IT Automation

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Originally published on the LabTech Blog - Author Josh Preston

As an MSP, you have two choices. You can be your own boss, be passionate about the work you do and work hard for your success. Sound good? Option two is even better. With the right preparation and foundation, you can have a business that runs so smoothly and effortlessly that you can finally take a real vacation.

Running your business with an eye on growth means changing your mindset and your business focus. Continuous growth is the goal, since it means expanding profits and staying a step (or several) ahead of your competitors. The market changes fast, but the more proactive you can be, the more you’ll be able to offer your clients. The more they depend on your services, the faster you’ll see growth in your company and your bottom line.

Here are a few big game changers to help you jump start your business growth:

1. Stay Safe
Security continues to top the list of your clients’ biggest concerns, so find a strong security platform that keeps them protected without risk. Find the perfect balance between mitigating risk and hindering productivity.

2. User First
How many devices do you have? Chances are you’ve got more than one, and so does every end user you support. Enter the shift to by user management instead of by device. Make sure you’re staying ahead of the game by supporting multiple devices.

3. Connect Everything
Data, devices and people are quickly intertwining, giving MSPs the chance to offer a number of ‘smart’ devices and opportunities. The market opportunity for the Internet of Things (IoT) is huge, so watch this one grow in the next few years and see how you can get on the bandwagon.

4. One-Stop Access
In a nutshell, virtualization allows multiple operating systems to run on one physical piece of hardware. This cost-saving trend will easily catch clients’ attention, so be sure to stay informed of what it offers.

5. Keep Compliant
Regulation and compliance requirements are an important and challenging task for many organizations. Wrap your head around the details for a few relevant verticals, and start reaching out to offer this vital service to new and current compliance-reliant clients.

Keep a close eye on these trends as they come to life, and be ready to answer any questions your clients might have about them. The more you know, the faster you establish your place as a trusted advisor—and the more your clients will thank you.

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The managed service best practice offerings template is intended to provide a list of the most common offerings that are currently being deployed by newly formed managed service practices.

The list has been developed based on the experience of IPED consultants, research conduct with numerous channel partners and direct discussions with partners that have successfully built an MSP practice. Although the customer offerings vary from MSP to MSP, most of the solution providers that have built a successful MSP practice have started their practice with one or more of a variety of managed services.  You can read the CompTIA Managed Service Best Practice Offerings study here.

Need more help with finding the right solutions for your MSP business? Call our sales team today on 0118 9898 222.

 

 

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Originally published on the LabTech Software blog

As a managed service provider (MSP), chances are you have a desire to take your business to the next level. The MSPs that are successful in this endeavour have a key ingredient in common: they are armed with the right tools for growth. The most critical tool for success in this business is a powerful remote monitoring and management (RMM) solution.

So the question is, what should you be looking for when you purchase an RMM tool, and why are those features important to your business?

The right RMM tool impacts your business success with five key benefits. With a powerful and feature-rich RMM solution in place, you can:

  1. Automate any IT process or task.
  2. Work on multiple machines at once.
  3. Solve issues without interrupting clients.
  4. Integrate smoothly into a professional services automation (PSA) tool.
  5. Manage everything from one control centre.

To better understand why these features are so influential, let’s talk a little more about each of them.

 Automate Any IT Process or Task

Imagine being able to determine a potential incident before your client feels the pain and fix it in advance to avoid that negative business impact. Being able to automate any IT process gives you the proactive service model you need to keep your clients happy for the long haul.

Work on Multiple Machines at Once

To solve complex issues, an MSP must be able to work on all the machines that make up a system. If you are attempting to navigate this maze via a series of webpages, it is hard to keep up with progress and makes it easy to miss a critical item during the diagnosis. Having the ability to work on multiple machines at once is paramount to developing your business model and maximizing your returns.

