Before I ran my own Managed Service Provider (MSP) business, I worked in corporate IT.
I worked for some large organisations like Ernst & Young, GE Capital and the NHS.
One lesson I learned in these corporate environments was the value of standardisation and scalability.
Unlike many MSPs I see, who are trying to manage dozens of different technologies across multiple client sites, most corporate IT departments standardise on specific software and hardware.
But why do these large corporates focus on standardisation like this and why should your MSP be concerned with not standardising?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Richard Tubb is one of the best-known experts within the global IT Managed Service Provider (MSP) community. He launched and sold his own MSP business before creating a leading MSP media and consultancy practice. Richard helps IT business owner’s take back control by freeing up their time and building a business that can run without them. He’s the author of the book “The IT Business Owner’s Survival Guide” and writer of the award-winning blog www.tubblog.co.uk
The challenges of not standardising
In the MSP world, we’re often faced with more technologies than we can count.
- Dozens of different brands of vendor computers, running different versions of operating systems.
- Tens of Line of Business (LoB) applications running on different platforms.
- Numerous Internet Service Providers (ISPs) offering different Internet connectivity.
It can be a mess!
The challenge with this breadth of technology is the strain it puts on your Service Desk.
Managing these disparate different systems is a huge challenge. No one team can be experts in all of these technologies. No one engineer can stay current on all of the updates and changes that take place across these divergent systems.
That’s not to speak of the challenge in recruiting staff who have knowledge of this breadth of technology. Nor the incredible amount of work that goes into educating a new recruit on the various different software and hardware that they’ll need to support.
The greater the breadth of technology your MSP business has to support, the greater the investment you will need to make, and the higher ongoing costs you’ll need to bear.
Which is why you should consider standardising your MSP offering.
How to standardise your MSP offering
At this point, I can hear MSPs telling me that they understand the value of standardising their offerings, but that it’s an impossible job.
Client's wouldn’t accept standardisation and would insist on making their own choices.
My experience has matched this. Your client often thinks they know best and want to choose the hardware, software and solutions that they use.
But, if you can demonstrate the cost-savings or efficiency gains to be made from standardisation, the business benefit often outweighs the need to be unique!
For instance, what would your client say if you offered them a discount on their Managed Service Agreement (MSA) for agreeing to work with specific technology? Would the client insist on buying cheaper Acer laptops if your cost to them of supporting Lenovo hardware was cheaper?
Many MSPs can also inherit equipment that is varied in vendor and software. What if your MSP offered your client an incentive to replace this hardware and software with your standardised recommendations? Might the client make an earlier upgrade?
Standardise, but remain flexible
But remember that while you can reduce your cost of support by utilising standardisation, you do not want to appear inflexible.
Some prospective clients will insist on their own corporate standards, and that’s ok. You must reflect any increased costs of supporting these variances in your proposal.
Explore the idea of standardisation with these prospects. Layout the cost-savings from standardisation.
But be prepared to be flexible.
You can support different systems if you are suitably compensated for this.
Standardisation enables businesses to deliver services more efficiently, with lower staff training and reduced maintenance costs.
Your MSP business should look to build standardisation into its MSP offering.
The name of the game to your business is reducing your cost of support.
The bottom line for your client is reducing their costs.
When you lay out the benefits of standardisation in terms of cost-savings, your clients will appreciate this approach and be prepared to adapt.