As an MSP, one of the best ways to improve your business and set yourself up for growth is to automate as much of the mundane, day-to-day operational aspects of your IT services as you can, including patch management, security upgrades and new user onboarding. In doing so you’ll reduce costs, as well as gain the ability to deliver new service offerings, increase your margins and support more customers.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are three best practices to get you moving forward:
1. Identify areas to automate
The first step on the way to IT automation is to identify those areas of your services business that would clearly benefit from having turnkey, repeatable, standardized procedures and processes. In truth, almost anything today in the realm of IT services delivery can be automated. And many MSPs turn to remote monitoring and management (RMM) tools to handle the task. Be sure to look for RMM platforms that offer not only pre-built automations that cover a wide array of IT tasks, but also drag-and-drop features that allow customized automations to be created on the fly. This functionality will save you time and money, as well as boost performance.
Beyond providing an immediate jump in productivity and profits, automation also gives MSPs more time for building their businesses, offering clients better customer service and focusing on the big picture.
2. Pick a PSA
As an MSP, doing your billing each month is probably one of your most dreaded processes. You’ve got to verify your chargeable hours, do the service reports, print the invoices, stuff the envelopes or push out the emails and track everything.
The billing process is not only tedious, but it consumes time that you could be spending on more profitable activities.
The easy and efficient alternative to such drudgery is a professional services automation (PSA) system. A PSA will cut the time it takes you to do your billing, easily generate professional service reports, improve accuracy, track and improve utilization rates and eliminate billing errors, and increase your client’s satisfaction. These systems offer a valuable framework for your business and can transform the way you manage operations.
State-of-the-art PSAs should provide you and your clients with the following:
• A secure portal where clients can submit and track their own support tickets
• A Web-based scheduling calendar
• Easy remote ticket entry
• Customizable service reports
3. Standardize for success
Finally, you should consider establishing standard operating instructions (a.k.a. runbooks) to help technicians create shorter, easier paths to completing common tasks. Most MSPs lack written, step-by-step procedures for customer service or technical issues. Instead, they rely on the expertise of their best techs to solve all problems that arise. But when an experienced tech takes a job at another company, it can throw his or her employer into a tailspin--unless the employer has taken precautionary measures. That’s where creating standard operating instructions comes in. These instructions serve as an essential guideline for the way you run your business--from the moment your doors open to the time everyone goes home at night.
By automating these instructions within your RMM platform, when your techs leave, you can continue on without fear that your business will suffer. Automation also allows the rest of your team to gain expertise, save time and contribute to higher profitability. And with the right RMM tools in place, those automations can also be easily adjusted as IT needs and approaches change over time.
The key is that RMM automation offers MSPs a way to capture the skillset and subject matter expertise of their best, most advanced technicians and to encapsulate it into an automation that can be used repeatedly across your client base. It’s a smart way to run IT, and it makes sense for both your clients and your managed services practice.
As a service provider, there’s no doubt you are faced with a barrage of choices every day--from the simple to the complex. The decisions you make today can have far-reaching implications for your business. To continue to add value to your practice and to your customers, you need to make smart decisions, and one of the smartest decisions you can make is to automate.