Once upon a time, people used to buy music albums from the store but now they subscribe to Spotify, they used to buy DVD’s but now subscribe to Netflix instead. Furthermore, if you are a Kiwi you might have heard of MyFoodBag, which allows you to buy food on a monthly subscription as well, how cool is that? Similarly, I ask, why to get stuck in the old fashion IT ways, why not keep up with the trend of “Subscription”.
In my last article, I mentioned about the hottest topic out there, which is MSP (in my opinion that is). I explained the benefits of becoming an MSP and why I feel changing from the VAR (Valued added reseller) mentality to MSP will help grow your business and its value in the longer run. If you would like to read that first, please visit What is arguably the most trending topic in IT channel today ??
In this article I will take that thought a little further, I will try to explain how to become an MSP and a few important points to keep abreast of before setting foot on this profitable journey.
1. Developing your MSP model
The first and most important thing you need to know before becoming an MSP is what exactly your business model will look like and which services will make up your MSP offering. As an example, some of the most important services would be remote monitoring and management, remote support, backup/ DR and network security. This will require some smart planning on your part since you need to ensure there is a pathway for your existing break-fix customers to move to this platform and at the same time, you have a foolproof offering for all prospective customers coming on board. While MSP will give your business a big boost, you do not want to lose your break-fix customers.
2. Understanding of the market
Like I mentioned above, you need to ensure that you are keeping in mind your current break-fix customers. You can start by concentrating on the areas where you are making the most money, observe what services would be worth continuing with as you make your transition. Also, assess where the majority of your break-fix hours are currently spent, so you can avoid these problems before they occur by having the right tools in place.
I would also recommend you to join MSP associations such as CompTIA, MSP University, SPC International etc. and save thousands of dollars/ countless hours using the available resources rather than recreating everything from scratch. These associations offer downloadable tools and resources that are used in practice by best-in-class MSPs. The downloads include SLA templates, job descriptions, white papers, and marketing materials as well as thousands of hours of training for MSPs.
3. Choosing the most suited RMM and PSA Software and other tools
If there is any “must-have” software for an MSP, it would be remote monitoring and management (RMM) and professional services automation (PSA) software. You cannot deliver managed services effectively without investing in an RMM and PSA solution. The smart thing here is to choose these 2 products wisely so they can work well together, for example, vendors like MSP and ManageEngine offer both these functionalities in a single tool with seamless integration.
Another important aspect to remember is having a strong backup/ DR strategy, although only 3-5% of the disasters cause damage to the whole site, it is still highly advisable to have an offsite cloud replication for a strong DR strategy. StorageCraft has a great Cloud services model for the most effective DR plan – read more here StorageCraft Cloud Services.
Finally, the network security software’s including Endpoint security, Firewalls, access rights management etc. Soft Solutions have a lot of different solutions to meet these security needs via brands such as Malwarebytes, Trend Micro, Solarwinds MSP and ManageEngine. Please get in touch with me or Soft Solutions team to get more information on these solutions.
4. Pricing your services
Once you have chosen your vendor partners and the services you wish to offer, the next step is to come up with a pricing model to ensure a healthy profit margin. To achieve this, you need to work out from how much it will cost to run the business, to the right staff members, to the tools and equipment you need to have at your disposal etc. If you are a one-man band, you may need extra help (Technical or Admin) at some point to cope with the increase in clients and the services you will be offering them.
Until now your customers may have been paying you for the break-fix, when and where needed. However, as an MSP you will need to start billing them on a recurring basis, this is what makes an MSP model much easier to scale. I strongly recommend having 3-4 different service level agreements, giving your customers the choice of what level of service do they require from their MSP, giving them the control on their spending and allowing them better flexibility to move up and down between the service plans.
5. Developing a winning marketing strategy
Probably the most important thing you will do as a business owner is to develop a clear, documented marketing strategy to generate leads for your business. Your marketing strategy may include cold calling, door knocking, flyers, email marketing, social media, Google AdWords, participating in networking functions etc.
Having an effective website would also be an important aspect of your marketing. Don’t cut corners on your website, invest the money, have it done correctly and ensure to make your website mobile responsive. Nearly 80 percent of all Internet traffic these days is coming from mobile devices and most business owners read their email or execute calls to action from their mobile devices first.
Once your website is up and running, develop a media kit that contains business cards, educational white papers about technology solutions for businesses, case studies, and testimonials. Your media kit can be digital and/or in print and should definitely contain a free offer such as a free, one-hour consultation or a free network audit, which will get you a foot inside the door of your prospective clients.
As a business owner, you would know that the list of important points can be extensive, the above points are just to point you in the right direction and make it easier for you to start your journey on becoming a successful Managed Services Provider (MSP). If you need help or have questions, please feel free to reach out to me directly to leverage my industry knowledge.
Devinder Lamba (DJ..)
Northern Channel Manager
Soft Solutions Ltd
DJ@sofsol.co.nz, +64 21 731 997