The 7 Laws of MSP Scaling
Are you trying to scale your MSP, but you feel like an unruly helpdesk is holding you back?
We know it can be overwhelming when you’ve got months old tickets piled up, your ticketing queue is super disorganized and you’re constantly working overtime yourself to assist with exhaustive projects.
From our experience working with and consulting over 40 MSPs, there’s a few tweaks you need to make to scale fast and efficiently. Specifically, there’s seven that we recommend. We’ve seen over the years how well they allow your MSP to expand without the headache of overworking yourself or your team. They are:
- Setting realistic expectations with checklists and well-defined role sheets
- Enforcing consistency with following procedures
- Prioritizing the correct use of the ticketing systems
- Having escalation policies in place
- Onboarding the right and reproducible way
- Hiring a Dispatcher
- Hiring a Service Desk Manager
So let’s get into each of them in more detail!
MSP Scaling Law 1: Set realistic expectations with checklists and well-defined role sheets
MSPs in the scaling process must avoid chaos at all costs by creating accountability and clear procedures. You can do this by implementing detailed role sheets and checklists for daily tasks.
You should create robust documentation with links to all the resources that are governing the roles of your team. Eliminate emailing back-and-forth about responsibilities and information getting lost in the process. Instead, a centrally indexed document can serve as a referral when your staff is in doubt.
These documents should contain as many details as possible about what is expected of them throughout the work day, such as:
- How should they start the day?
- How to clock in?
- How to take care of the ticket queue?
- The systems they need to log in to.
- How often should they check certain software?
- Ticketing systems and how to use them.
- Auxiliary tasks for idle time.
You can start employing this practice with new staff onboardings. And even before their first day, technicians should have their credentials ready. They should know exactly what their role is and have access to documentation for help and clarification.
MSP Scaling Law 2: Enforce consistency in following procedures
You can scale your MSP by using positive and negative reinforcements to help staff adopt or drop certain behaviours. This psychological tactic helps them become conditioned to consistently do what you want them to, which automates their productivity without you constantly having to discipline them.
For following procedures correctly, you can use positive reinforcements, such as incentives, praise or friendly competitive games. For not following procedures, you should use negative reinforcements such as constructive criticism, a gentle scolding or enforcing material consequences.
Conditioning through reinforcements is especially useful for implementing communication procedures. This will help you to avoid losing important information in long chat or email threads. Utilize different channels of communication for specific instances.
Most importantly, technicians must be conditioned to use the ticketing system to document everything that happens with a case, from start to finish. Stop reporting an issue on the chat. Stop leaving bits of information scattered throughout an email chain.
Documenting everything on the ticket makes life so much easier as everything is centrally located. This is crucial for scaling your MSP because your helpdesk staff needs to run like clockwork, so train them accordingly. Educate them on the correct way to create tickets and write notes. Reward their diligence while also putting in place repercussions in case they cannot succeed in that.
Mentoring and reverse escalation are other areas where incentives can make sense. Here’s an example of how a reverse escalation with an incentive would work:
Let’s say a junior technician can’t solve a ticket, so they of course escalate it. The senior technician who solves the ticket can then add robust ticket notes to explain their fix and then re-assign, or “reverse escalate” it back to the junior tech to learn from the notes. This way, if a similar incident happens in the future, that junior tech will understand how to solve the issue without escalation. The senior technician who is inclusive enough to do the most reverse-escalated tickets can receive a bonus.
MSP Scaling Law 3: Prioritize the correct use of the ticketing system
When tickets are opening and closing like clockwork, that’s when you know your MSP is scaling the right way! How calming is it when you have more time to grow your business because you don’t have unresolved tickets collecting dust and a new fire to put out everyday?
This is what you need to achieve, and having your ticketing system run like a well-oiled machine is mutually exclusive with scaling faster and smarter.
