A concern we hear a lot is that creating documentation and process can be very challenging in the absence of standardization. So, what is standardization?
What is standardization?
As it pertains to running an MSP, standardization is primarily the idea that the technology stack you support is as consistent from one customer to another as possible. This includes everything from line of business applications, to operating systems, to server hardware, to firewall, to backup & disaster recovery platforms. However, it doesn’t end there. Standardization in best-in-class MSPs goes a lot wider than that, encompassing not only the technology but the process as well.
It is generally accepted that the more variety you have in your stack, the less efficient (and therefore more costly) that environment will be to support.
It comes as no surprise, then, that one of the things you may want to consider investing in is standardization. If you’re a New York-based MSP, you may find this is particularly easy because you can focus both geographically (e.g. within a single building) and vertically (within a single industry like accounting). Those in smaller markets don’t have this benefit, but it doesn’t mean that all hope is lost.
Three steps to standardization
- Develop a platform standardization plan for tools such as backup, firewall & anti-virus platforms. These tools can be very time-consuming to manage without standardization, and when you consider factors like cross-training and documentation, the problem is exacerbated.
- Identify your most labor-intensive areas like line of business applications and new user additions. Develop process and documentation to optimize these by reducing the time required and delegating tasks to lower cost resources.
- Focus on execution and measure results to ensure that you have a simple, easy-to-understand chart that helps you see how things are progressing across your client base. (Recommendation: put it on the wall!)
Inability to standardize
If you are unable to standardize a particular customer or site, you may want to ask yourself a few questions. Is this a good customer for me? Should this customer pay the same as my other standardized customers? Hopefully, the answers are clear.