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9 Things You Should Be Doing as a CEO Right Now

Although states are reopening and people may be returning to their offices, we’re still very much at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting recession. MSP owners and CEOs may be ...
Although states are reopening and people may be returning to their offices, we’re still very much at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting recession. MSP owners and CEOs may be wondering what to focus on as they work to keep their businesses thriving.  Here are my recommendations for 9 areas CEOs and owners should prioritize right now:   1. Protect Stakeholder Value - This is something that needs to come from the top, as it doesn’t make sense for anyone else in an organization to prioritize this. Even though you’re likely focused on keeping your business afloat, you should also think about how to make it thrive in the future.    How to accomplish this: Maintain and create business value.   2. Define Business Legacy - What are your benchmarks for success? Does everyone in your company know what your version of success looks like? Now is the time to make sure everyone in the company understands their role and how they contribute to where the company is headed.   How to accomplish this: Start from the top with a vision and a high-level strategy and let it trickle down to every member of the team.   3. Manage the Balance Sheet - We are all aware of the importance of cash flow, especially now. Maximizing cash flow - whether through banking relationships, government programs, or cutting costs - must remain a current focus.    How to accomplish this: Keep your company adaptable and solvent in today’s environment, but ready to thrive tomorrow (theoretically speaking).   4. Define the Culture - It can be challenging to do so, but setting an example works best when it comes from the top. An owner/CEO should guide the culture of an organization, driven by a mission, vision, and core values.    How to accomplish this: Make sure core values and culture are clearly communicated to team members, especially during this time of remote work.   5. Grow through M&A - At some point, owners and CEOs consider mergers and acquisitions as a way to meet a business legacy objective. Keep an eye out for these opportunities.    How to accomplish this: Be actively involved in the M&A market to pinpoint and pursue any opportunities that would make sense to your company.   6. Develop Your Leaders - Meet with your team members, get to know them, and identify opportunities to help them develop. As a leader, one of the most important things you can do is invest in your team members’ personal and professional growth.      How to accomplish this: Hold regular individual and team meetings focused on skill development and growth; CEOs and owners should also make sure they’re developing their own leadership skills.    7. Acquire and Retain Key Talent - The success of your organization depends largely on the talent you have on hand. Focus on building a leadership team you have confidence in, as they will ultimately be drivers of company success or failure.     How to accomplish this: Clearly define your talent needs and be proactive about filling in gaps while retaining the A players on your team.   8. Manage Critical Relationships - When owners or CEOs are directly involved in a relationship (whether business like finance or legal or vendor/supplier relationships), these relationships must be well-managed and protected. Now more than ever, as we face a complex set of challenges, these relationships are vital.    How to accomplish this: Foster better and more frequent communication and interaction with key relationships at this moment.   9. Drive Innovation - Your biggest competitor is likely not another company in your industry. Instead, it’s resistance to change and maintaining status quo. To flourish and thrive in our new world, change is a must.    How to accomplish this: Be open to new ideas, encourage free thinking, move outside of the box, and be an innovator.    For more of my insights and thoughts surrounding our current state of work, tune into ConnectWise’s Inside the Industry podcast series.   
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5 Reasons Why Goals and Performance Reviews Still Matter

