A lot has changed since the dot com days and telecom boom, isn't it? People don't even work out of an office anymore. The distance between home and office is now invisible, workforce has become distributed, and the demand for managed service is on the rise.
Are managed service providers (MSPs) prepared to handle the new influx of clients and their business needs? How does an MSP make technology work for their clients and for themselves and become a trusted IT partner for their clients?
To start with, a good set of tools can make it all easier for you to automate tasks intelligently, implement efficient processes, deliver a first-class service to your clients, and of course drive your revenue numbers up. It can ease your administrative burden and enable you to monitor and troubleshoot multiple client networks remotely.
Yes, with a good managed services software solution you can accomplish this and a lot more. But hey, there are plenty of MSP tools in the market offering various features at various price points largely due to the shift to a more fluid digital infrastructure.
Historically, MSPs have mixed and matched the software tools they use. Each year they find something new and trade it for another tool in the hope they’ll refine their toolbox. This is slowly coming to an end. With the consolidation of tools, the MSP software market is inching towards a more unified platform that houses the capabilities of all the independent tools.
So where do you start?
Let's begin with the basics.
What is MSP platform?
MSP platform can be an ambiguous term. Currently, we have software vendors selling various MSP tools integrated into a single platform.
Managed services software is an IT service platform that helps MSPs manage a predefined set of services for their clients. It helps you track and control your client's network operations from a single console. It also helps you manage multiple client accounts on one interface.
Think of it as a single-pane view of everything that's happening in your business and service delivery.
Important features of an MSP platform
Sometimes referred to as infrastructure automation, this feature enables automated checks, tasks, backups, patches, and policies for end-users. This way you can be rid of redundancy with recurring tickets, minimizing client busywork. It also helps you manage billing services for multiple accounts accurately without having to switch between tools or do it all manually. It is key to IT optimization and digital transformation.
Automation helps you build a more cost-effective relationship between you and your clients.
Cloud-based design enables MSPs to remotely manage and proactively monitor multiple client endpoints, networks, and devices at once.
Also known as network management, this feature helps you gather insights about your client's machine health, status, and provides reports on their network. It helps you maintain your client systems and keep them up to date. It also allows you to administer patches and install software using a unified dashboard. You can also automate scheduled maintenance activities at the clients' locations.
All of this remotely and in real-time.
Clients report issues or raise service requests. This IT ticketing or helpdesk functionality provides an easy way for them to do that.
Similarly, you need a place to track all the incoming tickets and assign them to the right technicians. The help desk automatically processes tickets or service requests from different clients that come in through various channels like email, phone, chat, or social media and assigns them to the right technicians. This frees up your time so you can focus on solving more complex issues. It reduces wait time for your customers and in turn increases customer satisfaction
MSPs manage multiple accounts. It can be a challenging task particularly if you don't have a central tool to process and organize tasks for each account separately. It is easy to mix up contacts or services and miss SLAs.A managed services software serves as a single platform for you to manage multiple clients with various service requirements. It allows you to track expenses, create reports, SLAs, set notifications for contract renewal dates, create a knowledge base, etc.
It is important to keep track of all your client's IT assets. Using asset management you can manage the assets by manually entering the asset details or by importing them from other networks using a distributed asset scan. You can run scripts to identify and import information on individual items. You can also schedule automatic scans periodically for updates and deploy the required software solutions and patches automatically.
A less known advantage of this feature is that once you understand what assets a client has in their infrastructure, it opens up opportunities for you to upsell hardware upgrades, licensing compliance, and software deployment, etc to your clients.
You can't manage what you can't measure. This is not just true for internal business reporting but also for providing quantifiable information to your clients.
You need a way in which you can process all of the data in your managed services software and translate it into meaningful information. You can't work with spreadsheets if you have more than one or two clients. It's just not scalable. With built-in reporting tools, you can analyze performance and delivery across various systems and modules. You can create overall reports on all the networks that you manage as well as custom reports for each client.
An interactive dashboard with reports built into it will do the trick and keep you on top of your KPIs.
Top 3 benefits of MSP platform
MSP tools help managed IT service providers organize client networks, IT assets, client tickets, and service level agreements (SLAs) to deliver optimal support to each client. It also reduces costs to run operations effectively and the resources to execute them. If you have to pick out the top three benefits of an MSP tool or software, it would include:
Every time there is an issue, the MSP tool can alert the clients by auto-generating tickets. These tickets help you remediate issues swiftly. It also reduces the time needed to track the operations of multiple client networks. It keeps errors in check from a single console. Through automation, you can save time and manual effort in your daily operations.
Lower overhead costs
When you use an MSP system or software, you can focus on the core technical aspects of the job instead of hiring staff to monitor or track client networks. Since the tools also help you troubleshoot issues remotely, it reduces the costs incurred to deploy your technicians to each of your client locations.
MSP tools are a great source of real-time data that is collected from various points across multiple client networks, enabling you to make faster decisions when it comes to troubleshooting, deploying software, and installing updates. Imagine the amount of data that is being collected in the software. Using this massive amount of data you can gather insights that will help you identify security threats, proactively investigate, and mitigate incidents.