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Is your MSP giving you solutions or problems during COVID-19? 5 Key Signs of insufficient management.

There’s nothing like a one in 100-year pandemic to test how your IT operations are performing and how prepared you are for change.

In this blog, we’ll take a look at five key signs of insufficient management as well as the behaviours that your MSP should be demonstrating – particularly during the COVID-19 crisis. We’ll also review ways to drive better outcomes in any business climate.

A poor MSP engagement can prevent you from achieving your goals and slow your growth. Any deficiencies may have already been there before the outbreak – but will almost certainly have been amplified now. Here’s what to look for.

  1. Sitting idle, instead of acting as a match-maker to ensure the best outcomes.
    Has your MSP outgrown you, or have you outgrown them? Good outcomes will stem from a good match – so think about the airtime that you’re getting from your account team (yes – they should be providing you with a team) and if they always seem to be too busy dealing with bigger, “more important” clients. Another factor at play here is their depth and breadth of expertise, and whether they meet the requirements of your growing business.

  2. Recklessly implementing tech, rather than supporting continuous innovation delivery.
    COVID-19 has highlighted the need for MSPs to be providing innovative solutions, but your MSP shouldn’t be implementing technology without checking if it’s the most suitable option for your business. An innovative MSP will understand your business, review the most appropriate ICT strategies and platforms, provide explanations and only then implement. The outcome should be an IT Strategy and Roadmap that inextricably links ICT to your business strategy and outcomes.

  3. Cutting corners on support, rather than supporting locally for local requirements.
    How regular is your contact? Are you chasing them, or are they chasing you? COVID-19 has cast light on the effectiveness of operational support metrics like response times, SLAs and support tickets. Local support is also imperative. Many MSPs have been moving to offshore call centres which reduces their costs but also their productivity, and this can affect your productivity. You may have experienced significant lapses in response from overseas call centres during COVID as these models have been stress-tested.

  4. Charging like a wounded bull, rather than providing cost visibility, transparency and measurability.
    Is your MSP overcharging and underdelivering, and do you get hit with a bill at every turn? If a contract has been poorly scoped, you’ll struggle to achieve reasonable and measurable value from the engagement. A good MSP will view you as a partner, not a cash cow. Even if you have a limited budget, the requirements and deliverables should be well specified to avoid contention.

  5. Providing patchy or sparse expertise, rather than delivering agility with a depth of skills.
    During any form of disruption, you will benefit greatly from your MSP’s depth of skills. Are you continually waiting for a specific person to provide solutions to your business? Or even worse, is your MSP shielding a long tail of external skills? A good MSP will have the resources to continually service you – including avoiding a single point of failure – with skill sets spread across the business.

Why have these signs become clearer during COVID-19?

When trouble strikes, just being “good enough” is nowhere near good enough. It’s much easier for an MSP to look acceptable when things are going well, particularly if they’re merely managing the status quo and not looking for opportunities to optimise.

Some organisations will have stayed with an “adequate” arrangement because of the perceived difficulty of switching MSPs. But crises like COVID-19 can expose the fact that an adequate business-as-usual approach can lead to significant shortcomings when the chips are down.

If you’re feeling frustrated or abandoned by your MSP, it might be tempting to simply weather the storm and address the issues later. In actual fact, now’s the time to be taking action. 

Driving better outcomes in any climate

I’ve been hearing from IT and business leaders who have had a sub-optimal experience and are considering checking out potential alternatives. If you’re in this frame of mind, here are some tips to drive better outcomes regardless of the business climate.

  • Have a continuity plan linked to your business and IT.
    This might seem obvious – now. I’ve had conversations with different IT leaders through this crisis who’ve confided in me that their MSP wasn’t prepared for it at all. If you don’t have a Business Continuity Plan linked to your IT plan and your business strategy, you might have had problems enabling people to work from home.

  • Beware of business as usual.
    If there’s no ongoing discussion about the evolution of the environment to support your business objectives, your business can drop behind in technology and potentially in competitiveness. The classic “manage the status quo” approach indicates there is no dedicated expert resource being made available. Status quo may be profitable for the MSP, but not so good for the client. With business as usual, in time (or in a crisis!) you could be managed into obsolescence and inflexibility.

