An engaged Managed Services Provider (MSP) can benefit a business client in many ways. The tasking of an MSP is to do one of 4 things:
- Increase revenue
- Increase efficiency (impacts revenue by cost savings)
- Decrease risk
- Demonstrate the above is being accomplished
1. Increase Revenue
# 1 is at times challenging yet some small things an MSP can do which can accomplish this tasking. For example, hosting a website on a reliable server and protecting it with a web application firewall (also decreasing risk) helps increase website uptime and therefore availability for users wishing to do business with the client.
Another way Tech Squared has used this lever in the past was by introducing a medical billing client to another client who was looking for a new medical billing solution.
2. Increase efficiency
Let’s walk through an example…
When a client was working on a new building, Tech Squared was part of the process of determining ethernet locations in the different offices and exam rooms. While it seemed odd, and may have been caught later in the process, Tech Squared pointed out a room (where an ethernet line was needed for a large printer was missing a door in architectural drawings. It would have been inefficient to find this later, as change orders and drawings would have been reworked to fix the issue.
Part of the process for Tech Squared is constantly evaluating where reactive tickets are using agreement time. The point is to highlight areas of efficiency that could be improved. A client a couple years back was always having scanner issues. A LOT of scanner issues. When an employee noticed the trend and asked WHY it was discovered insurance authorizations were being pulled from the insurance provider, printed, then scanned into the patient’s chart. Then the paper authorization was being shredded. Yikes, horribly inefficient.
The Tech Squared team got together and looked at why the authorization could not be electronic and stored in the Electronic Health Records without being printed. The current EHR could not accept a PDF of all things as an uploaded file type. It was determined that an inexpensive piece of software, approximately $500 one-time purchase, could be installed on the insurance computers and thereby allow printing to JPG or an image format. This process was designed, documented, trained, and implemented by the client.
When inspecting the process, a couple months later the client shared they were saving approximately $3000 per month between paper, ink, copier, and shredding costs.
The last example I will share is when replacing machines, again the efficiency (cost savings) lever. As a client was getting ready to upgrade computers from Windows 7 to Windows 10 over a 2-year period, the consulting style of question was again impactful. It was discovered the client paid for their own electricity bill and it was not included in the building lease. Thus, by using 85w power supplies instead of 300w or larger power supplies since they no longer needed CDROM or add-in expansion cards in the machines the client was estimated to save over $500 per month in electricity.
Consider power usage when replacing machines, once saved client approximately $500 / mo as replaced tower workstations w/ current 300w workstations with 85w power supplies. Huge savings as they were on all the time.
3. Decrease Risk
A lot of MSPs have never experienced an intrusion or breach recovery. Tech Squared has unique knowledge and experience in this area. This has led to robust process, people, and tools to continue to decrease risk. A few examples below.
A lot of business clients use Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365). What a lot of users do not realize is that in the Microsoft Services Agreement section 6b Microsoft recommends using third party apps or vendors to back up the Microsoft 365 data if it is critical. Tech Squared was responsible for rebuilding another MSP’s client after a breach. Forensics of this breach indicated the attacker had access to Microsoft 365 data for 6 months before data was encrypted. This lesson has created a new mandatory process and tool for Tech Squared. Every client that uses Microsoft 365 is backed up outside of the Microsoft cloud. This includes Email, OneDrive, SharePoint, Teams, and any servers hosted in Microsoft Azure.
Two previous breach recovery forensics indicated the intrusion initially found a foothold by compromising a workstation with a local user having administrative rights on the local computer. This means the end user could install any software at any time without oversight of a technical employee. While this is not even close to SOC2 compliant a lot of MSPs allow end users administrative rights. Tech Squared has chosen to disallow all local administrative rights. There are two options for installing programs. Either a program such as QuickBooks with frequent updates is safe listed for the end user to install themselves, or a ticket is required for a technical employee to review the software and assist the end user with installation.
4. Demonstrate the Above is Being Accomplished
Two ways a good MSP should demonstrate value:
1. A trust but verify cadence with regular visits.
Even an MSP’s best engineers can make mistakes while troubleshooting reactive issues in a complex network. This is the reason the best MSP’s have a verification methodology with a regular cadence with each client. This verification is a checklist of standards the MSP has documented as best practices. Depending on the size of the client an all day visit to verify all the standards are still in place is not uncommon monthly. This helps avoid oversights due to troubleshooting methods. For example, it can be disastrous when leaving a password set to not expire for a user when done troubleshooting.
2. Regular meetings with your organization, not just when something goes wrong.
While a bulk of the tasking of an MSP is centered around reducing risk, the best-in-class MSPs always include budgeted time for a regular cadence of meetings with an Account Manager. This is focused on strategic discussions around the business. Tech Squared can and does decrease risk. The meetings are intended to look for ways to help the business client achieve and make full use of the top 3 levers in the relationship. This regular cadence helps to identify issues used as examples in the efficiency area above. An account manager meeting asked the question of WHY scanners were so important to the client and looked at potential cost savings to the client if the team could find a better method.
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