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The BrightGauge Blog

How Your MSP Can Reach Operational Maturity via Goal-Setting

Anytime we begin working towards a goal, the obstacles and challenges we face at the start are not the same issues we face midway through the journey. Often, midway through the journey, we have a ...
Anytime we begin working towards a goal, the obstacles and challenges we face at the start are not the same issues we face midway through the journey. Often, midway through the journey, we have a better idea of what lies ahead and we make adjustments, modify our milestones, and adapt to the way the journey has changed us. When reaching operational maturity is the goal for your MSP, goal-setting and monitoring the key performance indicators (KPIs) on that path are essential to ensuring you move to the next level. As an MSP, operational maturity is deeply tied to your ability to provide the service level that not only maintains strong relationships with your clients, but also allows you to win new business. Because operational maturity is such an important aspect to your growth, understanding how to set goals to get you there is vital.   Quick Links What does OML mean? What are the operational maturity levels? How your MSP can set goals to reach the next OML  What does OML mean? Operational maturity level (OML) typically refers to IT systems and how well they function. More specifically, at the highest levels of operational maturity, systems and networks are more sophisticated, reliable, and consistent. Further, another indicator of operational maturity is what’s referred to as application-centric infrastructure. This type of infrastructure shifts the focus from hardware to software, relying on application responsiveness and performance as a prime indicator of system health. In short, when problems arise, they are addressed at the application level rather than at a system level. When your network performance can be managed in this manner, the system is operationally mature. Obviously, given those standards, one does not simply walk into operational maturity. In fact, there are stages through which every organization moves to get there.   What are the operational maturity levels? There are several systems of definition related to operational maturity. Gartner has one. Microsoft has one. While both label each stage differently, the descriptions are similar in terms of what an organization is experiencing in each stage. Level 1 This is the most reactive of all the stages. Frequently, it’s marked by a bit of chaos where most employees and staff are wearing multiple hats and everyone is working overtime to keep all systems up and running smoothly. It’s also marked by the frantic nature of folks working to put out and prevent fires. At this stage, there may be issues with interactions between hardware and software, infrastructure may not be scaled properly or able to handle workloads, reliability may be an issue, and your staff is spending most of their time handling these issues rather than being proactive or planning for growth. Level 2 In this stage, the fires aren’t nearly as numerous but a majority of time is still spent on maintenance and “repairs.” While areas for growth may have been identified, the organization is not yet in a place, given resources, to invest in those areas. Level 3 This is the control phase. For many, this may feel like a huge achievement as there are fewer problems and less of a need to be reactionary. The system may be scaled to meet current needs, but is unprepared or underprepared for growth. Additionally, at this time, policies and procedures regarding operations, services, and security have been provided and are largely adhered to. System performance issues still exist, but occur less frequently and the work environment likely feels less frantic and overwhelming. At this point, most MSPs will want to start the process of understanding their path to profitability. A complete and comprehensive analysis of the financial position as well as financial goals is advised. Further, working with a partner who not only understands the market but is also able to understand organizations in various stages of operational maturity may be an excellent choice. Level 4 At this stage, systems as well as daily and emergency procedures are running as planned and prepared. The team is able to be proactive and begin planning for system upgrades and improvements. Growth is anticipated and there is a plan in place to prepare resources for that growth. Again, this likely includes identifying KPIs that measure service levels as well as financial stability. It's wise, at this point, to continue competitive analysis within the market. Level 5 Operational maturity unlocked! Congratulations. Organizations functioning at this level of maturity are proactive and prepared (for emergencies and growth alike). Networks and systems are stabilized and performing reliably which enables teams to focus on growth areas rather than day-to-day maintenance and performance. Automation further enables these organizations to shift teams and resources to new initiatives and optimization efforts. Growth is the primary focus as performance and service levels are consistent. At level 5, it may also be time to analyze and establish partnerships, review financial performance, and transform your existing solutions and services.  