With all 50 states now open in some capacity, many managed service providers (MSPs) are reverting back to working from their offices, or are still more comfortable with working remotely. It’s possible that you, as an MSP, have restructured your departments, reduced or eliminated some employee benefits, or unfortunately have had to let some of your talent go.    Whatever your specific scenario, the common thread is that we are all still figuring out this COVID-19 situation and its implications on our future.    If you are amongst those who have delayed or eliminated promotions or merit increases, you should still take the time to sit with each employee and conduct a formal review. At the very least, this year’s performance should still be counted and recorded in the employee’s records.    Beyond that, here are 5 reasons why goals and annual performance reviews matter now, more than ever.   1. Accountability. Fostering a culture of accountability is a really smart business practice. Not only does it teach your employees an invaluable soft skill that they’ll carry with them throughout their career, but accountability also helps keep everyone working towards important goals that impact your bottom line.    Collaborating to set goals and implementing a goal-management software are two effective ways to get your team members to be more accountable.    When you’ve got employees with specific goals assigned to them, and those goals are being monitored, that employee will feel encouraged and motivated to hit those goals. It’s our instinct as humans to want to succeed, so we’ll hold ourselves accountable to what needs to be done to get there.    Especially as remote work continues to be the norm and there are fewer opportunities for quick check-ins, an annual review provides the space and time to evaluate goal progress, see where gaps in accountability exist, and talk through ways to improve.    2. Investing in growth. Remote work used to be a novelty or a rare perk offered by select companies. Now that it’s here to stay in some fashion, MSPs and other employers need to explore other means of hiring and retaining the best talent. With budgets being slashed, today’s perks are going to have an even heavier focus on an employee’s personal and professional growth.    Studies have shown that employees really value professional growth opportunities and if those needs are not being met, they are highly likely to seek them elsewhere.    In times of crisis, continuing with annual performance reviews sends the message that your employee’s growth is a priority, their career and advancement matter, and their contributions are being acknowledged and can hopefully be rewarded if and when a state of normalcy resumes.    3. Employee morale. Let’s face it, times are weird. And hard. People are angry, frustrated, scared, isolated, and overwhelmed. Any semblance of normalcy right now can feel pretty good.    Continuing to set and track goals can provide that feeling of normalcy. On days when the world is just too much, but work must go on, goals can tell us what we should focus on and where we can be productive.    Plus, knowing that as a company, we’re all working together to meet a goal can help us feel more unified when many of us are physically still isolated.    As we come to the middle of the year and the time when many companies conduct their annual performance reviews, it can feel nice to carry on with something that’s expected when there are so many unexpected events happening around us.    Having a formal time to chat and review performance can help employees feel good about what they’ve accomplished and give direction on what they can focus on as the year goes on.    And without quarterly fun events, happy hours, or other social gatherings for colleagues to engage in, having a regular, expected performance review might just make us feel like things will soon be okay.    4. Pulse check. Goals work best when they’re flexible and fluid, meaning they can change when business circumstances change. An unforeseen event like COVID-19 has made many MSP owners and managers reevaluate their goals for the year and redefine how they see success. Makes sense.    Setting and tracking goals with each employee, and discussing them over a performance review, can serve as a two-way pulse check.    As the employer, you get to find out whether or not your employee is making progress, what additional resources they made need to advance their progress, what roadblocks they’ve encountered, and how they’re projected to finish out the year.    Employees get a real-time update on the health of the company, any changes in goal direction, constructive feedback on their own work, and expectations for the remainder of the year.    Having a presumably longer chunk of time carved out for a performance review also gives an opportunity for employees and managers to talk about anything else that might be going on, whether personal or professional. In these times, we’re all leaning on one another a bit more.     5. Company key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs will continue to be an important way for managers to run their businesses. Measurable KPIs are like a north star that leaders use to make sure the company is on the right path to success, and goals are the little stepping stones that lead us all along that path.    Being diligent about setting and tracking each employee’s goal ensures that everyone is aware of the part they have to play and nobody is losing sight of those critical KPIs.    Even though KPIs may change as the year progresses, the function of the individual goals remains the same, which is to make sure we’re doing the right things to get us to the optimal end result.    BrightGauge provides partners with dashboards, reports, and a proprietary goal-management system that makes it easier to manage data and align with team members and clients. To learn more, schedule a live one-on-one demo today. 

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Join BrightGauge at IT Nation Explore

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s the power of going digital. We’ve all adapted to a remote world quickly and seamlessly, and it hasn’t stopped us from getting anything done. We’ve kept up with our work, we’ve visited with friends and loved ones, we’ve attended weddings, we’ve held important meetings, and we’ve banded together all through our computer screens.   And now we’re also attending conferences virtually. While it may be hard for us to get used to the lack of face-to-face time, virtual conferences still present us with a great opportunity to network, learn from our peers, and gain valuable insights. And a majority of this year’s conferences have gone digital, so the opportunities are vast.   This year, IT Nation Explore is all virtual and completely free for anybody to attend and we’ll be presenting!   Join BrightGauge’s Success Team Lead Danielle Ungermann and Support Team Lead Kristian Muñoz for two sessions that’ll help you get a better grasp of BrightGauge and how it can help you make progress in your business. Here’s an overview:   Measuring to Meet Your Objectives: Learn how to keep your team motivated and held accountable, all while keeping their individual performance in view. Danielle and Kristian will review what makes for good data, how to use BrightGauge to track what’s actionable, see long-tail trends, and set goals and thresholds into metrics as a baseline for growth.   Getting Started with BrightGauge - a High Level Overview of How to Work With Your Data: This session is for partners who are new to BrightGauge or are looking for a refresher. Kristian will dive into each area of the product, working with the data coming in, customizations, and top tricks you can apply to master KPIs through automated reporting and shared dashboards.     Register for IT Nation Explore, taking place June 23-26, 2020, to expand your knowledge of how ConnectWise products can help you grow your business and for more information on these BrightGauge sessions. See you online! 

