The threat of data compromises and ransomware attacks has become a top concern for the SMB community over the past two years, and a majority of those companies are looking to outsiders for help. Virtually every recent research study involving small to midsize companies validates that increasing angst, as well as the struggle to find adequate protection for their infrastructure, information systems, employees, and customers. In the latest Vanson Bourne report (commissioned by Continuum Managed Services), 89% of SMB leaders identified cybersecurity as one of their top priorities, with more than three-quarters (79%) of those organizations planning to invest more resources toward it in the next twelve months.
Security is now (or should be) top of mind for every business owner.
The New Year is on its way. As we enter late December and the slower season that brings MSPs a little reprieve from their long, stressful schedules, everyone gets a chance to catch up on past-due projects and finalize renewals. The changeover to 2020 feels a little different than past years.
In addition to its symbolic reference to “perfect vision,” providers are facing a number of new challenges and opportunities that must be addressed in the not too distant future. Why not kick that off that planning process today?
There are no guarantees, and even the best-laid plans can end in failure if one or two critical pieces of your plan don’t fall into place.
Many of the brightest and highly skilled IT services professionals have seen their firms crash and burn despite having a strong business plan in place. Some encounter unforeseen circumstances such as the passing or sudden departure of key employees or business partners or run into issues they simply didn’t envision.
Simplicity is everything for business owners. Whenever you design a process or tool with ease of use as a top priority, the chances that people will actually use it increase exponentially. Apple, Microsoft, General Motors and many other companies spend millions of dollars every year ensuring that each of their products is intuitive to consumers.
Ease sells. No one likes to take unnecessary steps or continually repeat mindless operations, even for the sake of security, and businesses will typically pay more for something that lets their employees take shortcuts. MSPs often refer to that as a “simplicity or automation premium” for their clients agree too. Usually, if it can deliver increased productivity, efficiency, employee morale, or customer satisfaction (or a combination of those benefits), clients will agree to pay for that added convenience.
If a network monitoring solution failed to notify you of an issue at a client site for ten or fifteen minutes, leading to systems interruptions and real downtime, would it be of any value to your MSP? Unless it provided some other valuable benefit, and you had a backup system in place to overcome that major deficiency, probably not. The potential damage to a customer’s business and your reputation from using that solution could be substantial.
That’s why automation and managed services-oriented integrations are so crucial. When properly implemented and maintained, these connections and technological innovations can create a direct route for sharing critical information between applications and platforms. Here are ten examples that can help IT services businesses grow their client base and improve operations and support.
There’s no magic bullet that ensures your managed services business will remain profitable. Far too many MSPs work much harder than required to support their clients, pay employees, and keep the lights on; all without generating an income that reflects all their sacrifices. If that doesn’t describe your situation, chances are you know other providers in this no-profit for work situation. However, with the right investments, attention to process improvement, and the right mix of services, your MSP can take on more business and drive higher profitability.
Considering adding an automated recurring billing system to your process? It’s the missing ingredient in many IT services businesses but can bring a lot of value by saving time and reducing errors. The tool is a must for MSPs, and even at a cursory glance, you’ll come across a variety of solutions that offer tasks, from generating invoices, accepting credit cards and ACH payments, as well as other essential tasks.
There are hundreds of online billing portals MSPs can use that claim to have recurring billing. However, if you look closely at the available options, one vital piece is missing: the automation, rendering the software’s purpose ineffective.
The future looks promising for MSPs. Because of innovations like accounts receivable automation that increase cash flow, robust solutions that provide competitive advantages, as well as increased demand for services, Opportunities are plentiful for IT services firms. The caveat for success is your business must have solid business development strategies in place and efficient sales and technology professionals on staff to capitalize on the managed service provider industry’s growth.
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Getting your clients to pay their managed services invoices on time sounds great, but that scenario is nearly impossible unless your company implements best practices to ensure it happens.
One of the most challenging parts of running a business is having the “money conversation” with clients. Whether employees spend their days on IT or the office side of operations (including sales and marketing), not many people enjoy making collection calls or following up on past due invoices.
Industry experts frequently emphasize the importance of staying in your lanes. In other words, they don’t believe organizations should deviate too far from their business models and core competencies since leaders can lose focus on the big picture.
IT services professionals work hard. Like many small business owners, you probably don’t clock out at 5:00 PM sharp Monday through Friday and relax all weekend. If you do, kudos for establishing a lifestyle-oriented business many MSPs aspire to and typically spend years developing through automation and a continual focus on process efficiency.
Networking is an undervalued resource. If you list the collective skills, knowledge, and work capacity of the IT professionals in your ecosystem, it just might blow your mind. Think of the things your company could do with that VIP-caliber team working behind the scenes.
“The learning curve” can be costly. Time is money, and the investments required to train employees and clients on new technologies and processes can quickly cut into your company’s profits. Of course, education and preparation can be considered a cost of doing business for IT services firms, and as long as people are performing the work, those activities should always be line-items in the budget.
Have you ever thought about what your organization would look like in 10 years? Will the same quality people be involved, or will your company rely on artificial intelligence and robots to perform manual tasks? On the payment side, will your clients pay in Bitcoin or some other form of cryptocurrency or digital payment?
As with every new year, I must express my gratitude to all our amazing partners. It is an honor to serve you and your businesses every day, and we hope to continue offering new services based on your feedback and requests.
The Meriam-Webster dictionary defines opportunity as “a favorable juncture of circumstances.” It’s the perfect description for many managed services providers (MSPs) as 2018 comes to a close with an exciting list of new prospects awaiting them in the new year.