Where top MSPs are focusing for 2021

Posted:
01/12/2021
| By: Craig Fulton

2020 was a year for the ages—the dark ages! I’ve heard a lot from the IT industry about the challenges they’ve faced and the impact of COVID-19 via one-on-one partner calls and surveys. Most importantly, we’ve seen The IT Nation community, the world’s largest community of IT professionals, come together. We recognize the importance of moving forward, turning obstacles into opportunities, and focusing on what we can control going into 2021.

I’d like to share the conversations and the particular areas we’ve heard our partners (many of whom are among the MSP 501) intend to focus on for 2021, along with some tips to achieve these goals:

Increasing organizational efficiency

“There’s not enough time in the day.”

If you hear this from one or two people on your team, it might be time to dig into how you can shift the workload around to be more evenly distributed.

Best in class MSPs track employee utilization and achieve up to 80% utilization. Closely measuring your number one expense—human resources—helps you determine how much your employees’ time spent at work is financially beneficial to your company. This is also a great way to identify if someone is being stretched too thin.

“We need to do more with less,” and “we need to get the most out of our existing tools.”

We’ve all probably said this a time or two, especially with a seemingly never-ending global pandemic in full swing. When times get tough, these are common go-to phrases used to encourage teams to be more resourceful when the purse strings need to be tightened. As IT professionals, you’re no stranger to the conversation about improving efficiency. Yet, it’s time to implement the same advice and best practices you often give to your own customers.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Are you fully maximizing the features available with your existing products?
  2. Have you reached the productivity limit of your current tools and need additional ones?
  3. Are there process improvements you need to work on?
  4. Do you need to invest in upskilling your talent?

By answering these questions, you’ll have a better understanding of where you stand now, where you need to improve, and what next steps to take in the new year.

How ConnectWise can help

ConnectWise software solutions help you manage your success with the ability to make data-driven decisions to set, track, and reach your goals.

“It’s all about saving engineering time and making the most of the employees that we’ve got. Using the tools that we had before, I don’t think we’d be able to drive the same efficiency that we can with ConnectWise.” Jack Fisher, Service Delivery Manager, Breakwater IT

Tech2-1 owner, Martin Diaz, made the decision to adopt smart data management and reporting with BrightGauge, which helped him free up valuable time for the things that matter. Check out his journey from being an overworked and frustrated business owner with no time for anything else to coaching his daughter’s softball team.

Boosting profitability

“We need to grow the business by X% this year.”

Setting this type of goal is common for business owners when a new year rolls around. However, I want to lead with a word of caution—all growth is not always profitable growth. You shouldn’t be growing just for the sake of growth. Not all customers are profitable, and you need to ensure good client fits when you add them to your roster.

“Now is the time to truly understand your clients’ organizational health” - Peter Melby, CEO, Greystone Technology.

Don’t forget to keep an eye on customer retention. It costs up to five times more to acquire a new customer than retaining an existing one. Amongst other benefits, retaining just 5% more customers can impact your profitability by 25-95%. Learn more about the math behind a successful as-as-service model.

For many TSPs this year, pipeline generation has moved to the back burner. Selling can be challenging even in the best of times, and during an economic downturn, it can feel nearly impossible. Yet, there’s still an opportunity to provide value to prospective customers who require essential products and services to weather this new normal.

“We need to cut costs.”

While implementing cost-cutting measures might have been more prevalent in the face of an economic downturn, it’s a good practice to keep in mind upon the new year. There are only two ways to impact profits: increase revenue or decrease costs. Going into 2021, many MSPs are looking at how to keep their costs low.

Here’s a great book suggestion: Check out the Profit First to transform your business from a cash-eating monster into a money-making machine.

How ConnectWise can help

The best way to boost profitability is to take a good look at your numbers. Invoicing is the culmination of several moving parts, from sales to service and contracts to projects. Automated billing and improved efficiency reduced revenue loss, saved $238,798 over three years, and increased finance team productivity by 25%. By doing so, you can build trust and avoid payment delays with detailed, timely invoices that match customer expectations. 

Strategizing new security tactics

“We need to double down on cybersecurity.”