As is likely clear at this point, in stages 1-3 the focus is largely inward meaning your MSP is likely focusing on internal systems, processes and procedures to perform at a base service level. There is little room for outward exploration until level 4, when services have been stabilized in a way that allows your focus to move to growth. By level 5, you’ll likely start looking for ways to add or enhance services or add clients in a way that allows you to not revert to previous stages/levels.   How your MSP can set goals to reach the next OML The first step to identifying goals is being honest about where you are in striving for operational maturity. There must be a reckoning. Setting goals to help you get to level 4 when you are at level 2 but think you’re a level 3 will not go well. This is not a situation where you can leapfrog, even if you have an exceptional team. While you may be able, with the right goals, investments, and strategies, to move through some levels more quickly than others, you must still move through them. 1. Assess your current situation   For some MSPs, this will be the hardest part. It requires taking an honest look at the current state of your infrastructure and services. Further, it takes an assessment of all of your resources: time, money, people, and skills. It is very easy to imagine one’s organization further along than you think, given that some resources are more abundant than others, but if your team is not still spending most of their time reacting to problems, it’s not the time to grow. 2. If you are at level 2 Let’s be honest. If you’re at level 1, most of your focus is putting out fires and implementing fixes and so your primary goal is to do just that; the objective is to survive. Once you have mastered survival, your top priority is to work towards creating a more stable environment. That means identifying your daily processes and procedures and documenting those. It means ensuring your team is on the same page regarding daily tasks and responses to emergencies. It also means monitoring and tracking your tickets and keeping your team in alignment. One amazing tool to keep your team aligned and focused on team and organizational goals is a data dashboard. At levels 1-2 you’re still likely building out your service team and so keeping them engaged and focused will be essential. There’s no time for churn here. Let’s say you set a goal to decrease tickets by 10 per week. A data dashboard you can share with your team can do wonders for providing a visual reminder of success thereby motivating them. A constant barrage of open tickets can seem Sisyphean so keeping your team on track and energized is vital. 3. Level 3 Goals Because infrastructure issues have decreased by this stage, you can turn your focus towards enhancements. This will likely mean improving service levels and investigating ways to proactively address issues. For that reason, your MSP may be looking at tracking KPIs related to service level and identifying areas for enhancements and upgrades. It’s a good idea to customize a digital dashboard to measure KPIs such as server availability or downtime and response and resolution time. Using a data dashboard, you can set goals for your service team to keep those issues below specific thresholds and, as you achieve those goals, move towards improving the service levels gradually. 4. Level 4-5 Goals Now that service levels have stabilized, it’s likely time to add in financial metrics. This is where you can start to enhance and optimize services, explore new services, and potentially add team members as you add clients. However, your MSP should do this with a close eye on finances. In short, you’re looking for places to add services without adding to headcount. As noted above, many MSPs do this through automation. One of the easiest ways to improve service level quality through automation is through your reporting. Maintaining transparency and communication with your clients increases trust and allows you to leverage that positive word of mouth and boost your net promoter score (nps). For that reason, NPS may be something you wish to track along with your other service metrics at this point as well. Essentially, your MSPs objective here is to stabilize before moving onward. Growing too fast, without concrete goals in place, may prevent you from moving to the next level. Let’s say, for example, you start adding new clients at level 2. Your team and your infrastructure are going to be largely unprepared for the addition of more work, more responsibilities, and more traffic. As a result, you may be faced with an overwhelmed team looking to leave. The best thing you can do for your MSP is plan to grow through each level of operational maturity at a sustainable rate that recognizes where you are and sets goals appropriate for your stage. The next best thing you can do is arm yourself with the tools that help facilitate your goal setting and metric monitoring. That’s where BrightGauge’s tools come in. With goal setting tools, data dashboards, and automated reporting that work right out of the box (no complex coding involved), your team can save time in identifying areas for improvement while also celebrating wins. If you’re looking for a business tool that aims to help your MSP achieve its growth goals, talk to the team who has grown an MSP. Get in touch with BrightGauge today and let us help you level up.

