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Why the future for MSPs lies in perpetual value

14 Jan 2015

The start of the year is traditionally the time when we gaze into our crystal balls and look at what the next 12 months may have in store for us. However, if you’re wanting to build a successful business this process is something that you have to do far more often. Innovation is constant; it doesn’t wait for a convenient date.

Last year MAXfocus undertook an extensive study that looked at what made the most successful MSPs stand out from the crowd. We found a number of core characteristics in the way these companies operate, and the results were collated into our white paper entitled “The Perpetually Valuable MSP”.

The report highlights three key differentiating factors:

1/ A focus on Operational Process Discipline

The most successful MSPs are built on a foundation of repeatable process, and the commitment to address and resolve big or small issues via process management.

2/ A deep understanding of customer requirements

This means looking beyond pure technical skills, and instead focusing on business outcomes as part of the delivery process. 

3/ Insights into market conditions and technology progress

MSPs at the top of their game can use this information to develop new products and offerings in a way that benefits both customer and themselves.

The most successful MSPs not only embrace the core tenants of the managed services model (as in points 1 and 2), but also understand how to modify their behaviour to adapt for the future.

To be successful, MSPs need to look at how to build their businesses to be ready to incorporate new changes, trends and innovations. This way they continue to stay relevant and engaged with their customers regardless of technology trends, and continue to add value.

As a result, we found that the most successful MSP have made changes to the way they plan and forecast. They adopt a responsive quarterly planning cycle, where long-term forecasts are adjusted according to real-time feedback, and updates are planned several times a year.   

By operating a quarterly process, the organisation’s vision and direction is well established for a full 12 months, but at the same time remains agile and flexible. Plans are adjusted based on market conditions, customer needs, business changes and external forces.

MSPs that work in this way also tend to engage their customers differently. While they seek and review customer feedback on technical offerings and services, they also engage with non-technical leaders and users from their clients. These conversations are deliberately not about technology, and instead focus on what the company is trying to accomplish from a business perspective.

Responses to any specific challenges often take the form of technical solutions, but they need to not be initially conceived within the boundaries of current technical capabilities. These non-technical discussions bring business outcomes to the fore. Focusing on these ensures that the MSP is delivering solutions that are both relevant and important to the end customer.   

So, if you are wondering what the next 12 months holds for your business; shorter planning cycles and wider business discussions with your clients are two trends not to miss out on.

Pete Roythorne, the author of this article, is the head of content at LogicNow and editor in chief of MAX IQ, the free MSP marketing, sales and productivity guide. He is also a former print and online journalist.