Attention MSPs! How to Streamline Operations in 4 Easy Steps

Attention MSPs! How to Streamline Operations in 4 Easy StepsToday’s IT automation platforms offer sophisticated solutions in easy-to-use, out-of-the-box products that are affordable and scalable to suit just about any industry and business need. Yet, there is still work to be done if we are to truly get the most out of IT automation in its current form – particularly if you are in the highly competitive field of MSPs. Here are 4 key steps to manage your IT services efficiently and cost effectively.

  1. Be Proactive – Of course you know what to do in the event that one of your client’s infrastructure is compromised, but wouldn’t it make more sense to stay one step ahead of the game? That way, instead of having to waste time, resources and money putting out fires, you could resolve issues before they developed into serious problems. Take patch management for example. If you’re handling this manually, vulnerabilities in the days following a new release could be placing your clients at risk and making your job much more complicated than it has to be. IT automation, on the other hand, allows you to take a proactive approach to patch releases, speeding the process and reducing risk.
  2. Develop and Implement Standards – By developing a check list of technology standards that can be applied across multiple devices and clients, you can remove much of the guess work from the trouble-shooting process. This will improve customer service levels and streamline your own internal operations. For instance, you can create a list of back-up and anti-virus processes, recommended amounts of memory, standard applications and configurations, etc. You can then automate the process of auditing these standards accordingly.
  3. Manage Policies – In addition to common standards, there are also a number of policies that must be managed properly, particularly in terms of IT usage governance. It’s critical to ensure that all users remain in compliance with the policies of your customers. Common policy areas include password refresh, application usage, allowable downloads and access security. By setting up a policy management plan that is proactive and automated, you can prevent unwanted actions and reduce the number of tickets you and your team will have to field.
  4. Review and Optimize Regularly – While implementing the three steps listed above will dramatically improve productivity and performance, you’ll never get your incoming trouble tickets down to zero (nor should you want to). By reviewing your existing tickets regularly, however, you can effectively identify other areas where IT automation could help. What pain points are regularly causing you problems that you might be able to streamline for better results? You may also find through routine reviews that adjusting your standards and policy management in certain ways could further reduce the excess workload that your team is currently carrying.

Today’s MSPs struggle with the challenge of doing more with less. As IT issues become more and more complex, the ability to stay on top of the needs of your clients without having to increase expenditure will be critical to your future success. IT automation, in conjjunction with the 4 key steps listed above, can help position you right where you need to be to stay ahead of the pack.

Not sure how to keep afloat in an increasingly competitive field? Check out our free IT Process Automation Survival Guide.

Managed service provider (MSPs) and the IT process automation race – Your success depends on winning

MSPs and the IT process Automation RaceAnyone who understands the role of a managed service provider (MSP) understands the importance of doing more with less. It’s really all about scale and common sense. The more efficient and effective your performance, the more success you’ll achieve. The problem is, achieving a high level of scalability isn’t always possible when budget is involved, because for many organizations, hiring additional staff simply isn’t feasible. The solution? IT process Automation, and leveraging it to win the race and become the head of the pack.

MSP experts agree that when it comes to stiff competition and budgetary restrictions, the best and only solution is to invest in automation. This is the case even with enterprises that do not struggle with cash flow issues. Even if you can afford to hire additional staff, doing so will inevitably impact your bottom line. If you take a step back and allow technology to do the heavy lifting for you, on the other hand, you’ve got scalability without the added expenditure of beefing up personnel.

The ability to outsource and even relocate operation centers to other areas of the world may provide a slight advantage in terms of overall cost, but it won’t necessarily level the economic playing field. The ultimate goal of every MSP is to deliver as many quality services as possible while utilizing the fewest number of employees…hence, doing more with less. Tapping into foreign markets and moving your IT department will not achieve this. Only automation will.

That said, it’s also critically important that key decision makers do their due diligence when choosing an IT automation product to work with. Those who have been most successful in this battle of the fittest have provided some insight into what to be careful of during the selection process. Most importantly, keep the concept of scalability in mind. Make sure you choose a product that will be able to bridge the past with the future, integrating with legacy systems while also adapting with your changing business needs as they occur. Flexibility is key.

It’s also extremely important that the automation platform you choose be robust. Remember, you’re going to be relying on this system to handle not just simple, repetitive tasks but also things that are critical to the success of your entire organization, such as incident management and advanced workflow performance.  Do your homework and make sure the product you ultimately select is comprehensive enough to handle anything your business may need.

