The MSP industry is as varied as it is vast. But despite their differences, they all have a common core: IT Asset Management (ITAM).
ITAM is the process of managing your clients' IT assets throughout their usable lifespan to optimize the value they provide. From initial purchase to disposal, ITAM covers the process of lifecycle management. ITAM helps you manage workstations, servers, software, network equipment, and more.
Even if you aren’t thinking about it, you are doing some form of asset management. That’s why it’s vital for MSPs to be proactive and strategic in the way they tackle ITAM.
Following a client’s assets from procurement to disposal has been a proven method to successful service from MSPs. By becoming a part of the client’s process, MSPs go beyond being contracted service providers and become natural partners to their client’s businesses.
The benefits to both clients and MSPs are wide reaching. Every stage of the IT asset lifecycle opens up several opportunities to provide value.
According to the Global E-Waste Monitor 2020, 53.6 million metric tons of electronic waste was generated in 2019 alone. Part of the role of an MSP in IT asset management is taking the pressure off of the client to find the right disposal vendor. Because the MSP is already handling the assets, the client doesn’t have to worry about hiring a separate vendor. By including asset disposal as part of the IT asset management plan, clients save money and your MSP demonstrates its value to the client.
Building trust helps clients see your MSP as a valued partner in their ongoing operation, making contract renewal more likely.
Keeping records of the disposed assets is also important to compliance as well. When working with sensitive data, having records of the assets data sanitation and disposal methods. In the case of data breach or theft, MSPs can present records showing they disposed of the assets in line with the regulatory requirements.
Understand the scope of your client’s IT assets. How many assets you are tracking, what types of assets, and what services do you focus on or specialize in. Break down the roles and responsibilities of your team and what each staff member’s role is in servicing your MSP’s clients. Assess the clients workflows. Are there gaps or areas for improvement around the way they use their assets? A complete assessment lets MSPs and clients work together to address any outstanding issues and plan for the future.
Set the standard policies and procedures your MSP will follow in asset management. Policies include agreements that all assets are under warranty, or get active patch and firmware support. Other policies, like acquiring new assets and maintenance guidelines, should also be included.
Maintenance guidelines will outline the processes both MSP and client use to keep service efficient and effective. Communicate how service tickets are addressed and set the policies. Security and compliance standards also should be determined. Depending on the client, some may work in industries that demand compliance to government regulations like financial or medical privacy laws.
Establish a regular review process with clients to keep both parties are on the same page. Review service, asset risks, proposals, and the future management of existing assets. Develop a consistent and simple suite of information to bring to the meeting and send to your client. Creating a consistent way to communicate will go a long way in building trust and reliability.
Be sure to review and revise the ITAM plan as needed. If elements of your policies need to change, MSPs should be able to address these changes and incorporate them into the companywide plan. A solid set of standards will allow the MSP to be proactive throughout the entire asset management lifecycle. They can stay ahead of issues and working to prevent problems, rather than fixing the damage.
Don’t get blindsided by unknown assets. MSPs need to do an audit of the entire IT environment. It is important to make sure that every asset is accurately tracked and integrated into your asset management platform. One of the best ways to do this is by using a standardized client onboarding checklist that lists each aspect as a line item. By keeping track of the process, MSPs can ensure the same measures are being taken across all of your clients and have actionable data quickly.
With the checklist complete, MSPs can then look through the clients IT infrastructure to identify any risks from the start. Addressing old servers, out of warranty workstations, and network issues will be immediate improvements to your clients' business. This step will quickly show your value as an MSP.
Work with the client to develop a plan to address those critical issues. Business review meetings are an opportunity to identify and plan for longer term projects. Your MSP can begin the preparations as they integrate into the IT asset management process.
Cybersecurity is a rapidly growing concern for the entire IT industry. MSPs want to make sure their new clients have as many safety measures in place as possible. A successful client onboarding process is one that checks how their new client’s security policies function. If common security measures like two factor authentication aren’t being used, more significant security vulnerabilities might also exist.
A good security policy that is enacted and followed by the client staff makes them eligible for cyber liability insurance in the case of a breach. Insurance won’t prevent security breaches, but it will be an important financial safety net for your new client.