The MSP Zone

Weekly discussion of news, events, and topics of interest to the global managed services professional community. Series will have the latest and most relevant discussions in managed services and cloud computing, featuring special guests and notable figures in the profession.

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Wednesday Sep 20, 2023

Modern lead generation is a racket
I receive a lot of "lead generation" cold calls and emails. When I say these solicitations are horribly bad, I am being generous. MSPs get hit up all the time to create or expand their cold calling efforts and if these same groups are soliciting them, this is crazy.
Does cold calling really work for MSPs?
Cold calling vs Inbound lead generation
MSP content must be a factor of your marketing and lead cultivation
Control Frameworks: Which is right for you?
A lot of MSPs today are struggling with where to start on their compliance journey. Usually, this confusion manifests itself in deciding on a control framework. But, what if there are multiple frameworks? What if your customers pull you into different control framework directions?
All reasonable questions and we'll give you some easy tips on how to start making sense of everything.
What is relevant to your customer?
Do it once, then translate
MSP controls are different from client controls
The MSP Business Plan
Most people don't like to hear this but the very first step you should take when deciding to become an MSP is develop and write a business plan.
Provides structure for your MSP goals
Prevents missteps and waisted resources
Eliminates a lot of effort downstream
Faster time to market
Identify relevant control frameworks sooner

Is MSP Growth Exaggerated? Ep 263

Wednesday Sep 13, 2023

Wednesday Sep 13, 2023

MSP Growth Exaggerated?
Canalys is doing some great work in analyzing managed services. Long overdue.
Disproportionate # of MSPs actually producing revenue.
Hardware/software influence (more on this in the next segment)
Do MSPs Impact Hardware Sales?
I recently saw someone promoting a webinar on the topic of MSPs increasing hardware sales, and it caught my eye. It's not a typical subject we see discussed these days, but it is still a relevant one.
Legacy role of MSPs and hardware
Modern day MSP and hardware Defensive (prevent encroachment by other MSPs)
MSPs as hardware/software influencers
Co-Managed IT: Is it Possible?
I see a lot of websites promote co-managed services offerings. Given the sheer number of these offerings I assume that co-managed services is enjoying some measure of success these days. However, questions must be presented (and answered) before any MSP ought to proceed with a co-managed services offering.
Maturity of the client
Customer IT capabilitiesTechnical
Participation of client management
What does the agreement say?

Wednesday Aug 30, 2023

Out of the Box MSSPs
This story came to us from one of our friends, Brent Watkins. At first, I thought it was a joke, but upon a second look, it wasn't. Completely serious promo from a security vendor…become an MSSP in 1 day! Unbelievable? I assure you it is not (the claim, not actually becoming an MSSP in a single day).
Talk to any legitimate MSP out there and they'll tell you being an MSP takes practice, focus, and execution of strategy. Claims like this one ultimately harm the MSP profession.
Why do vendors make these claims?
Am I anti-MDR?
How do customers view this type of messaging?
Still unsure about whether to call yourself an MSP?
In a recent episode I addressed a member email where they asked the question whether MSPs should still be using the term MSP and managed services. Just as we published that episode I saw this article about 4 reasons businesses should consider using an MSP. Need I say more?
Customers still use MSP and managed services
The name MSP isn't your problem
Companies afraid of the obligations associated with MSPs might want to avoid the term
MSPs Cautiously Optimistic about AI
In a recent webinar we discussed the pros and cons of artificial intelligence in a managed services practice. The real interesting stuff happened (as usual) in the Q&A where a lot of the MSPs said they were evaluating (or actually using) AI. But, there were a lot of restrictions about how they were planning on using it.
AI has legitimate use for internal MSP operations
Most MSPs hesitant about using AI in any customer interfacing way

