Time for MSPs to Abandon Service Level Agreements?

Good news. Your company offers a better SLA (service level agreement) than the MSP down the road. The bad news? Perhaps you're making the wrong guarantees to your customers. And that means rethinking your approach to SLAs -- or dumping them completely.

That's the general thesis from TruMethods Owner Gary Pica and CTO Bob Penland. During a full-day visit with TruMethods, the well-known pundits shared a range of KPIs (key performance indicators) and advice for MSPs.

The Thesis Explained

The nuggets of guidance include:

1. Fewer Tickets, Please: Focus on driving down the number of help desk tickets your business manages. That's right: Instead of showing your end-customers that you're managing more and more tickets, show them that you're managing fewer and fewer tickets from their employees.

2. Faster Resolutions: Focus on accelerating your average response time and average resolution time for help desk tickets.

The net result from step 1 and step 2 is exponential productivity improvements on your service desk -- and exponential productivity improvements for your customers.

Instead of throwing more and more people at your help desk challenges, you're able to have each help desk technician manage more and more end points -- shifting talent to other areas of your business.

But how do you achieve step 1 and step 2? The process involves an overall customer health check that measures whether their IT systems comply (or align) with your company's recommended standards and best practices. That's where myITprocess, a management platform from TruMethods, helps to automate that reality check.

Why Abandon SLAs?

So, are MSP service level agreements ("we'll fix your problem in X amount of time") really dead? I'm not sure if Pica and Penland were speaking literally. But it's safe to say they would not lead an MSP sales call with SLA guarantees. The reason? You're basically telling customers, "Here's how good we are in reactive mode."

Instead, focus more on your proactive work -- the work to bring customer IT systems into alignment with your best practices. Through regular check-ins, you'll need to analyze and maintain that alignment -- or make adjustments to restore the alignment. The net result should be far fewer outages and customer trouble tickets hitting your inbox.

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.