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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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Improving Your Work-Life Balance Part 2: The Right Tools

Posted June 27, 2017by David Deckard

Improving Your Work-Life Balance Part 2: The Right Tools

As a managed services provider (MSP), your day-to-day is generally taken up by dealing with the constant ups and downs of your clients and the industry. Therefore, maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. It takes commitment, and the trajectory is not always up and to the right. However, if you have the right tools at your disposal, you may be able to achieve that sought-after balance.

This series is dedicated to helping MSPs achieve a better work-life balance by developing the right mentality, obtaining the right tools, and maximizing those tools with the right behavior. In my last post, we discussed how to get in the right state of mind. Now, let’s see what tools you can use to avoid burning out and pursue a more balanced lifestyle.

The MSP’s Toolbox

A carpenter cannot survive without a toolbox, and neither can an MSP. Think of your software and service team as not only a toolbox for success, but balance. There are two parts to the toolbox. One, where the larger, foundational items go and two, the removable shelf for the little items that fine tune your work. Let’s take a look at some must-have foundational tools and one for fine tuning.

Foundational Items

Your foundational tools should have one major purpose: growing and sustaining your business and personal life. These tools should open up time and space for meaningful interactions with your clients, provide high service delivery, and increase efficiency while improving your bottom line.

Remote Monitoring and Management

Many MSPs employ remote monitoring and management (RMM) as a foundational tool. An RMM solution should not be labor intensive: once the software is deployed, it should need very little configuration post deployment. If you or your team have to spend hours and days tweaking the platform, it is not saving you time, money, or getting you closer to a work-life balance.

RMM should be profit generating: this is why it’s imperative to have a team around the RMM dedicated to remediating issues. Obtaining and keeping that team can be a challenge for MSPs, especially when resources are fixed but IT demands fluctuate. Therefore, your best option is to look for an RMM solution that is integrated with a Network Operations Center (NOC). This is the foundation of Continuum’s model, because it enables MSPs who utilize the NOC to have instant operational capacity at their fingertips. Imagine this as buying a toolset that comes with the carpenters needed to build the house. As an MSP, you’ll have time to spend with clients, visit prospects, have dinner with your family, get a full nights’ rest or even sneak out to your car for that 15-20 minutes of mind-saving meditation.

Backup and Disaster Recovery

Part of maintaining balance means reducing the cost of stress. But let’s face it, it can be stressful worrying about clients getting hit with ransomware or a similar disaster. This is exactly why backup and disaster recovery (BDR) exists and is a foundational tool. There are every day, common disasters that can occur and render a business inoperable with an MSP shouldering the blame. A reliable BDR solution will provide top level piece of mind for both the client and MSP. When an unexpected issue occurs, you’ll be able to calmly, efficiently and effectively bail them out with a fully-managed BDR solution—proving to clients why their business is in your hands. Having this piece of mind reduces major headaches and stress, one of the single most effective deterrents to balance and healthy living.

Outsourced Help Desk

A wise person once told me, “when it comes to saving money, it is not the large bills you spend that kill you, it’s the nickel and dimes.” When it comes to balance, the large, daily events that are planned can be controlled. It’s the little ones that can sabotage balance.

Having a team in place that can field the mundane, annoying issues that come with the territory is essential. And let’s face it, those issues are not mundane to your client—they are imperative. This is where outsourcing these tasks to a white-label Help Desk can be most beneficial. Balance is not just internal; it is externally generated by having the ability to focus on important relationships within your business and personal life without interruptions. By offloading these tasks, you will open up space in your workday for team activities, brainstorming, project work and developing long- and short-term goals to unify your team’s objectives and visions. So, let the outsourced Help Desk team reset Mr. This-Happens-Every-Other-Day’s password so you can focus on driving more revenue and growing your business.
 

The Top Shelf in Your Toolbox

As we discussed, these are the fine-tuning tools that will enhance your foundational tools. They may not be revenue driving tools, but they will keep your life organized.

To this end, a solid professional services automation (PSA) tool will assist you. A PSA can assist greatly in filtering tickets, making billing easier, and enhancing communication and organization. Do your research, obviously there are several top-rated PSA’s, but there are also a number of smaller players that will work quite perfectly for your business needs.

Choosing Continuum for Balance

I have alluded several times to my work in the mental health field. So why do I work for Continuum? Why do I promote Continuum? Balance.

When I considered a change in career and had my eye on the technology sector, I had to consider what would fit my core beliefs. When I explored Continuum, I realized I had encountered a platform that could help people find balance. By employing Continuum’s platform with IntelliMon software, fully-managed BDR, and US-based Help Desk coupled with the support and services offered through our NOC and Account Success Teams, I realized something very significant. I could help business owners be better prepared to crush their day and have time for their kids, spouses and individual pursuits. In short, I could profit from the ever-growing field of technology and stay true to my pursuit of wanting to make a positive impact on personal lives of others. Remember, it’s all about the balance—so why don’t you try the platform out for yourself?

Tune in next month as we focus on behaviors that make a lifestyle business manageable and rewarding. Which behaviors enhance balance, which can sabotage your efforts? In the interim, consider your current infrastructure and ask yourself what can you do to create a toolbox for personal and professional success.

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David has been working with Continuum for over two years, on both the sales and technical side. Originally hired as an Account Executive, David moved to Partner Services to work closely with partners as they completed the technical aspects of onboarding. Currently, David serves as a Business Development Specialist, contributing to international expansion efforts. David also has a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. While working in the field for close to ten years, David focused his efforts on stress management, working closely with clients and mental health staff on reducing stress in light of personal and professional demands.

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