The Pros and Cons of Each Approach for IT Services Firms
One of the age-old challenges for managed services professionals involves tool strategies. Whether assembling their portfolio of client-oriented solutions or designing internal technology systems (or both), many MSPs tend to transition their approaches over time and adopt whichever option makes the most sense at that particular point. A lot of variables come into play.
From the availability of integrations and features that support an MSP business as well as support options and affordable pricing, providers must assess each piece based on their own business needs. Every component needs to make sense from an operational and financial perspective, providing the organization with the necessary functionality with few, if any compromises.
Those factors are especially critical when it comes to the payment side of an MSP business. Concessions in this critical area can be costly. Can providers effectively use a single vendor platform to manage invoices and accounts receivables, or should they assemble a specific collection of solutions from different suppliers to handle those responsibilities?
New Concerns as Ecosystems Expand
The “one or many” debate is as old as the IT channel—and the continual introduction of new and more flexible cloud solutions is not simplifying those conversations. A lower cost of entry into the global software space makes it easier for unproven players to set up shop and further muddy the waters. In addition, as the growth of cloud services fuels competition in the development community, those companies, in their search for more profits, seek different go-to-market (GTM) strategies, further confusing prospective users.
In the SMB community, responsibility for sorting through all the various options, vetting the viability or new suppliers, and managing all the pieces typically falls to IT services providers. Which solutions best address clients’ needs while supporting channel partners? Finding suppliers with suitable applications and GTM strategies can be a full-time job for MSPs today.
The advantages frequently favor one side at the demerit of the other, so the objective is often to find a good balance. For example, IT firms often test two or more backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solutions to evaluate the effectiveness and management capabilities of each before adding the best to their portfolios.
All things (features and usefulness) being equal, vendors that offer MSP-specific control panels and integrations with channel support programs should receive a higher ranking. The closer the connection to the unique needs of providers and their clients, the higher the value of the solution. Finding vendors that understand the managed services business model and build systems to support those ecosystems can be a major challenge—especially with billing and payment technologies.
Taking a ‘Single Pane of Glass’ Approach with Collections
MSPs need every part of their operations to run like clockwork. From services and sales to invoicing and accounts receivable management, process efficiency is critical to profitability and long-term success. That’s why many IT services firms adopt a single platform approach.
Leveraging a ‘single pane of glass’ allows MSPs to manage multiple actions from one central portal—empowering their teams with more operational insight and control. A comprehensive solution suite typically integrates several complementary tools and automatically shares relevant information across the platform. With automation at the core, single vendor systems speed up and simplify processes, eliminating many of the mundane, manual tasks that increase payroll and keying errors. Additional benefits include:
- Vendor management. Fewer supplier contacts and interactions lessens the time and energy spent communicating about routine matters. Single vendor platforms also allow MSPs to forge deeper and more meaningful business relationships to improve the client and user experience.
- Interoperability. Single vendor platforms are designed to work as one. Optimizing management and visibility for MSPs and their clients helps assure greater success. For example, ConnectBooster provides a seamless experience each step of the way, from invoice creation to payment, and offers deep integrations with and critical tools like PSAs, accounting and quoting solutions.
- Security. The fewer the connections, the easier it is to protect the data. Most IT vendors invest a lot of time and resources to secure their platforms and segment access to sensitive and highly vulnerable information. For example, ConnectBooster allows clients to review invoices and transaction information while protecting bank and credit information from prying eyes.
Each of these benefits are significant for payment technologies. The fastest way to convert recurring revenue-based contracts into actual cash flow is with a fully automated and integrated platform that simplifies, secures and ensures payments (like ConnectBooster).
The Advantages of a Multiple Vendor Platform
Options are rarely a bad thing. In the technology community, having a number of possible solutions to address different business pain points provides greater flexibility to IT services providers. Choices typically increase availability, profit potential and creativity.
Developing a multiple-vendor solution stack gives MSPs the freedom to work with the people, technologies and companies that best address their business needs. That independence allows providers to easily add and drop products and services to meet changes in clients’ demands and operational requirements. Another perceived advantage of this approach is the ability to implement each MSP’s best-of-breed options into its solutions portfolio. From cloud-based cybersecurity and compliance monitoring tools to PCs and laptops, most every provider has preferences.
Of course, for every positive benefit of a multi-vendor approach, there can be downsides. Those include:
- Relationship complexity. Managing multiple vendors requires more time and resources. Additional phone calls, emails, and visits detract from everyday activities and attention that should go to support existing and new clients. MSPs invest a lot of time evaluating, onboarding, and replacing solutions, and increasing the amount and frequency of those vendor interactions comes at the detriment of other, more beneficial activities.
- Expense. Efficiency drives profit. The more resources MSPs invest in managing vendor relationships, adapting portfolios and integrating new solutions, the greater the opportunity cost. Connecting and optimizing technologies that drive a provider’s back-office operations can be time-consuming and expensive, especially those that manage critical processes like invoicing and collections. Weak integration points can compromise timely payments and put client data at risk. Training techs, sales and account managers on multiple technologies adds even more payroll costs that an MSP may never recoup.
- Interoperability. MSPs can run into compatibility issues when leveraging multiple vendors in their solution sets and operations. Does the vendor have an API to connect IT-services-specific tools? How well do the processes and automation workflows align with an MSP’s business model? What sales team may pitch as an easy operation can be a lot more complicated (and expensive) to resolve.
Never Compromise on a Payment Platform
While MSPs have a number of vendor and solutions options to choose from—and that list keeps expanding—simplicity drives success with invoicing and collections. A comprehensive payment platform like ConnectBooster streamlines and automates those processes for providers and their clients.
MSPs deserve easy integration options to link in all their critical tools. From professional services automation (PSA) and CRM platforms to accounting and quoting applications, ConnectBooster understands what connections IT services companies need to get paid on time. As a part of Kaseya’s IT Complete platform, a portfolio of MSP-centric tools, the channel DNA runs deep.
ConnectBooster users enjoy the best of both worlds. As a single vendor payment platform, MSPs have the power to get paid on time with minimal effort. On the flip side, ConnectBooster integrates with other best-in-breed solutions to provide an even greater user experience.
MSPs deserve to receive on-time payments for the services they deliver each month. Simplify collections with a complete, all-in-one recurring billing system platform—link ConnectBooster to your PSA, accounting package and other IT services tools. Consider that combination the ultimate cash flow enhancing solution. Schedule a discovery call to learn how ConnectBooster can transform your company’s billing, collections and invoice reconciliation process.