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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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Closing the IT Skills Gap: 3 Strategies for MSPs

Posted June 9, 2017by Lily Teplow

Closing the IT Skills Gap: 3 Strategies for MSPs

Let’s face it: the hiring process can be a bit overwhelming these days—especially for those in the IT industry. Changes in technology are rapid and constant, leading to an influx in demand for new IT skills. However, organizations are still struggling to find IT professionals with the skills they need and desire. For managed services providers (MSPs), not having the proper level of talent can hinder your profitability and growth. So, what can you do to close this gap?

I think we can all agree that the skills gap in America is both real and worrisome. Not only is it affecting careers in IT, but also businesses as a whole. In fact, 60 percent of IT leaders state that the IT skills gap moderately to severely impacts their team or organization. Let’s break down what that impact looks like for your average IT business.

What Problems Is the Skills Gap Causing?

First off, there’s a consensus between IT leaders and professionals that in-house teams lack the necessary skill sets. When these needs are not met, IT teams are unable to run optimally, effectively take on new projects or thrive.

Additionally, when these organizations seek to find or hire more qualified IT candidates, it often takes longer than anticipated. So, what then happens to your productivity when you can’t fill that spot? When open positions are left unfilled for an extended amount of time, it creates problems beyond just the energy and resources spent on recruiting. It can cause employees to suffer from lower morale, which eventually leads to higher turnover. Also, 52 percent of IT professionals report having higher levels of stress when a position on their team remains unfilled, which can lead to decreased efficiency and productivity.

What Countermeasures Can You Take?

When it comes to closing this IT skills gap, here are three main actions you can take to help avoid some of the consequences it can cause and set your MSP business up for long-term success.

1. Strengthen Your Hiring Process

To remain competitive and meet client demands, you need to recruit and hire IT pros who can thrive while working with changing technologies. This means that while undergoing the hiring process, you need to be asking the right questions and looking out for the right qualities. Seek out candidates who are passionate about technology and learning, or who have a natural knack for adapting to situations. Some sample questions you could ask include:

  • What kind of computer systems do you have at home or have worked with in your previous employment?
  • Have you ever built your own computer systems? How did you go about it?
  • What tasks have you leveraged technology to automate?

2. Bolster Your Existing Team with Training and Education

If you can’t muster up the time or resources to search for new IT talent, focus on growing and improving the talent of your existing team. Not only can this help you optimize service delivery, it also shows your employees that you care about their careers—leading to higher retention rates. The more your team members can put their brilliance to work, the more that brilliance creates deep experience and better results.

You can start by encouraging your techs to get certified. By doing so, they’ll be able to learn new skills and become even more of an asset to your company.

3. Form Partnerships

Sometimes the boring L1 tasks simply have to get done. However, it can be hard to advance your tech talent when tickets for password resets keep popping up and they’re bogged down resolving them. One solution is to offload these lower level jobs to a smart-sourced team of certified technicians that acts as an extension to your own in-house operation. For example, when you leverage Continuum’s 24x7x365 IT Help Desk, your technicians are enabled to focus on work with higher profitability, develop more meaningful relationships with clients, and extend their own skillset.

You can also use partnerships to quickly acquire new skills without burdening your in-house team with extra work. Leveraging a third-party, fully-managed Network Operations Center (NOC) can transform your growth trajectory by allowing your team to offload much of their day-to-day tasks. With functions like monitoring, ticketing and patch management all taken care of, your techs will be free to apply their specific skills more efficiently—and more profitably.

Overall, forming strategic partnerships enables MSPs to close the IT skills gap and allow their team to streamline efficiency and effectively manage their time and capacity.

Want more tips on how to beat the IT skills gap? Watch this informative webinar!
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Meet Lily Teplow! After majoring in Communications and French, Lily graduated from South Carolina's Furman University and now takes on her new role as Content Marketing Associate and Blog Manager at Continuum. In her spare time, Lily enjoys singing, traveling, and cheering on her favorite Boston sports teams!

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