Using Dashboards to Manage and Improve Your MSP’s Technician Efficiency

  Anyone who’s familiar with managed IT services is aware of how busy service desk technicians can get. The to-do list can become so long, if not managed efficiently, and work can become tedious and overwhelming.  Things get even uglier (and miserable) when trying to manually integrate what everyone is working on into one single platform. Surely there has to be a better way to do this. Fortunately for you — and for all of your clients — technician dashboards provide an effective solution.  What Role Do Technicians Play in an MSP? Technicians play a crucial role for managed service providers. They ensure continuity of IT services and provide remote support whenever a customer is having technical issues. Depending on their department within the MSP, they will need to be skilled at any of the following fields:  Cybersecurity Infrastructure management Application management Networking/switching hardware Networking protocols Firewall configuration Configuring and repairing cloud-based networking Troubleshooting and repairing servers and workstations Providing clients with one-on-one guidance Service desk support Why Does Technician Efficiency Matter? Technician efficiency matters because customer service is the backbone of any business. If you fail to prioritize customer satisfaction, your sales funnel will eventually run dry. The stakes are even higher within the information technology industry, since MSPs are responsible for keeping technology running for all of their customers. Without reliable technologies, productivity would be practically non-existent. Communications, security, and compliance with regulations would come to a halt.  By the same token, productivity is highly linked with profitability for managed service providers. Therefore, it’s essential to track what’s getting done, when it’s getting done, and how long it takes to get it all completed. What you’re paying in technicians’ salaries has to be validated by employee satisfaction and customer retention. And the only way to find out if it’s all being conducted as efficiently as possible is to look at the numbers, in real time. This is where data dashboards prove to be an invaluable tool.  What Role Do Data Dashboards Play in an MSP? Data dashboards source information from your business tools — PSA, RMM, CSAT, and financial, among others — to let you see all relevant data in one place. Not only is everything located in one centralized location, but you can also customize them to display the numbers you’re most interested in tracking.  Seeing everything right in front of you lets you identify patterns that can help you improve your services. And since every department is responsible for different areas of business, it’s good practice to set up dashboards by teams. Specifically addressing your technicians, technician dashboards will help provide the best customer service possible.  What Are Technician Dashboards?  Technician dashboards display the same metrics that a service manager would track, but are filtered to only include the data from a specific service desk technician.  The metrics on these dashboards could include: Open Tickets Unsolved Tickets Updated Tickets Solved Tickets Unsolved Tickets by Status Unsolved Tickets by Group Average Satisfaction Score Average Time to Resolution Open vs. Closed (Last 14 Days) You can customize the template to display information that’s relevant to the metrics you’re seeking. You can also choose the chart types you prefer to read, so that you don’t have to waste time trying to figure out what everything means. Once you’ve set your preferences, you can then clone your template for each of the technicians you want to track. The right dashboard integrates with tools you’re already using in your business, so that you can keep everything in one centralized location. It should also be simple enough so that you can start using it straight out of the box.  Benefits of Technician Dashboards Technician dashboards bring a long list of benefits to your business. By seeing metrics such as number of tickets, the time each of them was entered, and the time it takes to resolve them, you start to notice trends. As a result, you reap the following advantages:   Optimize Customer Service Dashboards allow you to monitor each technician’s workload — which is crucial to optimize your customer service experience. At the end of the day, you don’t want clients waiting for an eternity because your service desk team is overloaded. Identify Training Issues If you start noticing that several of your technicians are experiencing the same issues, this may be indicative that it’s time for additional/updated training. It could also be a sign that your team may need additional resources to better address each ticket.  Employee Satisfaction If your employees are given adequate support and resources, they are more likely to enjoy their jobs. This element goes hand in hand with the overall success of your company, since a high turnover rate results in higher costs for your business. Plus, customers may have to wait longer for their issues to be resolved while your new hires get up to speed on their roles.  Streamline Operations When you look at the metrics, you see exactly which tickets need to be addressed, as well as highlight areas where a technician could improve or focus. By identifying these issues, your team is enabled to work smarter by prioritizing the right things.  Host Shorter Meetings Raise your hand if you enjoy sitting in meetings that go on forever. By tracking service desk metrics through technician dashboards, technicians and management will all be on the same page. Management will know exactly what needs to be addressed, making meetings run smoothly. How To Set Up Technician Dashboards with BrightGauge   The BrightGauge data dashboards are user friendly for a reason — we understand wanting to work efficiently, then go home and do all the fun stuff you love. So you’ll be happy to know that setting up technician dashboards is a simple process.  Log into your BrightGauge account and search for the service desk dashboard you’re using.  Set up the filters you want to track by following our handy knowledge base instructions. Save the selected filters with the Save Filters feature.  Clone as many dashboards as you need to track (this process is also included in the instructions).  Invite the service desk technicians you’re tracking to log in and see their data. You can invite users by checking out our User Management Overview. (They can do so for free). Manage Your MSP’s Technicians With BrightGauge’s Data Dashboards With a variety of pre-built dashboard templates and a fully customizable system with filters for your departments, BrightGauge’s dashboard solutions can help you stay on track, adjust when needed, and meet your goals, short and long term. You can use existing dashboards or build your own, depending on your needs, and our team is ready to assist.

