Some of the best advice you’ll ever receive as an MSP is to incorporate remote monitoring and management (RMM) into your operation. RMM gives you the ability to remotely monitor your clients’ networking, servers, and endpoints so you can troubleshoot and repair many issues before they result in downtime — and often, without sending a technician on-site. There is little debate that automating with RMM opens the door to greater revenue. It gives you the means to take on more clients without increasing technical staff. In addition, RMM shifts your organization’s perspective from reacting when things go wrong to taking a proactive approach. This method of delivering IT services means fewer disruptions for clients while also enabling you to minimize the costs necessary to maintain their IT systems.
RMM has become table stakes if you want to run a competitive MSP business with a respectable bottom line. MSPs soon find out, however, that to achieve the greatest efficiency and profitability, you need to use the right RMM tool.
Advice for Choosing the Right RMM
“We’ve used most of the major RMMs on the market, shifting around trying to find the perfect solution. Each has its strengths and weaknesses,” says Paul Redding, CEO of Carlin Bradley. He says key RMM advice is to choose a solution that is consistent and reliable.
“It’s impossible to effectively manage a client’s environment when you’re using an RMM that’s buggy or that constantly disconnects and needs rebooting. I’ve found that one of the biggest time-wasters for my team is spent trying to connect to a remote computer, failing, and then having to relaunch the tool two or three times,” says Redding.
Jason Harless, president of My Computing RX, says although most RMM tools available to MSPs provide the same basic features, like generating tickets when problems are identified, centralized management of multiple systems, and the ability to communicate with customers in real-time, not all integrate with your other business tools, reducing the admin burden. “The more tools it works in conjunction with, the better,” says Harless.
Stephen Monk, CEO of Noverus Innovation, agrees: “Make sure you look at which integrations your RMM has. Do they play nice with other vendors?” Monk adds, however, “More than anything, an RMM should make an MSP’s job easier.” He says to focus on the automation the tool provides, how much oversight it needs, and whether it can take away the majority of routine tasks a technician does. He adds that different MSPs have unique processes, so not every RMM will be right for every business. “There’s not a specific formula that fits every MSP,” he comments.
The RMM Hosting Environment
Redding adds that another consideration is whether the RMM is hosted in the cloud or on-premises. “Having your RMM in someone else’s cloud subjects you to their maintenance windows and turns over your protection to their security team. It sounds great — we don’t have to worry about patching or securing the app; however, this is a double-edged sword.” He says, for example, an MSP could plan a large migration project after hours or on a weekend, but the RMM vendor may decide to schedule maintenance at that time, interfering with the project. In addition, an MSP may want to block internet access to their RMM server and app completely: “It’s hard to hack what you can’t see, right?”
“The on-prem vs. cloud question is a tough one to answer for a lot of MSPs. You will initially spend less time setting it up in the cloud, but your RMM is something you need to be able to mold to fit your business,” Redding points out.
The Biggest RMM Pitfalls to Avoid
Harless advises not falling into the trap of looking only at price, but rather choosing the RMM tool that’s going to work best for your business. “Get a live demo of the RMM tool. If you can’t demo a product, ask another MSP to give you a tour,” he says.
Monk says it’s also important to take your time with the decision. “Vendors will try to razzle-dazzle you with how much better they are than anyone else — or how they will give you a deal of a lifetime if you just signup now. Don’t fall for it. Do your research. Play with the products. Make sure you truly know what you are getting.”
Monk adds that it’s important to read the contract closely before signing to understand exactly what you are agreeing to. “Try to minimize price hikes or long-term commitments, especially if you are just starting out. This is really more like a marriage and you really don’t want to have to get a divorce. It can cost you a lot of money and time,” he says.
RMM from Day One
If you are just starting out in managed services, Monk advises using RMM from the outset. “Having been around the block a few times I have learned that it is best to get your tools in place before you start taking that first client. You don’t have to have every feature installed, but building your business processes around a product help to ensure you can manage clients efficiently to grow. Not having this figured out can lead to upset clients, longer than needed work hours, and a struggle to get enough resources to grow,” he says. Harless points out, “RMM is really the ‘managed’ in managed services.”