In this article...
Managed service provider (MSP) software is an IT service platform that manages a predefined set of services for clients. Working within a number of industries, such as B2B integration, information services, supply chain management, transportation, utilities, and media, MSP software works as a virtual assistant.
User software can be tailored to perform any customizable set of functions. An office manager or COO might determine the need for the MSP service provider to take over specific administrative duties for the organization, allowing the software to intuitively determine necessary services and create automated rules for follow-through. MSP software can manage multiple clients simultaneously from a set of centralized controls.
MSP software providers have seen the available market increase over the last decade — in large part, because businesses have shifted to a more fluid digital infrastructure, with multiple systems and servers running remotely or in hybrid clouds, dispersed workforces using mobile devices to connect, and various APIs connecting departments, customers, and partners. The more complex the IT environment, the greater the need for a managed service provider.
Also Read: MSP Marketing Strategies & Tactics
As recently as 2016, a Gartner report “noted a growing trend of IT dollars going from purchasing of assets to paying for services.”1 As restricted budgets require organizations to prioritize spending, MSP software offers an all-in, remote, customised set of services to remove redundant and tedious administrative tasks. A Statista report forecasts that global IT services spending will reach $966 billion in 2017.
MSP software helps providers reduce task repetition by creating automated rules in a central platform. It covers a broad spectrum of categories and services, but is mostly focused on remotely monitoring and controlling client IT environments. From Lenovo’s Jay McBain: “Many MSP’s bill a fixed monthly fee and use sophisticated dashboards and reporting tools for providing a defined set of services.”
It is designed to limit daily tasks and distractions for office managers, so users can focus on preventative actions and new projects. MSP software allows providers to offer clients cloud services, security and compliance features, multi-factor authentication, advanced monitoring, policy-driven automation, and more. Users can maximize relationships with existing and new clients, assess customer environments, propose projects, and deliver services with high efficiency.
Since MSP software automates functions and reduces time spent on each client, team members can handle more work and generate more profit. Many platforms offer a full view of the service delivery processes to ensure completion.
Automation: MSP software offers automated checks, tasks, backups, patches, and policies for users. Eliminate redundancy with recurring tickets, minimizing client busywork. Automated tickets allow for cost-effective relationships between provider and clients.
Remote Monitoring: Cloud-based design allows employees to manage multiple clients at once. Instant notifications and proven security measures give users the ability to track issues in real-time and monitor alerts, events, reports, systems, and logs.
Mobile Capabilities: A mobile web interface or native mobile app will give your technicians and admins access to real-time system data, communication tools, and help desk tickets from any location/device. This right approach to mobile MSP can significantly improve response time.
Help Desk: As clients report issues or request service, incoming tickets are automatically assigned to technicians to reduce the need for help desk coordinator. Many platforms offer help desk functionality across multiple channels — email, phone, chat, even social media.
Account Management: MSP software can manage multiple organizations as individual accounts on a common platform. Store everything pertaining to each client in one place, and personalize each account according to client’s’ needs. You can also track purchases and expenses, per account, and set notifications about contract renewal dates.
Asset Management: Keep track of your client’s various IT assets by manually inputting them, or by importing asset details from other networks with a distributed asset scan. Run scripts to identify and import information on individual items, and schedule automatic scans periodically for updates.
Advanced Reporting: MSP software generates a significant amount of data; you’ll need a way digest it all without exporting to spreadsheets. Built-in reporting tools let you analyze performance and delivery across all systems and modules. Use these reports to build an interactive dashboard and stay on top of KPIs.
Lower Overhead Costs: With MSP software, users can get more work done in less time. Automated features streamline tasks, which means you can focus more manpower on non-administrative jobs. Working almost as a virtual assistant, MSP software frees up space for more technical hires and removes the heavy need for administrative support.
Decision-Making Support: Access necessary data from any location using cloud-based monitoring and mobile access. Use real-time reporting to inform decisions and analyze productivity. More MSP software providers are moving to cloud-based technologies to support remote communication and monitoring.
Customization: With the right configuration, MSP platforms can process a wide spectrum of data from various sources and deliver relevant business intelligence to any customer. Providers can customize out-of-the-box workflows to fit every business’s needs without needing a bloated system.
Growing Industry: As businesses aim to further digitize their infrastructure, the need for MSP platforms increases. Increased demand will likely bring higher price points for MSP technology, so establishing a contract and SLA now might prove prudent.
Predictable Expenses: Most MSP service providers establish a set monthly price for custom services under contract. This allows businesses to budget appropriately and focus on big-picture projects and preventative spending. With MSP service providers, IT staffing requirements decline, and recurring revenue becomes more predictable.
Small Business Support: The shared access to an expert group of industry professionals allows small business to be more agile and compete with global enterprises. MSP software offers small to medium sized businesses access to the same level of resources and skills as their larger counterparts.
Categorize Type: MSP software covers a lot ground, but it can be categorized into three primary groups:
1) MSP tailored to companies with business models weighted toward managed services and largely focused on the SMB market.
2) Large, data-focused MSPs with a strong mix of on-premise and off-premise services
3) MSPs focused primarily on cloud-based security services
Make sure you understand which type of solution is right for your team and which vendors fall into that category.
Determine Industry: MSP software is available for a number of industries, including technology, information services, B2B integration, transportation, supply chain management, and more. Since MSP service providers offer customized solutions, they can support most organizations and industries, but you might consider and industry-specific solution if your needs are subject to stringent regulatory measures or unique information workflows (e.g. medical, public sector).
Narrow Your Need: Define a list of features and capabilities that your firm needs in an MSP platform. Narrow your search based on communications, authentication, systems management, data backup/recovery, data storage, monitoring, planning, and help desk, as these are typically the most important areas.
Integrations: MSP software doesn’t just serve as a closed operating system for your team. Since MSP providers are broadly defined and assist in a customized plan, the integrations you need will vary between clients. Determine the areas that require support and interoperability; then check for integration. Common integrations may include CRM, accounting, help desk, business intelligence, human resources, and data storage.
Also Read: Common Mistakes Made When Choosing MSP Software
Absolute Logic provides technical support and consulting to businesses with 100 employees or less, including insurance agencies, law firms and dental practices. They offer IT services, cloud computing, email management, web development and more to small businesses to ensure technology runs smoothly in and out of the office.
Al Alper, Absolute Logic president, rotates products on a three-year basis to review and evaluate reliability and functionality in the best interest of clients.
Kaseya VSA is a full-featured IT systems management solution purpose-built for MSPs. Kaseya VSA is designed to meet technical needs for businesses and build profitable services around other solutions. With Kaseya VSA, Al Alper saw “robust features, lightning-fast remote desktop access, and a huge user-community, producing thousands of scripts to cure every/any problem or request you may have.”
Alper and his team found that the scope, quality, and functionality of the product, as well as the number of integrations it has, was largely successful. The MSP software gave them the tools they needed to stay ahead of competitors. They recommend other buyers itemize must-haves before comparing solutions and test drive each platform.
Other Leading Vendors