, and your MSP is safeguarded against cyberattacks.
Nobody likes being yelled at when something fails. Unfortunately for techs working with clients on older equipment and software, this happens more often than not.
Implementing ALM can increase your techs’ happiness and productivity. How? Client’s are using better tech sooner. That means getting out of the break-fix cycle, reducing tickets, and less ‘creative’ fixes to keep older devices operational. Now your team can focus on more valuable projects.
But that’s not all. Your team will no longer be on the receiving end of scathing complaints from irate customers since their devices don’t break down as often. Ultimately your staff will be happier and more engaged, leading to less churn and burnout.
Now that you know the benefits of asset lifecycle management, will implementing ALM be a priority for your MSP? Get started by automating tedious tasks and manual processes with IT asset management software. Lifecycle Manager has client-friendly reports and at-a-glance scorecards can quickly take your asset management to the next level.
See how Lifecycle Manager can help you take control of asset management. Your clients, employees, and bottom line will thank you.