Why are managed service providers scared of the word 'operations'?

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If you are here reading this article, chances are you're going through one of the most common stages in the life of an MSP (managed service provider). It's probably been a few years since you started your business, and you feel that you still need to dot the i's and cross the t's.

The workload is just fine, and your team is skilled. Finances are sound as well since you managed to find the right price point for your services. But you feel like you've hit the ceiling. You've reached that point where you think you have done everything you can, and you're not sure what to do next.

I call this stage the "Ghostbuster Stage."

As the song says, "If it's something' weird and it doesn't look good… Who ya gonna call?" Not to sound too spiritual, but the answer to this question is within yourself. Better yet, it's yourself.

Yes, my fellow MSP, you were the answer all along, and you didn't know it (yet).

As the founder, let me ask you this — what is your most valuable asset?

Your knowledge.

You know the vision. You are aware of where you are leading your company because you set the direction long ago. You know how your ideal company looks like. Your job is to close the gap between what your business is like now and what you want it to become. But how?

By wearing the COO (Chief Operations Officer) hat!

It's the role that can push the ceiling higher and give your company room to grow.

Why are most MSPs so scared to take on this role?

Because it brings disruptions in our companies, questioning everything and anything: a COO reviews the day-to-day work and the general processes with the final goal of removing bottlenecks. We have one big job — looking at each task and asking ourselves: is it the best way to do it? Is this the way that leads us to where we want to go?

It is only human nature to stay away from this challenging role for as long as we can. We all try to walk the least stressful road, trying to move through life without putting unnecessary weight on our shoulders, but there comes a time in an MSP's life where only the founder(s) can step up and take on the 'burden'.

If you find yourself at this crossroads, having to choose between keeping things the way they are by postponing the evolution of your role toward COO and taking this step with a life-changing leap of faith, then here are five reasons why you should choose the second option and start building a strong Operations Management department in your company.

#1 Effectiveness

When you monitor processes, you don't need to ask yourself, "What is it that's not working?" anymore. We know how much time it takes to answer this question and how frustrating it is for you and your team not to know where your corrections are requested. As COO, you become the straight shooter of your team, saving everybody time and energy.

#2 Predictability

Entrepreneurship is just a synonym of unpredictability. We all know that. Markets change, clients' needs change, all is in constant evolution, and we can't always see what's coming next. We should, but we can't.

Some things happen (see the 2020 pandemic that took us all by surprise).

Being COO means that you can bring predictability into your company's processes. You can make sure that procedures are documented and followed, that checklists are updated and that all your co-workers follow that same direction.

All these actions won't help you predict the next worldwide event but help you create a more substantial base to face anything that might happen.

#3 Promptness

You come back from a convention where a new technology stole your heart. You signed a contract right there at the vendor's booth, and now you can't wait to start using it.

Unfortunately, once you drop the news to the tech team, you generate a wormhole, and you will never hear anything back from them. You won't know if the team is using it, whether they have feedback, or whether the technology stays true to its promise.

Nothing. You will be left in the dark.

The good news is, once you start acting as COO, there's no room for excuses. When a tool is added to the tech toolbox, they will start using it. The COO supervises the implementation process, collects feedback, and monitors how the new solution is making things better through dedicated meetings.

Related reading: What's in your MSP toolbox?

#4 Scalability

This 4th reason is the positive consequence of having the first three implemented. You will scale your business to the next level when:

  • you are quick to react to fix what is not working
  • you standardize and keep the element of surprise to the minimum
  • you quickly implement new solutions and offer a better service to your clients

And last but not least, the ultimate reason.

#5 Clarity

The COO brings and keeps clarity within the company. Our job is to rise above each task and make sure that the collective effort leads the company to its final goal.

Being clear about where your company is going is as important as measuring if what you're doing takes you there. Setting a goal without knowing if you're hitting all the checkpoints is like having no goal at all.

And the COO is the right person for the job.

Are you ready to start building the MSP of your dreams?

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