As any successful business professional will tell you, it’s the processes that make or break the organization. When companies refine and optimize their most labor-intensive, frequently repeated procedures, they reduce the time and resources required to operate their businesses. Process efficiency is, and should remain, a priority for MSPs based on those two benefits alone.
But every tech business professional should understand that’s just the start. Automation is the heart of any successful MSP operation today. Those are the critical applications and integrations that take over the mundane and usually repetitive processes that cost providers precious time and resources.
When designed and implemented correctly, automation also makes it possible to manage more customers ‒ and do a better job of it. Applications that minimize the “human factor” also limit the opportunities to make costly mistakes and slow down processes. Machines don’t take breaks or vacations or call in sick.
More than Tools
Integrations are a key part of the automation process. An MSP’s toolset is only as good as its interconnections ‒ automatically relaying critical client and company information through pre-established workflows. Today’s integrations are not merely links between applications. Think of them as superhighways that transport data and take specific actions based on that input. In that manner, integrations form the backbone of an MSP’s operations center.
Imagine having a backup and disaster recovery solution sitting on a client’s site that didn’t share alerts and status reports with your PSA. What good would it be? MSPs need on-demand access to that information to prevent simple outages from turning into significant business failures. Not to mention, its value if a natural disaster, fire, or other catastrophic event were to occur.
Those integrations don’t stop with the data. Your PSA should be able to monitor and manage devices from one portal and send notifications to your technicians and anyone else who has responsibility for each system. The incoming information may trigger other processes, such as response escalation and ticket creation.
How can a provider manage it all without that type of automation? A better question might be, “why would they try?” With so many tools designed specifically for MSPs ‒ allowing them to support their SMB clients more efficiently while managing their businesses better ‒ why take a harder route?
When an application has no integration points with a PSA or other managed services tools, or no management portal to give providers insight into their clients’ operations, it may end up costing a lot more than the monthly fee.
For example, if you can integrate it yourself, those links are often loose and may fail often. Connections often break during updates, especially when no API is available. And the workflows MSPs rely on to support their customers may be difficult if not impossible to recreate. And the cost of all that work falls to the provider.
Datto delivers MSP-optimized connections without those headaches. As a channel-only company, integrations to PSAs and other management tools are part of our value proposition and partner commitment.
It Starts with Perfection
One final point: your automation tools are only as good as the input. Every step in a managed services procedure must be carefully reviewed, scrutinized, and optimized before it becomes part of the company’s workflow.
Automating a bad process won’t fix it. It’s like driving faster in a car with loose lug nuts ‒ it may not be long before the wheels come off.
Before creating your templates, review the industry standards (start with CompTIA’s Managed Services Standards) and get feedback from your peers. The list of available resources is lengthy ‒ including vendor webinars and industry events ‒ so there is no reason why any MSP needs to live with inefficient processes today.
Once those core procedures are locked down and properly tested, it’s time to upload templates and create automated workflows. Ensure all tools are entirely integrated and updated to maximize available features and information streams. Last, but not least, be sure all your team members are trained to handle their responsibilities.
While automation may be a top goal, people are still part of the equation (at least today) and continue to complicate the journey for those seeking managed services nirvana. Processes must be fully optimized and incorporated, employees need to fulfill their job responsibilities, and all managed services tools should be appropriately integrated.
The latter point is the lynchpin that ties it all together. When your people, processes, and integrations are in synch, success is close at hand.