MSP Best Practices from ConnectWise Partners

| By:
Brian Troy

At ConnectWise, our partners are the power behind this community. By bringing them together to have honest conversations about what it’s like growing their business, the technology they use daily, and the new challenges within our industry, this back and forth is beneficial for all ears.  

We recently held three separate panel discussions where our partners get real and share their stories, insights, and progress about building their MSP and scaling to meet today’s customer expectations. Here’s a short recap, but I highly suggest you watch the full discussions—there’s just too much great information to include here.   

Scalability Partner Panel 

Would your business operate just as smoothly if you were twice the size you are now? What would you have to change to make that work? Scalability all comes down to your ability to support—and nurture—exponential growth.  

In our panel between MSP industry veterans, Todd Kane and Rex Frank, we dived into scalability best practices and how all these aspects work together to help MSPs grow and become more mature in how they operate to support their clients. Here are two of the five scalability best practices they shared: 

Leadership development teams  

It’s no wonder that senior technicians often get frustrated or stressed when they’re moved up to a service manager position. They’re often more comfortable with technical work instead of building and scaling their team. Just because one technician has been with your company for “x” number of years, that seniority doesn’t guarantee—or provide—the leadership skills they need to succeed. Consider how you can offer coaching, peer support, training, and management skills, so they gain the confidence and knowledge they need to aptly support and grow their team.  

Healthy finances 

Too often, MSP owners focus on top-line revenue above all. Many owners will likely be able to tell you roughly what their revenue was in the past year. But if you ask them what their profit was, they’d likely have to do a little more digging. It’s not that revenue is unimportant, but it’s not the most important metric when it comes to finances. Truly understanding your profit margins drives into maturity, which will ultimately contribute to your MSP's scalability.  

ConnectWise Manage + ConnectWise Automate Partner Panel  

Every TSP and MSP has to start somewhere, whether that’s a one-person shop or a small group of technicians offering tech support. We sat down with three of our ConnectWise Manage® and ConnectWise Automate® partners to learn their stories of how they were able to grow and scale their business. 

In this panel discussion, partners highlighted how as a managed service provider, they had to make sure they could deliver what they promised, and juggling disconnected systems wasn’t the answer. Karl Bickmore, CEO of Snap Tech IT, made a great point when he said he couldn’t tell his clients and even prospects that he’s a great managed IT provider and that he has their back when there’s nothing in place to monitor and automate the process and make it easy to connect to a client’s systems. He knew he needed an RMM tool in order to deliver on his promises. He also said it was inevitable that he was going to get the best efficiency and scalability by working in the same platform from the same company—and that’s where ConnectWise Manage and ConnectWise Automate stepped in.  

James Riley, CEO and founder of JNR Networks, shared the impact of the seamless integration between ConnectWise Automate and ConnectWise Manage allowed him to grow beyond a one-man shop. The ability to document, close, reclassify tickets, and move tickets from boards or across boards was a level of depth that he didn’t realize he truly needed.  

When I bought ConnectWise AutomateI was a one-man shop with two or three managed services clients. We've grown to seven technicians with 30 to 40 managed services clients. If I was trying to support my clients without ConnectWise Automate, I'd need to hire five additional people. And if I was trying to manage our processes without ConnectWise Manage, I'd need four more administrative, back-end employees to try to do it, and it still wouldn't be done as well.  

We've been able to grow and do more with less. We consider the ConnectWise solutions as force multipliers. If you try to drive a nail with your hand, it's not going to go well, and your hand will be bloody. When you use a hammer, it multiplies the force of your arm. 
– James Riley, CEO and Founder, JNR Networks 

ConnectWise Manage + BrightGauge Partner Panel  

When speaking with ConnectWise partners, they turn to solutions like ConnectWise Manage and BrightGauge® because they want to shift out of doing things manually and gain instant visibility into their data. 

In this panel discussion, Jill AlJundi, Vice President at Pendello Solutions, explains that as “big data folks” and people who live and die by the data, they initially struggled with running manual reports. By the time they finished the reports, the data and insights they gathered were already old news. Another challenge was that they needed visibility both from an accountability standpoint and also to see how that data trended over time. This is where ConnectWise Managed and BrightGauge stepped in to provide that real-time visibility Pendello needed to help drive decisions and build stronger partner relationships. 

This conversation also revealed the importance of consistency in how you review your data. Jay Da Costa, Vice President of Pace Technical, added that while you collect all this data, you have to make sure you’re measuring it consistently and making comparisons with KPIs. This really comes into play for client reporting and holding your team accountable with greater transparency.  

There’s a level of accountability you need to have with the client, and when you’re measuring the exact same thing, in the exact same way, and sharing a live dashboard, it keeps you honest. You’re expected to be at the top of your game and provide the services you promised to deliver to your clients. 

Having mounds of data at your—and your client’s—fingertips allows you to build quality relationships. You already know how challenging it can be to show value from a technology standpoint. Your value doesn’t whittle down to how many patches you put in last month because, truthfully, your client’s might not care. 

Instead, you can use your data to find trending issues and anomalies that can reveal gaps in your service to have conversations on how to fix them—being proactive. Jill shared a great example of how noticing an influx of tickets could relate to a situation where a client recently turned-on multi-factor authentication, and it seems as though users were having difficulties. So, in this case, they were able to suggest redistributing an MFA training video.  

The value of real-time data is the opportunity to provide real value to your clients beyond “here’s what we did last month” and more so “let me tell you what’s happening right now, and how we can be proactive about it.” 

ConnectWise has been a God-send. We recently switched over to ConnectWise at the end of 2020. Prior to that we used a couple of different systems. The core service/ticketing solution we had was something we built in-house. When we were a smaller business it was wonderful, but we've gotten to a size where it was no longer meeting our business requirements. ConnectWise has made such a difference for us. 

– James Harris, Client Services Director, CST