Planning for Business Recovery and Financial Health

As we continue to forge ahead in 2020 and understand how COVID-19 has impacted our businesses, it is time to plan for recovery.    Whether you have experienced significant changes or you’ve been operating like normal, we all need to think about what comes next.    Join Paul Dippell, CEO of Service Leadership, Inc., for the Rapid Recovery Webinar Series, hosted by ConnectWise.    In the three-part series, Paul will offer advice on maximizing profits, improving customer retention, and generating new business.    Read on for more details and to register for the events.   Determining Your Financial Situation and Protecting Profitability June 5, 2020; 1:00-2:00pm EST  In the first of the Rapid Recovery Webinar Series with Paul Dippell, we’ll discuss how to clearly understand your financial health and maximize profits during and post-COVID.  Register now: https://www.connectwise.com/resources/inside-the-industry/webinar-predicting-profitability   Retaining and Risk-Managing Your Existing Customers June 15, 2020; 2:00-3:00pm EST  In this episode, Paul Dippell will share advice on how to prevent customer churn and sustained revenue loss by doubling down on customer retention and risk management.  Register now: https://www.connectwise.com/resources/inside-the-industry/webinar-retaining-customers   Selling into the Storm – New Business Generation in a Downturn June 30, 2020; 1:00-2:00pm EST In the third and final installment of the Rapid Recovery Webinar Series, the conversation will turn to how solution providers can tackle the increased challenge of driving sales during this period of uncertainty.  Register now: https://www.connectwise.com/resources/inside-the-industry/webinar-selling-in-economic-downturn    

Report of the Month - End of Month Overview

This month, we’re featuring how BrightGauge partner Dan Rutter of TechPath in Brisbane uses BrightGauge reports to be highly transparent with customers and empower them to make the best possible business decisions.    Dan is the Service Manager at TechPath, a full-service IT company that focuses on providing business internet, cloud and hosting, phone systems, and technology solutions to people in the Brisbane area.    As the Service Manager, Dan wants to enable his customers with full information about their environments so that they have a better understanding of their business.    To aid in this type of conversation, Dan regularly sends out an automated End of Month report using BrightGauge.     Transparent reporting gives clients an extra look at the value a company like TechPath brings. As Dan puts it, “When you are visiting clients on-site, it’s very clear what your value is as they see exactly what you’re working on, but once your working relationship gets better and there are less face-to-face interactions, you spend a lot more time in the background. We wanted to send a report each month to key contacts to give an indication of what activity is actually happening, because they may not be aware of how much is going on behind the scenes.”    The resulting report is straightforward and is automatically sent out, so is not censored in any way and allows for honest, transparent conversations to take place.  *View this sample End of Month Report here   The overview of day-to-day operations includes data around: Tickets, including type, volume, and open/close dates  Asset management, including warranties status  Network devices, with information about what’s currently under contract Computer health with patch status and drive disk space used   The goal is to empower end users with all they need to make informative decisions.    Dan says, “We’re giving our clients enough information for them to leave us, actually. But the idea is that we are providing so much value that they will want to continue working with us.”   With the type of data they’re being shown each month, clients can make timely decisions about endpoints that are becoming particularly problematic, machines that may need to be replaced, administrative licenses that should be reassigned, and more.   When TechPath is falling behind on something, it’s valuable for the client to see what action was taken to mitigate the issue at hand. That type of transparency strengthens trust placed in TechPath as a partner.    “The key things for us are full transparency and showing value,” says Dan. “When we’re not on-site, it’s harder to maintain clients. They start wondering why they pay us. We know we’re doing a good job and we know we’re delivering value, but sending monthly reports helps us show that to our end users and decisions makers.”    Interested in setting up an End of Month Report for your clients? Check out our Report Key to recreate it yourself or feel free to reach out to success@brightgauge.com and we’ll be happy to help.   Thank you to Dan and TechPath for sharing your insights!   Link to Sample End of Month Report Link to Report Recreation Key

