How Higher Education IT Pros Can Ace the Distributed Endpoint Management Test

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IT pros in higher education are faced with challenges peers in other industries don’t usually worry about. In education, there are multiple constituencies which adds to management complexity, including administration, faculty, researchers, an ever-changing student body, and alumni and donors.

Beyond that, most colleges are non-profits, so budgets are always an issue. At the same, competition for students means that costs must be kept low, while at the same time the schools must embrace new technologies that provide competitive advantage.

The last two items, keeping costs in check and driving innovation are the tricky ones. That’s because too many higher education IT pros are constantly chasing down current problems, just trying to keep the wheels turning properly, and don’t have the time to explore new technology options.
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Cloud vs. On-Premises: The Great IT Debate

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The cloud has been an amazing leap forward in computing. From an end-user level, tools such as Gmail store your messages in the cloud and you can get them from any device anywhere. DropBox lets us do the same with documents, photos and other files. And just look at all our kids do with cloud apps on their tablets and smart phones.

Meanwhile core IT apps such as ERP and productivity tools like Office are now commonly run in the cloud. Let’s face it, the momentum is moving from on-premises to cloud.

Do these successes mean IT groups should move everything to the cloud ASAP, or take a cloud-first approach to all new applications and services? Not necessarily.
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The Essential Guide to Successful Cross Selling and Upselling

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Many MSPs grow by constantly acquiring new clients. But when these are one-off engagements based on a single service or break/fix contract, clients can leave as fast as they arrive. That’s the kind of churn that keeps MSP execs up at night.

A better way to go is selling sets of services, all managed by your firm. This is the whole idea behind service bundles. Often, MSPs package their services into two or three sets of bundled services.

But how do you increase the number of services a client outsources to you after a sale? There are two mains ways: cross selling and upselling.

Defining Terms

These two techniques are distinctly difference but share essential common element.
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Making Statements of Work, Work For You

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A Statement of Work (SOW) is sometimes confused with a Master Services Contract (MSA), and indeed some use the terms interchangeably.

On the other hand, an SOW is an ideal way to scope out a project, especially a complex project, as opposed to an MSA, that details a long-standing services arrangement.  (You can read a recent blog of mine on how to craft contracts, SLAs and MSAs.)

Many times a client will specifically require an SOW, so you should be prepared to craft one that suits both parties.

If you already have a contract or MSA with a client, your SOW can encompass some of the same issues and reinforce those bonds.

SOW General Overview

An SOW, being most often project-based, focuses on defining what the deliverables are and when they should arrive.

Just as important, the SOW defines all the milestones that are behind the deliverables and who does what. This requires timetables, a way to review progress, and a means of tying payment to project progress. In addition, all resources critical to the project are defined in the SOW, as well as which parties bear which costs.
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MSPs: Making Sure the Price is Right

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Pricing is never easy. Set a price too low and you leave money on the table. Too high and the competition will eat you for lunch. Not only that, but as the technology and services market moves forward, there are an array of pricing approaches to choose from.  This blog will review the basic analysis you should do to make sure the prices you set for your services will support your business goals and objectives.

First Determine Your Target’s Needs

Before pricing any service it’s important to determine the needs of your target market. Smaller companies have lower revenues in general and are constrained in their ability to fund expensive services. They look for low-priced offerings providing basic levels of support. Nevertheless, all businesses are interested in getting the best value for their investments (read largest ROI) and most will favor higher value, versus a lower price, if the value price fits within their budgetary constraints.

While a la carte pricing options may sound like they give the client the most choice, this type of pricing structure can quickly lead to problems.  First, it can quickly become a service delivery nightmare to for your technicians to manage and support a growing number of unique customer engagements.  Second, most customers prefer to select from among a small number of service bundles/tiers with increasing levels of capability. SMB customers want more comprehensive services and see strong value in attractively priced bundled managed services.
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Automation Exchange — MSPs’ Secret RMM Weapon

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When you buy a car you might ask your auto enthusiast friends for advice. When it comes to maximizing the use of your RMM, wouldn’t you want the same kind of expertise from your MSP peers?

That help and insight can come from a community of trusted MSPs that are willing to share real world automation solutions they’ve come up with.

Automation is the name of the RMM game, but it can take come clever scripting and templating to apply automation to more than just common routine tasks. And out-of-the-ordinary tasks often benefit the most from automation. Continue Reading…

Best of Breed vs. Closed, Integrated Solutions: The 1990s Called and Want Their Debate Back

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In a recent blog, I explored how it’s no longer enough for MSPs to have RMM solutions that enable ‘automation.’ Today’s MSP 2.0 world requires powerful, easily customized policy-based automation.

In this blog, I want to discuss another long-held assumption about technology that no longer holds true ─namely, the idea that an MSP has to choose between selecting a series of best-of-breed solutions or committing to a closed, integrated solution set.

On the one hand, the old story goes, you invest in point solutions that are the best fit for your business’ particular needs, but then pay the price with suboptimal integration and interoperability between and among these technologies.  Or, on the other hand, you bite the bullet and commit to one vendor’s offerings.  That way, you sacrifice the ‘best fit’ but can be confident that the systems all work together seamlessly.
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How to Craft Contracts, SLAs and Master Services Agreements for MSPs

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You might think the root of MSP revenue is services, and that is true. But it is contracts that define these revenues and, properly written, ensure the money you earn keeps rolling in on a regular basis.
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5 Steps You Should Take to Optimize Your Cloud Services Offerings

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Small- and medium-sized companies are increasingly following their enterprise-class peers in leveraging cloud services to improve business performance.  Their internal IT groups view the cloud as a strategic enabler, allowing them to offload routine, repetitive tasks, scale at will, and focus their efforts on innovative IT projects to improve customer and end-user experience.

Kaseya’s recent IT Operations Survey underscores this transition – with cloud services being the most popular services either currently in use or being considered by small and medium-sized business (SMBs) over the next twelve months. Companies of all sizes – from less than 50 employees to up to 5,000 – are leveraging cloud services.
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GUEST BLOG: Transforming Your Sales Model

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How MSPs Can Build a Formidable and Scalable Sales Engine

Conducted By Michael Cummings of The Taylor Business Group (Leader of TBG’s Sales Transformation Practice and Executive Recruiter of Sales Talent and Services Leaders)

Most MSPs struggle with building a scalable sales model. It is not uncommon for MSPs to grow their business rapidly through their operational and administrative excellence to a point.  Then, they tend to hit the sales “wall,” where they can’t grow using their current sales model (often with the owner acting as the prime sales person). This sales block can stagnate your growth for years.
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