How to Choose an RMM Platform

How to Choose an RMM Platform

By Michael Bienvenue

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are technology specialists. As experts in hardware and software, MSPs are always remaining knowledgeable about the current and upcoming tech. Their reputation is built on this understanding and they are constantly finding new ways to implement technology to deliver the best solutions. 

MSPs are also a close-knit community that is always willing to share ideas, best practices, and suggestions with each other. There are numerous channels, forums, groups, and events where MSPs congregate to learn from each other and further their expertise on the technology they implement both within their clients’ environments and their own businesses. Any MSP-focused community will invariably find a cross-section of new, emerging, and veteran MSPs exchanging notes on what technology to use, how to use it best, and what to steer clear of. It does not take much time to find someone asking the question about which

Professional Services Automation (PSA), Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM), Anti-Virus (AV), Business Continuity Disaster Recovery (BCDR), Password Management, or Documentation solution is the best one to use. What follows is usually a lengthy collection of responses, each with their pros and cons, and layered with personal experiences.

When compared at a high level, it is understandable that the most popular RMM tools are viewed as basically doing the same thing. They all patch, automate scripts, have remote control, take inventory of the environment, monitor, generate alerts, integrate with PSAs, and so on. The differences between them are more subtle and nuanced but are becoming less important as deciding factors.

RMM solutions fall into two broad categories

On-premises RMM

On-prem solutions require hardware investment and maintenance in addition to operating system and database software licensing
fees. As the number of endpoints managed scales, performance issues will emerge. However, some MSPs prefer on-prem RMM tools because they offer more control over local data.

Cloud-based RMM

Cloud-based RMM solutions do not require an on-prem server and can easily scale. Additional benefits of cloud solutions include security,
availability and uptime, the predictable costs (monthly payments), and automatic software updates.

10 Factors to consider when choosing and deploying an RMM tool

MSPs who evaluate RMMs based on their technical functionality often choose to sacrifice some technical capability, in favor of solving other pressing challenges. The decision then comes down to evaluating the financial difference for trading off marginal functionality, which is commonly difficult to justify the cost. There are 10 key factors that MSPs need to consider before choosing and deploying an RMM solution.

1. Ease-of-use

MSPs can use countless solutions to deliver their services, including separate tools for reporting, software patch management, and remote control. However, MSPs will commonly find themselves spending money for an entire platform of functionality, but only benefiting from a small percentage of the features. It’s worth considering consolidating all necessary toolsets into a single, easy-to-use system.

2. Data synchronisation

Using a variety of tools to deliver services to clients can result in disparate data collection. When tools are consolidated, MSPs
can spend more time focusing on getting work done and less time connecting the dots between different data sources.

3. Scalability

Devices that are not being monitored can generate service calls and inhibit an MSP’s ability to scale operations. Real-time monitoring of every endpoint can decrease the number of unscheduled on-site visits, lower service costs, and enable a greater capacity to scale operations.

4. Remediation of alerts

RMM systems generate alerts that guide MSPs to key issues that require immediate attention, as well as ones that they can use to programmatically resolve and apply to similar alerts in the future. For example, if a monitor detected the available hard drive capacity being too low, an automated script could be run to clean up temp files and empty the trash to free up space.

5. Automated patch management

With cybersecurity and ransomware incidents on the rise, MSPs need to be prepared to help clients by delivering patch management services, as part of a comprehensive security offering, to ensure client endpoints are protected from emerging threats. Stories around
the internet of ransom being paid by victims consistently reveal an absence of current device patching or data being protected. This should also be taken into serious consideration as devices with Microsoft Windows 7 and Server 2008 come to their end-of-life in January 2020.

6. Insightful and actionable reporting

MSPs need to demonstrate the value of their service. To do this well, MSPs must have a solid understanding of the data available to them within the systems they use and be able to customise and deliver this data to clients.

7. Predictable cost structure

RMM solutions with a simple monthly cost structure allow MSPs to easily determine gross margin as the business grows. Reducing variable capital costs, like one-time licensing fees, combined with long-term customer contracts will deliver more predictable margins and increase overall business valuation.

8. Return on investment

Measuring the financial gains associated with process improvements can be difficult to quantify. However, MSPs need to weigh out their decisions towards platforms that provide long-term, persistent business advantages and partnering with vendors who invest in MSP success. Dedicated implementation, success and professional services teams from vendors will ensure MSPs transition smoothly and begin recognising financial benefits as quickly as possible.

9. Reduced ‘noise’

One of the most common challenges MSPs face is the amount of unnecessary ‘noise’ their PSA and RMM integrations generate.
MSPs will often succumb to the pressure and completely disconnect their PSA and RMM because the challenge of cleaning up the system outweighs the benefits of the integration, which shouldn’t have to happen. MSPs will achieve the greatest efficiency and the least frustration when pairing PSAs and RMMs that have been designed to work together.

10. Clear visibility of device coverage contracts

Understanding which devices are and aren’t covered by support contracts can be challenging to keep reconciled. Without clear visibility, it can result in the unintended consequence of services being provided and billed incorrectly, potentially resulting in accounting adjustments and client dissatisfaction. Since contract details are often maintained within the PSA, MSPs should look for a level of integration between the two platforms where support staff can quickly determine, whether within the PSA or the RMM, what is covered and what is not at the time the service is delivered.

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