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Acer America
Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.


333 West San Carlos Street
San Jose, California 95110
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December 7, 2023 |

Maximizing the Microsoft 365 Stack

Backup and security are two major areas where MSPs can deliver Microsoft 365-focused expertise and solutions to their clients, experts say.

SMBs that adopt the Microsoft 365 stack can often use some help — whether through services and/or products — to get the most out of the productivity and collaboration tools it offers.

Dawn Sizer of 3rd Element Consulting

Dawn Sizer

This opens up profitable sales opportunities for MSPs, assuming they have effective pricing strategies that enable them to maximize what they take in from these engagements.

Backup and security are two major areas where MSPs can deliver Microsoft 365-focused expertise and solutions to their clients. “If you don’t have a third-party backup and Microsoft cannot restore your data, you’re just out of luck,” noted Dawn Sizer, CEO of 3rd Element Consulting.

There are several products in the market to augment the backup of 365, but according to Sizer, “They don’t get everything. They back up Word, Excel, and SharePoint, but miss things like Planner. In some cases, they don’t provide the ability to search backups.”

This is a major concern to much of 3rd Element’s client base, which Sizer described as heavily weighted with law enforcement, healthcare, and legal enterprises — all of which have extensive backup and record-keeping requirements. When picking a vendor, Sizer emphasized that it’s important to carefully evaluate how complete their SaaS data protection is. She identified one such vendor, Keepit, which offers comprehensive M365 backups to clients like hers.

Addressing the Security Stack

Amy Babinchack of HarborComputer Services

Amy Babinchack

The Microsoft 365 stack provides numerous openings for MSPs to provide expertise to help their clients automate processes, according to Amy Babinchak, owner of MSP Harbor Computer Services.

“A lot of MSPs are still focused on delivering their mainstay offerings, like day-to-day email and user and license management. They don’t look farther than that,” she said. “But Microsoft 365 is full of opportunities because it contains so many apps and services that you could build an entire MSP around it.”

Identity security is an area that Harbor focuses on, she said. “If you can control who is the identity of the person and device that is accessing your data, then you’ve largely controlled the whole spectrum of security.”

At Harbor, this is done mainly by helping clients implement Microsoft products, including Entra (formerly Azure AD), Defender for Business, and the Intune endpoint security manager. With these, according to Babinchak, “You can address the security stack really widely.”

Pricing Considerations

Turning M365-related products/services into new revenue is primarily a matter of effectively bundling them with the other MSP services and pricing them correctly, according to Erick Simpson, an MSP influencer, thought leader, and founder of the MSP Mastered program.

“And when an MSP is developing bundles and prices, I’m a fan of the ‘good, better, best’ methodology, with three bundles. Each provides successively higher tiers of services by adding additional features and benefits,” Simpson said.

Establishing what clients get — and what the MSP gets paid — for these tiers of service is a matter of accurately predicting costs, according to Simpson. “Forecast how much labor time it takes to support the client in terms of installation and training.”

Help desk costs also enter the equation, he suggested, with faster response times provided as a client moves up the tiers.

Erick Simpson of MSP Mastered

Erick Simpson

“We’re also forecasting the cost of our third-party licenses, subscriptions, services, monitoring tools, platforms, and everything else we are getting from vendors that we deliver to clients,” he said. “Once we understand what our costs are, we establish a target markup or margin on top of that.”

Exercise care when bundling cybersecurity into your proposals, Simpson advised.

“It’s important for MSPs to ensure that the client has a cyber liability insurance policy in place, and that their services meet the minimum requirements of that policy,” Simpson said. “Things like changing passwords every 90 days, having a password management application, having two-factor authentication in place, having backups, etc.”

MSP proposals should include the costs of specific products/services designed to strengthen the client’s cybersecurity profile and meet the requirements of their insurance policy, he recommended. “But what is not included — and cannot be predicted — is the cost of remediation in the event the client gets hacked.”

Image: iStock

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