What's the difference between MSP software and generalist SaaS point solutions?

| By:
Brian Troy

Software as a service (SaaS) is a gamechanger for businesses. It allows companies both large and small to easily obtain software, pay for use of that software, and tap into specialized tools to support core business functions. 

Many of the most well-known SaaS tools take generalist approaches to functions like accounting, billing, time tracking, customer relationship management (CRM), and more, such as QuickBooks, HubSpot, and others. Software that’s made specifically for managed service providers (MSPs) usually operates on a SaaS model, too, such as ConnectWise’s platform of MSP software. But there are some big differences between generalist SaaS products and SaaS products designed specifically for MSPs.

Your MSP may start out using some of the generalist tools on the market. But as anyone who has worked in the MSP space knows, the business model requires some very specific workflows and dynamics. While generalist SaaS point solutions may work for a while, over time, many MSPs may find themselves losing time, lacking efficiency, and frustrating their technicians with platforms that aren’t designed for their needs.

In this post, we’ll examine the ways in which MSP-specific SaaS differs from generalist SaaS tools, and why a specialist SaaS platform could transform your business.

Some functions are truly MSP only

Remote monitoring and management (RMM). Professional services automation (PSA). Remote support and security operations centers (SOC). There are lots of technical services and needs that are highly specific to the work MSPs do for their clients. 

Since most companies are unlikely to monitor all of their endpoints (that’s what they hire an MSP for!), general purpose SaaS tools are unlikely to offer the fundamental capabilities an MSP needs. And even if there are vendors selling SaaS products that claim to address these problems, there is a big difference between the needs of a single in-house IT professional and a multi-person team at an MSP, who can monitor dozens of client systems. When it comes to tasks like monitoring, the best bet is to find something designed specifically for MSPs.

MSPs have unique customer needs

Like all businesses, MSPs buy and sell things to clients. Sometimes this means services and  sometimes products, like hardware or software. Since MSPs are selling highly technical services and products, often billing clients based on hours, general SaaS products for core business functions like billing, accounting, and CRM may create headaches. 

For example, a piece of MSP software for sales, such as ConnectWise CPQ™ (formerly Sell), will account for specifics such as:

  • Recurring revenue
  • Serial numbers on equipment and software licenses
  • Bill of materials (BOM) imports
  • Product sourcing

SaaS products built specifically for MSPs will offer features to meet these needs as a core part of the software.

Integrations make work smoother

Oftentimes, MSPs are small to midsize businesses (SMBs) with SMB clients, too. Success requires building strong customer relationships and bringing a personal touch to all of your work together. 

It also requires understanding that time is of the essence.

MSPs and their clients want to get work done quickly and efficiently, which is why MSP SaaS tools integrate across different business functions. For example, an MSP-specific sales tool should easily transition the account from prospecting to pitching to contract signatures to getting work started with an RMM, PSA, and other core MSP tools. 

For technicians, time is happiness

The benefits of managed services software designed specifically for MSPs have a ripple effect on employee satisfaction. Since MSP software is designed for your unique needs, it will make your technicians much happier at work.

We’ll use billing as an example again. When your technicians are preparing to bill clients at the end of the month, it’s much easier to generate the invoice if services are integrated on one platform. If a generalist Saas timesheet management product you use is separate from your ticketing software, which is separate from your order management software, technicians will be scrambling to track down everything—all while they’re still receiving support requests, trying to patch machines, and more. This inefficiency costs more than just money. Technicians are stressed out, your clients may be confused by the final bill, and something—like a laptop order—could be missed. 

A suite of MSP-specific solutions for billing, time tracking, ticketing, and inventory management would provide all of the information in one location, making life much easier for technicians. Satisfied employees do great work, which in turn makes clients happy. 

MSP software meets MSP needs

While it’s possible for MSPs to use generalist SaaS point solutions, the truth is that it takes the right software to scale an MSP business. Software that’s designed specifically for MSPs will understand what scaling looks like in the managed services industry and will respond to those needs to help your business run smoothly. With easy-to-use software, efficient operations, and happy technicians, your MSP will have all the elements of success.