Solve Issues without Interrupting Clients

One of the biggest challenges that MSPs face is fixing issues without impacting their clients’ ability to work. With the wrong tools in place, the solution can be nearly as disruptive as the issue it’s meant to fix. The right tool must allow a technician to connect behind the scenes, troubleshoot and remediate the problem without impacting the client’s ability to work.

Integrate Smoothly Into a PSA Tool

Two-way integration between your RMM and PSA solutions eliminates bottlenecks and allows data to flow smoothly between the tools. The goal of integration is to enable you to respond more quickly to client needs as well as capture and store historical information that leads to easier root cause analysis.

A solid integration will also increase sales by turning data into actionable items that result in quotes and add-on solutions. The key areas to examine when looking at how a PSA and RMM integrate are:

  • Managing tickets and tasks
  • Capturing billable time
  • Assigning incidents based on device and technician
  • Scheduling and automating tasks
  • Identifying and managing sales opportunities
  • Managing and reporting on client configuration information

A solid integration into a PSA will create an end-to-end unified solution to help your more effectively run your IT business.

Manage Everything from One Control Centre

The control centre for your RMM solution should be the cockpit for your service delivery. Having the ability to manage aspects that are directly related to service delivery such as backup and antivirus from the same control centre keeps your technicians working within a familiar environment and speeds service delivery. Also, it cuts down on associated training costs by limiting their activities to the things that matter on a day-to-day basis.

 

Success means equipping your business with the right features and functionality to save your technicians time while increasing your revenue and profit margins. Selecting an RMM solution that solves for these five influential features is the key to getting started down the path to success. What are you waiting for?

 

Contact our Sales Team today on 0118 9898 222 for a demonstration of RMM software.

 

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Article published in IT Channel Expert with Jonatan Bucko, Blue Solutions Product Manager

From software installation and set-up to managing networks, MSPs/IT service providers often have never-ending to-do lists. While problem solving for clients, they need to find answers to their own questions to help them run their businesses.

So what are the pitfalls for MSPs/IT service providers and how do you deal with them? In this article, I’ve outlined some of the difficulties they face and how they can be managed:

Finding the right solutions for your clients

If you type ‘MSP/IT service provider’ into Google, you’ll find never ending pages for back-up, security, cloud solutions etc. Before you commit to buying any new services, do some research on the industry. For example, industry trends, current customers’ peak network and server usage times. Think about your clients’ requirements, are their businesses growing? Is there a particular IT issue that’s caused a problem that you can help with? Don’t forget that speaking to your industry peers can also help; the insight you can gather from speaking to others at forums and conferences can keep you informed and ensure you provide solutions that clients want.

Running multiple networks with stretched resources

Running multiple clients networks creates a lot of opportunities but also means an MSP/IT service provider’s time and resources are stretched. Juggling tasks, responding to queries and keeping customers happy can make your days longer than they need to be.  MSPs/IT service providers should take a look at where they can use solutions that will make this ‘juggling act’ easier, while providing greater value to any clients.

For example automation tools can reduce the time spent on certain tasks, reduce costs and increase efficiency. Also, with a back-up and disaster recovery solution, MSPs/IT service providers can show customers they are efficient in the way they can pre-empt issues (e.g. being aware of a server running out of space before it affects a client’s business operations).

Increasing efficiency

Following on from my previous point – reducing costs and improving efficiency is key to maintaining a thriving business.

One of the tools available to help MSPs/IT service providers with this are IT systems monitoring & management platforms, which remove time-intensive and repetitive support tasks. These solutions become a necessity as you scale your business and its service delivery model.

Whilst many will provide out-of-the box automation of common IT tasks, in some cases creating an automation policy (script) may be required to address a particular time-hog. It is important that the platform allows for comprehensive scripts to be created, through an interface that exposes the functionality to even the novice users, making it easy for them to build policies that will automate repeatable work.

