IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

7 Tips for Buying Managed Services Software

Too many managed services providers end up replacing their remote monitoring and management software. Here's expert advice for making the right choice the first time. By Rich Freeman

Few managed services providers (MSPs) enjoy buying remote monitoring and management (RMM) software. Too bad, then, that so many of them wind up doing it more than once. "I have yet to meet an MSP that's been around longer than five years that hasn't made a change," says Charles Weaver, president of the MSPAlliance, an MSP membership organization based in Chico, Calif. In fact, some managed services providers try as many as three or four systems before finding one that suits them. "It's part and parcel of being an MSP," Weaver notes.

RMM software is the core enabling technology for managed services, so choosing the right system is critical to a new MSP's success. To avoid RMM buyer's remorse--and the costly disruptions that come with switching systems--follow these seven tips:

1) Define Business Strategy First
When it comes to shopping for RMM software, haste makes waste. Draft a detailed business plan before beginning your RMM product hunt. Only after you've identified what services you'll be delivering, and to what kinds of customers, can you intelligently decide which system will best meet your needs.

2) Study "Minor" Features Carefully
Most RMM solutions offer comparable base functionality, so when evaluating them focus your attention on lesser but still important features such as these:

Integration with professional services automation (PSA) systems: PSAproducts are tools MSPs use to manage day-to-day business operations such as service request ticketing, time reporting, and billing. Choosing an RMM solution that exchanges data automatically with your PSA tool can substantially reduce your workload.

Reporting: Sharing uptime summaries and other reports with your clients can help them better understand the business value you deliver. Look for RMM systems that include flexible report writing tools as well as a library of prewritten reports.

Scripting: A robust scripting engine can save time and lower your staffing requirements by enabling you to execute routine maintenance chores automatically.

Also, think carefully about whether an agent-based RMM product or a probe-based system makes more sense for you. Agent-based systems install tiny monitoring applications on all of your customer's servers and desktops. Probe-based systems place a monitoring program on one server, and then use network connections to check on the customer's other devices. Though agent-based systems often collect more thorough data, they can't monitor devices that lack hard drives, such as printers and copiers. Moreover, some agent-based systems only support hardware running Windows, which means you're on your own if customers also use Linux or Unix. Probe-based systems, on the other hand, can't monitor mobile devices when they're disconnected from the network.

About the Author

Rich Freeman's picture

Rich Freeman is ChannelPro's Executive Editor

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