MSP Operations – Standardise in order to simplify

MSP Operations – Standardise in order to simplify

On a recent visit to McDonalds I asked for one of their bowls of chicken salad because in my mind its rather more healthy than much of the remainder of their menu.

Anyway, I was told that they had none, but as I had already paid they added "but we can make one up for you if you like?". I said that would be fine and they asked about the various things I'd like in it - then off they went.

Standardise it

The reason to mention this is that the result was interesting. Clearly McDonalds can make up things as required, but as I watched them behind the scenes it became clear that as this item was not part of a standard offering it was creating a number of issues such as how to process it, where to get the elements from and who's job it was to get it finished. The resulting salad was OK, but it was the process of its creation that got me thinking

Lessons for MSP's ?

As an MSP your job is to ensure that you offer the best possible service to clients and to reduce the amount of hours it takes to maintain their systems. Both parties benefit in this relationship. The client gets reduced downtime and increased efficiency while the MSP is able to provide a service without high staff overheads or excessive resources. Many MSP's use automation to deal with this side of the equation but you can leverage this advantage even further with standardisation.

When companies type IT Support [geographical area] into Google then they are presented with a host of potential providers who offer the services they seek. Many believe that each company provides a bespoke and dedicated level of service to match their exacting needs and to a degree that's true. However, most MSP's will have a standard toolbox of services that they have developed, are familiar with and that they can manage with ease. These may cover routers, internet providers, software, hardware vendors and other related services; but the key is to ensure you deploy these standard services in a way to offer benefits to all clients.

Standard services

As an MSP if you can standardise many of your services then you'll save on staff training, decrease the time taken to respond to client requirements and limit the need for a different or adjusted response to each and every client. Some examples of this may be standardising on a specific router - by deploying the same router to each client then you can keep a 'standard build' firmware on file. Keeping all desktop or mobile hardware similar can also help with replacements in case of a failure. More importantly things like AV software standardisation is important to reduce the need for technical staff to become familiar with different solutions.

What you are looking to avoid is a mix of different DSL providers across your client base, running different Zyzel / Netgear / Draytek routers, with 3-4 different WiFi access points, different switches, mismatched hardware running different versions of Windows - all installed with Microsoft Office 2007, 2010, 2013 or 2016. Just that basic outline of key areas is important to consider when looking to standardise. By reducing the variety of software, hardware and supporting equipment in any one business will then reduce the support headache for you when things need attention.

Conclusion

McDonalds have grown to be the largest global fast food giant by having standard procedures and by creating a clear process from buying, through distribution and into each restaurant where food is prepared using standard processes every time. Training is important for all McDonalds staff but their high turnover of people means that by standardising each tiny step they can re-train a person in a few hours, not weeks. I'm not advocating that all MSP providers look to become McDonalds, but next time you pop in for a bite, why not ask yourself how it is that they can take you from order to food on a tray in less than 3mins - the answer - by standardising what they do

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