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How to take your MSP game to the next level with services automation

By Ben Moore, Thu 26 Jul 2018
FYI, this story is more than a year old

As small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) continue to search for cutting-edge technology to enhance their businesses, there’s never been a better time for managed service providers (MSPs) to cash in on the opportunity to help them to find the right fit, implement it and manage it.

MSPs often face time and staffing constraints, making it harder to accommodate growing customer needs, while also maintaining and expanding their own profitability. Professional services automation (PSA) could be the answer, but what is a PSA, what’s all the fuss about it and why should you care?

We have put together five pointers which should help you to navigate the increasingly noisy space of PSA, helping you to understand the benefits, key features and benchmarks to look for in order to bring clarity and actionable intelligence to your operations.

1. What is a PSA? And what’s all the fuss about?

Put simply, PSA software helps service-oriented companies to streamline and optimise their businesses. A good PSA should be purpose-built for an MSP, acting as the central hub of the business, which provides you with full visibility into customers, internal operations and profitability, while helping optimise your business’ unique workflows and processes.

2. Optimising workflow

Ideally, your PSA should have built-in features to help you optimise your workflow, from streamlining your service desk, helping you manage resources, queue projects, track contracts, billings and compliance issues, while also offering service delivery automation.

Customer satisfaction is the name of the game, so look for a PSA which allows you to more effectively manage people and resources, programme ‘rules’ to standardise your processes and accountability, and you can be sure that nothing falls through the cracks, and you deliver the best results time and time again.

3. The metrics that matter

A key feature of a good PSA is to provide you with powerful analytics to give you unmatched insight, enabling you to view your business from every angle: problems, assets, and opportunities. If you’re not currently measuring business performance and tracking the metrics that matter (ticket backlog, service level agreement compliance, resource utilisation, client satisfaction, to name a few), you might be lacking adequate information to make the best decisions for your business.

Tracking this and other KPIs like project status, sales pipelines and profitability, can give you what you need to make informed decisions to give you the edge over your competition.

4. It’s all about CRM and RMM

A unified remote management and management (RMM) and PSA allows you to put all your data, devices, people, and processes in one place for a single view of what matters. By unifying data and workflows, you’ll simplify operations and billing so you can amplify satisfaction and profits.

With a truly unified PSA + RMM platform, you’ll accelerate IT service delivery, enhance operating efficiencies, drive revenue growth, and deliver better customer experiences. By the same token, ensuring your PSA has a customer relationship management (CRM) system, can help you both win new business and manage your existing customer base, by tracking client histories, opportunities and sales pipelines, while also helping you to analyse sales performance and new opportunities in real-time to boost your bottom-line.

5. Keep your infrastructure strong and secure

A good PSA will form the backbone of your business operations, so it’s crucial to make sure that it will support you in keeping your business up and running, even when the worst happens. Look for a PSA solution with a proven track record of uptime, as well as a company that promises a certain level of uptime in their contract agreement. Because 100% uptime isn’t feasible, find a provider that reliably delivers 99.99% uptime - that equates to only 2 hours of unplanned downtime per year.

You also want to make sure that your PSA offers state-of-the-art security to ensure that your data and your customers’ data is protected. Backup and disaster recovery features should likewise be built into the mix, with all PSA data being backed up using incremental production storage backups and full file system backups that minimise downtime in the event of a system failure.

Using a SaaS PSA or cloud-based solution means that you are always using the latest version of the software with the newest features. Everything is automatically backed up to the cloud, secure and instantly available to everyone in your business, helping to increase efficiency and reduce risk.

Multi-tenant SaaS ensures Globally Distributed Data Centers PSAs should be run on geo-redundant data centres that conduct regular third-party audits to ensure they maintain SSAE 16/ASAE 3402 or SOC1/SOC2 compliance. The data centres should have secured access and protected grounds, optimal environmental controls, and connectivity that improves product performance and minimises latency issues.

By Datto Asia director Nop Srinara

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