Ask an MSP Expert

Q: As we continue to grow our IT services business, we noticed there are areas where we could be more efficient—which is why we’re looking for backup solutions that closely integrate with our current PSA and RMM tools. What are some things we should look for in an integration?

There are a bunch of great solutions that integrate with multiple PSA and RMM tools, so the challenge is finding the best solution for your MSP and your customers. A good integration can save you time and money, and help your techs focus on other important activities. On the other hand, a bad integration can create inefficiencies, cause headaches, and ultimately lead to more work than managing the solution itself.

To help you focus on the key factors of a successful integration, we spoke to Jake Madson, one of the product managers at Barracuda MSP. He shared his tips on what MSPs should look for and what integration features could make or break your MSP productivity.

Automation is key

In general, the goal of the PSA and RMM tools is to help the MSP save time. That means avoiding clicks, multiple portals and log-ins, and having to jump around from tool to tool. Look for an RMM or PSA tool that is easy to set up and has very little upkeep. It should easily integrate, allow you to put in your credentials, install something once — and most importantly, not require all sorts of extra steps.

Resolving tickets is a manual process, and time adds up. If you need to manage a configuration or monitor the tool that is supposed to be monitoring your stuff everyday — then it is easier to just monitor your stuff. The goal is to free up your techs and finance users to do other things. You want to get more out of the people who are using the tools, so ideally the PSA or RMM should be doing most of the work for you.

Whether you’re a small MSP with few employees who do everything in the company or a large MSP with dozens of accounts, you have to dedicate time to some of the day-to-day tasks associated with backup and recovery, such as checking backup statuses, deploying software to new customers, or making sure monthly bills are accounted for. Integrations from backup-and-recovery vendors don’t cost you extra, and if you’re already using a PSA or RMM tool, why wouldn’t you want to do something that simplifies things for you? The goal of these tools is to make your day more efficient and minimize time spent on activities. One thing that is certainly useful about integrations like this is automatically generated tickets from the backup software to a PSA tool — but you shouldn’t have to do a crazy configuration to get this working.

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Another nice thing to have is the ability to remove duplicate tickets and auto close tickets when the problem is resolved. If you don’t have this functionality, it creates extra steps for your techs to find out if the ticket has been resolved or not. Similarly, on the RMM side, monitoring should be easy to do and in a central location. If you need to go to different views or keep drilling down for each site, then you’re taking up more time than you need to.

Take installs, for instance. Being able to install one system is great, but if you need to install five different systems and that means going through the same process five different times, then there is room for more efficiency. If you can click “Install” once and install five different systems simultaneously, that is far more convenient for users. With a good integration, you can create similar efficiencies by sending out a file to multiple systems — and do more with fewer clicks.

Features that can make or break an integration

For RMM tools, one of the biggest things that can make or break efficiency is whether or not you need to remote onto a client’s site or computer to get something done. For instance, with the Barracuda Intronis Backup integration for ConnectWise Automate, you can install multiple agents without needing to remote onto the client’s system — it’s completely contained within the RMM tool. If you can avoid interrupting the end user that you’re monitoring, you both can be more efficient. With RMM integrations, you should be able to push out installs right through the tool.

On the PSA side, an integration should be able to ticket effectively and create invoices for customers. This can be a huge time-saver, especially at the end of the month!

Avoid integrations that are more of a checkbox integration instead of a deep integration. When you’re looking to purchase something, it might say yes it does these 25 things, but if it only skims the surface of those functionalities, then it isn’t going to be useful to you. It might say you can install multiple agents, but you may only be able to install one at a time—instead of installing on multiple computers in one click. So look for a deeper integration rather than just checking off a box.

Trial and test

As much as possible, ask if there is a trial you can use to see how the integration works with your current offering. The important thing to do when you are trialing is to go beyond looking at the list of features and consider how your day looks with your current solution and which pain points you’re trying to solve. Will this new solution fill those gaps? Are there any gaps you see with the new solution? Look closely at your day-to-day and see how this integration might affect your current workload. Don’t just assume; trial and test.

The most important factors are knowing what you want to accomplish with the tool beforehand and determining if the solution is scalable. It might work for five accounts, but can it scale to a hundred as your business grows? Sure, you could change every year, but that would be a hassle. Moving to a new tool can be a painful, time-intensive process, so cover your bases and make sure you’re investing in something that can scale with you.

Photo:  sdecoret / Shutterstock.

Lauren Beliveau

Posted by Lauren Beliveau

Lauren is a content and product marketer with several years of experience in the IT channel. She has created and developed content that helps managed service providers grow their business, and has written many articles featured in SmarterMSP’s The MSP’s Bookshelf and Ask an MSP Expert series.

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