For managed IT services providers, it’s critical to provide a high level of service to your clients, which sometimes means helping them with basic upgrades, migrations and simple technical tasks (hey, not everyone knows how to connect to a new printer). At the same time, it’s incredibly impractical to tie up valuable technical expertise on the monotony of daily maintenance items. If you’ve noticed that your techs seem stuck in the weeds far more often than they’re blazing new trails, it’s time to start transforming your techs into project managers.
So what does this mean, “turning technicians into project managers”? Ultimately, it’s about freeing up your technicians to focus on your clients’ business issues, rather than doing day-to-day maintenance. By leveraging outsourced solutions, like a Network Operations Center (NOC) or white-labeled help desk, your technicians can oversee projects as managers, rather than being the ones doing the dirty work. This may seem difficult at first, but it’s an important component of building a scalable, profitable business.
Here’s why it’s so important.
Better for Your Business
Transitioning your technicians to project managers has many overall business benefits. First of all, it’s more scalable; techs who are freed up from menial tasks can focus their time and energies on core operations and uncovering new business opportunities with clients, while a NOC takes care of the execution of a project. Your clients’ work is still being completed, but your techs’ abilities will be more fully utilized by managing projects and working with clients to solve business issues.
Additionally, outsourcing your help desk is another strategy that helps you become more scalable as a business. Your technicians don’t want to spend time helping your clients connect their new iPhone to WiFi, they want to focus on business issues. Maintaining a help desk in-house is incredibly difficult for a number of different reasons.
In short, the use of a NOC and/or help desk means a much more cost-effective completion of everyday tasks and frees up your techs for “big-picture” issues.
Better for Your Techs
Of course, there are clear benefits to your techs directly, as well. Taking on the role of project manager is far more rewarding than rote tasks. The job is more important, which implies a greater level of trust in your employees; this often translates into a higher degree of company loyalty, which helps reduce employee churn—one of biggest issues faced by all MSPs.
Techs working as project managers can find greater fulfillment knowing their contributions are helping to drive growth for your business as well as your clients’ businesses. People like feeling that they’re important and making an impact. After all, who doesn’t like being a manager?
How to Transition Your Techs to PM’s – Partner Case Study
For a partner case study on precisely this topic, we turn to Linda Kuppersmith of CMIT Solutions at Stamford. At CMIT, technicians are actually incentivized to offload work to Continuum’s NOC. Linda emphasizes to her techs that the NOC should be treated as an extension of their team, and used for this very purpose, so they can oversee projects and focus on efficiency and completion, not troubleshooting.
The technicians-as-project-managers model also provides techs with career growth even in small organizations, which can be a rare thing. Kuppersmith explains, “there’s one particular technician who previously has never had the opportunity to manage someone. So from a professional development standpoint, I’m leading him through the process of him being a sole contributor…and then helping him become a technical lead, to be able to get him ready to be a service delivery manager. So I said to him, ‘here is your first direct employee, all of the NOC’ and that’s really given him a mental shift in being able to do that.”
Additionally, a smaller business doesn’t always have the budget to hire entry-level workers, but the NOC can take care of those tasks so techs can invest their talents elsewhere for larger impact. As Linda explains, “Being able to use the NOC as that entry-level labor pool has allowed us to keep our labor costs down. The ratio we look at is how much services revenue are we generating with what kind of engineering labor. And with Continuum we’re able to do that much more cost-effectively than without Continuum.”
Perhaps most importantly, is that this allows technicians to become more efficient in their work by taking a high-level view of the project. “So often, as engineers, you just kind of jump in there. You know you’ve got skills and can figure it out. But, you hit the mark much more accurately when you think it through ahead of time, build a plan and execute on the plan.” Enabling your techs as project managers allows them to be more strategic and focus on mapping out an execution plan, which ultimately helps your business drive efficiencies and improve profitability.
If you’re not using your techs as project mangers, you’re doing it wrong. Save their talents for the big ticket items, empower them as employees to do more and be more—and let the help of a help desk and/or NOC sweat the small stuff.
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