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Is it much fun being an MSP?

It’s easy to concentrate on the results and the impact on customers but Billy MacInnes wonders if life in the managed services world is enjoyable

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I can’t believe that I’ve been writing about MSPs for all these years and the question has never occurred to me before. It’s not just MSPs, though, it’s also other types of outsourcers.

I’m not saying that being an MSP isn’t important. I think we all appreciate that MSPs play a significant, if not critical, role for many of their customers. Why wouldn’t they be? The selling point for most MSPs is that they can provide a service to a higher standard than a customer could do itself because they usually have more expertise in the service they provide, manage and support.

The “we do this for a living” argument is pretty compelling for many of those who don’t.

So there’s no surprise in the inexorable rise of the MSP. From a channel perspective, it’s a natural progression from the previous reseller/VAR incarnation that so many partners worked under. After all, channel companies went from selling boxes to selling solutions to selling services. It’s hardly revolutionary for them to combine all of those elements together, add a remote management layer on top and provide it as a service.

In terms of their relationship with the customer, it also signalled a progression in terms of the depth of their engagement from sell and forget for another three years to 24x7x365 monitoring and support. True, much of that deeper engagement is effectively automated but it is still reliant on monthly or quarterly reports and meetings between customer and MSP. So that’s good too.

But is it fun?

The reason I ask is because the message from MSPs to prospective customers is usually along the lines of “we’ll take the hassle out of managing and monitoring this particular service so you can focus on things that matter to your business” or “we’ll handle this task so your staff can be freed from mundane, day to day tasks to use their skills on more valuable and strategic projects”. Then there’s the old favourite of “you don’t have to waste time and effort just keeping the lights on”.

But if their staff aren’t doing those tedious, mind-numbing tasks, who is? That’s why I have to ask if it’s much fun being an MSP. I mean, your selling point to customers may well be that you have experts and staff who will work on the things they find really dull and mundane but I’m guessing it’s not the same for prospective staff.

“Come and work for us on things that companies find so incredibly tiresome and soul destroying that they’ll pay us to do it for them so their skilled IT staff don’t have to. And we’ll pay you, our skilled IT staff, to do those things instead. Not only that, you can do them day in day out for lots of companies. How’s that for variety?”

I’m guessing that’s not what goes into the job description.

But there has to be an interesting dynamic where MSPs convince customers to let them take over a service because it’s such a drain on their time, effort and resource while convincing their own staff that what they’re telling customers doesn’t apply to what they’ll be doing in terms of their own time and effort.

Maybe it’s a lot more fun than they make it sound. I hope so. After all, you make your own fun, right?

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