Why MSPs should embrace automation

Illustration: Ram Prasath

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It's about time MSPs saw automation as a competitive edge.

Ask your technicians the day they dread the most and it won’t be Monday. It would be the patch deployment day. One moment they’re scanning all endpoints to find missing patches and the next they’re scheduling reports on patch status before and after deployment. It just doesn’t end.

Especially if you’re a new MSP, you are just...all over the place. Amidst the overwhelming amount of stuff you have to deal with, from managing your clients, getting your books in order, hiring people, to finding your next set of clients, the quality of your service takes a backseat.

“What more can a lean team do”. Nope, that wouldn't justify mediocre service to your clients. 

“Should I just go ahead and hire more people?” That may solve the problem for now, but won’t scale, as you can’t hire people whenever there’s more workload.

Enter automation.

The best way to make the most of what you have is through automation, which frees time spent on repetitive work, helps you rack up more projects in less time, and cut costs spent on the extra labor or resources you would've needed otherwise.

Time = resources = money

The thumb rule is, if your team is doing the same task twice, automate it. It could be a regular maintenance task. A recurring patch management task. Reinstallation of software. Time spent on these tasks adds little value to your business, as you’re paying people to do something that could be a workflow. And you’re considering getting more people to cope with the spillovers. Your technicians, on the other hand, could get frustrated with the amount of work they do that doesn’t challenge their expertise or help them grow. 

Process automation can empower them to say goodbye to their many day-to-day tasks including:

  • Changing ticket status 
  • Adding time taken on a call to a ticket
  • Scheduling scripts such as removing AD user creation and change management 
  • Automate maintenance tasks, such as cleaning up DNS cache and freeing disk storage that your technicians do frequently
  • These preventive measures keep potential future issues at bay, ensuring your technicians aren’t caught up in fire-fighting rudimentary stuff, today and tomorrow.

    You may not notice it immediately, but you’ll cut a lot of costs in the long run when your operations become more and more hands-free and don’t rely on reactive manual intervention as much as a break-fix business.

    Never drop the ball on quality again

    When setting up a routine task like getting approval for reimbursements or initiating server deployment, it’s very easy to make mistakes as your technicians are constantly overwhelmed with something or the other. Managed services is one of the stressful environments to work in, but automation can give you control. 

    Automate process reboots. Automate database maintenance. Automate remediation of recurrent problems. Do so without compromising on service quality. If you wait for your workload to reduce so you can find new clients or invest more in new offerings, you will trap yourself in a loop. Because even if you expand, you will expand to handle the extra workload and not to work towards strategic growth. 

    Develop a key focus on value addition

    Automating doesn’t mean you’re doing less. It means you’re doing more with less. From being dragged around aimlessly to achieving uninterrupted, chaos-free service, you become an MSP your clients rely on not just for running their operations, but for achieving their business vision. 

    Everything ties back to value addition to clients. What’s in it for them? Are they getting faster ticket responses? Are the automated workflows only adding to your bottom line or translating into faster project completion and friction-free operations? Use automation for what it’s built for, taking over low-value work to “un-monopolize” resources that are best spent for the big picture stuff.

    Automation is a competitive edge. Embrace it

    Most ISPs who evolve into MSPs at some point realize they never upgraded to the ethos of managed services, only to its paycheck. And the ethos is, less dependency on human processes, preventive remediation of problems, and future-proofing IT operations for business continuity. Automation makes all of this possible, by transferring the heavy lifting from humans to workflows.

    Some MSPs still worry about charging customers for work done “by scripts”. They say they’re “protecting” the client experience. But think about it, if these clients you're protecting come to know "a script" saved their network that was about to crash, won't they be happy?

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