Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are always looking for new opportunities to expand their monthly recurring revenue (MRR). Whether procuring incremental income streams by landing new clients in existing markets, expanding geographic reach, or adding products and services to their line cards, the options are limitless.
One of the more common but less talked about possibilities is co-managing projects with an internal IT team. Rather than providing comprehensive or an all-inclusive managed services portfolio, many MSPs are moving their target markets upstream with a single solution or specialization. One of the best ways to attract larger business clients is to support one specific area of need. Another approach is targeting mid-market and enterprise organizations that are growing with the increasing complexities of managing technology ecosystems.
How Can MSPs Co-Manage IT Projects with their Clients?
The MSP works with a client’s internal tech teams on specified projects or processes. Examples of IT projects MSPs might co-manage include developing long-term technology strategies, designing and managing specific implementations, and addressing other concerns from the management team. This collaboration effort allows the client to focus on the organization’s priority projects and activities.
The other approach, especially with larger small businesses (SMBs) and mid-size companies, is to outsource more of those “CIO-level” activities and let their staff handle the core IT operations.
Co-managed IT offers MSPs the flexibility to propose the best solution to their clients. Offering the one thing those clients need helps establish a footprint and credentials and, if all goes well, they can expand their solution set as new opportunities come along. These offerings are the proverbial “foot in the door” that set the stage for bigger and more profitable activities.
Take a Strategic Approach
In order to be successful at system co-management, there are a couple of specific best practices IT Service Providers need to take into consideration:
Communication is crucial. Determining and agreeing upon the exact scope of the MSP’s and IT department’s responsibilities and areas of ownership within the department will minimize finger-pointing if there are any issues. Keeping each respective team focused on its assigned activities is essential to the success of these programs.
Governance is mandatory. Closely aligned with communication, MSPs must properly document both individual and group responsibilities as well as tasks. Weekly (if not daily) check-ins are essential for monitoring ongoing activities and tracking goals, especially with fluid objectives and projects.
Set Clear Rules of Engagement. The “dance” between internal IT teams and MSPs can get complicated without a well-defined contracts, policies and procedures. Providing a template or outline of potential rules and processes for a prospective client is a good starting point. Their executive team and staff may wish to negotiate specific points but having a foundation to work from typically spurs the discussions. Those conversations should help determine the personnel, activities, focus and specific responsibilities for each side.
Consider the Benefits for MSPs and Clients
The typical internal IT department for a mid-market organization faces a constant barrage of end-user issues, update and patch requirements, minor and complex repairs, and a litany of service tickets. Some may be tasked with developing global IT strategy, assessing and upgrading cybersecurity measures, and implementing new applications and projects. Even those companies with a well-balanced staff may have gasps with certain skillsets, and lack experience installing and supporting more specialized technologies.
Each of the above mentioned tasks could drive opportunities for MSPs. The breadth of those pain points alone should help providers land an introductory consultation with the right marketing efforts (covered later in this article). There are so many ways outsourced IT partners can assist mid-market organizations without a comprehensive managed services commitment or traditional MSP contract.
Unified communications as a service (UCaaS) is one offering that works well in a co-managed environment. Features such as voice, video conferencing, messaging, file sharing, team chat and collaboration are all must-haves in today’s distributed and hybrid work environments. Cloud-based technologies simplify implementation and adoption, providing greater flexibility to businesses and their employees.
However, despite the multitude of benefits of migrating to a UCaaS environment, many organizations don’t have the resources or skills. Employing the help of an MSP in a co-managing capacity is the perfect solution. MSPs understand the processes, requirements, timelines and vendors to swiftly and effectively implement and manage these solutions.
Tell a Compelling Story
So, what are the best ways to market UCaaS platforms to larger prospective clients? When an organization has an internal IT department, communication will be to the CIO or CTO. This differs from traditional MSP marketing to CEOs or owners of SMB organizations.
Simplicity and collaboration are key messages. The MSP is there to help the client achieve its implementation and support goals, not to replace the IT department. It’s good to outline the benefits of co-managing systems to the internal IT team for current and future projects. Outsource partners offer:
Incremental and flexible staff to fill temporary or longer-term skill gaps
Opportunity for internal teams to finish delayed or slow-going projects
Assistance on system integration, upgrades or app development
Advanced cybersecurity expertise
Day-to-day monitoring and response using RMM and PSA tools
Increased help desk support options
Time to build long-term strategies and map out projects
24-hour support so IT staff have more time for families, sleep, relaxation and vacations
When promoting co-managed IT opportunities, MSPs should include multiple client benefits in their messaging to increase their engagement options. Developing a UCaaS promotion with company branding is another sure way to draw prospects’ attention. That’s why it’s important to work with channel-specific vendors that understand the nuances of the different relationships – including white-label capabilities and marketing support. Real-time support, brandability, marketing assistance and documentation, and channel-friendly pricing can help MSPs drive success.
Cloudli fits that bill with a channel-centric UCaaS solution, comprehensive integrations and variable support options. Click here for more information.