Ask an MSP Expert is a weekly advice column answering common questions from MSPs and IT service providers. It covers topics ranging from pricing and selling to marketing and communications—and everything in between.
Q: One of my goals for 2015 is to make my IT services business more efficient. With a limited staff and limited budget, I need to make sure everything runs as efficiently as possible. How can I make my business and my employees more productive? We need to make the most of what we’ve got!
While all businesses try to be productive, we understand that it’s not necessarily a simple task to accomplish. Even if you hire all the right people and pay for all of the popular tools, it’s not always enough. Luckily for you, as an IT services provider, there are a few easy ways to make your business more efficient.
Here are our four tips to help make your MSP business more productive:
If you don’t have the budget to hire more employees, you need to maximize the way you use your current employees. So, rather than spending your money and their time on repetitive manual tasks, automate those processes.
Start by evaluating the tasks that take up most of your employee’s time. Then do some research and find out if there’s a tool your business can use to automate this task. For example, we recommend automating IT billing, remote monitoring and management, cloud backup, and reporting. Automating these processes eliminates user error and wasted time, leaving you more time to focus on your customers and, in turn, run a more productive services business.
How many programs do you have running on your computer right now? We’re going to take a wild guess and say—too many. In fact, Osterman Research found that small businesses are using an average of 14.3 apps, which they determined leads to losses in monthly productivity worth approximately $15 per employee.
We can also guess that many of the applications you’re using offer overlapping functionality. Not only is using several similar programs inefficient, it also suggests that your information is now spread across many platforms, which isn’t good for the security of your business.
Figure out what the redundancies are. Then determine if these tools are helping you save time and money. Chose the tool that allows you to centralize most of your businesses tasks, and stick to that one.
Being organized doesn’t mean just adding color-coordinated Post-it notes to your desk. It means being a reliable and dependable provider to your customers. Documenting processes is the easiest way to stay organized. It also reveals what processes you need to improve.
Think about what would happen if one of your technicians were to be out sick or quit. Would your business be prepared to take on his or her responsibilities? If not, you should spend the time to document processes like on-site support response protocol, client onboarding, step-by-step guides for performing a data restore, and disaster recovery best practices. Documenting these processes will also give you an opportunity to find ways to make a process more efficient, especially in the areas you identify as needing improvement.
You need to zero in on what your vision is for the business. Define your purpose. Target focus areas that help you achieve your goals. For example, identify the key vertical you serve, the types of services that are critical to your business’ success, and execute a plan of attack to bring in new business. Doing this allows you to keep the business focused on specific goals and cut out anything that wastes time or resources because it doesn’t help you work toward that purpose.
Following these four tips will help your IT services business be more efficient and productive. And hopefully now you’re off to automate, centralize, organize, and focus.
How have you automated tasks or streamlined processes in your business? Have you done anything differently than what we’ve suggested? Leave a comment with your ideas!