A Master MSP's Solution for Managing Multiple Technology Vendors

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Nov 14, 2017

Pictured above: Collabrance booth, night one, at ConnectWise's IT Nation event 2017 in Orlando, FL.

Vendor Management and Technology Platforms Provided by Master MSPs for Managed Service Providers

It’s 8:12am central time, and I just got a phone call from an IT Nation attendee who visited our booth last week at the ConnectWise event in Orlando. He mentioned he had dozens of business cards he collected at the event, but couldn’t remember who to call and who did what. We spent about 20 minutes on the phone revisiting our conversation and determining if we’d be a good fit. He joked that we were just one of the many calls he had to make this week. This is a typical scenario for an MSP after returning from an industry event.

How many technology vendors are you actively managing today for your managed services business? According to a recent 2017 Worldwide MSP study conducted by AMI-Partners, the typical MSP uses over 11 different tools to monitor and deliver managed services, and may partner with upwards of 15 individual technology and platform vendors to effectively serve their customers. In my experience researching and talking with MSP’s, I have seen as many as 25+ technology vendors listed on some MSP websites (YIKES)!

As a Master MSP who provides a standardized technology stack, we do business with over 15 vendor partners who generate over 30 invoices to Collabrance every month. By design, Collabrance has the staff and resources to effectively manage all of these vendors. This got me thinking about other MSP’s. Many MSP’s we talk to have limited resources, and it can be a full time job for an employee just to manage all of the relationships with all of the vendors needed.

Some of the challenges that can come with working with multiple vendors can include:

  1. Lots of Time with Each Vendor. Each vendor wants your time. If you work with 15 technology vendors, you are getting called by 15 vendors on a regular basis who want to meet with you, negotiate contracts, talk about their multiple offerings, figure out strategies with you to drive their products, and those are just the vendors you already do business with! This doesn’t include the numerous other vendors who are competing for your time and want to convince you to switch to their tools and solutions.
  2. High Costs for Each Vendor. For every vendor you work with, you have another payable to manage, and many vendors will send more than one invoice each month. In addition, the cost just to use and manage these vendors can add up quickly. Tools like RMM, PSA, CRM and Quoting tools can cost thousands of dollars per month to use.
  3. Managing Relationships with Each Vendor. How do you choose which vendor to use? How do their technologies work together with other elements of your offering? When is the right time to look at additional partners to do business with? When and why should you change technology partners? Anyone managing their own technology stack spends a large amount of time and resources trying to figure this piece out.
  4. Handling Issues with Each Vendor. When there are problems with the tools or technologies, the MSP is responsible for working with these vendors to resolve the issue. A lot of time can be spent working on specific issues with vendors, and MSP’s can run into finger pointing if multiple vendors are involved. In addition, the MSP often has to spend the time to test solutions with the vendor, roll trucks to the customer, and spend valuable time communicating on the phone.

As a person who attends a fair amount of industry events, I like paying attention to all of the different vendor partners who share the vendor areas with us. Last week I attended IT Nation, a ConnectWise event in Orlando. Thousands of attendees were trying to visit roughly 110 vendors in the Solution Pavilion. Another smaller event I recently attended consisted of about 200 or so MSP attendees, and around 45 different technology vendors. During these events, I see several business owners walking around with notebooks, stopping at every booth, asking questions, and taking notes (it kind of reminded me of speed dating). I tried to put myself in the shoes of an MSP, and wondered how they viewed the vendors, how they prioritized who to engage with, and who to avoid. MSP owners have so many choices when it comes to which tools to use, and which technologies to sell. How do they know which ones are right for them? Just think, if one of these partners screw up, it is going to affect their reputation.

One Master MSP partnership to manage all technology vendor relationships

What if it didn’t have to be that complicated? What if you could work with one partner who manages all of these vendors for you, allowing you to focus your time on other revenue generating activities (like sales, marketing, project work)? One of the many reasons MSPs partner with a Master MSP is that a good Master MSP already has built the platform for you, with all of the tools and technologies in place. They also have the resources to research and manage those technology vendors, and keep all of the vital tools up to date so they work effectively. Plus, a good Master MSP can negotiate better pricing and terms due to the volume of business they create working with multiple MSP’s.

How to Outsource Vendor Management to a Master MSP

Next time your business decides to review a new tool or technology, think about how much easier your life would be to know the work was already done for you. After all, many of you convince your customers to outsource their IT needs to you so they can focus on their core business. Why not take advantage of outsourcing technology decisions and vendor management to a Master MSP who will handle all of the heavy lifting for you, so you can focus on growing your business!

IT Nation Follow-Up Webinar: Using a Master MSP to Grow Faster

We listened to the pain points you shared with us at IT Nation, and hosted a webinar to discuss solutions on how you can overcome them.

View Recorded Webinar

During this webinar, we will also featured an interview with MSP, so you could hear from a peer why they decided to outsource, what they looked for in a Master MSP, and the results they are now able to achieve after partnering.

Category: Business Practices

About The Author

Jim Hocking

Jim Hocking is the Director of Strategic Relationships at GreatAmerica Financial Services in the Connected Technology Group. Jim started at GreatAmerica in 2011 and has held multiple sales positions and mentor roles in the Office Equipment Group, the Communications and Data Group and most recently served as the Director of Sales for Collabrance from 2016-2018.