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1 Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 1

2 Introduction Enables Scalability Without Increasing Head Count An End To Firefighting Complicated Scripting No Longer Necessary Enables Self-Service Remediation Enables a Closed Loop Process From Initial Alert to Close of Ticket Solves Recurring IT problems and Trouble Tickets, Before You're Even Aware of Them Enables Your Staff to be Better at Providing Better Service & Better Performance.. 32 Get Started with IT Process Automation Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 2

3 Anyone who understands the role of a managed service provider (MSP) understands the importance of doing more with less. It s all about scale and common sense. The more efficient and effective your performance, the more success you ll achieve. The problem though, is that achieving a high level of scalability is a budget challenge for many organizations, because hiring additional staff simply isn t feasible. Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 3

4 MSP experts agree that stiff competition, budgetary restrictions, and dwindling profit margins can best be countered by investing in automation. This holds true even for enterprises that don't struggle with cash flow issues as their bottom line will still be impacted by hiring additional staff. On the other hand, if you allow technology to do your heavy lifting, scalability can be attained without the added expenditure of increased headcount. Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 4

5 The ability to outsource and even relocate operation centers to other areas of the world may provide a slight advantage in terms of overall cost, but it won t necessarily level the economic playing field. The ultimate goal of every MSP is to deliver the highest quality of service possible while utilizing the fewest number of employees. The best way to do more with less is by automating, not tapping into foreign markets and moving your IT department offshore. Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 5

6 That said, it s also critically important that key decision makers do their due diligence when choosing an IT automation product to work with. Those who have been most successful in this battle of the fittest have provided some insight into what to be careful of during the selection process. Most importantly, keep the concept of scalability in mind. Make sure you choose a product that will be able to bridge the past with the future, integrating with legacy systems while also adapting with your changing business needs as they occur. Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 6

7 It s also extremely important that the automation platform you choose be robust. Remember, you re going to be relying on this system to handle not just simple, repetitive tasks but also things that are critical to the success of your entire organization, such as incident management and advanced workflow performance. Do your homework and make sure the product you ultimately select is comprehensive enough to handle anything your business may need. Moving forward, there s no question that automation will become a critical factor in any successful MSP's strategy. Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 7

8 In the future, only those MSP's that embrace automation and leverage its numerous advantages will continue to remain competitive. Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 8

9 Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 9

10 There are numerous factors in play when determining an MSP's scalability: System Capacity SLA Requirements Standardization of Offerings Geography Covered Perhaps the most important factor of all though is staff headcount. MSP s traditionally require lots of quality IT staff to operate a scalable environment, but those people can be expensive and hard to find. Gartner once published a study stating that the ideal end-user to IT service desk worker ratio is 70:1 for organizations using a single operating system on their network with established standards for installed hardware. Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 10

11 A 2008 survey by Robert Half Technology found that the actual reported ratios were 136:1, while the average ideal ratio reported was 82:1. With headcount no longer a bottle neck, rapid scalability becomes viable. Automation lets you meet SLA targets in a consistent, reliable, repeatable, auditable way that increases the quality of your deliverables and reduces costs, while still enabling scalability. With IT process automation in place, the end-user to IT service desk worker ratio can increase by an order of magnitude, enabling MSP s to reach ratios of well over 1,000:1. Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 11

12 Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 12

13 Take this quick quiz: Do you frequently respond immediately to emergency calls and requests for assistance? Do you frequently attend to fires, accidents, incidents, and crashes? Do you rescue trapped people? If you answered "yes" to two or more of the above questions: you may be a firefighter, or you may be a staff member in an MSP operations center. Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 13

14 In all seriousness though, if you re an MSP who s exhausted from putting out fires, one of the first benefits you ll enjoy from IT process automation (ITPA) is an end to firefighting. With ITPA, you can proactively schedule the automation of repetitive routine tasks such as disk space cleanup and file operations, while also automatically remediating problems such as password resets or locked Active Directory accounts. Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 14

15 IT process automation can be your virtual operator or Level 0 Tech Support, because ITPA is able to resolve a lot of problems automatically without human intervention, before those problems even get to Level 1. Pre-empting problems before they occur, or via automation while they occur, eliminates the need to constantly put out fires. Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 15

16 Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 16

17 Scripting isn't easy. No matter what language(s) you prefer (PowerShell, WMI, etc), proper scripting requires a high level of system administrator expertise. Even with that expertise, if you need scripts for complex processes that touch multiple systems and applications, they're going to be difficult to create, and likely error-prone. Scripts are also difficult to maintain, hard to share and reuse, and challenging to audit. And scripts are usually distributed throughout IT, not kept in a central repository. So good luck complying easily with auditing & change management requirements. Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 17

18 IT process automation offers a better alternative. For starters, there's no scripting required! You do not have to be a high level system administrator or programmer to be highly productive very quickly with ITPA. The ITPA tool usually includes an intuitive drag-and-drop interface of pre-programmed activities, and pre-built workflow templates. eyeshare workflow designer Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 18

