The 5 absolutely essential tools you need when running a solo MSP

Illustration: Ram Prasath


The managed services industry has traps and pitfalls like any other. Not having the right tools is the easiest to avoid.

Several years ago, sitting in his San Jose house, Pierre Omidyar was taking a long hard look at his wife’s grandiose collection of Pez candy dispensers. He was thinking what to do with them—no shop would take a used Pez candy dispenser. But would a fellow dispenser lover do? If yes, how to find one? He tapped away a unique, non-fancy code on his personal web page and launched an online peer-to-peer trading service called AuctionWeb. The first item sold, however, was a broken printer. Much to Pierre’s surprise, the buyer was specifically looking for broken printers, so much so that he went on to pay $14.83 for what was initially listed for $1.

It was not until then that Pierre knew he was onto something big. Renamed eBay, his company went on to become one of the world’s largest e-commerce platforms. Get this. Pierre had not hired anybody to work with him until the company had hit half a million, I repeat half a million, users. When he hired his first employee in June 1996, the site had sold over $7 million worth of products already.

As a solopreneur, he ran the show. His success story shows what finding a problem in the market, and equipping yourself with the resources to solve the same, can do. 

If you’re here and reading this, you’re probably a solo MSP trying to build a business from ground zero by yourself or about to launch one. You probably have a solid business idea or a plan, some capital and a roadmap for strategic execution. You now wonder if you have the right resources and tools to carry the plan to reality.

As you try to stay on top of every important detail, like every small business owner, you may run into one or more of these roadblocks—time, manpower and money. How long can you manage client invoices on excel sheets? You don’t need to, probably someone has a tool to manage your projects in a much more efficient way.

As a solopreneur, it can be tempting to do everything yourself manually to save some bucks. But, you may be missing out on some game-changing business and productivity enhancement tools. Which are necessary to take your business from paper to scale.

Thankfully, as a solo MSP, you have a multitude of tools available today to make your life easier and free your time for bigger, better problems. 

678ded (1).jpeg

1. RMM

As a managed service provider, there are tools you can’t live without and tools you use to better manage your business. Remote monitoring and management (RMM) falls in the first category. RMM solutions are designed to manage client endpoints, servers, devices and networks with remote or locally installed agents—the very underpinning of managed services. While you ensure client infrastructure runs smoothly, they can steer towards problems critical to the growth of the business. 

What an RMM tool also makes possible is proactive device health assessment and problem solving. You resolve problems even before your client notices something is wrong.

Related reading: 6 signs you need a new RMM tool

2. PSA

Joining RMM, professional services automation (PSA) is another core component that’s essential to running an MSP business. Many reduce automation to a vanity metric. We can hear them say—let me get the product up and running first, efficiency can be a worry for later.

We've got news. PSA isn’t limited to automation and neither is automation to efficiency.

From raising tickets to managing your projects, setting SLAs to reporting, a PSA tool plays the role of an all-rounder. All-rounders may score goals, but more importantly, they play consistently to take the team till the end. The professional services automation tool acts as the centralized directory that integrates with every application you use to give complete process visibility.

What cluttered sticky notes and excel sheets fail to achieve—accountability and consistency—a PSA solution does with utmost ease. Also where to start with automation! It doesn’t just save you time. It doesn’t just cut costs. By automating your processes, you standardize them. You leave no room for configuration errors and inconsistency.

3. Project management

Enabling collaboration and keeping everyone organized at work has always been a challenge. Remote working kicked it up a notch. 

A lack of accountability will quickly lead to things falling apart, especially when managers don’t know what everyone is working on, what stage a particular project is in, and which projects are falling behind. A kanban view like the one offers will give you quick snapshots of real-time updates, project status and task priorities. 

As a solo MSP, you may not have a team working with you, but you definitely will be working on multiple projects at the same time. So getting a good project management solution ensures you stay on top of the process and are not letting critical activities slip through the cracks.

4. IT documentation

The thing about information is, you don’t find it when you want it. Always. Enter IT Documentation.

IT documentation helps stakeholders share their knowledge on how things work and how end projects look like. Documentation sets the single source of truth to be followed when starting a project so that individual decision-making doesn’t hamper how something is done.

Also, now, you will find what you want when you search for it. Documentation lets you store, search and access your documents with much ease no matter the volume. With complete control over your document lifecycle, you can navigate complex documents quickly and reduce the time spent in research. 

5. Cloud backup

A cloud backup solution backs up and securely stores your client’s server data on a remote server. Companies usually backup client data to keep them ready for restoring in the event of a data breach, outage, or system crash. It’s important to back up data even if you have the world’s best cybersecurity policies in place. You can keep hackers out of the perimeter with virtual private networks and firewalls, but there are also other factors that could lead to a potential loss of data. God forbid a disaster happens.

Getting a cloud backup solution will add to the extra credibility factor you try to achieve with your clients, and more importantly, protects your clients’ peace of mind.

Related reading: Mistakes to avoid when creating backups

Why choosing the right tools is important

The managed services industry has traps and pitfalls like any other. Failure in choosing the right tools is the easiest to avoid.

Whether you plan to stay solo or scale into a multinational conglomerate someday, it is crucial that you focus on viable business plans, effective strategies, and the tools you need to carry your vision to life. Not sure where to start? Our product folks might just know what you need!

Book a demo to see in action, or sign up for a free trial to try the product yourself.

read moreicon


Mapping Your Calendar: 24 MSP Events to Attend in 2024

Discover key events for 2024, to unlock success in the MSP world! Mark your calendars to power your MSP journey with expert insights and networking.

7 minutes