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10 Things You Need In Your Client Reports Right Now

What is your strategy when it comes to client reporting? Are you sending client reports on a regular basis? How are you determining what data to include in your reports? How are you generating your reports?    Not carving out time to formalize this process or put enough thought into it can lead to a missed opportunity. Client reports are a powerful tool when it comes to customer retention and maintaining solid relationships.    With a little organization, client reporting is a practice you can implement fairly quickly and easily. Let’s explore.   What is a client report?   Simply put, a client report is a document you send to your clients on a regular basis, showing them important metrics pertaining to their organization or environment.    For example, if you’re a managed service provider (MSP) who handles your client’s endpoints, you may report on the status of their networks and devices and what actions you took in a given time period to mitigate any security threats they may have faced.    Client reports should be based on fact and should refrain from being censored in any way, so a comprehensive report will show the natural ups and downs that any client-partner relationship faces.    A client report should be a relatively quick and easy way for key stakeholders and decision-makers to consume important information and drive business decisions. Most often, it shouldn’t be a long, drawn-out report that takes a lot of time to comb through and analyze (long, in-depth reports make more sense during quarterly business reviews).     Why do we need client reporting?   It’s a fact that it costs more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. After you’ve extended efforts to bring on a new client, it’s critical to nurture that relationship and make sure they stick with you for the long term.    Creating a relationship based on trust and transparency lays a solid foundation for repeat business. Think about it from the client’s perspective: they’re already paying you, they already know how you work, you already know the environment, and you’ve already established a rapport. It would be a waste of their time to have to vet and hire a new vendor to do the work you’re already doing. So it’s truly in everybody’s best interest to protect the existing relationship and strengthen it over time.    One of the most powerful ways to build up trust and transparency is to get in the habit of sending client reports.    Especially in a world where we are mostly working remotely (i.e., fewer on-site visits with clients), it’s hard to show all the work that goes into your day-to-day. A report lays out your value for a decision-maker to see. You can almost compare it to an itemized invoice that lists out many functions that your client otherwise would not be privy to.    Further, because reports are based on facts and show the good and the bad, they position you as a credible and trusted partner, not just a vendor. You’re giving the full picture of what’s happening versus trying hard to just make yourself look good.    Client reports also serve as a sort of audit for decision-makers. Imagine your point of contact leaves your client’s place of employment. All the reports you’ve sent in the past will act as a paper trail of sorts to show the value of your partnership so that the person who is signing your checks doesn’t hesitate to continue signing them.    What things should be included in a client report?    The specific data and metrics to include in a client report format will vary from client to client. It really depends on your role, what your service level agreement (SLA) outlines, how often you’re sending the report, and what your point of contact cares most about.    That being said, here are 10 things that all client reports should include:   1. Benchmarks   Whether you’re setting these standards for yourself or your client is doing that for you, include some benchmarks to measure yourself against. This way, your client can easily see how you’re stacking up for that given time period. Plus, they will appreciate that you’re working hard to meet the highest standards and you’re human enough to understand that you may not always be perfect.    A good way to determine what benchmarks to set is to use your SLA as a guide. Average Time to Response is a common example - in your SLA, you may have agreed to always respond to tickets within 30 minutes or less. In your reports, you may want to always include your benchmark (30 minutes) versus your actual performance for the given period.    2. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)   KPI tracking is such an important part of running a business. KPIs are like a north star that help guide the company along the right path to success.    Businesses like MSPs will often have their own internal KPIs they are regularly tracking and external KPIs that help assess the level of service they’re providing their customers. Some external KPIs may even be used to determine if a client is a right fit.    Here are examples of KPIs you may be including in your client reports: Average Time to Response Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Score Open versus Closed Tickets Net Promoter Score Billable Hours  Activity Level/Health Score    3. Metrics   Tied to KPIs are metrics, which are trackable bits of data or that will help you piece together how well or not you’re performing. In other words, they are results.    There are many different metrics you can be tracking at any given moment across the various departments within your organization. When it comes to including metrics in your client reports, you want to be purposeful about the ones you choose to include.    