As we move forward, there’s no question that automation will become the central part of any successful MSPs strategy, and only those organizations that embrace and act on this will continue to remain competitive.

Don’t get left in the dust! Get your managed service provider on track to a competitive and lucrative future by investing in automation.

eBook: Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP’s

Run Your Internal IT Just Like a Managed Service Provider

Run Your Internal IT Just Like a Managed Service ProviderFor decades, businesses have been turning to Managed Service Providers (MSP’s) to handle their day to day IT needs. This outsourcing was something that many smaller or mid-sized enterprises were forced to do, since housing IT internally wasn’t always an option. The good news is technological advances have begun to make it possible for these companies to actually manage IT operations in-house with the same efficiency and service levels as an MSP.

We recently wrote about how tools like IT process automation (ITPA) can be leveraged by MSPs to save time and reduce costs. This same concept can be applied to internal IT departments as well. For small to mid-sized businesses that previously relied on external MSPs to essentially serve as their IT office, the reason was typically due to cost. It was simply more cost-effective to outsource the tech duties rather than to manage them in-house. But with the ability to accurately measure the value of internal IT, more and more small to medium sized businesses are recognizing the benefits of keeping things in-house.

The answer to the age-old question of how an internal IT group can match the efficiency of a managed service provider lies in the concept of IT automation. When you can begin to automate not only individual repetitive tasks, but entire workflows, suddenly the idea of running a busy IT operation doesn’t seem as overwhelming. You no longer face the need to hire more staff than you can afford, and those staff members that you do employee will have the ability to focus on critical things that require a human touch, such as analyzing and developing business strategies for future success.

Benefits of Using IT Process Automation to Keep IT In-House

While using Managed Service Providers is certainly not a bad option, there are a number of specific benefits that a business can realize by keeping IT in-house. These benefits include:

  • More Control – Outsourcing always requires giving up a certain amount of control. Keeping IT operations internal gives the business full control over all processes and procedures.
  • Flexibility – A quality IT process automation product provides flexibility and customization to each business’s unique pain points. That means that your internal IT can be designed specifically for the needs of your organization, unlike an MSP which can only adapt to a certain point.
  • Higher Level of Security – It goes without saying that internal versus outsourced departments always provide a more secure atmosphere. IT operations for industries that deal with more sensitive information, such as the financial sector, benefit greatly from keeping all transactions in-house.
  • Saves Time – Internal IT operations eliminate the need to contact and rely on a third party for any support requests, which can save time. The beauty of ITPA is that it is designed to make IT operations more efficient, so it is inherently a time saver. Couple this with the fact that ITPA lets computers do the heavy lifting, freeing up personnel to be available if and when an issue arises, and you’ve got a highly effective and efficient department with exceptional service levels.
  • Saves Money – Keeping IT internal saves money over time, since you will no longer need to incur the costs of outsourcing to an MSP.

Think your business is too small or lacks the resources to manage IT operations internally?  Think outsourcing to an Managed Service Provider is your only option?

Think again.With technological advances, namely the rise of IT process automation, now organizations of any size have the ability to achieve the same operational efficiency with their in-house IT as they would with an Managed Service Provider.

eBook: Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP’s

How IT Process Automation Helps Managed Service Providers Reduce Costs

managed services

Across the globe, managed service providers face the similar challenge of finding ways to maximize their output and organize workflow in a way that reduces costs and increases profitability. Surprisingly, the IT process is still one of the least automated segments of business today. By automating IT tasks and processes, managed service providers can overcome the challenges of time management and organization, and achieve their goals of reducing cost. Here’s how.

 What is IT Process Automation (ITPA)?

IT Process Automation (ITPA), also sometimes referred to as Runbook Automation, is the process of automating a number of IT-related tasks in an effort to address a business situation or operational requirement. The purpose of IT process automation is to reduce labor-intensive manual tasks, streamline workflow, accelerate processes, eliminate costly delays and reduce human error.

IT Process Automation is the ideal solution for managed service providers who face the challenge of managing incidents remotely across multiple sites and via various channels. MSP’s are tasked with finding a way to quickly identify, analyze and resolve any number of incidents as they arise in as timely a manner as possible to meet service levels and maintain profitability. Of course, the most effective way to do this is by reducing costs.

 How does IT Process Automation Reduce Costs?

Saves Operations Time:  IT process automation allows managed service providers to maximize their productivity. Automating common labor-intensive, manual processes reduces waste of both time and resources. And as any good business person knows, time is money. IT professionals are free to focus on other, more critical issues, which is a much better allocation of resources.

