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Navigating the Path to Managed Services Success -Lessons Learned From a Real-World MSP

Boring Business Systems has served as a leading technology provider throughout central Florida since 1924. Originally starting with typewriters and office equipment sales, Boring evolved to delivering managed print and network services in order to keep the pace with technology and market changes. While it thrives as a $10 million MSP business today, Boring Business Systems faced some roadblocks when they looked to transition to exclusively delivering managed services. This challenge was not unique to their business – it is one that many aspiring Managed Service Providers (MSPs) struggle with.

The right RMM solution is worth its weight in gold

Chris Hart, the VP of technology at Boring Business Systems, described their challenging start, “we were doing very little managed security. I knew what managed services could enable, but not how to scale it. I felt strongly that an exclusive focus on managed services was the way to go, as opposed to break-fix services or block-time billing for customers.”

One of the first things Boring needed in order to support the kind of business they wanted to build was comprehensive endpoint protection and remote monitoring management tool. As Chris started evaluating different solutions, he decided that it was important to find vendor partners and technologies that could enable him to scale and deliver managed services successfully and efficiently.

The company learned from experience how important it was to have comprehensive tools in place. Take remote monitoring and management, for example. Boring recognized that they needed an RMM tool, but that it needed to provide all-inclusive monitoring and alerting for workstations and servers. Without this feature, Chris had learned the hard way, CPUs could max out on the workstations and without alerts in place, his team wouldn’t be able to catch and address the issue in advance.  Having visibility into client sites and receiving real-time alerts was deemed vital. As most MSPs know, much of their value can be demonstrated when their technicians are aware of potential issues before they become a larger problem.

In addition, as a result of a thorough investigation of different RMM tools, Boring Systems was able to deploy one that included other features and benefits that would help them become more efficient. For example, their tool of choice (Managed Workplace) includes pre-built service plans and a site security assessment tool, which the MSP credits with reducing their time spent on onboarding by 30 percent.

There’s no shame in getting a little help

One thing that is known to stress a managed service provider is the constant worry that something is going wrong a customer site – especially during times when the MSP’s staff may be unavailable for any reason or is “off the clock”. For Boring Systems, the perfect solution to combat this stressor turned out to be enlisting the help of an outsourced Network Operations Center (NOC) and Help Desk service.

After getting this service up and running, Chris noted that his customers quickly recognized the advantages of having a team that was always there to support them versus one individual, who realistically couldn’t be available 24/7, every day. This strategy enabled his team to quickly establish leadership in the market.

However, that isn’t the only way they saw the value in the outsourced support services. Being headquartered in Florida, hurricane preparation was always part of the routine. That changed when Hurricane Irma made landfall, impacting many of Chris’s customers. Chris explained that a representative from their NOC service called him a few days before the hurricane was predicted to hit, asking if he could help in any way.  As early forecasts projected that the hurricane would be insignificant, Chris told him not to worry. However, when the storm shifted direction, Chris rushed to contact his account manager on the night before the storm was set to hit.

To Chris’s delight, he heard back an hour later from his account manager, who ensured him that any NOC and Help Desk services that Boring needed would be provided at no additional cost.

The next day, 68 customer sites of Chris’s lost power. The support team enabled them to get their techs out to the field and all the customer phone calls and urgent issues were handled promptly and professionally.

Looking forward

Moving to a managed services model isn’t an easy task. However, like Boring Systems learned, success is there to be had for those who are willing to take a critical look at their own business and be proactive about taking advantage of opportunities. To be more successful in growing your managed services practice, take the time to assess multiple tools before implementing them for your customers. Identify areas you are looking to improve and find the vendor that best fits your business needs. For example, if you are looking to grow your managed security services, look for solutions that incorporate security into your daily work automatically. For example, in Chris’s case, he chose an RMM that could share network insights such as missed patches and potential vulnerabilities. Taking the extra time to fully evaluate a solution will enable you to better serve your customers while growing your managed services business.

About the Author:

Gordon Cairns
Gordon Cairns is Senior Account Executive with Barracuda MSP. Gord has over 20 years of experience working with MSPs and Copier Dealers, helping them accelerate their Managed IT & Security Services offerings. Gord started in the office equipment space in 1998 and continued to evolve with the copier dealer space. He understands the challenges and opportunities available in this space and furthermore invests his time and resources in ensuring his partners' success.