SolarWinds in 2018 reported that only around 20% of MSPs see both growth over 10% and margins above 20%, allowing these companies to stick out of an increasingly competitive crowd. The reason for their success is not some obfuscated master strategy. The secret is simple: automation.
It was not too long ago that many MSPs viewed full automation as a luxury commodity, only accessible to the largest of companies able to afford it or actually hire resources to build it. Thankfully, this is no longer true today – automation is more accessible than ever. Those who don’t automate risk are getting left behind by their competition, who are unafraid to venture past traditional methods of doing things.
In 2019, automation is crucial throughout a majority of industries – and in the MSP world, it is essential to automate in order to maximize the true potential of your service offering in a profitable, scalable way.
What tools should you keep in your toolshed – MSP 101
Today, technology is much more widespread than in years past while also being much easier to implement (at times) in the workplace setting. There are myriad tools that MSPs can use to make not only their lives easier but their clients’ lives as well.
Documentation is essential, but oftentimes it’s hard to stay on top of everything going on under your network because you are relying on people – and people have the bad habit of being unreliable. Our automated documentation platform, Liongard Roar, not only automates the tracking of client environments but will also generate alerts on changes or configurations not aligned with that MSPs best practices. In addition, the ability to report across environments of every client allows MSPs to gain the ability to stay on top of things that happens within their network.
Connectwise and Datto are other examples of companies that are working towards making life easier for MSPs. Both companies work to build products for MSPs that help them better manage their service desk and devices. They have platforms that allow for automated workflows developed specifically for MSPs – which when introduced provide the ability to compete best against less nimble competitors.
Similarly, as your company grows larger, needs may change and now familiar companies such as Service Now allows IT companies to automate their workflows to unlock efficiency, connecting employees and customers to reduce wasted time. Salesforce is another essential tool, though not specifically designed for MSPs. Nonetheless, it is a valuable tool that allows for the automation of workflows, customer engagements, standard operating procedures, and much more.
Challenges for current MSPs
There are a large number of choices for MSPs looking to increase their organization’s automation capabilities. With so many options available, it’s almost a matter of having too many tools in the tool shed. Under strict budgets, the challenge becomes which specific tools MSPs should use, forgoing some in favor of more beneficial ones.
Currently, only one-fifth of MSPs are leveraging their tools successfully, with the remaining four-fifths either not implementing them correctly or not having time to them add to their tech stack. There are many so many tools available, but how do you know which are best? If you are already spending $6,000 a month, how do you justify another $400 on a different tool? Picking the right one is a challenge, but it can be done if you have prioritized the number of ways you are manually doing work, and plug that tool to reduce that effort.
Much of the software out there is not unique – many of the tools overlap in functions, with some doing the same thing better than others. In regards to the software, you should look for a vendor who focuses specifically on MSP challenges. Some software is broader and doesn’t necessarily answer the questions you need for your company. Look at the culture, their Facebook page to see what they're doing, and take a look deeper than the actual software to find out if they’re right for you. The software is just one part of the solution: The support, documentation, training and maybe a sense of humor make up a best in class software company.
It helps if you make a checklist. What are the five things that you need to be a profitable and scalable service provider? It’s essential that you get the core products in place before you think of adding on anything afterward. Efficiency is the name of the game – if you want to get into that upper 20% of MSPs, this is essential.
All of these tools are available and accessible to MSPs everywhere, no matter their size. There’s simply no excuse for MSPs not to automate – it’s either change or get left behind.
Mark Sokol is Vice President of Marketing at Liongard, a platform that automates the documentation process, generates critical alerts, and provides cross-client and environment reporting, giving MSPs full visibility into the data needed to make decisions. Read more Liongard guest blogs here.