Managing client relationships as an MSP grows can be a challenge. As an MSP takes on more clients, the amount of information they track grows. That means more time spent on managing assets. Not only does the management of clients’ tech environments become difficult, but keeping up with meetings, reports, and planning can be a daunting task.
With ever-changing needs both internally and externally, how do these businesses manage their operations and relationships?
For Joe Markert, CEO of TransformITive, one of the main tools that has supported growth and development has been Lifecycle Manager. TransformITive, an MSP based out of Berkeley, CA, has been in business for more than 15 years and is one of only eight partners in North America on Microsoft’s internal Surface Partner Advisory Committee.
Previously known as FunctionOne before rebranding in 2021, TransformITive is looking to expand its team further and evolve from an MSP to an organization that has a more collaborative, advisory role with clients.
TransformITive is now scaling up and optimizing their business as they take on larger and more complex client engagements. Markert met with the ScalePad team to discuss how his MSP has optimized its asset management, revitalized QBRs and client meetings, and improved relationships with its client base.
Asset lifecycle management has been the central theme in TransformITive’s journey. Incorporating automated warranty monitoring in TransformITive’s tech stack allowed the team to save time on the massively time-consuming task of monitoring and managing their clients’ hardware warranty information.
The process of managing warranty dates across all client’s hardware assets used to be a huge lift for MSPs. It took hours of work to prepare accurate information and follow up with individual vendors for each warranty.
“We had to manually go look [warranties] up. We literally had to go to websites, punch in information and maybe if you are lucky that vendor, Dell in particular, had good information. Everybody else, like Lenovo and HP, needed two pieces of information off of hardware to be able to get [warranty information],” he said.
That kind of process may have been possible as a smaller MSP, but once Markert’s business grew that task became significantly more time-consuming. So when introduced to ScalePad Lifecycle Manager, then known as Warranty Master, Markert saw the value in the automated warranty monitoring and renewal system and has been using the platform ever since.
“It’s just been that simple. [Lifecycle Manager] has been running there forever and we have zero plans to turn that off, especially with where [Lifecycle Manager] has been headed.”
With the help of automated asset and warranty tracking, TransformITive has been able to transform its own relationships with clients. Markert and his team pull asset data and use that to engage with auditing, lifecycle management, and planning and budgeting.
“We help them calculate what kind of opportunity cost there is for them or the productivity they are losing by not replacing those machines. That’s how we’ve been doing that to date,” he said.
Up-to-date, accurate asset information is important for the TransformITive team. Now they spend their time on more meaningful engagement with clients instead of the busywork required to do everything manually.
“Any time we can leverage automation and get busywork out of the way of our team so we can focus on customer service, especially in this competitive environment we are in, that’s definitely going to speak volumes to us,” Markert said. “We are not looking necessarily to save money. We are looking to save time so that we can reinvest that either in existing clients or take on more clients. It definitely helps with the business fundamentally in that way.”
As the company has grown, Markert keeps client relationships a major priority for his team, but it hasn’t always been easy. The more traditional QBR process often left a lot to be desired from the client leadership perspective. Markert recalled a business owner asking if he needed to be in the QBR meetings at all, questioning the purpose and value of the meetings entirely.
“Four years ago, we couldn’t get to [all of our clients] quarterly to have meaningful engagement,” he said. “Things took a lot of time to pull together. Sometimes it was hard to convince the customer they should be there and that they were getting value out of it.”
Markert knew something needed to change if they were ever going to improve their productivity and relationships with customers. So instead of only focusing on the quarterly meetings, TransformITive broke things up by scheduling alternating meetings every two weeks.
The first meeting focuses on service delivery while the second is the “monthly” meeting where initiatives discussed during the quarterly review are developed further. Every third “monthly” meeting is the official Strategy Session (QBR) where TransformITive and their client discuss new business, existing projects, and is where client leadership can offer feedback.
Consistent communication between MSP and client has helped the team prevent projects falling behind while making sure that the right people from each organization are attending the calls, ensuring visibility to all stakeholders which serves to keep their clients happy with the value of the service and avoid burnout.
“Honestly [the monthly] meetings are more focused, smaller, shorter, and even the quarterly often can be done in 45 minutes,” Markert said. “But we get so much more out of it because we are focused on those specific items for each meeting. That really has, in the end, amplified the value of the relationship for us.”
Lifecycle Manager is an important piece of the TransformITive process as it allows the team to view and share data easily with customers. In addition to Lifecycle Manager’s dashboard information, the Insights and Digital Maturity Index (DMI™) features are resources for MSPs to explain the status of a client’s tech environment.
“What used to take us hours to prepare for a meeting like this and get a deck together, being able to go in and pull a report or look at a dashboard with a customer and just start taking actions… All of these things now are instantaneous rather than half an hour,” Markert said. “Now we can more effectively get to problem solving or decision-making together, rather than spending all this time putting together an Excel sheet that is stale the next day.”
TransformITive still maintains the quarterly review with leadership or owners, but by shifting the detailed information into the monthly meetings, the larger quarterly reviews have changed drastically.
“That leaves the quarterly to be wholly about anything that needs to surface from the monthly [meeting] to get in front of leadership or ownership,” he said. “Now we are presenting that together. It’s not TransformITive presenting, it’s the customer and TransformITive presenting to leadership. I actually had a meeting last quarter where the customer did all the selling. That’s really the best partnership.”
Reworking the communication strategy has paid off for TransformITive, who have found that a more informed client base has led to increased buy-in to new initiatives and projects.
“The owner of the company who often would not attend the meeting because he didn’t think it was important said ‘Wow, this has been a really great meeting,’” he said. “Those shifts for us have proven the mix we are doing now is headed in the right direction.”
Lifecycle Manager, Markert said, has also helped his team discuss value propositions with customers. With the data provided, Markert can quantify how a particular piece of hardware functions in the company.
Pointing to a specific number to illustrate the result of 2% lost productivity based on employee salary has entirely changed conversations with clients. Instead of making suggestions to upgrade equipment because the MSP says so, Markert can quantify exactly how each piece of equipment, operating system, or server impacts workflow.
“Now the conversation has shifted from ‘why should we do that? To ‘OK we understand we need to do that, but where and when are we going to make those investments,” he said. “Lifecycle Manager has been helpful in providing us with some way to quantify that conversation with the customer. Quick access to the data so we are able to reflect it accurately, one button to have an Excel sheet? I just have to do a data filter and I’m ready to go? It’s far and away a better task than even just trying to get that information from our RMM.”
With the right tools for the job, MSPs don’t have to do everything the hard way. By leveraging the resources available to them, like Lifecycle Manager, TransformITive has been able to improve their asset management, meeting schedule and relationship with clients, and overall MSP value.
TransformITive is a success in the MSP space because Markert and his team work together with their clients to deliver comprehensive solutions to problems and plans for the future.