Migrating to a Managed Service Model through Automation

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1 Migrating to a Managed Service Model through Automation The IT landscape is constantly changing, impacted by many factors from innovations by technology vendors, to a more disparate and global workforce and even increased regulatory compliance demands. As corporate purse strings tighten, many small businesses and mid-sized enterprises have outsourced IT management to consultants and other specialized service providers. As such, the market opportunity for IT consultants has increased. A managed service providers (MSP) can generate and benefit from various revenue streams ongoing monthly retainer service contracts, margins associated with deploying new technology and additional value-added service delivery. With an increase in revenue, MSPs can focus on customer retention and customer acquisition, which yields additional leverage as a MSP builds out its third party technology vendor network. There are essentially no downsides to this type of business transformation, but the process of becoming an MSP is easier said than done. This whitepaper is intended as a guide for IT consultants, offering a strategy that takes advantage of the increasing demand for IT services to improve business operations. The approach is centered on transitioning from a role as a consultant to building a business as an MSP.

2 Migrating to a Managed Service Model through Automation Part 1: Understanding the Limitations of the Outsourced IT Support Role Before outlining best practices for a managed service provider and identifying technology to support MSPs, let s identify the differences between the two roles. The most important distinction is how companies engage with an IT consultant versus a managed service provider. Customer Engagement as an IT Consultant Typically, a business owner will identify a few consultants to be available on a case-bycase basis, usually when there is an IT issue. The process of enlisting a consultant for assistance when there is an issue is inefficient and costly for both the consultant and company. The Engagement Process is as Follows: A company experiences an IT issue and contacts one of the IT consultants in their Rolodex. Usually the company will contact a consultant they ve used in the past. Depending on the severity of the issue, the company contacts another consultant if their first attempt goes unanswered. When a consultant is reached, he or she will evaluate their own schedule to determine if a technician is available within the company s timeframe, then a technician is sent to company site and assess the issue. In a best case scenario, a technician can address the issue on site. But many times, a technician would need to deploy new technology or use other resources requiring a second (or third) site visit. The technician will then use a manual process, and typically a paper-based system, to report time and resources spent on service call. The IT consultant will then generate a paper bill/ invoice for the company. In the industry, this process is often referred to as break/fix. While it seems simple enough, and presumably the IT consultant is paid for service, inefficiencies within a break/fix process impact the IT consultant and companies in a few significant ways. The Problems with Break/Fix Model Companies experience serious IT downtime draining employee productivity and possibly revenue opportunity IT consultants aren t available for one of their regular clients, damaging the relationship and forcing the client to turn elsewhere Technicians can t quickly address an issue on site during first visit, requiring more time and/or additional out-of-pocket costs Technicians don t accurately assess service costs, meaning revenue is left on the table IT consultants don t bill the service in a timely manner, further leaving revenue on the table Of these issues, impact on revenue is most damaging to business. Lost and Delayed Revenue Reality Most service organizations report a percent loss of Most service organizations report a percent loss of revenue attributed to inaccurate billing. It s easy to see how billing errors could occur when using manual reporting. Assume a technician visits five different company sites in one week, unless he or she has gotten into the good habit of reporting all time billed at the end of each day, it becomes extremely difficult to remember and report all activity. Billing is improved when a technician has specific details about the service call prior to the site visit, but many technicians report that once they are on site they are often asked to address several lesser issues. It s time spent on these projects that really slip through the cracks of billed services.

3 MSP Success Story ProBleu Automation Yields 60 % Billing Boost Let s assume that all or most service has been accounted for, the revenue is still far from being collected. Once technicians report services, a billing manager will create an invoice for the work. Invoicing is often described as a pain point for IT consultants who specialize in IT management, not business process management, as it can take hours, if not days, even when using third party accounting solutions and template invoice forms. The manual process of translating technician time, IT resources and other technology to a bill for a client is cumbersome and inefficient. Since beginning years ago as a state contractor that provided Indiana prosecutors offices with a wide array of networking, hardware and internet services, ProBleu has evolved to become a MSP specializing in network infrastructures for small and medium businesses. ProBleu had programmed its own ticketing system at a cost of $30,000. The system lived on an on-site server, which cost the company maintenance and staff dollars. In 2009, ProBleu adopted BlueFolder, now PacketTrap PSA. Now clients can go through the BlueFolder customer portal to send s, open and create tickets. Use of PacketTrap PSA delivered a significant benefit better job time and data capture resulted in a 60 percent upswing in billings. I m sure we re all guilty of putting off business tasks that we don t like to do. But for MSPs, putting off the invoice process can be particularly damaging as a delay in invoicing means a delay in collecting payment for service. Due to a lack of resources service visits taking priority and many MSPs invoice once at the end of the month. They have come to expect to receive payment for services several months out. This causes a business float; the business is operating using revenue that it hasn t yet collected.