Tuesday Aug 22, 2023

SEC Adopts Cyber Disclosure Rule
The securities and exchange commission recently made news with an announcement of their cybersecurity disclosure rule. While this isn't the first governmental agency to announce such a rule, it should confirm to every MSP on the planet the direction in which we are headed and offer plenty of guidance for handling privacy and security incidents.
SEC rule explained
Purpose behind the rule
Impact of the rule on MSPs and clients
Failure to comply (i.e., lack of compliance)
MSPs Confused About Who They Are
I received a great email from one of our members asking me for an opinion. Now, I've discussed this topic a lot in recent years but its good to see MSPs still caring about this enough to email into the program.
My advice for MSPs wondering if managed services still has value left in it. 
Master MSPs Play Crucial Role in Certification
The role of the master MSP has definitely evolved over the past decade. The needs of partners evaluating a relationship with a master MSP has certainly changed. But, in one crticial aspect, the relationship between master MSP and partner MSP has not changed; that is regarding compliance.
As MSPs develop relationships with external service providers (i.e., master MSPs), these relationships must be examined from a risk/reward basis. Here are some questions you may want to consider asking with regards to your ESP relationships.
Managed service supply chain - how does the ESP impact this risk? Do they increase or decrease my risk?
Does any part of the ESP help me with my own MSP practice controls?
Does the ESP have its own compliance and certification house in order?

Tuesday Aug 08, 2023

Is it better to be cyber secure or cyber resilient?
If you think this is a trick question, it isn't. There are many who believe that security is solely a matter of defense. While defensive measure are crucial to any MSP (or their customers), preparing for eventual attacks which are successful, is also crucial.
So, what is an MSP to do? Here are some simple measures every MSP ought to be doing right now to be both prepared for cyber-attacks, but also resilient to them if they are successful.
PlanningDocumenting your plans
Identifying where your risks are
Anticipating those attacks, and eventual breaches
TestingTest means test
Test, and often
Document your test results. Learn from them
MonitoringKeeping a watchful eye on your internal MSP network and IT assets
RMM isn't enough
More Fake MSPs
I no longer trust websites. When you hear this story you may not either. While this story is completely true, it is also, regrettably, a reality we must face as a profession and fix!
Urgent News for Break/Fix Providers
Three decades since the first MSPs were created, we still have IT organizations who are in doubt as to the business model around managed services. If these non-MSPs can't be persuaded based on the logic of the business model alone, perhaps we can present a very real economic motive for getting rid of your break/fix and reactive customers.
Remember, no matter how much your client's try and make you think that reactive IT services are the best for them, they are wrong!

Monday Jul 31, 2023

I often hear MSPs talk about innovation: but what does that mean? To get one answer, I invited an MSP CEO to join me in a conversation about the innovation that goes into being an MSP, and the impact such innovation has on the business and customers. I was able to do just that when Jimmy Puckett, CEO of SPINEN, entered the MSP Zone.
Being innovative does mean customers need to come along for the ride. What if some customers don't want what you are creating? Getting rid of problem clients, particularly those clients who do not embrace managed services, is not always easy. 
Jimmy and I spoke about why MSPs may want to fire their clients, particularly if they do not want to evolve as technology evolves. We talked about innovation in the managed services profession. We also discussed how MSPs rely on their vendor partners to continuously evolve and develop new technologies to help MSPs maintain success.
Who is SPINEN?
Why they fired 70% of their clients
Vendor relationships and how to keep them productive
Innovation involving artificial intelligence

Tuesday Jul 18, 2023

The MSP Generation Divide
Time changes everything. That certainly seems like an appropriate saying when examining the managed services profession. MSPs seem to be getting younger and younger every year. Or maybe we are just getting older.
The point is, the generational divide amongst MSP professionals is increasing. We have older and younger members of our profession, and a lot of knowledge must be transferred between these generations.
 New MSP generation doesn't have preconceived notions of managed services
Younger MSP generations have a lot to learn
Younger MSP generations need access to the veteran MSPs
Vulnerability Scans Don't Do This
Many people believe vulnerability scans are a magic bullet, capable of solving lots of different problems. While vulnerability scanning technology is a necessary tool in the MSP tool belt, it is not a cure-all and should be utilized cautiously and appropriately.
Vulnerability scan use cases
Vulnerability scans: what they don't do
Vulnerability scanning isn't a business model
Why the MSP Name is Valuable
We have two examples of the "MSP" word being misused or misapplied. One example involves an end-user, the other example involves MSPAlliance.
End-user organization fooled by cyber consultant claiming to be MSP
MSPAlliance mistakenly believes organization is MSP despite clear language on their website

