What the Best MSP Software Has in Common

Posted:
02/09/2021
| By: Craig Fulton

As we head into 2021, many managed service providers (MSPs) are taking a hard look at their current operations, growth plans, and tools/solutions. One area of interest is MSP software. These tools and platforms are a vital part of any MSP’s business. They can be the foundation on which the entire business runs—from ticketing, to sales and marketing, billing and proposals, payroll, and beyond.

The best MSP software is designed specifically for MSPs and shares a set of core traits—all of which provide service to customers, help keep them working and productive, and support your business in the new year and beyond. Below are the features that the best MSP software will offer you.

Integrates Across Your Stack

All too often, business functions are siloed. Information is trapped, which leads to disconnects, missed opportunities, extra work, and confusion. 

For example, if your ticketing software is separate from your billing software, employees will spend a lot of time tracking down work to generate an invoice. Or if your sales and marketing team are operating in a silo, you may lose track of new client onboarding, contracts, and more.

That’s why the best MSP software integrates easily across all your business needs. With the right tools, you can put all your KPIs on a single dashboard; integrate your sales and CRM software with project management tools; ensure efficient communication; etc. By addressing issues in efficiency, MSPs can maximize profits. So make sure your MSP software provider offers a broad range of tools and services, and that they all integrate seamlessly and offer insight into where you could streamline efficiencies. 

Is User-Friendly and Easy-to-Use

With so many business functions going virtual, user-friendliness is necessary for any MSP software platform or tool. Whether it’s a ticketing system, billing and proposal tool, or CRM, your team needs tools that are intuitive and easy to use. Administrative tasks are one of the biggest burdens of day-to-day MSP work, and integrations, as mentioned above, play a big part in both efficiency and ease-of-use, too. After all, it’s faster and easier to do business and make clients happy when your team has access to all the most current information—and happy employees provide great customer service.

Before selecting a tool, software, or platform, ask for a free trial. Get a few of your key team members to take it for a spin—how does it hold up? Hands-on experience can help guide a final decision.

Provides Ongoing Training

As any MSP knows, the IT and cybersecurity landscapes are constantly evolving. That’s why ongoing training is important to an MSP’s success and customer satisfaction. Good MSP software providers understand this dynamic, and they’ll support their customers with ongoing education. In other words, the right software providers think beyond the software itself.

For example, at ConnectWise, we provide a whole range of training and educational opportunities via The IT Nation community and series of events. The most common question we hear from MSPs is “how is everyone else doing it?” These events provide MSPs an opportunity to dive deep with industry best practices learned from speaking with many MSPs, advanced help, and training. We also offer ConnectWise University, which includes a knowledge base, training videos, documents, and more. 

Supports Cybersecurity Expansion

Cybersecurity is a growing area of concern for businesses large and small. Our 2020 State of SMB Cybersecurity report found that more and more small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) are prioritizing cybersecurity and turning to MSPs for help. In fact, 77 percent expected to experience a cyberattack within 6 months, and 73 percent said they were planning to invest “more” or “much more” in their cybersecurity efforts within the next 12 months—which means 2021 will likely be a big year for MSPs when it comes to cybersecurity.

At ConnectWise, we call an MSP offering cybersecurity support an MSP+. The best software will recognize that cybersecurity is a growing area of opportunity for MSPs and support your ability to become an MSP+ provider. If you’re wondering what that might look like, take a look at our MSP+ Cybersecurity Framework, which includes outlines and guides on how MSPs can take the first steps into providing cybersecurity support to customers.

Grows With Your MSP Business

Your MSP business may start small and then rapidly grow. Since selecting software and migrating systems, records, and clients is a huge, time-intensive process, good MSP software should be extremely scalable. It should work with you whether you’re a one-person shop or a large team serving dozens of customers. 

MSP software should help your business grow—and grow with your business. For example, the best platform brings the management of your customers’ technology into the management of your own business. A great platform might offer:

  • A central hub for managing all activities
  • RMM software that automates baseline tasks like ticketing, patching, etc.
  • Ability to customize proposals
  • Sales tools and integrations
  • Cybersecurity solutions across a range of stages, needs, etc.
  • Business intelligence insights to understand metrics and scale your MSP business
  • And more.

Picking the Best MSP Software: A Checklist

So where to start, and how to assess the many MSP software platforms out there? We’ve put together a high-level checklist to help orient your thinking and ensure the tool you choose is the best one for your business.

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • How big is my business today? 
    • How big do I want it to be in 1 year? 
    • 5 years? 
    • 10 years?
  • How many people do I have onboard? 
    • Will that number grow in 1 year? 
    • 5 years? 
    • 10 years?
  • What services and expertise can I handle in-house, and what should I outsource?
  • What services do I offer now? 
  • What additional services do I want to offer?
  • Where are the skills gaps on my team? 
  • How many tools and technologies am I using now? 
  • Do these tools and technologies integrate with each other?
  • Where does the information “live” in my business?

Questions to Ask Your MSP Software Provider

  • Does the MSP software provider offer a range of solutions for different business elements? 
    • For example: billing and quote support, recurring revenue support, sales tools, ticketing, task automation, etc.
  • How easily do these elements integrate with each other? 
    • Can they integrate with external tools, too?
  • Who is the software designed for? What level of technical experience is needed to operate?
  • How much support does the software provider offer?
    • Training?
    • Community?
  • Does the MSP software provider have cybersecurity offerings?
    • What do these offerings cover?
      • EDR?
      • Monitoring?
      • Office 365 risk monitoring and alerting?
      • SOC?
      • Remediation?
      • Etc.
  • How many of these products do they bundle or sell separately?
    • How many features apply to you today?
    • What features exist for your growing business in 1 year? 5? 10?

Good Software = Good Business

In today’s virtual, always-on business economy, software is the foundation on which we all operate. The wrong software can slow down business, create errors or missed opportunities, and drain valuable resources and time away from growing your MSP business. But when carefully chosen to support your goals and unique circumstances, MSP software can be an invaluable asset to running your business. Look for platforms that integrate broadly, are easy-to-use, come with great training, support your growth (especially in cybersecurity), and grow with you. With great MSP software, your business will be off to a stronger start in 2021.