    That’s why it’s important to have a proactive relationship with a Business Continuity Plan and a technology roadmap in sync. Make sure there is commitment to optimisation and continuous improvement for both.

  • You should have multiple advocates and skillsets within your account team.
    When bad luck does strike, you’ll need to get hold of someone who is on your side and can make immediate decisions. “We found it harder to contact the key members of our account team when we were making the tough decisions,” was the feeling of one IT Leader I spoke with recently. There should be at least an Account Manager, a Service Delivery Manager and a Senior Consultant available to you, representing shared knowledge of your business and IT environment to address all issues that may arise.

  • Your MSP should have project and transformation capability.
    The ‘As-a-Service’ delivery model for IT works well when there are clearly defined outcomes. But during a crisis, clearly defined outcomes are thrown up in the air. A good MSP will provide you with adequate resourcing to support a strategic partnership, and not just turn up when revenue or billing is concerned. To rapidly transform, senior consulting and project management resources are needed, and this should be supported by formal quality controls.

  • Monitor SLAs and response rates.
    When COVID-19 forced a work-from-home change at one organisation the result was: “Response rates to support calls are slow and often failed to meet SLAs”. Part of the problem was a reliance on offshore resources. If your current MSP has a call centre offshore, how long did you have to wait for responses in the current emergency? Offshore resources might be cheaper, but they are not robust in times when robustness is mission critical. For example, Tecala’s support team is 100% local and the standard average time to answer phones is 15 seconds. During our busiest time – when the incoming call rate had doubled – the average answer time was 36 seconds. A number of people told me some offshore call centres dragged response out to hours – and some closed off direct communication completely. If this has been your experience, you deserve better.

  • Everything should not be “by the buck”.
    One CIO told me that, “Everything we asked for from our MSP was billable.” In times of emergency the focus should be on solving the problem – not a chance to make a quick buck. A crisis like COVID-19 is a shared problem as it impacts everyone. If a customer is in need, we fix problems without demanding a purchase order first. During the crisis one client needed an extra 40 VPN connections, so we provisioned them within a day of a verbal request. The service was delivered for free, with the option to pay later or wind it back when appropriate. The problem was solved, without red tape, by respecting that this was an emergency situation.

The COVID-19 crisis illustrates the importance of innovation and continuous improvement. It’s important for your business that your MSP is working with you in partnership, to ensure agility and optimal outcomes when problems arise.

If you’d like to discuss how to improve your MSP outcomes, we welcome you to book in a free strategy session with our team.

LET’S CREATE A PLAN THAT GIVEs YOU THE OUTCOME YOU NEED.

Register for an initial online discussion over Zoom, phone, or in person. And let’s find out where your business most needs our award-winning services and support.

By analysing your specific needs and priorities, we’ll give you a realistic and practical recommendation on what’s required to accelerate your modern architecture.

Our Senior Consultants will help you evaluate and understand your options, so you can make decisions that benefit both your business and your employees, while mitigating unnecessary risk.​

Combining Strategy, Transformation, Management and Optimisation, we identify and remove the obstacles to a successful outcome, before you even know they’re there.​

The session will cover:

Step 1: Recap and review

Together we’ll examine the steps you’ve already taken in adapting to COVID-19, and review the parameters for the architecture planning you’ll need in place going forward.

Step 2: Shape the
plan

Future-Planning for optimal performance, focusing on effective communication and collaboration, device lifecycle and configuration management and security.

Step 3: Identify your requirements

This is where we clearly identify the steps you need to have in place to develop your Strategic Technology Roadmap to create a Modern Dynamic Workplace. 

Step 4: Get the
report

You’ll receive a high-level report with our recommendations to accelerate your modern architecture, and the next steps for delivering your Strategic Technology Roadmap.

We’ll get you there. Faster.

With a high-level plan in place, you’ll have a clear understanding on the business case, benefits and high-level budget considerations for your technology platform to accelerate your modern architecture. And you’ll be ready to leverage the Cloud to deliver the services and applications your teams need.

CASE STUDY

Find out what a great MSP relationship should be delivering.

How successful was your business transition to a remote workforce during the COVID crisis?. Read how the National Breast Cancer Foundation was able to transition to a remote workforce environment almost overnight with 93% employee satisfaction.

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