“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.
That’s why organizational leaders adopt industry best practices and follow the standards established by their peers and predecessors. Why blaze new trails when you can implement the proven processes of others who successfully navigated their way through similar situations or added comparable solutions?
The rapidly changing tech industry provides a perfect example. Before the introduction of PSA (Professional Services Automation) tools, most MSPs managed their service tickets and account information using a combination of email messages, spreadsheets, and customized documents. Creative providers crafted their own technology solutions, often integrating them into services platforms intended for multiple industries.
Those inventions allowed MSPs to scale their operations and better support their clients’ daily needs. When companies such as ConnectWise, Autotask (Datto), and Tigerpaw developed PSA platforms specifically for IT services providers, with integrations to other valuable managed services-related tools, maintaining those “homegrown” solutions no longer made sense.
A tool that is built to service a variety of different industries can only cover surface level problems but will fail to solve any specific pain an IT service provider would experience. Due to this, here are three major reasons why MSPs should use managed services industry-specific tools.
As soon as they became available, MSPs quickly discovered how much more cost effective it was to switch to these channel-specific vendor designs over the alternatives. Self-supported solutions required continual updates to ensure links with integrations wouldn’t break and to add functionality, consuming resources that could have supported new clients.
The same issues apply to more general options not built with channel professionals in mind. Providers often have to create and support necessary integrations and may have to do without certain features that make life easier for an MSP, like management portals and performance reports.
Why compromise? The budget required to implement and manage the channel-built solutions is, in most cases, much less than customizing platforms designed for broader applications and other industries.
Money isn’t the only reason IT services professionals should leverage tools purposely built for their business needs. Your clients rely on top quality care regardless of suppliers, technicians, or location.
That’s where industry standards come into play. These guidelines bring everything together ‒ the tools, processes, and philosophies ‒ to ensure providers get the most out of their limited resources while their clients receive top-notch service and solutions. Consider them ideal goals that every business in that particular industry should strive to attain.
Why not strive for that managed services utopia for your business? While achieving that ideal requires a firm commitment and valuable time and resources, the new operational efficiencies and expanded revenue opportunities resulting from those investments make it all worthwhile.
That process is simpler for IT services pros today. CompTIA members created four sets of free channel-specific industry standards and best practices that you can download for free from the association’s website.‒ MSPs can review the materials in each category ‒ IT Solution Provider, Managed IT Solution Provider, Managed Print Provider, and Cybersecurity ‒ and implement any or all of these time-tested recommendations to address their own business needs.
These guidelines also highlight the value of industry-specific tools to streamline your operations and best support your clients. For example, the CompTIA IT Solution Provider Channel Standard Connected Systems suggests MSPs must be able to demonstrate how they integrate business processes and systems to benefit customers. “That end-to-end automation enables you to work in a team manner, reduce costs and improve customer relationships.” Their Managed IT Solution Provider Channel Standard further expands on those concepts by discussing the value of adding specific accounting and cash management systems.
Differentiation is still a crucial part of a services business. While standardized business practices and tools are vital to operational efficiency and service quality, creativity allows your team to meet the unique needs of every client and sets your business apart from the competition. That “special sauce” is invaluable to customer retention and sales.
Mixing creativity with specific service and solution standards is key to MSPs ultimate success. Another valuable ingredient in that equation is automation. Linking various tools to share crucial system information saves everyone valuable time and a lot of headaches, including MSP owners, employees, clients, accountants, and other suppliers.
Integrations are one of the top reasons for using tools designed for channel professionals. Vendors in the IT services space understand the players and ecosystem, and the value of sharing vital information between platforms. That knowledge helps their management and development teams prioritize integration projects and develop relationships that most benefit their partner network. The advantages include:
- Efficiency gains: time is money in business. Integrations that reduce or eliminate manual tasks often provide a quicker ROI ‒ especially with the cost of wages and benefits skyrocketing.
- Greater management insight: the proverbial “single pane of glass” is essential to IT and cloud services providers. It’s easier for owners to evaluate options and make critical decisions when they can access all their important operational information in a single portal. Quality MSP tool integrations give them that ability.
- Boost in reporting capabilities: The more operational data you can share with clients, the easier it will be to pinpoint potential issues and suggest upgrades. Connecting all your managed services tools makes it easier to set priorities and plan future investments.
- Elevate the firm’s professional profile: automation can be an image-enhancing differentiator. Quality integrations allow IT services firms to show off their technical expertise as well as their business prowess. Management portals, comprehensive reporting capabilities, and multiple customer service communications platforms are a few of the things that could impress prospects ‒ and encourage them to sign long-term contracts.
One of the best ways to reduce the learning curve for your team is to work with companies that understand what you do and develop their products, services, and programs to suit your specific business needs as well as those of your clients. Why waste your valuable time and resources and create more of the headaches that come from running a busy IT services business. Don’t compromise, get channel-empowered solutions with the integration options, partner management capabilities, and professional-grade quality you and your clients deserve.