This is an important question because a client’s relationship with their managed service provider (MSP) must be built on trust. If an MSP constantly recommends expensive upgrades and solutions that have no tangible results, trust can be hard to come by.
I’m never asked the question directly, but I can hear it during the process of pitching a new service or technology. I get it, the small to medium business space doesn’t burn money to keep warm, so we really need to know and feel confident in the solutions we recommend. We need to be sure that the proposed technology will make a positive difference for the client.
Not every new service or technology has a clear benefit. Some offerings, such as Endpoint Security (Anti-Virus, Malware protection) and Hosted Backups, are akin to insurance. You won’t notice their absence until your need them. When you do, it’s too late. Days or weeks of downtime coupled with loss of data and productivity can be crippling to your business.
So, are MSP’s just in it for the money when suggesting new technology?
Yes and no. Very few are only in it for the money, but every business must make money to survive.
I believe an MSPs’ business model should be about alleviating clients’ technology headaches so they can focus on growing their business. As the client grows, the MSP grows and everyone’s happy. You’ll see something similar on many MSP websites as they define their mission, but let’s break it down more. I’ll provide a real world example.
A new client has recently signed up for Managed IT Services and I’m their Account Manager and System Engineer.
In the first month of onboarding, I notice they continue to have issues with their network. Internet is dropping, business phone call quality is poor and everyone reports the network is slow overall.
I quickly see they’ve been running their business on home and home office grade networking gear designed for a small family, not 20-plus employees of a fast growing business.
Furthermore, the network was not designed properly and was created in an “ad-hoc” fashion. Makeshift networks may work for a while, but they don’t scale with growth.
The client is used to spending very little money on IT because they were small and could get along fine using this equipment and design.
Enter the MSP Account Manager/System Engineer. Me! I build out a quote based on solving their current problems with an understanding of the clients’ potential for growth. This is to ensure we’re not purchasing the same or more expensive gear within a year or two.
At this point sticker shock sets in. The client has been purchasing equipment for the business from Best Buy and the cost difference can be discouraging. Here, I listen to the client.
Next I explain why we’re recommending the particular equipment or project, and try to emphasize the long-term value. A good MSP should be able to explain the expected results plus the future value as it relates to company growth.
Not all clients will be able to engage the full project at once. Here again, a good MSP will work within the clients’ budget to phase in the changes based on priority and severity of the issue.
Savings are realized when IT Infrastructure works the way it should. When clients opt for a solution of their own, we don’t knock it. We do our best to support it. If it turns out the solution is unreliable and problematic the client usually ends up paying for it in lost productivity and higher service costs. If an MSP has to spend time on forcing a square peg into a round hole it increases the overhead to support a client.
I believe a good MSP should be to deliver solutions that work. If I can take a client with IT problems and get them to a point where they don’t need to call us, my job is done.
Don’t get me wrong; I love to hear from my clients, but if I know they’re not calling because “things just work,” I can go home happy.
Matt Newman, Systems Engineer
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