They should be tied to KPIs that clients find important and they should be high-level. Client reports are not typically the time to get too granular with metrics as you want clients to digest the right information as quickly as possible - think quality over quantity here.   Depending on the cadence of your report delivery, you’ll want to choose the metrics that best tell the story for your given time frame. For example, in a monthly report you would want to focus on average kill rate percentage versus showing tickets opened today.    4. Goals    The practice of goal-setting is good for everyone to engage in - at the individual level and organizational level, on a personal level and a professional level, for the short term and the long term, and so on.    Showing clients how you’re setting and tracking against goals helps to reinforce that foundation of trust you are building your relationship upon. You and your clients may even be coming up with goals together.    In your client reports, you can show progress of your goals using a simple chart or graph just as a visual reminder of where you stand.    By the way, benchmarks and goals can get confused with one another, but think of goals as the desired end result and benchmarks as the milestones you have to hit to reach your goals.    5. Budget   There are two important areas to consider when it comes to communicating about budget in your client reports: dollars and hours.    You want to show clients how their forecasted budget is tracking against projects completed or in progress. To put it simply, show them how you’re stretching their budgets to cover the most amount of work.   In addition, you’ll want to make sure everything is on track in terms of budgeted hours. Are your techs billing hours correctly? Are there any issues you need to point out to your clients? How can you mitigate any time issues before it starts impacting your client negatively?    These are topics you should be touching upon on an ongoing basis.   6. Revenue    If you’re involved in your client’s finances in any way, data pertaining to revenue MUST be included in each of your client reports.    As an MSP, if you’re managing your client’s endpoints, you may want to demonstrate how keeping warranties, patches, and machines up to date makes a positive financial impact over time.    Anything impacting cash flow or profitability is going to be high on the list of priorities for clients, so take care and be precise when reporting on these numbers.    7. ROI Tracking    Communicating on ROI is a big topic when it comes to nurturing that client relationship. Decision makers and key contacts are going to be really interested in how their investment in you will benefit them. This is closely tied to revenue reporting.    If you can demonstrate how your client’s investments can result in big gains or cost savings or measurable business growth, you’re going to put yourself in a great position to continue earning their business.    8. Areas of Improvement    Nobody does everything right 100% of the time. Whether you are sending daily, weekly, or monthly reports, it’s a good idea to highlight areas where you didn’t perform to the standards you would have liked, include context as to why performance was lagging, and identify solutions to prevent subpar performance in the future.    9. Summary of Events    Your clients may not be aware of the scale of work that goes into protecting their environment. If you are out of sight, what you are doing may be out of mind for them. Including a summary of events that you’ve covered (most likely without their awareness) will help them understand how proactive you are and how much time and effort goes into keeping their businesses running smoothly.    10. Reporting the Good and the Bad    We’ve said it before but it bears repeating itself over and over again: you can’t only report on the wins. When it comes to client reporting, it pays to be fully transparent all of the time. Mistakes happen, things fall through the cracks, and lessons are learned. Clients will be especially understanding of this if you don’t censor anything from them and if you’re constantly working on ways to course correct in the future.    Even better, if an error occurred and you fixed it before your client noticed or before your report was due, including it in your report and outlining what was done to mitigate the error will show how valuable it is to have you as a partner. By doing this, you show that you’re not going to your clients with problems. You’re going to them with solutions.    The right client reporting tool   We’ve heard of many people not being consistent with client reporting simply because they take too much time to pull together. If you are toggling between many tools, pulling data off of each tool, inputting that data into an Excel spreadsheet, and then spending hours analyzing that data to draw conclusions, you could be eating into many valuable hours of your time.    With an automated client reporting system like BrightGauge, you win that time back and you get powerful reports out to your clients whenever you want. Some of our partners have said that our client reporting tool has saved them 8-10 hours per week, which is time they can now spend focusing on revenue-generating tasks.    With BrightGauge, you’ll get pre-built report templates that you can quickly populate with your client’s information, making it very easy to get started right out-of-the box. Even if you build reports from scratch, you can set them to automatically send out on the dates and times you choose, so you can rest assured that your client will get that report delivered to their inbox on a regular basis.    For an in-depth look at the BrightGauge client reporting system and other features, please contact us so we can set you up with a live demo.   

