What to consider for your tech stack when starting a new MSP business
Getting a new Managed Service Provider business up and running can be a challenge. There are a lot of things to think about. One important facet of the business is choosing your tech stack.
Illustration: Karthikeyan Ganesh
There are two parts. What will you use for your internal toolset? What technology will you work to standardize your clients on?
Why are standards important?
One of the keys to running a successful and profitable MSP is to add efficiency to the management of networks and endpoints. That efficiency will drive down labor costs, which are typically the highest cost an MSP will incur. Automation is a big part of that, along with being able to fix problems quickly.
Related reading: 6 ways to improve your MSP business' profit margins
The problem is that there is such a vast array of technology on the market that it’s impossible to build automation for all of it. It’s also impossible to know it all well enough that you can be an expert to deliver service.
A standard technology stack allows you to narrow the field. Instead of building automation for a vast array of products, you have a select subset you must build for. Instead of needing to train your support staff on every firewall brand that exists, you have one that you always recommend.
Internal technology stack
One of the key solutions that MSPs can put in place from the start to help their clients more effectively are systems for remote monitoring and management, ticketing, and IT documentation.
You should look for a system with tight integration between these tools, or possibly one with them all the tools under one roof. You want to spend your time helping clients, not trying to fix broken toolset that doesn’t talk to each other.
Related reading: Why should your PSA and RMM be 'truly' unified?
It should also be built so a human can use it. Your techs should be able to understand the interface and easily find the information they are looking for. Connecting to clients to give support needs to be dead simple. That will help you have faster response times and happier clients.
Automation is a key here as well. The toolset you choose should have a powerful automation engine that allows you to do things like patches and updates globally with minimal setup. You should also be able to push software to all machines or a group of machines at a time and push agents out centrally for quick and easy onboardings.
Related reading: MSP software and business automation: the case for AI
Ticketing software should allow you to easily record the issues that your technicians are working on and do time entries promptly. It should have tight integration with your RMM software so that alerts get seen and responded to. It should also allow you to build workflows so that you can ensure that no ticket gets left behind.
Documentation software should be web-based so that it’s accessible from anywhere. You may need to document things while in the field or working from home. Again, integration with your RMM and ticketing is very helpful here and should be investigated. It should be easy to update to maximize adoption and usage with your service team.
Related reading: Boost MSP efficiency with unified PSA and RMM solution
For many MSPs starting out, this may seem like a high cost, but the sooner you can get it in place, the better. These types of solutions are the ones that will allow you to scale your business, service more clients with less staff, and be more profitable.
Client tech stack
Just as important as your internal toolset is your ability to service your clients effectively. That can be very difficult when they have every flavor of hardware under the sun. You don’t want your technicians to have to learn to be experts on SonicWall, Juniper, Sophos, WatchGuard, PaloAlto, Fortinet, Cisco, and Barracuda, just to name a few. Pick one brand of firewall and let that be your standard. Then you can train your technicians on that hardware, and they will be able to deliver quicker, better service.
Do the same thing for your server hardware, laptops and desktops, switches, wireless, and more.
There are a few things to consider when making these decisions. What options do you have to purchase the hardware? Can you make money selling it? Is the hardware solid? Does it have a good warranty? What does support look like? What training resources does the manufacturer have available for you?
It makes sense to do some of this research upfront, so you know from the start what solutions you want to use. As you grow the business, you’ll have a framework in place that will allow you to purchase, support, and train your staff on the hardware you recommend to your clients more easily. A little bit of planning from the start can add a lot to your bottom line.