The scripting engine must be intelligent enough requiring minimal user input, yet working in harmony with the platform’s many facets such as monitoring, ticketing and time entry functionalities. Ultimately it doesn’t matter if the newly created policy is going to run on two machines or 2,000, it must do the exact same thing in the same amount of time in every single occurrence.

Once the repeatable tasks have been automated, a review schedule should be created to periodically assess and improve the service delivery as it evolves and the business will reap the benefits.

It could be summarised that a business can scale only as much as its individual processes do.

I’ve heard this comment from a business owner: “The main component is the consistency of approach not necessarily the back-end technology. The platform must enable you to create repeatable, improvable and scalable, automated processes, which can potentially deliver unlimited value at marginal cost”.

Managing costs and making a profit

Constant changes to technology and customer requirements means MSPs/IT service providers are always trying to manage costs and maintain profits. Many of them are finding a way to do this by joining MSP partner programs.

Joining these programs gives MSPs/IT service providers a business model that fits how they work. When looking for a program some other points to consider – will the program help you to manage billing your clients or which tools are available to help you run your business efficiently? Above all, will joining the program grow your business?

Staying on top of industry information

So, while MSPs/IT service providers are busy running their businesses, where do they find the time to stay up-to-date on the latest products and industry news? To be honest this isn’t always possible. So looking out for vendor materials that cover different industry topics can save you a lot of time and keep you on top of everything. Make use of free e-books, webinars, videos, online demos and white labelled content (that you can brand). This will save you the time and trouble of trying to create your own content, as well as helping to answer clients’ queries.

Let’s not forget about the admin!

A lot of us have never liked doing admin – and this won’t change! But it’s something that MSPs/IT service providers need to manage well to avoid payment delays and ‘slowing’ their businesses down. For example, think about your invoicing – what date do you plan to do this? Will the vendor’s processes align with yours? Dull I know but it has to be done.

As you can see from these examples, with some planning and using available resources, MSPs/IT service providers can manage these pitfalls while building profitable businesses.

Contact our sales and product specialists today on 0118 9898 222 to help you find the right solutions for your MSP business.

 

Stop selling products and start selling solutions

 

We spent Friday 30th January 2015 with some of our Resellers at our Stop Selling Products and Start Selling Solutions event.

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Our event was a great opportunity for our Resellers to hear about the StorageCraft back up and disaster recovery solutions and the LabTech Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) platform.

JohnBrennanDuring the first part of the event, the StorageCraft Product Engineer, John Brennan (pictured left) talked about the disaster recovery solution and carried out a demonstration, giving the Resellers an opportunity to ask questions about the StorageCraft product features.

 

 

 

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The StorageCraft Marketing Manager, Janet O'Sullivan (pictured left) talked about the benefits of joining the StorageCraft Academy and how this has helped Resellers to date build profitable businesses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Sales Engineer, Deane Mallinson and LabTech Specialist, Jonatan Bucko (pictured below) both presented on LabTech and gave an overview of the product and how Resellers are using it to automate I.T. tasks.

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As we rounded off the day with a networking lunch, everyone left the event with Blue Solutions goody bags and their free StorageCraft ShadowProtect Desktop license.

Call our product specialists on 0118 9898 222 to find out more about the StorageCraft and LabTech Software products.

Stop selling products and start selling solutions

We inviting our Resellers to join Blue Solutions and our vendors, StorageCraft Technology and LabTech Software at our Stop Selling Products and Start Selling Solutions event, on Friday 30th January 2015.

Join us at Hotel Megaro, London, where StorageCraft specialists will show how you can guarantee business continuity to your partners. LabTech Software specialists will demonstrate how the RMM platform improves productivity with I.T. automation.

Register for the event

Take a look at a WD Sentinel

We're also going to have a WD Sentinel at the event for you to ask any questions about the product and the licencing promotion we're currently running.

