ConnectWise User Group Panel: “Successfully Scaling Service Operations”

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Mar 27, 2018

Image Above: ConnectWise Chicago User Group Panel "Successfully Scaling Service Operations" featuring (pictured left to right) Brad DeSent, Corey Kerns, Ken Sponsler and Paul Dippell (Moderator).

Our Favorite MSP Business Questions From the ConnectWise event in Chicago 2018

Last week at the ConnectWise User Group in Chicago, I participated in a in a panel for MSPs titled, “Successful Scaling Service Operations,” moderated by Paul Dippell, CEO of Service Leadership Inc. I was teamed up with other industry thought leaders that included Ken Sponsler, Senior Executive Coach from Sea-Level Operations, and Brad DeSent, HTG Online Program Manager at HTG Peer Groups.

Our goal was to help share best practices for MSPs on structuring your service delivery team, and what metrics and KPIs are needed to measure success in your managed services business. Whether you were in attendance taking notes, or you weren’t able to make the event but are interested in our recommendations, we compiled a list of some of the questions asked and what we shared with others:

MSP Questions From the Audience at the ConnectWise event in Chicago 2018

“How is your business service team structured?”

The Collabrance Service Team uses a…

  • Triage team members that support entire base
  • User Support & Entry Level Tier 2 who are geographically aligned
    • Work amongst themselves to triage and manage ticket workload
  • SME (Upper-Level Tier 2) and Tier 3 who are specialized (network / server) and receive escalated tickets
  • Proactive team to handle technology toolset, automation strategy and problem management
  • Separate service activation team to handle on-boarding

“Which KPIs are most important to you & to make decisions based off?”

Collabrance monitors and measures the following metrics to help us be more results driven…

  • Scale: # of Users/Devices per Help Desk Tech
  • Efficiency: RHEM (Reactive Hours per Endpoint Managed)
    • Avg. time per ticket
    • Tickets per user/device
  • Customer Satisfaction
    • Survey Results
    • First Contact Resolution %
  • Development/Efficiency: Utilization – What % of time is spent on business vs. development / training / certifications
  • Profitability: Revenue per hour or Billing Realization
  • Decisions: Staffing requirements, equipment upgrades, pricing issues, development opportunities, KB articles needed

“How do you motivate your techs to enter their time?”

Collabrance emphasizes the importance of logging time by tying it to compensation, for example:

  • Tie elements to team / individual compensation
  • Keep metrics visible which helps drive a culture of holding others accoutnable
  • Time card tracking is item on agent scorecard

“How do you find senior level engineers?”

Collabrance is very fortunate to have a dedicated HR team focused on recruitment. Other recommendations include:

  • Grow team members into proper career paths and make sure it is visible to them
  • Ask your engineers to talk to their friends or look into different regions and consider the option of working remotely
  • Create a culture of internal referrals

“How do you hold engineers accountable?”

There are a few ways Collabrance works to hold team members accountable:

  • A monthly team bonus plan that includes items we believe are critical to our success that includes both sales and service metrics. This bonus opportunity helps all of us hold each other accountable so the team can get a 10-20% monthly bonus pay
  • Outline critical items in a “Professional Development Plan” that leaders review with team members throughout the year to ensure progress is made and we’re all held accountable.
  • Things we need to keep top of mind and remind each other of our accountability is by posting items to our digital signage or a large “BHAG Board” posted in our office.

“How do you finance your growth?"

Collabrance is fortunate to be backed by GreatAmerica, a $2 billion dollar financing company.

  • Can you change areas of your business to impact cash flows
    • Billing in advance
    • 100% product, 50% project upfront
  • HaaR® (Hardware as a Rental) Finance Opportunities

“What method do you use to determine when to hire and when you can afford to?”

Collabrance would recommend a combination of a few metrics to help you make this decision:

  • Tickets per tech per day
  • Customer satisfaction
  • First call resolution
  • Utilization - if across the entire team is high, this would indicate a hire is needed - but if it in certain areas, may be a result of inefficiencies
  • You can afford to hire team members when revenue is 2.5 times W2 wages of Service Team

"How do you prevent client churn?”

This is one we all want to avoid, especially when it is a good customer. Collabrance would recommend:

  • Open and proactive communication (i.e. Call and ask how are you’re doing)
  • You should have less than 5% end customer churn that is undesirable, may have slightly more due to desirable churn
  • If you have 7%-10%+ you should be concerned and do some re-evaluation

“How do you handle the handoff from sales to service delivery?”

Collabrance has dedicated personnel who use proven processes to ensure a good experience for new customers that include:

  • Sales engineer and/or tech from service activation that is part of the discovery/pre-proposal process.
  • Process in place to gather information, document and configure equipment to meet guidelines
  • Q&A process to make sure information and configurations are correct

“As more solutions come out, how do you maintain focus and effectiveness?”

Collabrance has a dedicated Product Development team that does vendor management and proactively evaluates our technology stack platform. Here are things we keep in mind when thinking about all the solutions available:

  • Be strategic about not doing too much at once
  • Identify how much you need to sell and at what price
  • Standardize is critical to get good reporting, metrics, productivity and knowing when to hire (Paul reminded us, “the client doesn’t get to pick the equipment, you do!”)
  • QA / Continuous improvement is integrated into processes

The entire session was filled with good questions from the audience. At Collabrance, we’re doing this every day, and it’s best practices like these that we are open to sharing with the industry and our partners to ensure they can grow their managed services business with less headaches. If you had a question that we were unable to address during our allotted time at the User Group event, reach out to ConnectWise, myself, or the other panelists to see how we can help you overcome your challenges scaling your service operations.

Category: Business Practices

About The Author

Corey Kerns

Corey Kerns, Vice President and General Manager, is responsible for the overall vision at Collabrance, and oversees sales, marketing, operations, strategic leadership and financial performance. In 2015, Corey joined Collabrance as the Senior Finance and Operations Analyst. In this role, Corey was responsible for developing and monitoring key performance indicators, as well as assisting in the evaluation of profitability, efficiency and automation strategies. Prior to joining Collabrance, Corey started at GreatAmerica in 2011 and served as the Senior Business Unit Analyst for the Connected Technology Group. In this role, Corey led all activities with respect to financial controls and evaluating the financial implications of the business unit’s operating strategy. Corey received his B.A. in Business Administration from Wartburg College and earned an M.B.A. from the University of Iowa.