CRN Names Brooke Candelore a CRN 2020 Woman of the Channel

We are thrilled to announce that Brooke Candelore, Product Manager at BrightGauge, has been included as an honoree in this year’s CRN 2020 Women of the Channel list!   While we are certainly not surprised by this honor, we are so happy to have Brooke’s achievements recognized by the industry.    Brooke joined BrightGauge in 2017 and has been an integral part of the development of our product. She’s been responsible for bringing on dozens of new integrations, allowing our partners to connect to the datasources that matter most to them. In her role as Product Manager, she oversees all aspects of our product development, ensuring that features are released in a timely, relevant manner.    What really makes Brooke stand out is that she handles her role with such composure and grace. Regardless of the challenges that are presented to her, Brooke constantly has a smile on her face and goes above and beyond to help her team achieve success.    Maddie Campos, an Integration Developer on Brooke’s team, says it’s her pleasure to work with someone who has high standards and expectations of those around her. Brooke has helped Maddie solidify programming fundamentals and guide her to become a better developer.    “Thanks to Brooke, I have learned to become a better problem solver and critical thinker,” says Maddie. “Not only is she technically proficient, she also moves through life in a very professional, articulate, and kind manner. Her ideas always make logical sense and she has a clear plan in which to move forward. She reminds us what a strong, competent leader can be and never ceases to impress.”    Rick Aquilia, another Integration Developer working under Brooke, echoes Maddie’s sentiments.    Rick actually transitioned from the Support Team onto the Product Team and one of his greatest challenges was learning Python as part of his development position. Brooke was instrumental in helping Rick progress.    “Despite having her own tasks to attend to, Brooke always ensured that she was readily available for any questions that came up throughout my programming journey,” says Rick. “She frequently challenged me to be better and always offered feedback for areas where improvements could be made. I am extremely grateful for her patience, guidance, and support through it all.”    Congratulations, Brooke, on this well-earned achievement!   Brooke was named an honoree alongside three other ConnectWise colleagues. See the full press release here. 

Supporting Your Clients Through COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve and change our world. We’ve all been forced to do things differently and figure out how to navigate a workforce that is largely remote.    If you’re talking to your peers or reading industry news, you may hear that managed service providers (MSPs) are primed to do well throughout this situation. And, it’s true. MSPs already play such a critical role in their client’s businesses and that role is shaping up to be more important than ever before.   While we’re all uncertain about the future, now is the time to show your clients that they can rely on you to see them through.    Here are two things you can do right now to support your clients:   Increase data tracking   You may already have experience managing remote teams and perhaps some of your clients do as well. That’s great! But undoubtedly, you will have many clients that are learning about working remotely for the very first time.   By now, they’ve probably gotten the hang of it, but it can be pretty jarring, and productivity may be taking a hit. Plus, your clients may be accustomed to some face-to-face time with you, which they’re no longer getting.    One powerful way to combat lack of facetime and less communication in general is to increase the amount of data you’re monitoring.    Business intelligence can be used to keep a pulse on what’s going on. For an MSP, this may mean tracking your service desk techs to see what tickets are coming in, what your average response time is, and who is working on what projects.    For your clients, data tracking can help them understand what you are doing on the back end to protect their networks.    Regardless of the working environment we’re accustomed to, the fact that employees across the globe are now remote can leave us all feeling a little bit out of touch, so your clients may be wondering what it is they’re paying you to do.    Sharing data dashboards or custom reports can help them see real-time threats you’re mitigating, endpoints you’re managing, servers you’re keeping up, and all the other ways you’re being proactive about keeping your clients up and running. Being transparent in this kind of way means your clients never have to chase you down for answers and will just end up strengthening your partnership.    Ramp up cybersecurity efforts   Along with increased data sharing, now is an ideal time to strengthen your cybersecurity offerings. With so many networks being accessed remotely, we’re more vulnerable than ever.    The last thing your clients need right now is for their operations to become compromised, when there are other pressing matters to focus on.    Have a frank conversation with your clients. Show them in what ways they are currently protected under their service level agreement and how you could reinforce those protections even further.   Make sure your employees and your client’s employees are up to date in any security training, and ensure that there are processes in place for securing all work environments. Communicate about these processes and employee requirements on a frequent basis.    Conclusion   These are just a couple of ways to take the stress and burden out of your client’s hands so they can do what is needed to keep their businesses afloat. Once we return to our new normal, your clients won’t forget how you supported their efforts.   Looking for more ways to put yourself in a position to thrive once the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us? Download The MSP COVID-19 Playbook for more information and guidance.   