You should create a detailed strategy around the system, like the one below:
|Ticketing Situation||Ticketing Solution|
|How long a ticket should be worked on before escalating:||We recommend 30 minutes.|
|How to escalate:||We recommend a dispatcher assigns tickets to technicians.|
|How technicians choose which tickets to work on:||We highly recommend against cherry-picking. Again, a dispatcher should assign them.|
|Note writing and setting the status:||The status should be clear and easy to understand. Notes should be as detailed as possible, including details like IP addresses, network names, links to ITGlue credentials, etc.|
|What to do after solving the ticket:||Work on getting to the core of eventual complaints.|
Knowing your biggest opportunities for implementing structures will help you in crafting strategies and putting in place better procedures.
MSP Scaling Law 4: Establish a consistent escalation policy
“Just notify me in the chat” is not a policy! It is however a recipe for preventing your MSP from scaling. If you want to grow exponentially, it is imperative to create consistent structure and accountability around escalations.
It’s also important to have a policy in place that differentiates between urgent and non-urgent communication for escalations. This should be a document that is easily accessible to everyone. Below is an example of an easy-to-follow policy.
|UrgentCALL AND CHAT||Non-Urgent EMAIL/TICKET/PROJECT NOTES|
|Emergency data breach, multiple/VIP clients system failure||Discussion about staff and system performance|
|Serious client complaint/Churning/Canceling a service||Questions about tasks/features/procedures|
|Sales Opportunity||Upgrade possibilities/feature requests|
|Sick day/Employee emergency/Employee termination||Holiday inquiries/future leave requests|
MSP Scaling Law 5: Onboard the right and reproducible way
MSPs scale more easily when there are seamless processes for onboarding and offboarding. Lack of documentation in this area is usually a result of MSPs relying on shadowing when training. And hey, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But onboarding more people fast and in a time efficient matter is helped by having documentation and checklists.
You should create a structured onboarding document for every detail of the new hire’s workflow, and from there, every onboarding can be reproducible much easier.
When it comes to offboarding, ask yourself questions like the following:
- What kind of taste do you want to leave in peoples’ mouths after you part ways with a client?
- How can you leave the door open to possibly working with one another in the future?
- How can things end on a positive note so that that client still thinks of you fondly enough to refer you to others?
- How can you offboard with the same professionalism and charisma you had during the onboarding?
- Are there positive aspects to how you onboard a client’s users that can be replicated for offboarding?
Answer these questions and make a checklist of things you can do to create the best onboarding and offboarding experience.
MSP Scaling Law 6: Hire a Dispatcher
A key ingredient for keeping the help desk organized while your MSP scales is using a dispatcher. They act as a supervisor over all tickets in progress.
They create tickets for issues clients report to them and move them along by assigning and escalating them to different engineers. They work with technicians and get info from them on when something is going to be done; and they also check that the ticket notes, statuses and scheduling are all updated.
They work with clients by checking in with them and asking for information the technicians are waiting on, making sure that a certain problem is solved successfully.
Their very presence allows for a certain level of regularity by assigning tickets and minimizing the amount of chaos in the help desk.
MSP Scaling Law 7: Hire a Service Desk Manager
A service desk manager is responsible for the overall success of the systems in place.
They analyze metrics and consider complaints and feedback from clients and technicians. They also oversee onboarding progress.
This is an oversight role that is one step above the dispatcher. It requires an analytical mind that can make progress reports for the owner or an executive manager. They are the brains behind the helpdesk as they make tweaks and modifications based on reactions clients and technicians have to their system. All of this is done to ensure the ultimate customer service experience.
The executive team holds the service desk manager accountable, who holds the dispatcher accountable, who then makes sure technicians are following the procedures. When this chain of command starts working fluidly and organically, your MSP will scale without a hitch.
To make sure that this transition is successful, feel free to reach out to us! We have years of experience helping over 40 MSPs expand with our staffing offerings, consultations and unique organization insights. Click here to learn more about our services.