 

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Article by Kevin Davis, Technical Product Manager, LabTech Software

By becoming your clients’ trusted advisor, you provide the best defense against your competition. You don’t want to be just another vendor. You want your clients to come to you for everything technology related. When the copier breaks, you want your client to call you, not the copier company. You must become the one-stop shop that they can trust to get anything done.

So how do you get there? Follow these 6 tips and you’ll be well on your way to becoming your clients’ go-to source for expert tech support.

Put Your Clients First

First and foremost, a trusted advisor puts clients’ needs first. Sustaining the relationship rather than focusing on the outcome of the business at hand is a top priority.

Understand Their “Why”

Trusted advisors go beyond meeting clients’ explicit and obvious needs by developing a deeper understanding of their implicit, and often hidden, needs. Through active listening and asking the right questions, you’ll be able to establish a relationship where you can proactively manage your clients’ pain points, rather than addressing them reactively as they arise.

Be Credible

Be an authoritative figure on the subject matter at hand by maintaining up-to-date industry knowledge that will enable you to provide clients with expert, top level service.

Deliver on What You Say

The industry expertise that comes with constant industry monitoring is incredibly valuable when it comes to establishing a client connection. However, to turn that credibility into a lasting trust relationship you must be reliable.

Connect Emotionally

To be an effective advisor you must learn to “recognize, deal with and respond to client emotions.” Empathy is key. Treat clients first and foremost as people, not as members of a group. Lend a sympathetic ear and provide not only support, but also affirmation and appreciation.

Stay Committed

Above all, the trusted advisor is in it for the long-term relationship, not the short-term gain. Connect with your clients between projects; they typically prefer just as much contact, if not more, outside the confines of specific fee-based work.

You can read the fill article at the LabTech Software Blog

Want to know more about the LabTech IT Automation tools and how it can help your business? Contact our Product specialist, Jonatan Bucko on 0118 898 210 .

 

Article by Kevin Davis, Technical Product Manager - LabTech Software 

In today’s competitive market, having satisfied clients is rarely enough to keep you truly competitive. Clients are more educated, better prepared and have more alternatives. To run a thriving company, your satisfied clients need to become raving fans.

Encouraging that transition is all about a dedication to the best service possible. Here are a few tips to get you there.

Know Your Clients

First and foremost, you must exceed client expectations and deliver exceptional customer service. You might think this is a given, but oftentimes this is where companies fall down.

At any given moment, you can assume that your clients are being pursued by another company or are researching other options. Keep in mind that when clients are shopping alternative solutions, they are typically looking for more than just quality service for a good price.

Exceed Expectations

The next requirement for converting loyal clients into raving fans is setting clear expectations. Without clear expectations, you cannot exceed them and will find it increasingly difficult to inspire loyalty and trust among your client base.

Be Consistent

Once you integrate these values into your company and culture, you are on your way to turning your clients in to raving fans. However, claiming total buy-in from clients is not enough. You have to deliver exceptional work on a consistent basis to maintain this new raving fan base. One of the tools to help you do this is a playbook that documents and outlines your core processes. A playbook ensures that the same process is completed to your standards every time.

Documenting processes and creating a playbook is only the beginning of turning your clients into raving fans. If you don’t communicate often, you won’t know if your work is meeting (and hopefully exceeding) client expectations. Remember that without regular communication with clients, you risk losing them through failed human interactions.

This is a just a short summary on how you can improve your clients' satisfaction and increase profitability. The full version is available on the LabTech Software Blog for you to read.

Our product specialists are also available to talk to you about I.T. automation and how these tools can help you grow a profitable business. Contact us on 0118 9898 222 for help with any queries.

 

 

 

LabTech MSP_Man BannerArticle contributed by John Timko, Marketing Director, LabTech Software.

Why should you stand by and watch your business move in slow motion? Everyone knows that time is money, so as a business owner you want to speed up emergency fixes, report delivery, everyday tasks etc. The answer is automation and in this Part 2: here are the final steps for growth, efficiency and competitiveness:

3- Training. When it comes to staff, it isn’t about quantity but quality. Establishing automation expertise through staff training will help your team take advantage of new client-facing services and achieve your desired return on investment (ROI).

