When David Mercer picked up a call from one of his clients, he was told their printers didn’t work. Not an uncommon problem, but something easily fixed, he thought. However, he never expected the reason why.
The client had moved their entire business to a new location without notifying their MSP, David Mercer Consulting, and only reached out once the printers would not work.
“Why didn’t you tell us about this? You didn’t think to tell us the day you were moving?” he recalled.
Mercer’s experience is common in the MSP industry. MSPs often have to be persistent with client communication otherwise the IT asset management process can get derailed. MSPs would always rather be ahead of their clients, rather than trying to catch up.
That’s why IT asset management planning with your clients is so important. Knowing what your clients business goals are allows both the MSP and client to plan their asset management process to best serve their needs.
Start the IT asset management process by assessing your clients’ current IT infrastructure and workflows to determine what their needs are. Are there any potential gaps or areas for improvement? Are their assets functional and healthy?
With a complete assessment, the MSP and client and work together to determine what the business needs are for the near future and plan around warranty renewals, procuring new hardware, and budgeting.
Budget planning can determine the costs for new hardware and software assets, warranty renewals, licensing and other expenses. Once the budget is determined, MSPs can source the required assets and deploy them in the client’s IT infrastructure.
When both the MSP and client can understand the business goals, the steps they both take will work to improve the client’s operations while reducing roadblocks and risk.
Spend less time manually tracking assets and more time growing your business
In addition to direct IT asset management, a client’s plans for their staffing also have impacts to the IT infrastructure. One important part of the IT asset management is the ability to scale alongside the client.
If they know that staffing will expand over the next 12 months, the MSP can plan for the necessary assets needed to onboard the new employees and enable them to do their jobs. When the MSP can take care of the infrastructure, the client can focus on training and integration to smoothly transition the new employees onto the team.
New staff also opens questions about what type of IT assets the client wants to utilize as they scale up.
When a client is considering moving to a new location, or making other changes to the way the business operates, MSPs need to prioritize communication. In Mercer’s experience, the client moved to a new office without telling them, and he and his team had to react to make sure their IT assets were still functioning properly.
When the MSP and client are in sync with both long and short-term goals, MSPs can be proactive with their service in order to make any transitions or changes as smooth and effective as possible. But it all comes down to one thing: communication.
Despite the MSPs best efforts, some clients can be tricky to work with. One of Mercer’s former clients, an outdoor concert venue, had a history of not communicating their decisions and would often disrupt the service their MSP provided.
Three weeks before a concert, Mercer was told they wanted wifi installed but didn’t know where the hardware they purchased was. Once the hardware was found, Mercer learned that the cables had been ripped out, and all the network jacks were broken. When a technician arrived on-site to check if the network was working, he found that the client had moved the hardware without telling them.
“I want to work with you guys,” Mercer told the clients. “Bring me in. I’m not going to charge you. Just bring me in on these conversations when you’re meeting for the next concert and any changes you make, that way we’ll know. We may even have suggestions that will save you money.”
Mercer places a lot of value in communicating with clients on the IT asset management process, which is one of the reasons his MSP has been successful. Not only is coordination helping operations improve, but it can help save money in both the short and long-term for clients as well as make the existing expenses provide greater value.
As hardware approaches its end of life and warranties are no longer an option, MSPs need to have a plan in place for the disposal of old assets. This final part of the IT asset management process is one of the most important as it requires a transition on the part of the client and MSP.
With a comprehensive asset management plan, MSPs will know all of the assets that are approaching end of life for the clients and can proactively work on their replacement early, avoiding unnecessary interruptions in the client’s business. Approaching the disposal of assets early also allows time to troubleshoot any technical issues that may come up with new hardware or software.
Disposing of old assets also allows MSPs and clients to look forward to new equipment and plan for what will best work for them moving forward. It’s an opportunity to look where the client wants their business to go in the future and to develop an asset plan to help them get there.
Essentially, a successful IT asset management process is one that not only provides high quality service to the client, but sets them up for a successful future. At the heart of every part of the process is a partnership between client and MSP that centers communication as the key factor.
Take control of IT asset management with Lifecycle Manager. Automate asset tracking, warranty quoting, reports, roadmaps, and much more. Book a demo or get started with the free edition today.
First impressions are everything, and that’s especially true in the MSP industry. The client onboarding process is one of the most important times in an MSP’s relationship with them. When your MSP brings on a new client, you may be setting yourself—and your client—up for failure if you don’t have an onboarding process in place to bring them on properly!
That’s why it’s so important to get the onboarding process right. A large part of long-term success of an MSP’s business relationship can be traced back to a successful onboarding process that led to good communication and expectations throughout their service.
MSPs that have found success all share a common set of best practices, such as a client onboarding checklist, that they implement when beginning a new service contract. To set up your MSP for onboarding success, let’s break down some of the common tactics used across the industry.
Understanding the full scope of your client’s IT infrastructure from the very beginning is vital. MSPs never want to be blindsided by unknown assets causing problems in a network, or new hardware that needs to be serviced on short notice.
When discussing the first steps with a new client, it pays to be thorough in investigating the business’s scope. Depending on the type of service provided, MSPs check the configuration, documentation, and management of backups, servers, workstations, network, and even internal IT policy.
