Managed services providers (MSPs) are all working toward the vision of an ideal business that runs like the proverbial well-oiled machine. Some, however, forget that to achieve that level of efficiency, the machine has to run the same way time after time. MSPs may also overlook the fact that you already have an answer to how to standardize processes and offerings: your remote monitoring and management (RMM) tool.
Risks of Not Standardizing Processes
Mark Whiffen, senior product manager at Barracuda MSP, explains that MSPs who can’t develop and execute a plan for how to standardize processes and offerings aren’t only operating at low efficiency. They’re creating risks for their businesses and for their clients — especially if they provide services to a high volume of users in the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market.
“Not standardizing services can lead to potential confusion or miscommunication as to which services are being offered to the SMB,” Whiffen says. “Further, when an MSP does not have standardization or a template to work from, it can result in each service offering becoming a one-off. This can put customers at risk of missing essential security components. Without standardization, the room for error grows and can leave threat vectors and data exposed.”
Standardized offerings, on the other hand, give your clients the benefits of well-thought-out, comprehensive solutions that cover all the bases. They also help you give a clear description of services and solutions to clients. “This enables them to relate their escalations to specific expectations,” says Whiffen. “From a managed services perspective, setting clear expectations early on is essential, as it can help you keep customers happy, which in turn can help providers reduce their churn rate. By setting expectations, services such as patching can be clearly identified and prioritized to be dealt with by the MSP. This makes SLAs easier to identify and adhere to.”
More Incentives for Getting a Handle on How to Standardize Processes and Offerings
Whiffen comments that there are several other compelling reasons for standardization.
“The most significant benefit for MSPs who standardize their service offerings is that it helps to simplify the onboarding process,” he says. With defined service levels, the process is streamlined, and the time and resources needed to onboard new SMBs are reduced. “This extends beyond the technical and resource deployment, it also impacts other business functions, such as simplifying the billing process,” he adds.
Determining how to standardize processes and offerings also gives MSPs the ability to allocate resources to align with company goals. “For example, individual team members can be allocated to specific tasks related to a specific service that plays into your business’ strengths, leading to higher efficiency for service level agreements (SLAs),” Whiffen explains.
He adds that standardization also contributes to an increased ability to scale services to a greater number of SMB clients and grow your business.
How to Standardize Processes and Offerings with Your RMM Tool
Whiffen says an effective RMM solution should be able to create templates that an MSP can use to deliver standardized suites of services and solutions to their customers. Of course, not all SMBs will have identical needs, so the templates should allow for expanded services and solutions, which should also be standardized and templated.
“For example, in Managed Workplace, we use the Service Plans feature to accomplish this,” Whiffen says. “Service Plans allow MSPs to define their service offerings with granularity, and categorize them by the level of service being provided, i.e., Bronze, Gold, and Platinum. From there, they can prescribe each of their SMB to the service level they require.”
Whiffen says the efficiency gains and ROI MSPs can see from standardization with an RMM tool will vary depending on how they ultimately provide their service offerings. “Using the RMM tool is the method that allows the MSP to implement standardization. The better management through an RMM tool aligns with service level offerings, the more efficient an MSP can become — freeing up resources in the process,” he says.