Optimize Resources: The remote nature of incident management is inherently demanding. The challenge is developing and implementing a process workflow that optimizes all available resources in the most efficient way possible. ITPA allows you to centrally manage, automate, and support a large number of remote data centers from one single network operation center (NOC).

Reduces Risk of Error: Communication plays a pivotal role in successfully meeting service level agreements. Not only does it improve turnaround time, but without it you are faced with the possibility of costly human errors, which can undermine the profitability of your organization. IT process automation leverages bi-directional communication steps to remotely control the advancement or execution of any step within a particular process, such as re-starting a server. Remote communication can be performed via SMS, IM, email, or phone.

Improves System Recovery Time: Any business owner knows that following an IT critical incident, the sooner you can get your critical systems back up and running, the better. Implementing process automation procedures improves this recovery time. Less downtime means improved service levels for the provider and lower risk of penalties and loss for the client.

 Other Benefits of ITPA

Control: The good news is automating tasks doesn’t mean giving up control. In fact, with the right ITPA, management can remain fully in control over IT task automation by embedding human decision points within the workflow process. When the process reaches a critical decision point at which human judgment is required, the process owner can immediately be contacted via SMS, email, IM or phone, presented with the available information and allowed to make a decision prior to the process continuing.

Flexibility: One of the nicest features of a quality IT process automation product is that it is inherently flexible and customizable to each user. managed service providers have the option of using already designed automation workflows to automate their most common IT functions, and to customize others to address specific unique pain points of their particular organization. The result is a tailor-made solution that will help streamline internal workflow processes, thereby significantly improving the service provided to the end user.

The managed service industry is one that is riddled with time consuming manual tasks. If not addressed, these manual tasks can have a negative impact on productivity, which can decrease service levels and cost a business profits as a result.

By automating these tasks, managed service providers have the ability to lower costs and improve performance, bettering their chances of success both now and in the future.

eBook: Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP’s

How Managed Service Providers Can Gain Operational Efficiency and Add an Edge to Their Clients

Managed Service ProvidersIn years past, businesses had little choice when it came to managing their own internal IT operations. For many, the only feasible option was outsourcing. Today, with so many advancements in technology, the concept of outsourcing has shifted and more companies are bringing these services in-house. So, how can Managed Service Providers (MSP’s) compete and stay profitable? Simple. They must maximize efficiency while delivering the highest value proposition to their customers.

Do More with Less

The first step in staying successful as an Managed Service Provider is finding a way to get the most out of their employees while also keeping expenditure down. While hiring more staff may seem like the logical step to staying on top of tasks and delivering exceptional service, doing so would be too cost prohibitive for most firms.

As an alternative, Managed Service Providers can turn to technology and leverage the various tools available to them to help boost productivity without the need to bring on additional employees. IT process automation is an excellent solution to this dilemma, as it can alleviate many of the day to day tasks. Not only does this allow firms to keep staffing lean, but it also frees up those who would normally handle those repetitive workflows to focus on other key business initiatives.

By automating activities such as incident management, the program itself can handle much of the process without the need for human intervention. This improves response time and efficiency levels, which ultimately enhances SLA to the clients.

Make an Offer They Can’t Refuse

One of the reasons MSPs are in a risky industry is because tech advancements, such as cloud hosting, have made managing operations in-house easier and more affordable. To counteract this, MSPs must make what they have to offer too valuable to refuse. Beyond just taking on the task of handling operations for a company in real-time, these firms must remain one step ahead. This means taking a proactive approach and identifying issues before they occur.

Again, the best tool for this task is automation. By leveraging a robust IT automation product that can be integrated with other existing systems, things like alert management can be streamlined to maximum efficiency. This reduces human error and allows problems to be corrected at a much faster rate. When an Managed Service Provider can demonstrate to a company that is considering hosting IT in-house that their services are much more valuable, they’ve won the battle for survival.

eyeShare for Managed Service Providers

To stay afloat in an increasingly volatile, highly competitive environment and disprove the impending “outsourcing is dead” theory, Managed Service Providers must continue to adapt. Performance will need to be at its highest with cost at its lowest. The only logical solution to this is IT process automation. This will provide the edge needed to remain ahead of the pack in the months and years to come.

Are you an Managed Service Provider that is feeling the pressure to perform better? Are you ready to see what the right automation tool can do for your business? 

eBook: Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP’s