Many ScalePad partners use the Ultimate MSP Client Onboarding Checklist, a full-scale checklist that runs through more than 200 line items that MSPs should check when onboarding a new client. Using a checklist is an easy way to track what has been addressed, and allows the user to sort each line item, by priority and category to get what they need for each client.
Joe Markert, CEO of TransformITive, said that being able to speak with clients to show them what they need to operate with modern IT standards has been able to demonstrate his MSP’s value.
“So we say ‘here’s a baseline for you to be considered a healthy company. These are the things that you should have,’ especially when we’re onboarding. You want to get to some actionable data quickly with the customer you’re onboarding and show your value.”
Master the client onboarding process with Lifecycle Manager.
Through the information collection process, MSPs get a hands-on look at the state of their new clients IT infrastructure, allowing them to identify any assets that are at risk. Being able to identify old servers, out of warranty workstations, and network problems give your MSP a head start on prioritizing service for the client.
Alongside the priorities on the onboarding checklist, MSPs can develop a plan to address the critical issues with the client to make meaningful upgrades to their workflow in a way that avoids downtime. Working with the client allows MSPs to plan budgets and timing for upgrades, replacements, and warranty renewals.
By being able to develop and work through a plan for high-priority improvement at the beginning of the service contract will show your clients the value your MSP brings to their business.
Aside from the assets themselves, MSPs that have found success in the client onboarding process take the time to evaluate any security, documentation, and policy standards the client may have.
Security is becoming one of the most important issues that MSPs assist clients with, and understanding how their staff incorporates security measures into their daily workflow is extremely important in how your MSP provides service. If they don’t use simple security measures like two factor authentication, that could be a sign that more significant security measures are also lacking in their business.
Conversely, seeing strong internal documentation and policies in place surrounding technology conduct and security can ease the burden on your MSP and allow your team to begin work on other aspects of the business.
Ann Westerheim, Founder and President of Ekaru, specializes in cybersecurity for small businesses and works with clients to make sure they have sustainable policies in place. A good cyber security policy just protects client data but allows them to apply for insurance in the event of an attack.
“Some folks will find themselves uninsurable if they aren’t able to positively respond to some basic safeguards in place. Using two factor authentication or a backup. I’ve even seen questions where they want to know what kind of antivirus they use?” she said.
“So insurance doesn’t prevent bad stuff from happening, but it does provide. An important financial safety net to help get out from under that.”
Letting the client know what to expect from the MSP and establishing positive norms of behavior is critical to a successful onboarding experience.
Taking the time to discuss how your MSP best serves the client’s needs can help them understand and meet the standard behavior that is expected of them in order to get the best value.
By directly setting expectations with your client, both parties can reliably trust in the other to work toward continued progress with unexpected hang-ups that could potentially cause downtime for the client. For some MSPs, expectations around consistent warranty coverage are a proactive way to prevent the need for emergency hardware service that can cost the client a lot of money and potentially lose data.
With all the steps described above, MSPs will be well positioned to deliver high-quality service for a long time, building trust and likely earning contract renewals in the near future. But steps taken and the lessons learned never stop forever. After shifting into regular service, it may be beneficial to run through a “re-onboarding” process.
As technology demands increase and old processes evolve, re-onboarding allows you to evaluate the client to bring them up to a new baseline requirements. Going through the process will allow you to keep all of your clients up to the same standard, allowing consistent documentation and policies across the board.
The re-onboarding process is also an opportunity to refresh the relationship with clients and better align them to the new standards.
To get started improving your client onboarding process right now, download ScalePad’s Ultimate MSP Client Onboarding Checklist. See how Lifecycle Manager helps MSPs onboard new clients with automated asset monitoring and in-app warranty renewals. Get started by booking a demo or start with the free edition today.
Spending hours each week tracking assets in spreadsheets is a bad use of time. As tools develop over time, more MSPs are realizing that the days of employees slowly checking their equipment tracking spreadsheet to track a client’s laptop are over.
Automation is the new standard that the industry has been steadily adopting. Now more than ever, automating the asset tracking processes is becoming required if you want to elevate your business. But despite these advancements, many MSPs are still doing manual asset tracking with Excel.
It’s understandable that many MSPs may still feel that the potential risks of trusting a third party platform with asset tracking could lead to information being lost. However, MSPs who have adopted automation into their workflow say the benefit to their business has been immense.
One of the main pitfalls of manually tracking assets, whether they are computers, phones, servers, or backups, is accuracy and efficiency. Especially at larger scales, the task of tracking an asset, or double checking to make sure information is correct, can become daunting.
Scrolling through equipment tracking spreadsheets can be an overwhelming task for staff. With hundreds if not thousands of entries in these files, it can be too much for people to sift through, update, and reference in reports and other projects. It’s also easy for individual items to get lost in the shuffle, or fall off the list entirely.
Automating the IT asset tracking system has allowed MSPs to address all of those issues. Once logged and tracked, assets become easily searchable and usable in reports. MSPs can see when a server is out of warranty, or bring up a client’s laptop information if it breaks.
Automated asset tracking has also been a big benefit to backup monitoring, when MSPs need to make sure a backup hasn’t been missed, or if a server isn’t running backups at all.
Matt Moog, Senior Systems Engineer at the midwest-based MSP River Run, said that before implementing an automated backup monitoring solution, they had a person on staff checking a spreadsheet every day. This left them blind to non-functioning backups that didn’t show up as failures in the system.
