The IT industry has become a fine-tuned machine over the past thirty-plus years, fueled by a collaborative community that designs, manufactures, and delivers a variety of goods and services. MSPs and the companies they support have grown accustomed to a comprehensive portfolio of IT options and a plethora of delivery options over the years. “Order today, install tomorrow,” had become a reality for virtually everything tech professionals would need to keep their clients’ businesses fully operational.
The industry had confidence in the efficiency of the supply chain until two years ago. As the pandemic swept through countries and then continents, suppliers and manufacturers’ operations were slowed if not completely halted, causing a ripple effect of shortages throughout the world. While the pandemic appears to be easing across most parts of the globe and those shutdowns are lessening significantly, delivery delays and wild price fluctuations continue.
The war in eastern Europe is amplifying that problem. Approximately 374,000 businesses (90% based in the U.S.) relied on Russian suppliers before the invasion, with Ukraine providing goods and materials to around 241,000 organizations (93% based in the U.S.), according to Dun & Bradstreet. While the world works to resolve that conflict and stop the pain and suffering, the market will have to adjust and absorb the diminished capacity.
Those supply-side challenges are more difficult in areas where product demand never subsided. When added to other unexpected quirks in production and distribution, including the recent earthquake in Japan and COVID-related preventative measures in China, the availability of IT-related supplies is sure to be a spotty proposition for months, if not longer. Those regions are a major source of semiconductors, hard drives, transistors, network cables, rare earth minerals and other key resources companies need to manufacture their products.
The reality is, supply chain issues go much deeper than a computer chip shortage. So, what can MSPs do to overcome those concerns and best support their clients’ IT ecosystems?
Get Visibility into the Supply Chain
Clear insight into pricing, availability and delivery times is essential when proposing new projects to clients and prospects. Businesses can leverage data-driven automation to empower their sales teams and optimize supply chains. Identifying which distributors and vendors have the inventory and the pricing and capability to deliver those products to their clients at the right time is crucial. The great news for MSPs is that IT services-specific quoting applications and integrations can easily make that happen today.
Automating the data collection and communications processes ensures that the information companies use to make supply chain-related decisions is as accurate and up-to-date as possible. IT services-specific tools help make the proposal, ordering, delivery, invoicing and payment processes quick and effortless with little, if any, manual intervention. Integrations with hardware vendors, distributors and the latest generation of online suppliers—like Amazon Business and other e-tailers—provide MSPs with access to an almost endless number of options.
That leverage is critical with the ongoing supply chain constraints. Unfortunately, suppliers are struggling to keep up with the high demand, especially with difficult-to-find devices and materials, so IT services companies need to work harder and smarter to secure the things their clients need most.
Automation breaks down information silos and gives MSPs’ sales teams the ability to research every potential source in a matter of minutes, not hours. Industry-specific tools simplify the proposal and communications process to reduce deal closing times and speed up project timelines. Integrations with invoicing and accounting packages like QuickBooks and Microsoft Dynamics GP and payment tools like ConnectBooster help MSPs get paid faster.
Leverage Larger Networks
Before the pandemic, many providers relied on one or possibly a few suppliers without running into delivery and pricing issues. The onset of international supply chain challenges forced MSPs to add new distributors and vendors to meet rising client expectations, especially with the sudden shift to work from home environments. Many providers have been expanding their supplier networks to locate and secure products ever since. Adding vendors and distributors to your partner ecosystems reduces the risk of backorders and delayed shipments.
Those growth and diversification strategies can slow down the proposal process if not combined with automation. Whether leveraging new vendors and distributors or e-commerce sites, without the proper search and communications tools, sales teams end up spending more time searching for the optimal prices, products, and delivery options. That inefficiency can hurt new revenue opportunities, company profitability, and customer satisfaction.
Expanding supplier networks lets you commit more time to service and support and more adequately meet your clients’ expectations, even in the midst of so much uncertainty. Diversification and automation are critical in times of surging demand and supply chain disruptions. Those actions can trim product and shipping costs, boost your margins, and provide ease of mind to your team and business partners.
MSP-centric quoting, procurement, and financial applications can be an invaluable part of the solution. With real-time supply and demand visibility and minimal manual effort, these automated platforms will alleviate or at least minimize many of your current supply chain, hiring, and pricing concerns.
Efficiency and automation are critical for MSPs. ConnectBooster is the payment solution that thousands of MSPs trust for automated billing and collections and improved efficiencies. Schedule a demo to see how ConnectBooster can simplify your processes and save you time.