IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Looking for a Competitive Edge? Consider Automation.

With automated solutions, managed service providers can work more efficiently, generate new revenue, and maintain profitability during these uncertain times and beyond. By Willie Cash

We’re nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing MSPs and IT service providers (ITSPs) to continue to adapt to the changing environment. In the early days of the global health crisis, some service providers saw a boost in new business as their customers adjusted to remote operations and looked for solutions to power their workforces through cloud-based technologies and collaboration tools. However, as the pandemic and resulting economic downturn linger, IT service providers are seeking ways to manage their workloads and maximize revenue as they weather the uncertainty.

Common Goals and Hurdles

All MSPs and ITSPs share the goal of delivering great service and solutions for their customers, but they also face a common set of challenges. Retaining customers is one concern, along with the need to differentiate their services and offerings to stave off competitors. In addition, gaining new business and maintaining a project pipeline has become more difficult.

To manage these challenges, MSPs need to be able to do more with less. Budget impacts from the pandemic mean that they need to work smarter with the resources they have to continue providing valuable insights for their customers. Automation tools can provide a lifeline by enabling greater efficiency, cost savings, and IT resource management.

Automated tasks, such as system assessments and reports, can be scheduled and executed on a recurring basis, freeing up valuable employee time that can be devoted elsewhere. With a few clicks of a button, automation can allow streamlined workflows, increased productivity, and improved cost management.

Gaining a Competitive Advantage

Automated solutions help companies break down information silos and create a way for knowledge to be easily transferred across the organization, reducing the time it requires to pull a plethora of information from various sources.

On the security side, IT professionals can use third-party tools and automation platforms to turn complex, cumbersome jobs into manageable tasks that junior members of the team can handle. For example, a detailed, 85-step security procedure may require 12 hours of work that only a solutions architect is able to handle. However, by turning the assessment into a templatized, repeatable procedure, the execution time can be significantly reduced to a 15-minute template run. This allows MSPs and ITSPs to scale their services more easily and support more customers every month by creating services IP.

Automating workflows, moreover, can be key to unlocking competitive gains by creating opportunities for MSPs and ITSPs to develop and enhance their unique offerings. Some third-party tools enable ITSPs to create custom automations that are unique to a company and its needs. By leveraging these tools, service providers can build a specific report or automation and keep it as a private, exclusive offering. In turn, they can deliver better services to clients, get more control over their workload, and generate new revenue.

Where to Implement Automation

There are several key areas that benefit the most from automation. In general, automation is well-suited for tedious, repetitive tasks that are required to produce a desired outcome. Automating these types of tasks can free up staff time to redistribute to other necessary areas and optimize operations. With Microsoft Teams, for example, you can set up automated reports for user adoption and system assessment to better understand how it’s being used and identify ways to achieve the desired ROI.

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