Training goes beyond your technical staff - you also need to educate your sales force. Your sales team needs to learn and develop new skills, new ways of talking about your IT business and new techniques to sell your services. The time and resources you spend to nurture and train employees will help them reach their full potential and open the door to success!

4- Get Creative. Thanks to automation tools like the LabTech remote monitoring and management (RMM) platform, if you can think it, you can automate it. Every IT solution ideally meets two criteria: 1) issues must be resolved consistently through documented steps; and 2) solutions must be executed without disrupting the end-user’s experience. To start understanding how automation can save you time and drive revenue, start a list of commonly reported issues from your clients to see how many recurring tasks you could proactively solve through automation. Learn how to visualize new business opportunities made possible with the time saved by automating these tasks.

5- You Built It. Market It. You've identified your market. Now it’s time to finalize your services and promote them! Start with the solutions that are easiest to implement and offer the greatest impact to your clients and move to more complex solutions that clients and prospects may not be even aware of. Set clear goals and move forward!

Automation adds value to any IT service provider’s business proposition. It makes clients happy by providing undetectable, proactive solutions that often prevent service interruptions. More importantly, automation grows your business. Using automation will increase profits by managing more devices per technician, uncovering hidden business opportunities, increasing billable time per technician and maximizing the value of your current client base, which ultimately leads to closing more sales.

If you missed Part 1- you can read this Blog post here 

Our product specialists are available to answer any questions on  0118 9898 222. You can also watch the video below for an overview of how automation helps MSPs create profitable businesses.

Article contributed by John Timko, Marketing Director, LabTech Software.

LabTech MSP_Man BannerThere is nothing as frustrating as watching your IT business move in slow motion. Everyone knows time is money, so as a business owner you try to speed things up -  response time to clients, emergency fixes, report delivery, everyday tasks…the list goes on. Most days it feels like you are catching up, being reactive instead of proactive.

IT service providers know how important it is to provide high levels of customer support for their clients while building a profitable business. Most IT service providers receive a fixed fee for their services, meaning efficiency and speed are key to profitability. The more efficient you are, the more clients you can manage. You need to ensure your operation is moving quickly without sacrificing the accuracy that makes your business profitable and competitive.

The answer is automation.

Automating tasks allows you to speed up the delivery of services and act proactively instead of reactively. As you automate daily repetitive tasks and services, your technicians are free to take on more complex tasks and projects. Automation eliminates the need for constant human intervention in simple daily tasks so that staff can focus on more pressing client needs.

Automation also gives you peace of mind because you know that automated tasks are being completed every time! You are delivering proactive services that result in improved client satisfaction without disrupting end-users.

LabTech Software has developed 5 steps through best practice analysis to take your IT business to a new level of growth, efficiency, and competitiveness:

1- Growth Potential. Take a look at your current client base. How many new clients could you serve with automation solutions? What market share could you claim with more efficient services? Market research and a survey of your current clientele will help you identify the right services and sales goals for your business.

2- The Right Tools. Competitive IT service providers, like the best engineers, have a solid and powerful set of tools to help them accomplish tasks. For IT service providers those tools are:

  • Professional services automation (PSA).
  • Remote monitoring and management (RMM).
  • Quote and proposal automation.

If you’re already using these tools you are ready to automate your business. Automation is a force multiplier that flows into all operative stages, staff, and everyday activities to increase efficiency across the board while driving revenue. If you are missing some of these tools, explore vendor offers to ensure you are getting everything you need to make your business a success.

Want to know more about "How to Save Time and Drive Revenue?" We'll be back soon to tell you more in Part 2..... in the meantime, here's a video about RMM and how it helps MSPs create efficient, profitable businesses: