People use tools to make their jobs easier. A carpenter might use a SKILSAW to more easily complete a project, a director may take advantage of an Arri 35mm camera to shoot a movie and you might seek out remote monitoring and management (RMM) software to more easily monitor your clients' endpoints. When these tools work properly, you are able to complete projects much more effectively than you would be able to without them. But what happens when things go wrong?

If the SKILSAW stops working, the carpenter needs to spend time and money repairing it. This is probably fine if it happens once or twice, but what if it's happening consistently throughout the course of the year? And what if the saw takes two weeks to repair every time it breaks? Soon, the gap between the time and money spent fixing the saw and the revenue earned building houses starts to grow smaller. In other words, the carpenter's margins are shrinking. The same ideology can be applied when MSPs use software-only solutions.

What's the Issue?

Okay, so software-only RMM software might not completely stop working the way that a power tool might, but it certainly could require a lengthy setup process, hands-on management, frequent updates, or even a full-time employee to make sure that things are always running smoothly. Over time, those costs start to add up. Like, way up.

Often times, MSP business owners look at the cost per agent when it comes time to select an RMM solution. Sure, this is important, but it certainly shouldn't be the only consideration. What are you getting for that cost? What is built in to the software that you're paying for? It's more important to think about the long term costs of the tools that you select. In the end, what will cost more? A few more bucks per agent for a fully-managed solution that you never have to worry about, or a full-time employee to oversee the software-only solution that you're paying less per agent for?

Shrinking margins are the real concern when it comes to software-only solutions. Even if you don't spend the money to hire a new employee, your existing technicians are going to be spending their time working on the tool instead of taking care of projects that they should be working on or investing time in relationships they should be building. On a per-day basis, the time spent updating or maintaining the tool may not seem like much, but add it all up at the end of the year. That little number looks a lot bigger now, doesn't it?

When considering an RMM solution, or any other MSP tool for that matter, there are a few questions that you should always ask yourself...

  • How much time do you spend setting up this solution?
  • How much time are you (or your techs) spending managing this software solution?
  • How fast does it allow you and/or your technicians to work vs. another solution?
  • What tasks are you and/or your technicians spending time on with this solution?

If the carpenter could have spent more money on a saw that had a built-in maintenance system that could automatically take care of any issues as they occurred, without him even knowing, don't you think he would?

What's the Solution?

Again, software-only solutions can be attractive because they are able to be purchased for lower prices. When you dig a bit deeper, you'll find that for a higher cost per agent, you're able to save yourself a LOT of money in the long run. Fully-managed solutions allow you to receive the same benefit that you would with a software-only solution, but you also get an entire team maintaining your system behind the scenes. The software needs an update? Don't lift a finger. It's taken care of for you. 

Some of you business owners may have an issue with relinquishing complete management of the tools that you're using to monitor your clients. If this is the case, you can always step in. Fully-managed solutions allow you to have as much or as little involvement in the software as you'd like.

If you're currently using a software-only solution and don't agree with these points, simply start tracking these expenditures. Track how much time your employees are spending with the software. Come up with some sort of a tracking mechanism that will allow you to calculate the real cost of the solution that you have in place. You might end up realizing that it's worth it to spend a little more upfront on the saw that will save you money in the long haul.

RMM 101: Must-haves for Your IT Management Solution