By implementing automated monitoring, in this case with Backup Radar, River Run didn’t need to manually look through the backup error tickets and the theme could quickly address those issues as they come up.
Spend less time manually tracking assets and more time growing your business.
One of the most consistently reported frustrations in the MSP space is how long manual tasks can take. Tasks like manually tracking down warranty information of servers or backup status, are often seen as busywork since they just require recalling information rather than acting on it for the benefit of the client or MSP.
If a staff member has to spend upwards of an hour every day, or every few days, on this type of work, that can lead to a shocking amount of time your MSP misses out on to drive value further. By automating that task, staff don’t need to spend hours each week struggling to parse information in an asset tracker spreadsheet. They can sort and filter their way through data to get exactly what they need to better serve their clients.
At River Run, Moog said automating their backup monitoring process helped their team save up to eight hours every week over manual backup tracking.
“We had people spending about eight hours a week checking backups and obviously that’s been reduced to nothing,” he said. “[Now] they can actually do their jobs instead of checking backups. Because it was the technical service leaders on the team or it was our automation guy who would do that. I’d rather the automation guy be figuring out how to automate things than manually reviewing backups every day.”
Manual processes that require so much from the MSP can often create a barrier between your MSP and the client, limiting how much an MSP can accomplish.
Higher quality asset management and hours of staff time saved allows MSPs to spend more time on engaging with their clients to help address issues, review new projects, and plan for the future.
Even putting together reports for clients as preparation for review meetings can be drastically improved through automation. Being able to find the information at the touch of a button rather than having to search through equipment tracking spreadsheets to find the right details can improve the entire meeting. Automated reporting allows your MSP to focus on what you want to talk about and why, without having to worry about collecting the right data, or trusting that you didn’t miss something.
For Ann Westerheim, Founder and President of Ekaru, said that automated services freeing up their staff time has allowed the team to engage with clients at a deeper level through review meetings. With automated asset management, the preparation for those meetings is more efficient, which leads to better conversation.
“We’ve probably translated into being able to do more review meetings because we can save time and we can prep more efficiently. We can do them more often, and we’re constantly trying to work on our processes to make sure we’re covering everything the client thinks we’re covering,” she said.
“We’re catching some of the digital risk of systems that are gonna fail and trying to be more proactive. I think we probably translated our time savings into being or doing more of them, which ultimately helps the customers. If we can do them more often, things just don’t go out of kilter.”
As the MSP industry progresses, MSPs need the tools to keep up. Go beyond the manual spreadsheets and start looking at how automation can improve your workflow.
For businesses like River Run and Ekaru, ScalePad’s Backup Radar and Lifecycle Manager are the automated asset management platforms that allow their teams to drive value to their clients. With fully automated asset tracking and reporting functionality, among a suite of powerful features, MSPs know that they can trust ScalePad to deliver the best-in-class automated services to allow MSPs to improve their workflow.
Find out how MSPs are using ScalePad to grow their business and client relationships. Get started with Lifecycle Manager by booking a demo or start with the free edition today. Interested in Backup Radar? Book a personalized demo now and tailor a package to suit your needs.
As MSPs grow in size and clients, being able to keep providing high-quality service becomes more challenging. That’s why so many are looking for asset management best practices that are proven to work.
Overseeing a client’s asset environment from initial purchase to eventual disposal or replacement is a core pillar of an MSPs responsibility. These five best practices improve the essential asset management process and create new benefits for other parts of your business.
Managing assets isn’t something you only do once the clients have their hardware installed; the lifecycle begins from the moment a purchase is planned. When tasked with IT asset management, also known as ITAM, MSPs need to consider the entire lifecycle of assets in their clients’ business.
One of the best practices for asset management is to take a lifecycle-based approach, where MSPs track each product in their client’s environment from onboarding, deployment, maintenance, and eventual disposal once it reaches end of life. With asset lifecycle management, MSPs have more information on a client’s environment which can enable more effective proactive maintenance as well as warranty renewals and extensions.
When looking at the small details and the big picture, MSPs can help their clients make informed decisions about future purchases and assist in budget planning and scheduling for new assets to replace old ones.
Justin Kelm, CEO of JK Technology Solutions, built the asset lifecycle into their client workflow. The team meets with clients based on several factors including if they have assets that are nearing end of life in the upcoming year and need plans to replace or upgrade, for example.
“We take our top 50 customers and go through the servers that are end of life next year, and same thing with the firewalls that are end of life next year, just those big ticket items, anything over a couple thousand dollars, you wanna identify for them to say as a courtesy, ‘just wanna let you know next year you’re gonna have to buy a new server,’” he said.
Identifying the most critical assets to a clients business will make a big difference in managing IT for their company. When MSPs know what elements to look for first, the asset lifecycle management workflow can be adjusted accordingly to prioritize preventative maintenance, warranty renewals, cyber security, or replacement once the physical asset reaches end of life.
By working around a client’s critical assets, MSPs are not just improving the current service, but are able to look to the future and plan ahead in the asset lifecycle and work with the client to make preemptive budgeting decisions.
Nick DaCosta, Operations Director at Curatrix Technologies, has first hand experience with this. While working with a UK-based charity, Curatrix found that their critical assets, servers and laptops, were extremely dated and vulnerable. They led the charity through a full upgrade to keep their data safe and operations uninterrupted.
