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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreement (SLA)

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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

SLAs are the foundation of your MSP business. They are essential to building strong client relationships and must be clear, reasonable and well-constructed.

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3 Steps to Delivering Profitable Security Services

Posted October 31, 2017by Brian Downey

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With the constant influx of threats and attacks, today’s cyber landscape may seem daunting—even downright scary—to most businesses. However, this evolving landscape presents a big opportunity for IT service providers looking to offer reliable cybersecurity services to clients. So, how can you ensure that these services will be profitable in years to come?

Clients are now looking to you to provide a comprehensive security environment, detect potential threats, and remediate said threats before they are able to do damage. In a recent webinar, I walked through the specific steps IT providers should take to deliver profitable security services. As a recap, I’d like to outline the three key takeaways so you can understand what it takes to properly deliver security services to your clients.

1. Define What You Are Protecting Against 

First thing’s first: you need to define what you are protecting against so you can focus on the types of threats your clients need most help with. In order to position this effectively, it’s important to cater to your clients’ vernacular. Essentially, think the way they think.

For example, your clients are most concerned about protecting themselves from the things they’re hearing in the news or from their peers. Therefore, using broad terms like “Phishing and Ransomware,” “Insider Threat, and “External Attacks” will resonate better with your clients—but they’re specific enough that you can identify exactly how to protect against them.

To ensure that your security services are truly aligned with your clients’ cybersecurity needs, not only should you identify what the threats are, but profile certain attack vectors. Different types of ransomware are specific threats, but ransomware as an overall attack method is a specific attack vector. There are certain technologies that have been proven to effectively protect against specific attack vectors, and implementing those will significantly reduce the risk of ransomware attacks (to stick with our example). When you are able to profile attack vectors, you’ll know exactly what it takes to protect against your clients’ biggest risks.

2. Determine What is Needed

The next step here is to take all of these threats and attack vectors and use them to determine what you need to build out your offering. Once you know which technologies are needed to protect against a specific threat vector, it’s time to vigilantly monitor those technologies through a multi-layered approach. Start by prioritizing what exactly will lower your clients’ risk level per attack vector, essentially determining which areas need the most attention. Then, you can create prioritized responses to address top concerns with the appropriate defense mechanisms. So, when something in your clients’ network elevates risk above your preferred level, you will be immediately alerted so you can remediate before any harmful damage is done.

3. Deliver on Your Promises

The security strategy you help your clients devise should focus on their desired state of protection. You’ll only be seen as reliable and delivering on your promises if you ensure the way you’re strategizing actually hits home. Ask your clients the following questions to put this into perspective:

  • “What most scares you about the current state of the threat landscape?”
  • “What do you see as major risks to your business?”
  • “What do you want to feel confident you are protected against?”

Next, you can compare their answers to a formal security assessment. These things will give you a definitive starting point (assessment) and ending point (client concerns/goals)—and your plan will work to connect the dots.

Once you’ve set expectations, you can work to exceed them by effectively detecting and responding to vulnerabilities faster and by lessening any associated damage. You will undoubtedly surpass client expectations by speaking their language—meaning you’re focusing less on your offering and more on their problems that you can (and know how to) solve.

We’re all aware that there’s a clear market need for security, but if you can’t be that one-stop-shop that offers a strong security strategy as well as the expertise to implement it, you just won’t remain competitive. What does it take to not only detect but respond to security alerts as quickly and efficiently as possible? It takes a security SWAT team essentially, or a Security Operations Center (SOC) to be more specific. Consider leveraging a third-party SOC, which can provide MSPs with direct access to security expertise in a predictable, cost-effective way that scales with their business. 

Tying it Together

The key here is the importance of shifting your approach to security. You know that security is going to change your business—either with a new revenue stream and higher client service levels—or it will become a threat to the way you do business. After thinking this through, it’s crucial that you have a plan that you believe in to deal with the growing cybersecurity need in the market. 

Continuum is committed to helping our partners navigate this process. Our new cybersecurity offering, Continuum Security, will empower IT service providers with the tools and knowledge they need to capitalize on the growing managed security opportunity. Complete with two new solutions, Profile & Protect and Detect & Respond, you’ll be able to better define your managed security offering, while also minimizing attack damage and dwell time.

If you’re interested, click here to join the waitlist to get updates on release timelines and be first in line to use Continuum’s future security solution when it’s available!

As Senior Director of Product Management at Continuum, Brian is responsible for the overall security solution strategy. He has spent the past 15 years in various product and business strategy roles at several of the world’s most successful technology companies, most recently driving the initial creation and introduction of BMC Software’s new security product line. Brian is passionate about developing and delivering solutions that allow small- and medium-sized businesses to effectively secure their environments. Brian has a computer science degree from University of Massachusetts Amherst, an M.B.A. from Babson College and is currently finishing his Doctorate in Business Administration from Temple University. Brian lives just outside Boston with his wife and three kids between the ages of three and seven.

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