By 2022, the global cybersecurity workforce shortage is projected to reach upwards of 1.8 million unfilled positions. Cybersecurity continues to hold a high position of importance among SMBs worldwide, with 86% of respondents say it’s in the top five priorities for their organization, and 38% say it is their number one priority.

To add a little more perspective, 91% of SMBs would consider using or moving to a new IT service provider if they offered the ‘right’ cybersecurity solution. Those who would consider moving to a new IT service provider reported that they’d be willing to pay 30% more for it.

There’s definitely a demand for cybersecurity services, but it seems MSPs are struggling with how to generate revenue in that area. Confidence is a key factor for SMBs in choosing the ‘right’ offering – 68% of SMBs say the ‘right’ offering means confidence in an MSP’s ability to respond to security incidents, while 58% say its confidence to minimize damage or loss.

How ConnectWise can help  

If we’ve learned anything this past year, it's to focus on the things we can control and react to the things we can't. MSPs need to adapt and become flexible in shifting their security coverage and offerings to match the transforming threat landscape for 2021 and beyond. Here are a few ways you can evolve your toolkit to meet your clients’ ever-changing cybersecurity needs.

Identifying scalability

“Is this scalable?”

In today’s world, the ability to scale up or down at a moment’s notice is essential. But the one thing that often stands in the way is staffing. The industry has always dealt with a growing skills gap, and MSPs are left dealing with the consequences. However, outsourcing your help desk operations can be the key to your business growth.

How ConnectWise can help

2021 might be the best year to reevaluate your tools and processes, and ConnectWise can help.

"When I bought ConnectWise Automate I was a one man shop with two or three managed services clients. We've grown to seven techs with 30-40 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.

Making continuous improvements and adapting to the market

“Are we meeting our customer’s needs for today and tomorrow?”

The industry is constantly evolving, and so are customer’s needs. What got you here won’t get you there, and striving for continuous improvement is the name of the game. Building an effective product portfolio in today’s new normal is just the beginning. You have several touchpoints with your customers throughout your partnership, and these touchpoints make up the Customer Journey.

How ConnectWise helps

Unprecedented is a word many of us hope to leave behind in 2020. Yet, there are still a lot of unanswered questions and plenty of unknowns for the future. As a business owner, your biggest question likely is “What’s Next?” The ConnectWise COVID-19 Resource Library provides relevant, free, and up-to-date content to read, watch, and share. Our assets include information about business resilience planning, rapid recovery, cybersecurity, remote workforce optimization, and more.

Maintaining company culture and employee morale

“How can I help my team navigate through these tough times?”

This year has impacted every person on some level. People are struggling individually and face different personal situations like losing family members, the stress of trying to stay safe and healthy, teaching kids from home, and so much more. As a business owner, your people must come first—especially in times like this.

Rethinking company culture is a good place to start, and it goes way beyond a virtual happy hour every now and then. Building a company culture starts with realizing that your people are the most critical part of my operation. From there, you can find ways to recognize and reward your employees to boost morale and show company support.

How ConnectWise can help

While you can’t physically meet up with your friends and share your thoughts on these interesting times, it doesn’t mean you’re tackling these challenges on your own. In this eBook, you’ll learn the importance of surrounding yourself with people who have been through the same struggles as you and how you can learn from their experiences to improve your MSP along the way. You can also join the IT Nation Evolve peer groups to collaborate and communicate with MSP owners, sales team members, and service techs.

Being open to mergers and acquisitions

“Is it time to think about M&A?”

In the first week of December, managed services and consulting acquisitions spiked with at least six deals disclosed across three continents. What’s the buyer motivation? It’s a range of factors, including greater geographic reach, access to proprietary technologies, and the ability to bolster technical skills in areas such as cloud computing. For every MSP who sells, there's a buyer. But MSPs need the resources and expertise to successfully navigate this competitive landscape.

How ConnectWise can help

M&A sounds like a good idea, but is your MSP ready? In this webinar, you’ll learn what you should know now about your merger and acquisition potential. From there, it’s best practice to stay aware of the trends and be educated on the M&A process for future opportunities. And finally, following the close of an M&A deal, the single biggest factor determining whether Buyers and Sellers attain their goal is how successfully the two companies integrate operations.

The ConnectWise platform is packed with award-winning, industry-leading software solutions to solve the challenges you faced head-on in 2020 and have the confidence you need for 2021.