“Basically it prompted them to replace everything. So they did every laptop, almost every server. In fact, they migrated everything from all of the CRMs that they were operating,” he said. “So essentially what started off as a basic IT support agreement turned into a full digital evolution for that charity… they wanted to invest into their organization so that they could stop living in the past and focus on moving forward and scaling upwards.”
Automation has become the way forward for many tasks in the MSP space, especially as part of the asset management process. The fact is, much of the work associated with tracking hardware and software assets are time-consuming for staff to perform regularly.
Automating those manual tasks, like tracking and renewing warranties or quoting new warranties, saves hours for staff. Without having to dedicate hours each week to manually tracking the backup status of servers, MSP staff can spend that time on other aspects of their role, providing better support to customers and generating more value and revenue for the company.
Luis Alvarez, CEO of Alvarez Technology Group, said automation had a big impact on the workflow of his staff, allowing them to remove repetitive tasks from their day-to-day work to instead focus on customer service.
“We’ve embraced automation quite a bit in terms of being able to leave the lower repetitive tasking to the systems using scripting, using our RMM tool to do a lot of that sort of work. So our guys aren’t chasing the low value type of work that our clients don’t see as important,” he said. “That leaves our guys to do customer-facing things where they can interact with clients, show the value of the relationship that we bring to the table in a very real way.”
Auditing assets can be a big headache for MSPs. Whether it’s an internal or external audit, get an accurate snapshot of the IT landscape without dropping everything else to manually track down the information you need. Audits can serve as a way to identify early warning signs in your assets, can allow for proactive response to avoid large expenses, and eliminate redundancies in the client’s environment.
By implementing an efficient and automated asset management system, the MSP will have all the information they need at the touch of a button. Being able to audit assets quickly keeps your team from having to drop other projects they are working on to take on manual auditing.
For Alvarez, conducting an accurate and fast audit was a huge benefit when working with clients to address a cyber security breach and provide comprehensive reporting to the insurance agency.
“The insurance company said ‘What is it gonna take for you guys to get everything back up and running?’ We were able to provide a very detailed scope of work. The insurance company said ‘This is the best scope we have ever seen from anybody. You guys know what you’re doing,’” he said.
“It made it really easy for them to get approval from the insurance company to move forward. It didn’t take 24 hours because we included all the information they normally would have to extract from another provider.”
With lifecycle-based IT asset management, one of the biggest benefits to MSPs and clients is the clarity they have when planning for the future. When an MSP has a handle on a client’s asset lifecycle, they can begin strategy and budget planning for how that lifecycle will evolve and change over time based on asset performance.
With warranty schedules tracked and hardware near end of life, the decision to either renew warranties or replace hardware can have big financial impacts for companies of any size and scale. Accurate, automated monitoring allows MSPs to see where vulnerabilities or weak points are, inform clients of how those problems can be addressed and budget for the solutions.
For Carrie Greene, vice president of strategy at Alt-Tech, being able to plan and budget new projects well in advance of when they are needed has helped the client relationship as well. Kendra Schaber, client services manager, said keeping the conversation with clients up to date and relevant is incredibly important to develop and execute on new projects.
When clients aren’t blindsided by new expenses they are more likely to approve new purchases or renewals as part of a plan.
“If you have those conversations with your clients to move forward and to look into the future, I think they’re more receptive to it too, because it’s not like you’re always trying to get money from them. You’re not always trying to get another project. You’re not always trying to upsell,” Greene said. “Here it’s ‘Let’s work together and when is this gonna work for you? Do you have a slow time in your business? Let’s plan to do it in those three months.’”
Getting started on implementing these best practices for IT asset management can be big task when you have to start from scratch, but ScalePad is here to help. Lifecycle Manager is ScalePad’s comprehensive asset management solution that can take your assets from purchase to disposal with ease.
Lifecycle Manager delivers high-end, automated asset monitoring and strategy tools, in-app warranty tracking, quoting, and renewal functionality, and comprehensive reporting.
Find out why MSPs are using Lifecycle Manager to grow their business and client relationships. Get started by booking a demo or start with the free edition today.
Building a strong revenue stream is a primary goal for MSPs, but it can be hard to break out of the daily grind to get to the next level. MSPs can find themselves stuck in a loop of addressing current projects without enough time to build a process to get them ahead.
The good news is that MSPs have found a solution for building a sustainable revenue stream and growth plan, long-term strategic planning with clients. By going beyond the standard services and becoming a trusted partner to clients, MSPs forge stronger ties to their clients and increase the likelihood of contract renewals.
Renewed contracts mean sustainable operations while also creating opportunities for increased revenue.
With automated services becoming more prevalent throughout the industry in almost every aspect of operations, MSPs now have the tools to break free from break-fix service or only focusing on current projects.
People working in the MSP industry often have stories of getting blindsided with new problems or emergencies from their clients, and massive responses are needed with little to no warning, putting the rest of the MSP service at risk in order to address the problem.
Darrin LeBlanc, client engagement manager at PEI, strongly values preemptive communication with clients to help them plan their IT service projects in advance and prepare them for the unexpected. By taking initiative with clients to help them address outstanding issues and plan for the future, PEI has found success in the MSP space helping their clients break down what they need to take care of, while planning out a timeline for them to accomplish those goals.