19 Automating complex processes with an ITPA tool is not only fairly easy, but much easier to understand visually. Maintenance, sharing, re-use, auditing, and centralizing of workflows is also a built-in feature of ITPA tools, making compliance with auditing & change management requirements a breeze. Experience has also shown that even top notch system administrators who prefer getting their hands dirty with script code, still love working with ITPA tools, Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 19

20 Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 20

21 IT process automation not only allows MSP s to automate many routine, laborintensive tasks, it also enables their customers to remediate their own incidents through a self-service interface as familiar as their smartphone. This customerfacing mobile interface extends the ITPA tool s automation capabilities to end users, greatly reducing an MSP service desk s call volume for problems like password resets & Active Directory account unlocks. And in the specific case of password resets, Gartner has found that users prefer doing it in self-serve fashion via their mobile devices. See an example of the Active Directory password reset workflow (using text message). Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 21

22 Enabling self-service remediation can be a huge cost saver for MSP s. According to Gartner, password resets alone account for as much as 40% of a service desk s call volume, and in 2014 the average cost of a call to a service desk was $17.88/call. Using those two figures, it s easy to figure out how much your MSP service desk spent on password resets last year. Just take the number of password reset requests received, multiply that by 40%, and then multiply the resulting number by $ Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 22

23 With an ITPA tool, an MSP can probably reduce this shocking cost to zero (or very close to it). However, cost reduction is only one benefit of providing selfservice remediation, as end user frustration levels will likely decrease at a ratio inversely proportional to the increase in their customer satisfaction. Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 23

24 Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 24

25 In most environments today, MSP s have a network monitoring system keeping an eye on things and when there s an incident, an alert gets generated that typically goes right to a Level 1 technician at the help desk. This is where the process stalls a bit until the technician creates a ticket in the ITSM help desk application. The technician then begins the process of remediation, or if it s beyond their level of expertise, escalates it to a Level 2 technician. Either way, one of them is then supposed to update the original help desk ticket, and finally close it out once the underlying incident has been remediated. Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 25

26 If they remember, they re also supposed to go back to the network monitoring system to update & close out the alert that kicked off this entire disconnected & very fragmented process. You start out by using the ITPA tool to integrate your network monitoring system with your ITSM help desk platform. Now, when the network monitoring system generates an alert, the ITPA tool intercepts it, parses it, and launches the appropriate workflow needed to remediate the underlying incident automatically.. Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 26

27 While the remediation is taking place, the ITPA tool also automatically creates a ticket in the ITSM help desk platform, and updates it in real-time by documenting every step of the incident remediation process. Once the incident remediation is completed, the ITPA tool automatically closes the ticket, and updates the network monitoring system to dismiss the alert. This is another example of how IT process automation can be your virtual operator or Level 0 Tech Support, by resolving many problems automatically without human intervention, & before they even get to Level 1. Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 27

28 Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 28

29 In typical MSP environments, alerts are acted upon by people, and as previously mentioned, this leads to a disconnected & very fragmented process. Operational efficiency shouldn t rely on humans manually responding to alerts. With IT process automation in place, nearly every technical problem has a pre-defined solution, and occurrence of the former triggers application of the latter. Automating problem resolution can reduce an MSPs workload by more than 70% Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 29

30 This is especially true for MSP s remotely managing incidents across multiple client sites. The environmental complexity of applications, databases, monitoring tools, and infrastructures is further complicated by today s highly virtualized architectures and cloud-based applications. This not only challenges MSP s with quickly identifying and resolving issues to meet service level agreements, but also with optimizing resources in order to remain competitive, expand the business, and increase profitability. An IT process automation tool helps meet those challenges by providing a comprehensive Unified Incident Management solution to centrally manage, automate, and support a large number of remote data centers from a single pane of glass. Top 7 Benefits Top 7 Benefits IT Process IT Process Automation Automation Provides Provides MSP s MSP s 10 30

31 Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 31

32 Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 32

33 If your staff is constantly putting out fires, coding complicated scripts, and generally doing a lot of things manually (and reactively), then their expertise, skills, and time aren't being optimized. IT process automation changes that by enabling your staff to be proactive, and maximizing their productivity. Instead of personnel being flooded with alert storms every time an incident occurs, ITPA remediates the incident freeing up your staff for more important things. Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 33

34 ITPA also centralizes incident management via a single pane of glass, allowing fewer personnel to support a larger number of remote data centers from one single network operation center. Relieving personnel from the drudgery of incident remediation also greatly reduces the risk of errors since standardized best-practice responses are embedded in the ITPA tool's workflow. This in turn greatly improves system recovery time, which in turn reduces downtime, improves service levels, and lowers the risk of SLA penalties, or worse, the loss of a client. IT staffs spend up to 50% of their time troubleshooting and fixing problems. Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 34

35 The business of managed service providers is riddled with time consuming manual tasks. If not automated, these manual tasks can have a negative impact on productivity, which can decrease service levels and ultimately cut into profits. By automating these tasks with ITPA, MSP s have the ability to lower costs and increase profits, thus enabling staff to be better at providing better service & better performance to your clients. Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 10

36 Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP s 36

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