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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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Cut Back on Caffeine & Get More Sleep: IT Resolution 1

Posted January 5, 2015by Mary McCoy

cut-the-caffeine
We're five days into the new year, and let me guess? It's business as usual for you. Gone is your determination to stick to the lofty unrealistic expectations you've set for either yourself or your business. Well, forget your IT SNAFUs of 2014! Let 2015 be the fresh start you need!

For the duration of the month, we invite you to "Take the 10 Day IT Resolution Challenge." Ten blog posts, ten common resolutions with an IT spin. Today, we kick off this series with a goal too many of you try unsuccessfully to meet, cutting back on caffeine and getting more sleep...

I don't know about you, but the promise of an iced Venti espresso beverage gets me out of bed every morning. Perhaps it was growing up with a mother who scouted out every Starbucks on the East Coast before long car trips or previously dawning the green apron as a barista, but If I have to join the valley of the living, I need caffeine and plenty of it.

I'm always "jonesing" for more Zzzs, but that's because I'm a chronic napper. Lack of sleep for you and your technicians, however, is a part of the MSP job description. But it doesn't have to be...


Go to Sleep at a Reasonable Hour

Want to reduce your caffeine dependency? The solution is simple - tuck in earlier! If you don't want to be slamming 5 Hour Energy drinks and cups of coffee all-day on the job, take the time to power down. There's no reason for you or your techs to be working through the night when you can't even guarantee an alert will surface. 

Supplement Your Help Desk 

While there are many benefits to using a smart-sourced MSP help desk, - elimination of labor overhead being a big one - the main advantage is improving the quality of life for you or your employees, thereby reducing technician churn. You may work with machines, but you are not one. Whether it's the night off, a weekend of peace, or leisurely vacation time, every employee needs a little R&R, themselves.

Related: Does Your Business Have a Vacation Mode?

Having a fully operational help desk staffed with certified experts is the MSP standard for optimizing service delivery and ensuring responsive, outstanding customer support, but if executed poorly, could actually cost you time, money, and even your employees.  


Click Here to Download eBook: Building a Successful MSP Help Desk



In-House vs. Smart-Sourced Help Desk

A smart-sourced help desk is not only more cost effective than one run in-house, but is better for employee productivity, morale, and business growth. Your technicians aren't in excess supply. With an unpredictable volume of client calls under an in-house help desk solution, you may be forced to task all of your techs with putting out fires, but this doesn't make sense. If they're all on standby, waiting for the next alert, they're not taking the time to develop relationships with clients or to become key advisers. 

Related: IT Help Desk Bottlenecks: 5 Reasons Your In-House Help Desk Just Doesn't Cut It! [SlideShare]

The Short End of the Stir Stick

Even if you recognize this opportunity cost and don't staff all of your techs on your in-house help desk, an unlucky 1 or few will be burdened with bearing the brunt of the influx of calls. Despite the mundane nature of most of these calls, that's a lot of pressure to put on these select employees. Do you think they find it rewarding?

Ditch the All-Nighter

Service interruptions don't follow a 9-5 set schedule, which means your technical support call center needs to be reachable through the night. Rather than give your employees the graveyard shift, relying solely on their caffeine buzz to keep them alert for impending alerts, send them to bed. In-house help desks are a black hole for sleep. By using a smart-sourced, supplementary help desk, you can count on other certified technicians to field those 2 am crises or man the desk while your team is snoozing or away on holiday. Oh and they'll be answering the phones in your company's name! That's why a smart-sourced help desk is an extension of your IT team.

Related: Want More Free Time? Explore the Benefits of Smart-Sourced Solutions

Look for a solution that lets you pick the hours you smart-source. Whether it's just for after hours, select business hours or the full 24x7 coverage, select the option that's the most scalable for your MSP business. 


The Double Shot You Need - NOC + Help Desk

So with all of this talk about giving your employees more downtime without clients experiencing downtime, for the same time-saving reasons, it's important MSPs not get stuck with roadblocks and can rely on their own technical support. You need a double shot - both a 24x7x365 help desk and a 24x7x365 Network and Operations Center (NOC). You can employ a NOC to deliver faster ticket resolution, back end maintenace, problem resolution and support, or simply use these technicians as extra hands for larger projects. That's smart-sourcing at its best! 

For more information on a NOC and how it differs from a Help Desk, read: What is a Network Operations Center (NOC)?

There you have it! Your first IT resolution challenge has been revealed. It's a new year. Quit feeling like a zombie or caffeine addict at work, and lean on someone else to get the job done! In the end, you'll be able to focus on what's needed to both grow your managed IT services business and keep your clients' up, running, and profitable! 

Are you ready to do more with less? I hope that's orange juice in your mug...


How do you get the help desk that's right for your business?

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Meet Mary! Mary McCoy is a Senior Demand Generation Programs Manager at Continuum, where she's worked for over two years. Mary has consulted with hundreds of partners, lending website, blog and social media support. Before that, she graduated from the University of Virginia (Wahoowa!) with a BA in Economics and served as digital marketing intern for Citi Performing Arts Center (Citi Center), spearheading the nonprofit’s #GivingTuesday social media campaign. Like her school’s founder, Thomas Jefferson, Mary believes learning never ends. She considers herself a passionate, lifelong student of content creation and inbound marketing.

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