IT management, Channel partners, MSP, Small business

Does Gary Pica Matter Anymore?

We've all been to the conference keynotes: The same former NFL player or coach, talking about the same play, from the same Super Bowl -- and the same motivational conclusion. The problem? Over time, you can only give the same speech so many times to the same audience...

And therein was the potential challenge for TruMethods Owner Gary Pica, a "former" MSP who has been coaching IT service providers since 2008. ("Former" is in quotes for a reason. Stick with me.) Over time, Pica could have become yesterday's coach. Instead, he went on a so-called hero's journey of continued relevance.

Game On

Bob Penland, CTO, TruMetods
TruMethods' Penland

mindSHIFT acquired Pica's MSP (Dynamic Digital Services) around 2005 -- about three years before I began tracking the managed services provider market for a living. As mindSHIFT, All Covered and other "buyers" continued to acquire MSPs, Pica saw an opportunity: Educate service providers about his business journey -- his real-world experience -- and the real-world processes that triggered his successful company sale in 2005.

The result was TruMethods -- which "provides the playbook for MSP success that helps IT solution providers move forward." Pica and his lieutenants (pundits like CTO Bob Penland) gradually recruited and coached a strong network of MSPs.

Among the well-known anecdotes Pica often shares: MSPs need to focus on chocolate cake (the overall service delivery and customer experience) rather than the individual ingredients (RMM, PSA, backup, anti-virus, etc.).

Looking Back

But here's the thing. It has been more than a decade since Pica sold Dynamic Digital Services. Think about that for a minute. The iPhone didn't exist at the time of the deal. Amazon was pregnant with a cloud idea, but AWS's official delivery remained more than six months away. Facebook was one year old. Big data wasn't much of a term.

Translation: Pica's MSP success occurred long before today's big four IT trends -- mobile, social, cloud and big data -- arrived on customer menus. How can a guy who thrived in the client-server and Web 1.0 age teach today's IT service providers to succeed? At some point, Pica's chocolate cake thesis and many other best practices he shares could go stale.

What's Cooking Now?

But here's the twist. Instead of recounting the same formula for success from 2005, Pica and Penland went back into the kitchen and started working on some new recipes.

For instance, Pica and Penland are partners in Apex IT Group, which delivers IT services to companies in the Delaware Valley. That business allows Pica and Penland to execute and polish some classic best practices, while learning how to pivot toward new IT services opportunities.

Moreover, TruMethods developed MyITprocess -- a business automation platform for MSPs. It "helps managed IT providers design, implement, manage and master technology standards for all their clients," TruMethods asserts.

The Hero's Journey

masterIT CEO Michael Drake

Meanwhile, MSPs are shifting their mindsets. The early go-go years -- attend every event, pursue every business tip -- are over.

Talk to folks like masterIT CEO J. Michael Drake, and you'll hear far more focus on life-work balance. Much like the software industry itself, Drake and other MSPs are focusing on fewer, more strategic relationships -- giving back where ever possible.

Drake and I spoke for about an hour yesterday. He mentioned the hero's journey that we're all on -- in life and in business. I came away with about a dozen blog ideas -- and you'll see them gradually surface over the next few weeks.

One of my takeaways was the value of peer groups and industry learning. Even as he scales back travel elsewhere, Drake continues to attend TruMethods meetings. He gives back to the peer group. And he absorbs the latest learnings from Pica, Penland and the TruMethods team.

Get Your Hands Dirty

And that's the lesson. To remain relevant -- regardless of your industry -- you've got to get back into the kitchen and get your hands dirty. Again and again. That doesn't mean micro-managing everything. It does mean asking a lot of questions, regularly reviewing your service delivery menu, and tasting everything that comes out of your own kitchen.

That's why Gary Pica remains relevant. It's why Bob Penland remains relevant. And it's essentially why we launched ChannelE2E.

We're not in a position to bake the cake. But we are in the rare position to tell you what the experts are whipping up next. I look forward to visiting TruMethods and Apex IT Group really soon... to see what's cooking now.

PS: Of course Gary Pica matters. To his family. To his friends. To his peers. And more. That's my way of saying please pardon the dramatic headline.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.