Making Sense of Your Operational Maturity

We get asked quite a bit, "Which metrics are the right ones for me to measure for my team and business?". A lot of factors play into this. Consider the size of your team, customer communication, revenue, products and services provided, and markets served to name a few. Take stock of where you stand amongst these, plus a multitude of other factors. This is where you are in your journey.   You may realize that your success isn't dependent on the age of your business but rather how mature, or developed each of these core areas are. That's a great start! From here, it's all about knowing what to act on, and setting in place the right intelligence gathering.    To demystify this process, join industry expert Eric Hoffmaster for our User Showcase webinar: Making Sense of your Journey Towards Operational Maturity, taking place on May 11th, at 9:30 am PST/ 12:30 pm EST. We'll cover:  Key Business Stages What every business should evaluate Evolving your metrics Working towards what's actionable Painting everything green RSVP to our live webinar or to receive a recording: http://info.brightgauge.com/en/wb-msp-maturity

Thank You, IT Professionals

Let’s face it, in this unprecedented situation, as we’re all learning how to navigate a global pandemic, there’s one thing that’s keeping us relatively sane: our connections to the outside world.    Our access to the internet so we can get our remote work done, streaming TV so we can watch our favorite shows, and video calls so we can get face-to-face time with teachers or loved ones are what we’ve come to rely on to get us through our days.   And none of it would be possible without the diligence and hard work of IT professionals around the globe.    We’ve always been proud to be a part of a community that moves technology, and the world, forward. But today, we’re more proud than ever before.   We want to shout “thank you!” to all the IT professionals in this community for staying on the frontlines and keeping us on track. You’re an essential part of how we’re getting through this and we appreciate you so very much.    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU. 

