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July 7, 2021

Technology Roadmaps: How to Power-Up Your MSP

Denes Purnhauser

By being able to store all the different projects and track their respective stages for a client, using a technology roadmap means that you no longer have to question if a project is happening. Instead, you get to determine when it will happen by being able to nurture ideas through their different stages.

Chances are that you have a lot of great ideas when it comes to helping your clients get more out of their IT environments. Yet far too often, even the best ideas get pushback from clients at some point. Seemingly stuck between a rock and a hard place, many MSPs are left to wonder how they can move forward with a client who keeps saying no.

The good news is that a no isn’t necessarily a dead end. Quite often clients will say no just because they aren’t ready for a project at that particular time. So where do you go from here?

To help put you back in the driver’s seat, technology roadmaps are a great tool for building a predictable project pipeline.

By being able to store all the different projects and track their respective stages for a client, using a technology roadmap means that you no longer have to question if a project is happening. Instead, you get to determine when it will happen by being able to nurture ideas through their different stages.

Acting as your sales funnel, it also becomes much easier to define that certain projects have to happen within a given timeframe. As a result, clients are less likely to view you as trying to push sales as you have a detailed document where they can see the continuity for their projects.

One thing to note is that the use of your roadmap will change depending on the QBR classification for each client. For example, your roadmap will be much more vivid and more utilized for high-touch clients. It will mostly exist and be managed for medium-touch clients. Meanwhile, for low-touch clients, decisions will be made quickly because projects are simple so you’re not as likely to use a roadmap as you won’t have the bandwidth to maintain this document.


How to Use Your Technology Roadmap

The main purpose of your technology roadmap is to help you maintain your standardization adoption across your client portfolios. With that said, you also want to make sure that you have a predictable project pipeline. It’s vital to look ahead at the work that needs to be done and compare it to your capacity for it. This will ensure that you have the proper resources for all of your promised projects and are not over-committing.

With your pipeline representing the different workflows every project is going to go through, each project should be grouped into one of the following.

1. Project Idea Phase

From client requests to discoveries during assessments and more, all projects in your roadmap will start as an idea. Whether you’ve done some work upfront, during the QBR meeting or afterwards, this is where you’ll store your pool of ideas for client recommendations. 

2. Project Scope Phase

Once a client agrees that a project idea needs to be worked on, this is where it will move into the scope phase. During the project scope, you’ll want to determine:

  • What are the deliverables?
  • What’s the goal of this project?
  • Why does this project exist?
  • What is the rough estimate of project costs?

Once you have these details, you can then reach out to the client but be prepared for some back and forth discussion to follow. Additionally, you may find it helpful to use project templates to help you move through this phase more quickly and to prepare the project for presentation. 

3. Project Approvals Phase

Once the scope has been created, you can put together a project proposal to present to your client. In high maturity MSPs, there may be a more documented process for approvals but it’s not entirely necessary. Whether you get a verbal or written approval, that may be all you need to get to go ahead with your project.

4. Project Schedule Phase

The scheduling phase will be different depending on your MSP’s maturity. If you’re in a lower maturity MSP, there’s usually not much need for scheduling and projects can go ahead as is. But for many high maturity MSPs, you’ll probably be working on your pipeline up to three or four months in advance.

You’ll also want to complete a master project roadmap for your entire MSP to ensure that you’ll have enough technician capacity for all of the projects across all of your clients. Try to schedule less time-sensitive projects when there’s lower utilization times such as during the summer when people are prone to take vacation. This can help distribute the work throughout the year and prevent your team from being burnt out by year end.


Above all else, make sure to communicate the project schedule to your client. It won’t make for a pleasant experience if you rush them to make a decision on something that you say is urgent but then the work doesn’t get started for another 3 months.

Conclusion

To help keep client environments healthy while meeting your MSP’s standards, each and every client needs maintained Asset Lifecycle Management modernization projects. Your technology roadmap will not only help improve client communication, but will also give you better ability to forecast upcoming project revenue. As the lifeline for your strategy around client technology innovation, your roadmap is the ultimate tool to help take the edge out of QBRs as clients move through the sales funnel without even realizing it.

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