If you ask any member of the Kentucky Wildcats men's college basketball team, they'll probably tell you that their season was a failure. A perfect 38-0 season was spoiled when Wisconsin upset Kentucky in a Final Four match-up over the weekend. Still, winning thirty-eight games in a row is nothing to be ignored and although they won't be cutting down the nets as National Champions this season, Kentucky still had an incredible run. That degree of success does not happen by accident, and MSPs should take note.
So what's the method to their March madness? With college hoops still on the mind, I decided to dissect the Kentucky Wildcats' season and apply their winning methods to the world of managed IT services. You can adopt these same principles in your own MSP practice. You show me any successful team, individual or company and I'll show you the pros they took their cues from.
Build around a Strong Defense
Kentucky prided itself on having the best defensive team in the country. Despite their immensely talented offense, it was no secret that the Wildcats' success started with its stifling defense. Lead by big-man (and hopefully future Boston Celtics) Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky did whatever it could to make it as hard as possible for the opposing team to score.
You don't need to be a genius to see how this applies to managed IT services. It seems like there is a new virus running rampant on poor, unsuspecting users each and every week. In order to be a powerhouse MSP, you've got to have a good line of defense. Equipping yourself with a top-of-the-line antivirus solution is a surefire way to keep client data safe and protected from harm. Prove that you have a solid defense, and you'll rise victorious.
Show the Ability to Recover
When a team goes 38-0, it's easy to assume that they steamrolled past their opponents with little fear of defeat. For the most part, this was true of Kentucky's 2015 season. However, there were instances where the Wildcats found themselves down and in need of a speedy recovery. Lets take for example the two overtimes that it took for Kentucky to claim victory over Texas A&M earlier in the season. After leading for much of the game, Kentucky's defense lapsed, allowing Texas A&M to go on a 12-5 run in the final six minutes of regulation to force the first overtime. However, even with two of its top players fouled out (something many would consider a disaster), the Wildcats persevered, pulling out a tough win.
When it comes to managed IT services, MSPs also need to prepare themselves for a come-back. As we've mentioned in previous blog posts, you never know when disaster may strike. Whether it is a winter storm that leaves a client without power or a server failure that puts valuable data at risk, your clients should feel comfortable in your ability to recover their data and keep them up and running.
Now, the same cannot be said about Kentucky's most recent efforts against Wisconsin. This time, the Wildcats weren't able to dig themselves out of the hole. This just goes to show that a continuous effort must be put into Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR). Just because you have a solution that has worked in the past, doesn't mean you should let up. Be ready to evolve and change with the best solution at any given time. Nobody would ever choose to be faced with a disastrous situation, but the appropriate response plan is crucial when you are.
Offer a Deep Portfolio of IT Solutions
In addition to its robust defense, Kentucky boasted one of the deepest benches in the history of college basketball. In fact, many analysts felt as though Kentucky's second unit would be a formidable team on their own. Kentucky's ability to apply the strengths of its many talented players to specific situations played a large role in their winning streak.
Managed service providers should also strive to be deep in their offerings. It's not often that a team with just one superstar player makes it very far. The same can be said about MSPs. Perhaps you have a fully managed BDR offering, but you provide little to no support in the way of Mobile Device Management (MDM). You want to be able to cover all of your clients' IT needs so that they don't look elsewhere for solutions to their problems. If you can offer complete, end-to-end managed IT services to your clients, they'll want to partner with you for the long haul.
Despite the fact that Kentucky wasn't able to complete its goal, there is still a lot to be learned from their overwhelming success. Perhaps they lost because they let their undefeated run go to their heads. Maybe Kentucky strayed away from the very things that put them in that enviable position in the first place. Who knows? However, if you can stick to these three lessons from Kentucky's impressive NCAA season, you may find yourself as a number one seed when stacking up against other MSPs.
By Gretchen Hoffman
By Paula Griffin