Goal Management Software That Drives Business Growth

As a business leader, goal tracking is likely a cornerstone of your employee management strategy. Goal management is an important way to align your team members and ensure that you’ve got an entire organization driven by shared key performance indicators (KPIs).    In the era of COVID-19 and remote work, the importance of goal setting and tracking is becoming increasingly evident.   Let’s face it - managing an entire remote team has its challenges. There are no face-to-face interactions or watercooler moments to rely on that perhaps once served as a casual “what are you up to?” check-in.    While it’s necessary to keep employees engaged and productive, no one wants to be micromanaged (or be a micromanager for that matter). But we still want to grow our businesses and keep our employees motivated, so goal tracking remains a priority.    The key to implementing goals that will drive business growth is to use an employee goal setting software like BrightGauge to automate that process for you. Before diving into what goal management software can do for your business, let’s explore the necessity of goals a bit more.    Types of goals    Generally, there are two categories of goals you can assign to your employees: outcome goals and process goals. These two are often intertwined, but the way you measure each is different.    An outcome goal is the end result that you’d like to achieve, while a process goal refers to the steps you need to take to achieve your outcome.    We like to use a very simple example to help visualize this. Let’s say you want to lose some weight. Your outcome goal would be “lose 5 pounds this year”. Your process goal would be “walk 10,000 steps per day”.    With both goals, you can easily measure your progress, and achievement of your outcome goal is dependent upon your process goal performance. Each week (or other determined cadence), you can track and mark progress of each goal. For your outcome goal, you can mark whether you lost or gained weight and how much. And for your process goal, you can track the actual steps you completed each day.    So, how does this translate to a managed service provider (MSP)?    An example is the desire to improve your organization’s monthly recurring revenue (MRR). You might set an outcome goal to increase your MRR by a certain percentage (increase 5% year-over-year) or to reach a specific number (MRR of $10,000). In order to achieve that outcome, your process goal may be to close X number of new accounts per month, or have your sales representatives increase their outbounding efforts by X% per month.    We’ve found that a healthy mix of both outcome and process goals works well.    Why you need business goals   Assuming that everyone is on the same page and is aware of the desired direction of the organization is just risky business. Accountability measures need to exist to help decision makers evaluate whether everyone is pulling their own weight and charting the right course.    If you can’t truly measure performance and progress, how are you analyzing the various areas of your business? How can you tell if you’re growing year over year?   Sure, comparing revenue and profit can be telling, but that only paints a partial picture. If you’re bringing in more revenue during a certain period of time, what can you attribute those gains to? How will you know which business tactics were successful and worth replicating?    Taking it one step further, who can you attribute successful results to? Is there someone that’s in need of a merit increase? Or perhaps a technician on your team that can benefit from more training?    Goal tracking is a powerful way to get answers to all these questions.    Not only does it serve to align every person in the company, but goal management also helps business owners carve out a path towards success that makes sense. Goals are like stepping stones that act as a guide without being overwhelming. By focusing on one goal at a time, you can eventually reach your desired outcomes at a pace that’s more easily trackable.    Goal management helps you grow your business in a smart, deliberate way. Your team members will know what tasks to focus on and prioritize, they will be held accountable to their actions, and you will have the right data to back future decisions.    How to set business goals   When you adopt a goal-setting strategy, it’s important that it’s implemented from the top-down. Everyone in the company should be setting and tracking goals.    While each goal should tie back to one big, desired outcome, each member of the team should have a different set of goals to work towards. This way, goals are relevant to each person’s role and every team member contributes to the greater good in their own way.    As you set and implement the KPIs that are important to your bottom line, use these to drive your goals. Goals and KPIs should tie into one another and ensure that your business decisions are based on factual data.    A good rule of thumb is to set SMART goals - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Goals should be challenging, but they shouldn’t be so difficult that they end up overwhelming the goal owner to the point where they feel unmotivated and like they’ll never reach the outcome.    In our experience, starting off with quarterly goals is an effective way to get this process up and running. At the end of each quarter, performance and progress can be assessed and strategies can be tweaked to better represent your final goal. On the flip side, if you start off with a longer-term commitment like an annual goal, it may be more difficult to stay the course.    Whatever approach you take, analyze and iterate often to make the goal management process match the flow of your organization and working style.    A few other tips to keep in mind: It’s always good to turn to your peers and colleagues for goal ideas - this absolutely should be a collaborative process Allow for an adjustment period - adopting a new goal-setting strategy means you’re implementing a new process, so the ramp-up period might take a bit  Establish regular check-ins to discuss goal progress and performance, whether through 1:1 meetings with direct reports or other method (BrightGauge has a very simple and automated check-in process) Don’t tie performance reviews to goals - the main takeaway here is that goal performance is not black or white; promotions or salary bumps shouldn’t be based solely on whether a goal was hit or missed   How to track business goals with BrightGauge   Many know BrightGauge for its dashboard and reporting capabilities, which for years have been helping partners organize their data and make meaningful business decisions. Now, as we’ve shifted to remote work, people are turning to their dashboards even more than ever to help their teams work efficiently.   You may not be aware that BrightGauge is also a goal management software with a proprietary goal-setting and tracking system that’s a great way to enforce accountability amongst your teams, so everyone can focus on growing the business.      With BrightGauge goals, you can set and track goals for each member of the team in a scorecard-like grid. Team members get a weekly reminder via email to check into their goal, which means they mark whether they’re on- or off-track and fill in any necessary context. The corresponding square for that week will turn either green or red depending on progress, making it a very simple and visual way to see how your team is performing at a glance.    Goals can be shared company-wide, not just team-wide, which really motivates everybody to be accountable to their tasks and work productively to achieve the desired shared outcome.     Some partners have told us that once they’ve adopted BrightGauge’s goal management software, it’s quickly become their favorite feature and they can’t imagine doing business without it.    To chat more about how goal management software can drive business growth, contact us and we’ll happily show you BrightGauge in action.    For more on goals, check out our whitepaper, The Right Way to Set Business Goals.   

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