Alongside financial advantages, partnering offers further benefits that can empower your managed services business. In conversations with our MSP partners, the following are frequently cited as areas where partnering has helped them to refine or adapt their business model.
1. Extend and improve the customer experience
Like many MSPs, you will be trying to increase revenue by adding advanced services layers (security, BDR and data analytics, for example) to your core managed services offering. All too often, however, the in-house engineers who should be focussing on these more profitable areas are being deployed on ‘bread and butter’ tasks such as the monitoring and maintenance activities that are part and parcel of NOC and Service Desk.
Partnering allows you to offload this day-to-day ‘heavy lifting’ and deploy your expensive, highly skilled engineers on more profitable projects – and on developing customer relationships. It also gives you access to a pool of experienced resources to supplement your in-house skills.
Plus, while you are focussing on expanding the services you offer, your partner can make sure that this is not done to the detriment of service to your current customers.
Ensuring you have the right staffing levels in place to cover peaks in activity or a sudden rush of service requests is not an easy balance to achieve in-house: too few staff on any shift can mean service delivery suffers; too many can cut into margins and leave technicians thumb-twiddling. Partnering for NOC and Service Desk, particularly for out-of-hours support (OOH), gives you flexible access to an experienced team, who will be working on your systems outside of the normal working day when your own team has clocked off. This means customer up-time can be increased and response times/fix rates for faults improved.
Steve Ross, Managing Director of Shackleton IT, found this to be a benefit for his own managed services business:
We are exploring how Inbay can take on even more of the day to day grind and free up our own engineers to do more exciting, higher value-add work for clients: more project work; more in-depth network admin in terms of automation. Our aim is to really get to grips with automation, reducing the number of tickets we get from clients and ensuring that the up-time for the network is operating as near as possible to 100%.
2. Move up to servicing larger clients without having to increase headcount
With larger clients comes the challenge of servicing more complex organisations that may be operating across multiple countries and time zones. Pitching for this business also requires a step-change in confidence.
Partnering can deliver the experienced, highly skilled resources you need to tender for, win and deliver new projects and services, as well as providing access to a world-class NOC and Service Desk facility that will inspire confidence in your customers. One of our partner MSPs to benefit from this is Toby Sillett, Managing Director of Onsite Technologies:
Whenever we quote for a high-level project or tender for a new contract we partner with Inbay to provide us with the additional skill-set we need in the background. We have been able to target much larger businesses and more complex projects than if we had approached it alone…. I don’t think we would be in that position without Inbay’s involvement.
3. Meet demand for ‘always-on’ computing from businesses that no longer work standard office hours
Businesses are now less willing to accept that if something ‘breaks’ during the night, it will not be addressed by their MSP until the following morning. Many expect more proactive OOH or 24/7 NOC and Service Desk support. Unfortunately, many MSPs still struggle to deliver this in-house, which can be a problem when pitching for new business. Indeed, an inability to provide OOH support may be a ‘deal breaker, especially for larger, more complex organisations.
Your partner can provide OOH support cost-effectively and remove a major area of stress for you in trying to resource cover in-house. This can be a relief for smaller MSPs in particular.
Darron Millar, Technical Services Director of BTA, partnered with Inbay to resolve this 24/7 needs:
We partnered with Inbay for 24/7 to fulfil an immediate need. Previously, when we talked to prospective clients and had to say that we couldn’t provide full 24/7, we would sometimes not get their business. Now, we can say with confidence that we can offer full 24/7/365 NOC and Service Desk – and we are very open about delivering this through a partner company.
4. Put your business on a more stable footing
SMBs are caught in a period of rapid change today: they face a more complex technology landscape, more onerous legal requirements and increased security threats, to name but three areas. One aspect that they expect to remain constant, however, is the level of service delivered by their MSP.
Yet many MSPs are facing significant challenges of their own in trying to scale their business profitably, retain staff, plug skills gaps and comply with legal demands – all while continuing to meet the aforementioned customer expectations.
Partnering can provide greater stability for your managed services business, by giving you:
- Flexible access to skilled and experienced technicians so there is less risk to the business if any of your key people leave.
- The confidence to bid for bigger, more complex contracts safe in the knowledge that you will always have access to the resources you need to fulfil these.
- A pay-as-you-grow business model so you can maintain margins and grow profitably.
- The ability to weather market downturns by adjusting the agreement with your partner rather than having to cut jobs.
- Predictable costs, to help with price-setting and cash-flow.
Eric Rockwell, President of centrexIT, appreciates the predictability that comes with partnering:
We don’t have to take on a huge payroll by employing new engineers. We simply increase the expenses with our partner as we grow. The new expense aligns with the new revenue so every new client we take on using Inbay’s services is profitable.
5. Use a partner to give you a ‘leg up’ the operational maturity model
If you’re not familiar with the concept of the operational maturity model as applied to MSPs, the below chart may help. Based on the SolarWinds N-able MSP Maturity Model (which was itself inspired by the Gartner concept) it plots the stages in the MSP journey and the characteristics of the business at each stage.
Moving up through the different levels is no easy process, but the good news for MSPs is that by outsourcing parts of their operation, specifically elements of service delivery, such as NOC and/or Service Desk to a best-in-class partner, they may well be able to accelerate their own operational maturity advance.
This is because the partner takes over responsibility from the MSP for many aspects of service delivery that feature in the maturity model, freeing up the MSP’s time to move forward other elements of the business so they can progress more quickly along the maturity model.
The ability to guarantee SLAs, provide 24/7 cover if required and access additional knowledge, processes, industry best practices and automation courtesy of the partner also helps the MSP to migrate through the model.
6. Partnering is so much more than reducing costs
If you are looking to partner for NOC and Service Desk, of course the cost aspects will be an important consideration. But don’t forget to factor in the other ways in which partnering can empower your business.
Adam Doblo, CIO of Adaptive Solutions, explains why he partnered with Inbay – and it wasn’t purely for financial reasons:
The decision wasn’t just based on dollars and cents. We were having significant issues filling the required [staffing] slots as they tended to fall into the overnight shift. We also now have fewer issues when onboarding clients and have benefited from exposure to Inbay’s internal processes.
Read how MSPs like you have been empowered by partnering with Inbay.
Contact us if you would like to find out how partnering for NOC and Service Desk can help your managed services business.