How the Right PSA Can Drive MSP Growth

psa_blog_bigThe MSP market is growing fast. According to the report Managed Services Market by MarketsandMarkets, managed services will rise from $145 billion this year to $242 billion in 2021. That’s a healthy Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10.8%.

Unfortunately not all MSPs are growing that fast, and many of those that do would love to grow even faster.

To take on new clients, your technical solutions, such as your RMM, have to scale to support that growth. However, there are also internal business issues and client business issues —such as contracts, billing and project management that ―have to scale as well. That’s where a Professional Services Automation (PSA) solution built especially for MSPs comes in. It makes running your operation more efficient and brings discipline to many business functions. And yes, that PSA will help you achieve growth goals and manage that growth.

Impediments to Growth

There are many hurdles that keep MSPs from growing at a healthy clip. One problem is not having the right business tool such as that MSP-specific PSA. Smaller MSPs don’t think they can afford a PSA, so don’t bother getting one. As you’ll learn later, price should be no barrier to gaining PSA capabilities – provided you choose the right vendor.
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The IT Guide to Cloud Uptime

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When you move mission-critical or even moderately critical applications to the cloud, uptime (and performance) is everything.

The cloud seems simple – after all, it acts as one big server and storage array in the sky, right? At a certain level, that is true. But this view obscures real complexity around: choosing the right cloud service, having a proper WAN, and managing and maintaining your cloud connections. At the same time, you need enough bandwidth so your latency-sensitive applications, such as VoIP, perform properly.

A half a decade ago, it seemed cloud services were going down left and right. Amazon Web Services was out for five days; Yahoo Mail had problems as did VMware’s Cloud Foundry development cloud. There are still sporadic issues on the cloud provider side, but at a much lower rate than five years ago. Even so, the largest enterprises find this unacceptable, and with their large budgets can afford a second provider that they can fail over to.
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The True Value of a NOC – Freedom!

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Only the largest MSPs have technical staffs that operate 24×7. These organizations can support clients night and day, and also handle issues that occur across a wide geographic area.

Most service providers don’t have that luxury. During off hours, client problems can remain unresolved. That might be fine for a mom and pop shop which closes down at 5 o’clock, but not so hot for larger clients whose work hours are far longer and more varied.

The answer is for the MSP to ‘renting’ a Network Operations Center (NOC) service through a third party.

A NOC, to put it simply, is the place from where services are managed and delivered. During normal work hours, this would all likely occur with the MSP’s direct staff. A third-party NOC is simply another location, managed by another company, where these same service functions can reside. The goal is that when a client has a problem, they should not know whether it is handled by the MSP directly or the third-party NOC service provider.
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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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