Tuesday Jul 11, 2023

What do PE Firms Want from MSPs?
For the last several years MSPs have been courted by private equity firms desperate to enter the managed services space. At the risk of being obvious, what do private equity (PE) firms want from their MSP investments?
It's an important question and knowing the answer can help you successfully navigate the process of working with a PE.
PE vs other MSP buyers
Types of investment
Hold times
Managed Service Sales is Easier Than you Think
Stop overthinking sales. After reading a sales book (non-MSP) I'm convinced that the majority of MSPs have over complicated their approach to sales. Instead of focusing on native skills which all MSPs should have, they believe that it is necessary to acquire sales capabilities which are not native to most sales organizations and may be harmful to selling managed services.
Are closing and handling objections the real barriers to successful MSP sales?
The MSP sales magic bullet?
Lead generation and account handling
Help me fix my MSP pricing
MSPs struggle with pricing. Pricing questions come up many different sizes of MSP organizations (so it's not just an SMB issue). There are many reasons why MSPs might believe their pricing is either too high or too low. Following these simple methods should help you get a lot more comfort around how and where you price your managed services.
Pricing methods revisited
Prices are too high
Prices are too low
Pricing KPIs

Tuesday Jun 27, 2023

Are Accounting Firms Squeezing MSPs?
Misunderstanding MSPs in the larger IT channel discussion
Why are accounting firms getting into managed services?
How does the CPA community impact MSPs moving forward?
Could the Master Cyber Provider Model Backfire?
Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Truer words were never spoken, particularly in the IT channel. Way back when managed services was just getting started, the master MSP model emerged. There are important lessons to be learned from this era, particularly when we start to see history repeating itself today. It's like déjà vu.
Role of the "master MSP" then
Today's "Master MSSP"
Resellers vs MSPs, it really does matter!
Manages Services Pricing Reality Check
There are a lot of methodologies for approaching managed services pricing. Regardless of what method you choose (and you should have a method), understanding the role of risk as a prime pricing determination factor is important. So, important, if you forget to include it you could be risking a lot more than just low margins.
Risk based pricing revisited
Understanding the role of margin in your pricing
Avoiding commodity price traps

Tuesday Jun 20, 2023

Internal IT vs MSP
Can an MSP do everything an internal IT department can? That is the quintessential question the world has been asking for 30 years. Just because an organization has an internal IT department does not guarantee that it will be efficient. In fact, all IT departments face the same choices as IT service providers: you can be proactive or reactive.
Struggles of internal IT
Natural barriers of scalability with internal IT
Reactive vs proactive internal IT
MSP Market Still Growing
According to Allied Market Research , the MSP market is growing at a solid rate and will reach growth of more than 11%, with an estimated revenue of $594 billion globally by 2031. Now, this study focused entirely on enterprise class MSPs, but it still has some value for the rest of the MSP community.
If managed services is growing at the enterprise level, there is no reason to believe it is doing anything different at the mid-market and SMB levels
The drivers behind the growth are also applicable to all levels of the MSP market; factors such as adoption of cloud computing, keeping IT management costs in line, and increasing data security threats.
At these levels, managed services will represent half of all IT services spending around the world.
Does Size Matter in Managed Services?
I hear a lot of MSPs talk about what they would do if they only had more resources. While more resources can make a difference, it isn't the only thing that indicates success in managed services. In fact, there are many examples of large organizations who have very poorly run managed services operations.
Efficiency, not size is what matters
Resources only gets you as far as your process
It's all about execution

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