Every IT service provider is busy, but only the top earners are truly productive.
When you work in an industry that specializes in solving IT problems, it lends itself to busyness. However, studies show that being busy doesn’t always mean being productive. In fact, a recent study by online education company Grovo found that the U.S. economy suffers a nearly $1.3 trillion productivity loss each year. A major factor in productivity loss, according to the study, is a digital skills gap that exists between readily available technology and workers’ ability to use the technology in a proficient manner.
To determine where MSPs might adjust their work habits to be more productive, we sought out the advice of industry leaders in the IT channel. They shared their recommendations on the technology, processes and ideas you can incorporate into your business to remove obstacles and make your processes more efficient. And, in the name of efficiency, we’ve distilled their recommendations into “5 Big Tips.”
Big Tip #1: Automate Business Processes
Manual tasks represent a major productivity drain, accounting for unnecessary labor and increasing the potential for human error. Service providers that sell and support consumer backup systems can attest to this productivity pitfall, as they must constantly check in with their clients to ensure backups are being performed regularly and perform time-consuming tests to ensure the backups are working properly.
A professional cloud backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solution takes manual backup out of the hands of service providers and their customers, ensuring client data is automatically protected without constant oversight. Additionally, virtualization capabilities automate and shorten the cloud data recovery testing process even further.
Big Tip #2: Centralize (and Consolidate) Productivity Tools
Using too many IT tools with overlapping functions and benefits — and alerts — is another productivity drain IT service providers should avoid. Osterman Research released the results of a study that found small businesses are using an average of 14.3 apps. The same study found that businesses that were able to consolidate and centralize their apps (using a single sign-on portal, for example) saved as much as $6,788 annually.
Perhaps it’s a good time to assess your productivity tools and identify overlapping features and functions that could be eliminated to boost your productivity and cost savings.
Big Tip #3: Organize and Systematize Work Procedures
Does your customers’ satisfaction depend on which of your engineers troubleshoots their IT problem? Without predictable processes, there’s a higher potential for lost productivity and inconsistent customer service.
Getting organized requires developing processes ahead of time that your team can follow to ensure a more consistent and efficient customer experience. Four areas where developing preplanned processes can have the biggest impact are:
- An on-site support response protocol
- Client onboarding
- A step-by-step data restoration guide
- A disaster recovery best practices guide
Big Tip #4: Create a Business Plan
In a busy work environment, it’s easy to lose sight of the need to plan for the future. However, developing an effective business plan is crucial for remaining productive and building a sustainable business. A good business plan must be concise and realistic, taking into consideration your company’s goals and identifying the employees and partners who are critical in helping you achieve those goals. Your business plan should also include a market evaluation, competitive analysis, a sales and marketing strategy, operations assessment and goals, and your financial situation and goals.
Big Tip #5: Get Focused!
IT service providers that develop a focus area have a clear advantage over their “generalist” counterparts. A good place to start is to assess your current customer base and identify common similarities. For example, perhaps there are one or two vertical markets you’re strong in. If not, perhaps there’s a specific IT service that’s driving the most revenue that you can focus more closely on. It’s also important to be cognizant of cyclical spikes in your business or special situations (such as winter snowstorms) that precede revenue spikes and could warrant a special focus.
As you can see, running a more productive IT service business can’t be boiled down to a single technology or business process; it requires a mix of strategies and services. The ultimate intent is that these big tips will be used to help you start thinking differently about the way you approach your business. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to change everything at once. Identify the tips that address the issues that matter most right now and that will have the biggest impact on improving customer satisfaction and driving your long-term success.
For more details on these tips and complete insights from IT industry experts, check out our e-book “5 Big Tips for Running a More Productive IT Services Business.” You can also find more information on increasing your productivity--including an infographic, blogs and webinars--in our Productivity Resource Center.
Rob Merklinger is vice president of sales at Intronis, Boston-based provider of world-class backup and data protection solutions for the IT channel, and is an experienced software sales leader with a proven track record for driving success and developing sales talent. Guest blogs such as this one are published monthly, and are part of MSPmentor's annual platinum sponsorship.