As an MSP, you need to be able to do and offer it all, in order to keep up with your clients' ever-increasing list of IT needs. That's why many solutions providers turn to Continuum's IT management platform, enabling them to experience high margins and profitability by leveraging Continuum's integrated, 24x7x365 Network Operations Center (NOC), remote monitoring and management (RMM) and backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solution.

But not all MSPs are aware that performing IT assessments is a separate and key discipline that forms the core of best practices in IT service and client communications. More important, MSPs have an opportunity to gain incremental revenues in understanding and communicating the value of these services. Recognizing this, we teamed up with Continuum enabling their partners to leverage network assessments alongside an efficient RMM solution as part of an overall IT service offering. We're also proud to be a silver sponsor of Navigate 2016, the premier annual event for Continuum's managed services provider partners, taking place September 28-30! To learn more about the benefits of offering IT assessments, read on and visit our booth!

How Does an IT Assessment Differ from RMM?

RMM agents constantly monitor networks, looking at a defined set of conditions and generating alerts when specific thresholds are hit or conditions are met. Network assessments involve taking a much wider “snap shot” of the network and analyzing that information to uncover issues that RMM agents don’t cover. Network assessments look more holistically at overall network risk based upon the total issues impacting the network, and then generate a series of well-organized, professional reports that can either be branded and provided to the client, or used for internal documentation.

A wide-range of network assessment tools are available, and each generate a different set of reports. There are general network assessments that look across a broad spectrum of the network; assessments that focus on security risks; assessments that look at specialized components of the network, such as the Exchange Server or the SQL Server. There are also compliance tools available that specifically assess the network as it relates to HIPAA and PCI.

Regardless of their areas of focus, each IT assessment tool will discover weaknesses and identify red flags that could indicate existing issues and/or risks. When performed regularly, the MSP can establish baselines for overall network health, as well as document all assets and configurations associated with the system, and then generate “change reports” that reveal what improvements and/or degradations have taken place over time. One benefit for the MSP: This substantiates network activities that are otherwise “invisible” to the customer, and are easily taken for granted.

IT Assessments Can Identify New Business Opportunities

IT assessments can generate new business. If you perform an assessment on a prospect network, it’s highly likely you will discover some risks and issues of which the prospect was unaware. The network scans are completely non-invasive, leave no digital fingerprints for the incumbent to even know you were there and can be completed in the background while you interview your prospect and walk around for a visual tour. The tool can generate compelling, brandable reports to include with your proposal.

By the same token, if you still have clients that only call you for occasional projects, performing a network assessment can provide new ammunition to justify expanding the scope of your service contract.

IT Assessments Can Help with HIPAA and PCI Compliance

Network assessments are key in industries that are subject to major government regulations. These include PCI compliance in the retail and consumer markets and HIPAA compliance in healthcare.

Almost any client that accepts credit card payments for their products and services are subject to PCI DSS regulations (payment card industry data security standards), and any caught out of compliance are subject to penalties that can amount to thousands of dollars per transaction. This includes anyone with an ecommerce site, mail order sales, as well as retail and service companies.

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In the healthcare arena, any organization that collects electronic protected health information—as well as the vendors and service providers who work with them—are subject to HIPAA regulations. The scope of these affected companies is in the millions, representing a vast opportunity. To maintain compliance, an organization must prove that it has taken action to secure network data.

Assessing Internal Risk

Most security breaches occur from within, either accidentally as a result of human error or intentionally due to insider threat. Through a “deep-dive” internal examination, assessments can uncover and measure risk associated with analysis of the data collected. The assessment can expose such potential threats as to whether anyone is accessing or transmitting data that they shouldn’t be or can reveal when users have gained access to otherwise restricted parts of the network.

In short, if a shrewd MSP knows how to differentiate network assessments, you can capture new opportunities, increase revenues, and document your own ongoing activities—while producing valuable network reports and deliverables.

RapidFire Tools, Inc. is a sponsor of the upcoming Navigate 2016 Continuum User Conference and will also be presenting The Next BIG Thing in IT Security Services, one of the event's more than 30 breakout sessions, If you plan to attend, be sure to stop by our booth for a quick product demo and to review sample reports.