He is so adamant in this approach because he has seen the consequences for clients when they don’t take proactive actions.
When a client ignored recommendations to protect the health of a domain controller, despite warnings from LeBlanc and the team, a lightning storm rolled through and took the whole server down.
While the team was able to provide critical support, the client was down for about a week, LeBlanc said.
“It could be a $500 piece of hardware with maybe an $800 solution, and yet they undoubtedly lost more like $24,000 over a week. If that’s even in the realm of the number. It’s probably higher than that,” he said. “‘Help me help you,’ It rings true over and over again in this business for us.”
David Mercer, CEO of David Mercer Consulting, said a client once called him to ask about why their printers weren’t working in their new office. That client neglected to mention that the entire business had moved into their new space that day.
“They failed to let us know. When they called us “By the way, we’ve shut down the old place. We’re in the new place now and the printers don’t work.’ Why didn’t you tell us about this? You didn’t think to tell us the day you were moving?” he said.
With experiences like that, Mercer has dedicated much of his time in the MSP space to communication with clients to be proactive and stay ahead of any new issues that might arise.
To preempt similar situations from happening, Mercer has embraced longer term strategic planning with his clients. Communication around warranty renewals is an important part of revenue generation for the MSP. Creating a plan allowed clients to see the bigger picture and how they could benefit by incorporating future IT decisions into their budgets.
“We were able to take that information and say ‘Here’s a predictable replacement schedule, here’s when we think you should do that, and here’s what you can expect to spend,’” Mercer said. “But also we had a couple machines that were only a year old, but were out of warranty… I was able to say ‘Let’s bring all these up to a five year warranty and this is what it’s going to cost.’ They loved that.”
When the ad hoc requests start piling up, an unprepared MSP can get weighed down by the need to address new tasks on the fly. Additional pressure can lead to lower quality service for the client and delays in other ongoing projects.
Becoming a trusted advisor for clients goes beyond mapping out projects for the next 12 months. When a client communicates their business plan, MSPs can respond by demonstrating how integrating IT services into that plan can make it even better, either through optimizing time spent, creating more efficient workflow, and more.
Bryan Dux, Contract Management at PEI, said many clients working with MSPs do not put much thought into their IT planning until budget season, which may not leave enough time to create the best plan.
“Some of these smaller organizations don’t have the forethought or the planning. We’ve been trying to push them a little bit to avoid the circus when something does break. But typically the only time we see this kind of forethought or planning from customers is during budget season,” he said. “They just don’t have any thought about age or machine or when they wanna renew something… So sometimes it’s just getting it on their mind to start thinking ‘What’s your plan?’”
MSPs involved with long-term planning can also show their clients how IT projects will impact budgets, and can create recommendations such as timing on hardware replacement or warranty renewals. Depending on budget constraints, MSPs and clients can then work out a schedule for project timing that best works for their budget, like separating hardware replacements quarterly across 12 months.
When a client can see the deeper value an MSP brings not just to the IT service, but to their business goals and the plans to get there, they trust their MSP to make that a reality. Building trust is the number one way that MSPs can ensure service contract renewals. You aren’t just the contracted IT team, you are a partner to their business.
Improved business relationships can also lead into more opportunities for increased revenue through new projects and high tiers of service.
Putting a strategic planning plan into practice can be a hurdle for MSPs that needs to be tackled over time through client review meetings such as quarterly business reviews. That’s why more MSPs are using Lifecycle Manager to renew their QBR process and develop long term strategic plans with clients.
Lifecycle Manager’s Roadmaps feature allows MSPs to map out recommended projects, such as server replacements and warranty renewals, across quarters up to five years in advance. With an accessible visual design and easy sharing functionality, MSPs can bring roadmaps to their clients to gauge reactions, make changes and settle on a preferred approach to their IT support. Get Lifecycle Manager’s Free Edition today to go hands-on with the best asset monitoring, reporting, and planning tools for MSPs.
Tracking technical details for clients is part of what MSPs do best, as clients often can’t keep up with the full scope of service, like tracking asset lifecycles or backups. While it’s ideal when a client doesn’t need to worry about their technology, MSPs often face challenges when working with clients who have varying degrees of technical knowledge.
Some may be the type who want to be too hands-on with their tech, while others may not understand anything about the technical details that power their business. Understanding how to keep your clients engaged with your MSP is a key factor in maintaining contracts, growing revenue, and building trust.
One of the quickest ways to upgrade your client experience is by taking proactive interest in a client’s needs. Don’t wait for clients to volunteer information during review meetings or summaries of the entire tech environment. MSPs have reported clients losing interest during QBRs due to overwhelming detail of reports, spreadsheets, and technology they don’t understand.
Get right to the point and ask questions about what goals they want to achieve or roadblocks they have faced.
Do they have goals around staff productivity and slow computers? Manual tasks taking up staff time when they could otherwise be automated? Compliance requirements associated with their industry? Take the first step to ask about what the problem is and what solutions have been discussed to see if there are actionable steps your MSP can take to make the goal a reality.
Jeff Fulton, fCIO at the SafetyNet, makes a point of starting discussions with pre-existing and new clients about what types of goals they have. That way, regardless of their technical knowledge, an MSP can talk about solutions immediately without having to go through the details of their entire operation to uncover potential projects.
