MSP Best Practices: Towards a Standardized Stack

BY IT GLUE | February 23, 2017

At IT Glue™, we’re committed to helping you run the best MSP possible. It’s our mission. We come from an MSP background and of course we talk to MSPs all day, every day. One of the things that comes up in terms of improving efficiency is the technology stack. We are big proponents of the standardized stack, but we also know that it can be difficult to achieve this goal. Here’s some helpful tips.

The case for a standardized stack

The first thing is to be able to make the case for a standardized stack. Make the case to yourself. Have an elevator pitch. You know why you want a standardized stack, but why do your clients need it? Well, they need it because a) you’re the IT pros and you know what tools are the best and b) you’ll be able to service them better if they use the technology that you’ve chosen.

Aligning stack with vision

The second thing is to make sure that your stack aligns well with your vision. If you want to be a premium provider, with exceptional service, choose technology that supports that. It’s worth the investment. When you use the best tools, and keep everything simple, you’ll be able to train your employees more quickly. When they service one firewall, instead of five, that gives them the opportunity to learn it better. This reduces onboarding time, so that your new techs can handle tickets quickly.

The stack is a process driver

Having a standardized stack also makes it easier to document the processes. Process documentation is easy, but it does take time. The fewer processes you have, the easier it is to document them.

The more process-oriented your service desk becomes, the faster they close tickets, and the more frequently they hit their SLAs. Best in class MSPs hit their SLAs over 95% of the time. And of course, when you’re that good you can negotiate better SLAs with your clients, giving you competitive advantage.

What about legacy technology?

Clearly, there are no shortage of reasons to pursue a standardized stack. Strategically, operationally, it just makes sense. But there are some challenges. The big one is legacy technology. This is where you have to make the case to your clients – new or existing – that they will need to transition as quickly as they can to your chosen applications. Pushback is expected, because such changes might cost them money, especially if they have to retrain their staff or invest in new hardware. But make the case that doing so will result in efficiency gains, like being able to respond to downtime faster.

Be brutal

The last part is probably the most brutal. Once in a while, you’ll have a client that simply refuses to cooperate. For whatever reason, they insist on running something that is causing you headaches. You’ll need to be honest with respect to how much time you’re spending servicing this client. Do annual reviews. If a client consistently costs you more than average time or money to service, either they have to pay more or they have to adopt your recommended changes. Usually when faced with those options, they’ll make the changes. But if they do not, you will have to follow through and cut them loose.

Stack = competitive advantage

Your technology stack is a key source of competitive advantage, for a number of reasons. It’s not just about what you can sell to the clients, it is also about how you maximize your operational efficiency. So always work towards a fully standardized stack. Even if for whatever reason (usually growth that comes with legacy technology) you can never achieve 100% standardization, keep that goal in mind, and you’ll enjoy a more efficient operation with lower costs.

IT Glue is a documentation platform that helps you to streamline your processes, record and organize information, and reduce the amount of time your techs waste looking for information. IT Glue’s partners report efficiency gains almost immediately after launching the platform. Watch the demo to find out more.

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