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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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How to Combat the Daily Struggles of an MSP

Posted March 9, 2018by Scott Wittstock

How to Combat the Daily Struggles of an MSP

Like any MSP or IT service provider, we’ve struggled with common problems that either cost the company money, cause discord among employees, or frustrate customers. Typical occurrences include showing up to a customer’s site without the right tools or expertise for the job, spending more time at a customer’s site then we can genuinely bill for, re-dispatching to correct something and not getting to charge for it, or leaving a poor taste in the mouth of a customer due to not being on our game.

Can any of you relate?

At Fidelis, we have developed a way to combat these problems by starting each day with what we call a “Daily Scrum.” This quick, 5- to 10-minute get-together has become an integral part of our daily culture, and it’s a driver for helping us solve much of the problems I listed above. 

What’s great about the Daily Scrum is that at the same time our customers are being better cared for, our employees are building visibility and unity amongst themselves. They are also contributing to each other’s growth and development through this process.

What Does a Daily Scrum Look Like?

First, the various teams gather together—they can be standing together in a circle or it can be via Skype if everyone is not present. The point is to keep it brief and energized—we don’t want to cause death by meeting.

Each person then takes a turn giving an account of their day’s agenda. The agenda comes from the dashboards we’ve created in our PSA, and everyone participating in the scrum can see each other’s dashboard as they read from it. As the team member reads through their day, inevitably clarifying conversations come up. Rarely does an employee simply read through their dashboard without something getting keyed in on and resolved.

Upon completion, the next employee takes a turn to read through their agenda. We try to keep these fresh by varying the order in which each person goes, or in having different people run the scrum.

Benefits of a Daily Scrum

The main benefits of this habit include:

  • Employees get an opportunity to express concerns or questions regarding the specific tasks on their plate.
  • The team gets a chance to pitch in and offer advice or help.
  • Talking through the day’s agenda out loud tends to remind the individual of the tools they’ll need to bring to the job, or bring up reminders of traffic situations that could hinder expedient arrival.
  • Management gains an awareness of what their team is facing for the day and an opportunity to guide, coach, correct, or file information away for later improvement.

Also, it’s not just my team that does this; other industries, such as software developers or companies whose workforce is situated remotely, participate in a Daily Scrum. From my experience, I borrowed the idea from my military days. In the Marine Corps, our daily formation was much more rigid than our Fidelis scrum, so we keep the military-style shouting out of the meeting, but much of the value of the habit is similar. When each Marine showed up early—which was mandatory—chit chat and a cup of coffee built comradery. During formation, uniforms were checked, gear was ensured to be ready, orders were given, and everyone got on the same page. It was the best organizing force I’ve ever seen.

Modifying this daily habit from military life to business life has translated well for our business. Our people spend less time highlighting their own abilities and more time helping build each other’s abilities. It maximizes our group’s greatest strengths and minimizes our individual weaknesses. Our customers have higher satisfaction by getting their jobs completed timely and professionally. Our PSA stays up-to-date and working for us as we have insight into the data. Our bottom line becomes more assured thanks to less waste.

It’s always a work in progress, and now that we’ve come close to perfecting it, the challenge is to not get stagnant. Sometimes that means having a guest from another department join in. Sometimes that means taking turns varying which person leads the scrum. But the foundation in place has been one of the best process creations we have accomplished.

 

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Scott Wittstock, RCDD, is the founder and President of Fidelis Inc., a technology service provider in the Seattle area. His professional history began by serving as a US Marine where he was honored with multiple distinctions including; meritorious promotions and Marine of the year. After his military time, he went on to spend 20 years in the telecom industry where he predominantly installed large scale PBXs for enterprise customers and managed operations teams. In 2008 he founded Fidelis as a low voltage and voice communications company which has grown into the IT and MSP space.

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