“As you come in and work with clients, especially new clients, as the fCIO I come in and I’m asking the questions of ‘What kind of compliance are you up against?’” he said. “‘I know you’re a credit union so you’re gonna be up against GLBA and other state financial institution laws. Or you manufacture body armor and it goes to the Coast Guard. So you’re gonna be in compliance with the Department of Homeland Security… And so that conversation is had, and then you start molding, ‘I think you’re deficient on a few of these things. Let’s see if we can work on being able to put the tools in to answer the questions because if you can’t answer those questions then it’s really hard to be compliant.”
Showing interest in improving a clients’ business operations can build a lot of trust, and lead to more buy-in to collaborate on future goals ahead of time. MSPs across the industry are finding massive success and growth by moving from basic services like break-fix work and asset management, to strategic planning.
That same approach works for Carrie Green, VP of Strategy at Alt-Tech Inc., who said that engaging clients proactively also can help them be more receptive to making investments in their own business.
“It’s huge growth for us. That’s where we get our projects from too… Here’s something we wanna bring forward to you, but we can plan for it moving forward, as opposed to ‘You guys need to do this, you need to do it now. Where’s the check?’ Right?” she said.
So if you have those conversations with your clients to move forward and to look into the future, I think they’re more receptive to it too, because it’s not like you’re always trying to get money from them. You’re not always trying to get another project. You’re not always trying to upsell. Here it’s ‘Let’s work together and when is this gonna work for you? Do you have a slow time in your business? Let’s plan to do it in those three months.’ As opposed to ‘No, you’ve got to do it right in the middle of tax time for an accountant.’ That’s not good.”
When working with clients to manage assets or backups, providing them a spreadsheet exported from some monitoring software isn’t going to cut it. Clients won’t have the same level of technical expertise, so detailing every single ticket an MSP responded to, or running through the warranty status of every server will overwhelm them.
Tailoring information according to your client’s priorities is critical. Presenting specific information, like upcoming warranty expiration dates for PCs, can keep clients engaged as they consider that one topic, how it affects their productivity and budget, and begin to plan for a solution.
Instead of going through every warranty, show clients which specific warranties need to be renewed and why. Talk about the risks associated with lapsed warranties, and get buy-in to develop a warranty renewal plan so that this conversation doesn’t need to happen again. Even if the client doesn’t take immediate action, that topic will stick with them and inform their decisions moving forward.
David Mercer, CEO of David Mercer Consulting, has used this approach in the past to keep clients aware of what is coming up, instead of trying to address topics as they become current problems.
“I think it helps to reassure them and also to be prepared. I know I need to be buying three machines this year. So it’s not so much of a shock when we tell them, ‘Hey that machine’s out of warranty so you can replace it, but we can’t fix that hardware problem for you. Which I think is helpful. They may not ever take action on it, but they want to see it.”
By putting some thought into curating how and why an MSP tackles managed service, clients can react to the relevant information and recommendation, rather than having to hunt for the information themselves. They don’t need to understand technical details, when they understand the potential risks and how those risks may impact their business.
Help clients make decisions more easily, allowing your MSP to spend more time getting things done.
To put these strategies into practice, MSPs around the world use Lifecycle Manager to automate their asset monitoring and generate easy-to-understand Scorecards that evaluate their clients assets, provide recommendations, and estimate budget requirements. They use scorecards to dive into a clients’ tech environment and develop plans to address their clients’ concerns. Get Lifecycle Manager’s Free Edition today to go hands-on with the best asset monitoring tools, allowing MSPs to strategize with their clients more effectively than ever before.
MSPs looking to offer digital maturity advising and planning to their clients need the right tools for the job. To confidently advise on digital maturity planning, MSPs rely on accurate and complete data on all of their clients’ assets and processes. That’s where ScalePad comes in.
ScalePad offers MSPs the perfect tools for completing digital maturity assessments, developing strategic planning, and collaborating with clients on projects. With tools for automated monitoring of hardware, software, and backup status, comprehensive reporting, and creation of project proposals, ScalePad Lifecycle Manager and Backup Radar allows MSPs to dive deeper into their clients’ tech.
Former MSP owner and CEO of Digital Maturity Advisors Lane Smith said MSPs have shown they are more competitive in the market once they begin to leverage advising services. In his work training MSPs in digital maturity advising, Smith has seen how client relationships improve, and the level of service increases.
“Companies either have a good business maturity or not, but we know that as long as they have a good foundation, increasing their digital maturity can help the business grow,” he said.
While MSPs may learn the strategies to become digital maturity advisors, how they accomplish those key tasks is just as important.
As a digital advisor, one of the first projects an MSP will take on is a digital maturity assessment. The assessment aims to give clients a clear breakdown of where their technology stands compared to competitors and other similar companies.
MSPs thoroughly examine the state of the client’s technology environment and how their technology is used in daily operations. This can be a daunting task to accomplish manually, with hours of time and effort needed to make sure the assessment gets done right.
With Lifecycle Manager’s automated asset monitoring capabilities, MSPs are able to get comprehensive information about a client’s hardware and software assets at the click of a button. Backup Radar also gives MSPs a complete dashboard, with automated monitoring and ticketing, for the backup solutions a client has in place.
