MSPs often assume that by simply having industry standard, best of class tools like Autotask, Connectwise and ITGlue, their team will be organized.
Nope. They won’t.
It’s not about the tools you use, but how you use them.
We know this all too well at Support Adventure. Having onboarded the most talented engineers for over 30 MSPs, we have first hand knowledge of how many MSPs invest large amounts of money in the right tools, but fail to implement them in their organization in an efficient way.
You MUST tighten up your procedures in order for your MSP to run like a machine. The software may add helpful automation, however you also need to take care for how your staff are using the software, what they’re putting in and out of the systems.
Rely on procedures… not the software alone
Making documentation, checklists and other types of guidelines are the best for creating responsible routines for your staff.
These are what allow tasks to become delegated, meaning everyone knows what to do to complete great work for your clients without you having to constantly check in on whether or not they are doing their work.
You can create a well oiled machine for your MSP by doing the following:
- Create well-indexed and linked documentation for everything from how to write notes in the ticketing system to how to request time off with HR.
- Create comprehensive role sheets so that your staff knows everything required of their position.
- Create checklists so that your employees can hold themselves accountable for the specific things they need to do each day.
- Create a supervisor role for someone who can systematically ensure that the staff are covering all the bases and doing what is expected of them.
- Create unique procedures for escalating things that fall outside of defined procedures, so the system can be constantly improved to encompass more of your operations.
Once you have these systems in place, each employee will know how to hold themselves accountable each day, knowing that they are being supervised and that they have a way of giving input in the procedural curation process. Once you do this your MSP can scale faster.
Go beyond using your ticketing system as a simple note taking tool…
But… If you haven’t defined how your staff should use them, they’re not going to help you. This is the case because:
- Having a ticketing system alone doesn’t take care of directing people what to do to solve a problem or what to do if they can’t solve a problem.
- There can still be confusion about whether tasks have been completed or not and what needs to be done to complete them if you don’t invest time coaching your staff on what notes to put in the system and how to write a good ticket entry.
- Your staff won’t always know which functions of the system they must or mustn’t use. For example, MSPs often have ticket statuses that are rarely used, which causes confusion for your technicians. Most systems are full of features, you need to document which of them your staff are using and how.
Many MSPs make the mistake of having their staff watch a bunch of boring and exhausting training videos to get accustomed to their ticketing systems.
Having your technicians go through Connectwise University or whichever training system is a waste of time because, who remembers all that stuff? Do you even remember every little function and detail of your ticketing system? Of course not. Those trainings will like waste time and confuse your staff because:
- They often contain WAY too many videos and it takes too much time to get through them all.
- Not every operation is needed for the day-to-day tasks your engineers perform.
- There is no way your staff will remember every little detail they learned in those training videos months down the line, if they’re not practicing the things they learned.
- The training videos don’t necessarily cover how you will fit your ticketing system to your operations and needs.
You need to stop relying on “common sense” use of the ticketing system, and instead provide procedures and guidelines for how you expect your staff to use it to the best effect of you and your business.
All-in-all, here are the dos and don’ts of getting your staff started with your ticketing system of choice:
|Provide documentation to train your staff on the features they need to use.||Rely on the ticketing system video guides to train your staff if you haven’t curated which videos you want them to watch.|
|Assemble a checklist of things your technicians need to pay attention to when working on tickets.||Assume your technicians will remember everything they learned on their first day of training.|
|Establish a system of proper statuses that should be applied to tickets.||Have a bunch of statuses you never use and never explained to confuse your technicians.|
|Have enough scenarios documented in your list of statuses to represent various stages of a ticket’s progress.||Have too many or too few statuses to represent various stages of a ticket’s progress.|
|Establish and enforce a proper note-taking system to understand what is happening with a ticket.||Rely on the chat, emails or phone calls outside of the ticket to document and understand what is happening with a ticket.|
Include detailed notes in your ticketing system and other MSP tools
At Support Adventure, we train our technicians to end all ticket notes with one of the four lines:
- TICKET RESOLVED: Hopefully!
- NEXT STEPS: _____________: This is where the technician lays out what needs to be done for themself or someone else on your staff to resolve the ticket.
- WAITING FOR: ____________: This is for explaining some other variable preventing them from continuing work on a ticket, such as the client needing to take an action or a third party vendor having to respond. The ticket could also have the “next steps” for what to do after the “waiting for” variable.
- ESCALATION REQUIRED: This is for when a technician does not have the time, skillset or documentation needed to complete a ticket. They can escalate to a senior technician, dispatcher or service desk manager with a formula which gives the appropriate amount of further information.
One of these statuses should be at the end of each ticket note in all capital letters.
Make sure your staff understands that they must be detailed in explaining:
- How a problem is being/has been solved and why.
- All interactions they have had with the customer.
- The next steps for solving the problem.
- What actions will be taken logistically.
- What actions will be taken procedurally.
From a big picture business perspective as well, notes must be diligent. Let’s say an engineer calls a client back, the client missed the call, and then the engineer emailed them. The engineer must document all of those things in the notes to prevent a situation of contradicting versions of events. If the client calls the supervisor and says they never received a call from the engineer, the notes can help prove otherwise and diffuse a contentious situation. So engineers must take notes to prevent that.
Staff must be held accountable to following these guidelines. You can even have someone holding them accountable, like a dispatcher.
The Documentation of Everything
So many MSPs rely on IT Glue to keep track of logins, passwords, documents and other data, but IT Glue won’t help you enough if you’re not using the system in an orderly way. It is easy to get disorganized when you have multiple staff members with different ways of entering information all using one system.
We’ve seen companies succeed massively with well templated, updated and audited Google Docs files and we’ve seen companies fail after they invested lots of money in IT Glue or other systems. Remember, it’s not the tool, but how you use it!
To avoid these issues, you should:
- Make sure your templates (flexible assets in IT Glue) actually fit your organization and the way that you work.
- Create consistent naming conventions for items like passwords, device names and document them.
- Make sure all the members of your staff are using the same conventions.
- Train your staff to make sure they check existing stored information to avoid duplications.
- Ensure that different pieces of information are linked in the system correctly through Related Items.
- Create a documentation czar in your organization and have staff report missing documentation to this person.
- Avoid assigning IT Glue tasks in multiple communication streams (eg. avoid doing this in the chat–stick to the ticketing system).
You should also have someone audit documentation periodically to keep IT Glue organized and verify that all the information is current and operationally valid.
You can perform maintenance on the following:
- Passwords – test to see they work.
- IP addresses – make sure they are correct.
- Lists of Users – make sure they are up-to-date and still with the company.
- Documents – make sure they are up-to-date.
- Duplications – make sure there are none.
If things are incorrect, they need to be reported on a ticket or missing documentation form and taken care of.
Just remember to document, document, document! You can make checklists, guides and even video guides for your staff so that they know how to use IT Glue and any other softwares and tools you use.
Each bit of structure that you put in your business and train your staff to use will get you closer to being a business owner who can fly above their business, rather than being dragged down constantly by repetitive questions and easy to define details.
Liberate yourself. Implementing these strategies will save you and your staff from major hiccups down the road.
We hope these tips have helped you make better use of your MSP tools. Let us know in the comments below what you think of these strategies!