Here at Support Adventure, a company that provides outsourced MSP help desk services, we have worked with dozens of MSPs across the world, and with a birds eye view of the industry we often see similar issues and weak points. We wanted to address these trends that produce many of the problems that our clients face, and provide tips to improve. Here’s the most common problems we see:
1. The people you hire are too smart!
The people they hire might be above-average people. So, why is this a problem? Lightning fast on Google, good at figuring things out, can think on the spot, and learn new technologies quickly. These types of people are generally not the same type of people that are good at following structure. They are usually solving problems, and then are off to the next problem. This can be a disadvantage if the solutions are in their heads and not in documentation. It’s good to find and train the types of people that can thrive within structured process-based environments.
2. Poor Technical Documentation
Most of the MSPs that we’ve on-boarded have a problem with documentation. The best clients are willingly able to admit that they have a problem, and need help. We help our clients with this. The most common issues is that there is not enough procedure to the documentation and there’s not enough accountability held for keeping documentation. The MSPs often don’t have time for it because they’re too busy fighting fires. We go through a checklist for each client, and if we don’t have certain information, it leads to escalations more often than needed. Investing the time and resources to keep good technical documentation is key to long-term success in this business.
3. There’s no Engineers’s Manual
From 15 MSPs, only a couple had anything that resembled engineer’s manual. This is a walkthrough of their systems, how they work, the key information you will need to know to do the job. Most training programs look like this: Here are the login codes, ask us if you have any questions, sit with bob for 3 days and ask him everything. This has proven challenging, especially when it comes to rules about escalation, project work vs. regular service tickets, etc. Some MSPs think it’s enough to verbally impart this information, which is okay for teams less than 5, but after that it can become chaos.
4. Lack of consistent accountability system
Would you want to get on an airplane that didn’t have strict procedures for takeoff/landing, strict protocol of communication with air traffic control and ground crew, etc. Through proceduralization, and accountability, aviation is even safer than driving a car. MSPs should strive to have solid procedures and accountability systems in place, that would lead to more focused technicians, and better serviced tickets.
5. You support anything and everything
We know how hard it is to get clients in the MSP sphere, and many end up supporting clients who use older technologies from previous generations. As much as you can advise your clients, you need to accept that many clients won’t change. Don’t support anything, only accept the clients who have the money to pay you, and more importantly trust your expertise. Limited support for older problematic, and make it very clear what you can and can’t support.
6. Proactive steps not taken
One of the things that gets swept under the rug are all of the regular updates, and patches for software and operating systems. It’s always important to keep track of the little stuff, since this is often the seed that blossom into problems in the future. We at Support Adventure always have an extra computer on hand, so we can remedy any issues on a secondary machine. We have a backup internet with a local LTE telecom provider. It’s also good to have a backup power source. All of these proactive steps will make you able to dodge the common obstacles you face in supporting your clients.
7. People are too busy
Everyone in the MSP space seems to be busy! There’s always something urgent, clients calling, this ticket, that ticket, behind on this, on that. Not because technicians have been given too much work, but because are not given the environment in which they can organize their time efficiently. Structure and organization can really work wonders for this, finishing one thing after the other. The most ideal method to service tickets is: one ticket at a time, do it properly, add all the detailed notes, and then on to the next. There is much less stress and possibilities for errors this way. Being very busy is often a representation lack of time management, and organization. Working from home also provides a more productive workspace, especially when compared to an open office plan.
8. Lack of communications policy
People might be ringing you, tapping you on the shoulder, emailing you, messaging through chat. Everything that’s possible should be in your ticketing system. Any question about a ticket, if not urgent, should have a time schedule to review it. When something is urgent, pick up the phone, call them, this way you can get the answer in 30 seconds. Chat is by far the least efficient method of communication, since it usually takes a few messages to get to the information you need, and people often have the need to have small talk, talk about the weather, etc. We believe that chat is an unnecessary method of communication, and detailed emails and calls are the most efficient.
9. Lack of clearly defined roles
If you don’t have one already, a service desk manager, or technical lead can provide wonders for your MSP. It’s important to designate a first point of contact regarding all issues for help desk staff. This can be a good point of contact for anyone within your organization that needs a second opinion. Managers of small MSPs need to handle finance, sales/marketing, HR, recruitment, and have a constant struggle to shift gears, so it’s not recommended that these people also work on service desk tasks. Create an escalation filter until it reaches owner of company, so it’s only the urgent tasks that reaches them. MSPs that have this method in place work way better than MSPs that don’t. Can you really focus on growing your business if you’re constantly busy with service desk stuff?
10. You are too available
With many small MSPs, one person is might be an owner of the company, manager of the director, account manager, and they tend to make themselves too available. Communication policies, especially with management. Snap decisions made via email that don’t get documented. Book times vs. bombard. Send emails before they call. Think of two possible solutions of the problem before they contact.
These are the things we find in MSPs far too much. The MSP industry is great if you can be organized, have good documentation, and processes that are teachable to people you hire. It’s a horrible business if you let it turn to chaos, by not setting ground rules, not taking proactive steps, and not having the right way of on-boarding staff and clients. Learn from these common mistakes, and enter the path to success!
Who are we?
We like to call ourselves the expat outsourcing company, since we hire global citizens online. We provide affordable native or equally proficient english-speaking helpdesk technicians for MSPs all around the world. We also provide MSP consulting. Contact us for all your MSP needs, and we look forward to hearing from you! Click here if you would like to hire expat helpdesk technicians for half the cost of US/Canada/UK based staff.