Instead of spending hours collecting data on a client’s assets, a digital advisor can save that time and get right into a meaningful assessment for clients.
MSPs can go through details, like age of device, operating system, and warranty status, to examine if any assets are operational, no longer being used, or are vulnerable to breaks or malicious attacks. For older assets, old and unsupported software or operating systems can be a big vulnerability that businesses will want to address.
Once a digital advisor has all the data they need, Lifecycle Manager can also kick off the assessment process with the Insights and Digital Maturity Index (DMI) features.
Lifecycle Manager’s Insights automatically measure the client’s hardware and software asset metrics against industry standards. Lifecycle Manager allows the creation of custom grading standards as well, so MSPs can be flexible with their client’s needs and internal standards to run their business.
DMI grades the client’s entire tech environment and scores based on the overall health of the clients assets. Having a benchmark to show clients how they fair against IT industry standards can help in setting goals in the improvement of a business’ digital maturity.
To complete digital maturity assessment, the advising MSP and client assess where the clients’ successes are and what areas need improvement to benefit their internal operations and processes.
Advisors and clients work together on a digital adoption plan to implement the improvements and goals identified in the assessment.
MSPs use the Initiatives feature to create and deliver proposals directly based on the Insights, allowing the advisor to bring actionable steps to the client and begin planning. Initiatives create a short proposal that can be sent to clients from the dashboard, helping advisors offer solutions. Even if the client makes a different decision, taking the initiative with a proposal can inform the client to make better decisions for their business.
The digital adoption plan includes recommendations addressing each of the client’s needs, outlining how the recommended actions tie into the client’s business plan. Lifecycle Manager’s Initiatives are a way for advisors to track the success of the digital adoption plan as the client makes progress.
With the plan done, Lifecycle Manager can help your MSP implement and track the client’s progress, how their operations are improving with new policies and assets, and what projects need to be budgeted for next using our Roadmaps function.
The growth of digital maturity advising in the MSP industry is a direct result of the increased value to clients, deeper client relationships, and improved margins on advising services. To make the most of it, MSPs need to leverage the right tools to make their work more effective and efficient.
With ScalePad LifeCycle Manager and Backup Radar, MSPs that offer digital maturity advising can become more competitive in the MSP space, and even qualify for grants and funding opportunities like the Canadian Digital Adoption Program.Get started with ScalePad and get the tools you need to succeed. Book a Lifecycle Manager demo, or start with the free edition today. To learn more about Backup Radar, request a personalized demo and see how it can keep your backup monitoring up-to-date and secure.
A stable and secure working environment is one where you don’t have to worry about the loss of data, but when disaster strikes will your data backup solution hold up to the pressure?
With the threat of man-made or natural disasters, data risks are not uncommon for any organization. Data Backups are your form of insurance, a safe snapshot of a healthy data environment to roll back to in case of an emergency.
How your organization responds to these high risk scenarios can often make the difference between a smooth restore or huge losses that can set you and your client back months. If disaster strikes with no backup safety plan, it’s likely your MSP could lose the client and suffer damage to your professional reputation.
An organization’s backup and disaster recovery plan can often be a difference maker by outlining risk reduction measures. Automated monitoring of backups can be a key part of that plan as you can see the health of your backups without spending the time to check in.
Is your MSP still monitoring backups manually or have you established an automated monitoring process through Backup Radar?
Consider how your MSP’s data backup strategy would address these potential disasters.
Malware is a serious threat to both your MSP and clients. If infected, malware can render equipment unusable or, in the case of ransomware, lock and encrypt your data and force you to pay a ransom to get it back.
Addressing malicious attacks like this is a multi-faceted process that involves proactive steps on every level of your organization. Use endpoint protection for employee desktops, laptops, and phones, as well as employee cybersecurity training to avoid malicious attacks.
Increasing how often data backups are saved is beneficial too. In case of an emergency your data can be restored into a near perfect state with minimal downtime for you or your clients.
With more frequent backups, you can monitor their status through Backup Radar to detect any changes and address them in real-time. You don’t have to wait for the problem to develop when you can catch any issues early.
No matter how secure your data backups might be, the risk of a weather event like a flood or hurricane, or a fire, can be a massive threat. Your backups won’t be able to help you if they’re underwater.
In these situations, MSPs are encouraged to have multiple secure backups, including a cloud storage solution. Traditionally, a secure backup and disaster recovery plan has been a hybrid approach of on-premises and off-site copies.
Having three backups, the original, a copy on a different format, and an off-site copy, is known as the “3-2-1” approach. This strategy is one of the most commonly encouraged ways to maintain data backups, providing organizations multiple options when you need to recover data.
Make sure to test data recovery from the cloud backups to ensure that your team is familiar with the recovery process.
In the case of extreme weather like flooding, cloud-based backups give you an extra layer of security in case any on-premises backups are damaged or lost. Cloud-based backups are also known for faster recovery times, enhanced security, and cost savings due to consistent rates from providers.
Other measures of security are also offered through backup providers like storing data in multiple data centers, having generators or a stable power source, multiple high speed connections, and even physical protections such as alarms, gates, and locks.
Keeping your devices on the latest updates and patches will allow your MSP to stay current with security measures. Prevent outdated system files and firmware from causing unnecessary hardware problems.
