Does Your MSP Have a Broken Window? Are You Sure?

Call me a bit nosy, but I like knowing what’s going on in other IT organizations. As someone who’s been in the tech industry for decades, I know what an optimized process and healthy workplace looks like, and I also care that tech teams are functioning at their best – that’s why I started ServiceTree in the first place.

LinkedIn: Paul Azad, founder, ServiceTree
Author: Paul Azad, founder, ServiceTree

One question I often ask MSPs is how they oversee timesheet entries and PSA data. Quite often, this triggers a sense of uncertainty. Managers and business owners are unconsciously uncertain about their current status quo, and when I ask, they wonder if that’s something they need to review. From my point of view, every status quo has to be constantly challenged. If we are not improving each day, others will surpass us.

Let me admit: I do not believe an MSP can sustain a utilization of 90% or greater for anything more than a short period of time. It’s a false economy – it will drive your team to get creative with their time entries, and if you keep pushing it, you will kill any culture you have in your organization. No culture = no team. How can you expect techs to improve their IT game when their focus is on improving numbers? It leads to falsification, which brings me to my next point.

Earlier in the conversation, I often hear leaders state that their team enters hours as they happen – before they go to the next ticket. By the end of the conversation, nearly all admit that they don’t look at each ticket. Likewise, the conversation about data accuracy goes from “the data is quite accurate – it’s entered as it happens” to “well, when I think about it... maybe they do round their time entries up.” So the effect of not entering as it happens is a cost to your net profit.

Why? Because your team is indirectly overstating their utilized capacity. If each ticket is rounded up by 5 mins, and a tech works on average on 15 tickets per day, that’s 1.25 hours they have overstated on their timesheets. If every tech on your team does this, then the extra hours add up fast.

Broken Window Theory: Explained

I was listening to an MSP podcast a short time ago, and the presenter related this issue within an MSP to 'the broken window' theory. In essence, if someone breaks a window on your building and you don’t repair it straight away, it puts out the message that you don’t care enough to fix it. As a result, more windows end up broken.

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How does this relate to an MSP? If you don’t hold your team accountable for their time sheets and PSA data input, they won’t submit accurate hours. It will get worse, and the problem could bleed into other tasks and processes. The same can be said for documentation. I hear over and over again that the documentation in an MSP is not great, even with all the money spent on tools to manage it.

Accountability is key to maintaining processes. With most tech teams working remotely during the coronavirus quarantine, many MSPs are letting their processes and oversight slip. I cannot emphasize enough: the tech teams that lack accountability will not survive the pandemic. Your techs aren’t used to working from home, and due to simple human nature, they will try to get away with as much as possible, no matter how trustworthy they seem. Enforce your processes, and trust in your PSA.

If you need an extra hand in integrating your services or leveraging technology to maintain your oversight, keep ServiceTree Connect in mind – and see how it can help with a PSA demo today.

Author Paul Azad is founder ServiceTree. Read more ServiceTree blogs here.