4 Migrating to a Managed Service Model through Automation Part 2: Using Technology to Support Managed Service Model While the process of client service delivery is essentially the same, managed service providers gain significant efficiencies when using technology to streamline client network management and business management processes. An ideal technology platform integrates functionality of a remote monitoring and management (RMM) solution with a professional services automation (PSA) product. The most significant efficiencies using an end-to-end business management platform delivers are: Client Engagement and Ticket Creation Multiple Points of Ticket Entry Phone Self-Service through a Customer Portal Mobile App With an RMM solution in place, MSPs can be proactive, having alerts set up on client network devices to flag issues most times even before a client realizes the issue exists. Even just using a PSA tool, functionality allows for several ways for clients to quickly reach an MSP and put in a ticket. A customer portal gives clients access to the business management platform, which supports self-service ticket entry and status checks. Regardless of the point of entry, tickets are automatically generated, which is critical for the next point of efficiency. Technician Time Management Once a ticket is created, an integrated business management platform can review technician schedules and assign a technician to a client job. Reviewing information in the ticket, i.e. device details if a device error triggered the alert, provides the technician with a better picture of what to expect at the client site and enables him or her to be prepared to address the issue. From the same system, a technician can report on and close the ticket in real-time. Billing Automation From the client site, a technician s notes are automatically sent to the platform billing system. The billing manager can determine how the bill should be applied (i.e. to a monthly retainer or as a single service call) and can quickly generate an invoice from the service note. Using an end-to-end business management platform, all business processes are managed online, in real-time, and from any device, including smart phones.

5 The Benefit of Gained Time Through business process automation, MSPs have an opportunity to spend less time managing the business and more time doing business. The mechanics of business operations are streamlined giving MSPs more time to spend with the customer. By automating processes like customer self-service, alerts, technician scheduling and management, business owners spend far less time on manual tasks. This can significantly fosters business growth as it frees up time for owners to spend building customer relationships and implementing marketing campaigns. It also leads to a better work/life balance without sacrificing business. Equipment Tracking Ideal for MSPs who are responsible for the inventory of the client. When MSPs perform a service request, they can link a device to the request and build an ongoing history. This gives the MSP insight into devices that cause the most issues. Using PacketTrap PSA, device inventory is automatically populated so all service requests will have a piece of equipment assigned. Create an upsell opportunity by flagging troublesome devices and legacy equipment due for upgrade or replace Be more proactive by advising clients on cost-effective solutions Improve technicians productivity by arming them with more detailed information about equipment Technician Alerting Capability Supports real-time schedule changes. This feature enables business managers to enable same day schedule change, add new comments to a service requests in real-time and maintain constant contact with technicians. Boost technicians productivity by keeping their schedules on track MSP Success Story Merino Computer Concepts Better Accounting Improves Business Operations Serving Northern California s fast-growing Central Valley, Merino Computer Concepts (MCC) provides network and computing technologies and support to help businesses increase efficiency and productivity. President Joseph Merino looked to move away from a paper-based, multi-step approach to service documentation. At that point, his team of network engineers filled out paper forms at client sites with details that the office manager had to later re-enter into the accounting system. MCC deployed BlueFolder (now PacketTrap PSA), a leading web-based field service management solution that featured automated export to QuickBooks. As engineers entered project data at client sites, the office manager automatically brought those complete details right into the accounting software. PacketTrap PSA also automatically collected notes engineers entered about projects, giving clients detail about the services provided on invoices. The QuickBooks integration saved as much as 10 hours a week on invoicing and shortened the billing time to clients. Better inform technicians of changes, making service calls more efficient

6 Reporting Show a customer what the technician has been doing for them. Reporting is critical to avoid becoming a commodity for clients. MSPs now have the data at their fingertips to demonstrate value delivered to the customer.. Have informed conversation with customer about monthly service bill Utilize tangible data to discuss contract negotiation Best Practices for Finding and Using an End-to-End Business Process Management Platform While there are several professional service automation solutions available in the market, it s important for MSPs to look for a solution that delivers the right balance of functionality and ease of use. Some solutions, while robust, require significant time for customization and training. Other out of the box solutions don t stack up in terms of features. Evaluate your business needs and current client environments under management to determine which features are necessary and which will get in the way. Through the evaluation process, keep in mind that a PSA platform will serve different purposes for different users. For instance, a dispatcher needs to look at things differently and see different information than a billing manager. Look for a platform that enables a user to configure tabs delivering different views for each type of user. This enables each user to be more productive and get their jobs done. As with any new platform expect a learning curve and perhaps even some resistance from certain users. PSA vendors will likely offer comprehensive training and tutorials on how to best utilize the system. Automation requires a behavior change, but before long all users begin to see the benefits. About PacketTrap MSP and PacketTrap PSA PacketTrap MSP, by Quest Software, is comprehensive infrastructure remote monitoring and management solution. PacketTrap MSP provides a cost effective way for the MSP/Service Provider to offer customers a complete solution which addresses the critical challenges that they are faced with on a daily basis. Whereas other remote management platforms manage just the servers, desktops, and laptops, PacketTrap MSP is the first provider to extend managed services functionality to the real pain point: The traffic and bandwidth challenges on the network. Some of these include traffic analysis on any device, application, virtual infrastructure and VoIP monitoring. Whether you are using spreadsheets and sticky notes or clunky software, PacketTrap PSA, a new offering from Quest Software, transforms MSP s IT service management into an efficient process. A robust and intuitive professional service automation solution, PacketTrap PSA delivers significant time savings and a dramatic increase in profitability. Features include service request tracking, team scheduling, reports and dashboards, a customer portal and QuickBooks integration. About Quest Software, Inc. Quest Software (Nasdaq: QSFT) simplifies and reduces the cost of managing IT for more than 100,000 customers worldwide. Our innovative solutions make solving the toughest IT management problems easier, enabling customers to save time and money across physical, virtual and cloud environments. For more information about Quest solutions for application management, database management, Windows management, virtualization management, and IT management, go to 55 Hawthorne St, Suite 820 San Francisco, CA Toll Free: International: www. packettrap.com 2012 Quest Software, Inc. All rights reserved. Quest Software and PacketTrap MSP are registered trademarks of Quest Software, Inc. in the U.S.A. and/or other countries. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.

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