In the case of hardware or power failure, cloud-based backups remain a fantastic option to provide security for your data. When an electrical surge or other hardware issue causes irreparable damage, your cloud-based backup can be a life saving resource, allowing your company to restore data quickly with minimal downtime and business impact.
Whether you’re trying to prevent data loss or are responding to an emergency, Backup Radar helps give MSPs oversight of their entire backup environment in one tool. Local, cloud, or hybrid model, Backup Radar will monitor and provide actionable reports based on the health and status of your current backups.
Backup Radar automates the monitoring process, allowing MSPs to scale up their business without spending time on manually monitoring their clients’ environment.
Get an inside look at how Backup Radar can make your MSP better than ever. Request a demo today.
Loss of data can be catastrophic for your clients, and even worse for your MSP’s reputation. According to a survey in the International Data Corporation’s (IDC) recent report, “The State of Data Protection and Disaster Recovery Readiness: 2021”, 43% of organizations had suffered unrecoverable data within the past 12 months. And 63% of organizations had suffered a data-related business disruption. That’s why a comprehensive backup and disaster recovery process is more important than ever.
Today, the threat of phishing, ransomware, and malware are an ever-present hazard with a multitude of other data dangers lurking in the digital shadows. Whether your client suffers an attack or experiences a natural disaster that wipes out their servers, they will turn to you to get them back on their feet and restore their most important asset—their data. As a savvy-MSP, you know the importance of being prepared.
Here are five best practices to implement in your backup and disaster recovery process now.
It’s common best practice to recommend and implement a strategy of backing up your client’s data to multiple locations. At minimum, backups should be run both on-premises and to a cloud solution. Backing up and storing client data in just one location can be risky if that location were to be compromised.
For example, if backups are run and stored on-premises, a natural disaster like a flood could easily take out the servers. This is where ensuring cloud backups are being run will diversify and keep data restores protected.
In any successful backup and disaster recovery process a very important element comes before a disaster is ever detected: proactive monitoring of all client backups.
According to the survey in the IDC’s report, the top concern among industry respondents was backup reliability. At least one-third of respondents indicated a problem with backup reliability as well as restore reliability, pointing to a much broader industry challenge when it comes to backup and disaster recovery preparedness.
An essential way to mitigate this uncertainty is to proactively automate backup monitoring processes—have a second set of eyes watching your backup environment.
Patrick Verkerk, assessment administrator at the Netherlands-based MSP Gflex, said automated backup monitoring allows their team to be notified when errors arise, and they can address those issues without fear of missing others due to manual tracking.
When Gflex began using Backup Radar, they were able to find and fix a server that had not been properly running backups for a week. Being able to see their backup environment and address errors helped them avoid any data loss for their client.
Having an automated backup monitoring tool is essential to knowing that your last backups ran successfully and that you have the most recent data in the event a restore is required. In the event of a hardware failure or ransomware attack, your client will expect that you’ve covered your bases, and can jump into action restoring their data.
For a client, nothing is worse than downtime, lost revenue, and damage to their reputation. These consequences can be easily minimized or eliminated through thoughtful planning, documentation, and automation, letting you be confident that the most recent backup data is available.
Automation of otherwise time-consuming tasks like backup monitoring allows MSPs to spend less time on busywork and more time on meaningful tasks internally and with clients.
For Verkerk and the Gflex team, implementing a trusted and accurate automated system allowed them to improve reliability and save hours of staff time each week on manual backup monitoring.
“My colleague doesn’t need to spend four hours per day to check the backups. He’s now maybe spending 13 minutes or one hour. So that saves three hours and in that case, time is money because he can spend three hours helping a customer or doing a project for a customer.”
Aligned with being proactive, expecting the unexpected will keep you ahead of the game in anticipating disruptions to your systems. To ensure that all of the members of your team are on the same page with keeping clients protected and properly backed up, have a document that clearly spells out every aspect of what should happen during disaster recovery. Having one for each client will keep you calm under the most stressful situations.
This is one of the key pillars to successfully managing your client backups.
Rather than crossing your fingers and hoping that things will run smoothly in your backup and disaster recovery process, it’s a much better practice to regularly test for each client. Data is the lifeblood of your client’s business, so it is a big responsibility to watch over and protect that for them.
Many MSP technicians have horror stories of the panic they’ve felt when a data restoration was suddenly requested or needed. A best practice is to implement quarterly testing of data restoration so when disaster strikes, you can be confident in your restore and recovery process. Your data backup restore process and testing schedule depend on the nature of your data. The key is to establish a testing schedule and stick to it.
At the end of the day, the best data backup and recovery process is the one that fits your unique client base and their needs. That may mean supplementing your existing environment to make sure you’re covered from all angles.
As the IDC’s report further states: “More than half (52.1%) of the survey respondents plan to invest more in both backup and disaster recovery improvements.” Some clients will need more strict protocol than others, but it is always up to you, as their MSP, to stay on top of watching and protecting their data.
By executing successful backup and disaster recovery practices and having a formal process to follow, everyone will benefit from the peace of mind knowing client data is accounted for, and in good hands.
We’ve just scratched the surface, with five best practices for your backup and disaster recovery protocol. Request a personalized demo of Backup Radar’s one-of-a-kind backup monitoring software and achieve peace of mind knowing you have a watchful eye over your backup monitoring processes.