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How to Sell Managed Services: 7 Steps to Get Results

Once upon a time, businesses could get by with little technology — a phone, a credit card machine, and maybe an email address.  Today, most aspects of a company rely heavily on information technology. It’s what’s used to connect with customers, store data, comply with regulations, and collaborate within teams. And while it has certainly made life a lot easier, it also comes with the hiccups associated with any type of technology. Crashed systems. Downtime. Inefficient processes.  It’s an entire industry begging for help. Yet, not everyone has the budget to have IT experts on their payroll as full-time employees. What’s a person to do? Why, look into managed services!  Quick Links What are Managed Services?  How We Learned Strategies to Sell Managed Services Questions to Ask Prospective Partners Common Challenges When Selling Managed Services 7 Steps to Sell Managed Services Track the Progress of Your Sales Team With BrightGauge's Data Dashboards What Are Managed Services?  Managed services refers to outsourcing specific tasks. Within the information technology industry, this encompasses a wide array of services, including: Cybersecurity Cloud infrastructure management SaaS management Disaster recovery Help desk  It’s an efficient way to optimize IT support, since managed service providers (MSPs) hire experienced experts in several niche areas — something that would be cost prohibitive to a lot of businesses to maintain in-house. It also ensures that you have a dedicated team that maintains existing infrastructures and anticipates potential issues so that they can be addressed before they interrupt your operations.  How We Learned Strategies to Sell Managed Services At BrightGauge, we learned effective strategies to sell managed services during the years we scaled our Miami-based company, Compuquip Cybersecurity. Our approaches proved to be effective, resulting in a monthly recurring revenue (MRR) growth from 800K to $8.8MM. Although we ultimately sold the business, the lessons we learned along the way are still effective, and the topic continues to be one of the most popular that we answer for our community. During this process, we learned how to truly become our clients’ business partners. We weren’t trying to just make more sales. We offered resources and solutions to run their operations efficiently, on a long-term basis.  Remember the end goal of managed services: you want to be your client’s business partner, not just a vendor. As a business partner, you provide value on an ongoing basis. On the other hand, vendors act as a nameless, faceless entity that simply sells products and services. That’s why it’s important to sell your company as a partner.  In your half of the partnership as MSP, you must provide the talent and processes (and in some cases the equipment too) to offer a complete service to your clients. The client also has to make a commitment in trusting you to effectively manage their systems, on top of the cost of the service itself.  Both parties are taking on some risk in the beginning, and if the partnership doesn’t work out, then it’s expensive and time-consuming (for both sides) to sever the managed services agreement. That’s why it’s critical that you get it right. We took stock of everything we learned about selling managed services during those five years, and have been helping MSPs apply these steps to improve their sales process. Are you ready to take notes?  Questions To Ask Prospective Partners Sometimes people don’t even realize that a recurring issue may have a significant impact on their business operations. Therefore, it’s crucial to ask the right questions, to get prospects to consider all relevant factors. Things you always want to ask include:  What are your main IT concerns?  How are you ensuring end-to-end security?  How do you know if your remote workforce is connecting to protected networks?  How have network downtimes affected your quarterly financial goals?  How much do you spend on IT support each quarter?  The reason why you want to ask all the right questions is because once you have the answers, you’ll be in a better position to suggest adequate solutions to their specific needs.  Common Challenges When Selling Managed Services In order to be successful selling services, you have to anticipate prospects’ concerns. This will allow you to provide reassurances as you address them on the spot. Some of the most common ones include:  Customers Aren’t Knowledgeable of the Services You don’t know what you don’t know, and that can definitely hurt you. This applies to everyone across the board — but particularly, to businesses that aren’t aware of cybersecurity issues they’re facing or of the available solutions. They may also not be aware of how they can get more hours back from their day by streamlining procedures and integrating platforms.  In fact, there are still plenty of individuals who still spend a significant amount of time gathering analytics from different sources and manually entering the information into a single document. Tell them how each of your solutions gives them time back (or the peace of mind necessary for a good night’s sleep) and watch them suddenly become more interested.  Customers Believe the Solutions Are Too Expensive Every single business will try to maximize profits and reduce costs. However, this can’t be done at the expense of their reputation. If a customer believes a service is too expensive,  there are ways to provide options without lowering pricing.  For example, a contract that is more focused on break/fix solutions or one that only provides additional services to a specific number of users/devices. That said, sometimes, nickel and diming services will backfire in the event of a major security breach. So it’s good to be acquainted with similar stories within a prospect’s industry and how your specific solutions could help significantly lower those risks.  Needs for Services Are Evolving No business is stagnant (at least, not successful ones). And neither is technology. Since one of the skills of effective MSP technicians is to anticipate potential issues, it’s good to convey that messaging in the sales process.  While the scope of work will always be delineated in the service agreement, it’s good for prospects to know that in the event that XYZ likely scenarios may pop up, you would still be able to assess it and provide them with a quote for adequate solutions.  7 Steps to Sell Managed Services While each customer has different needs, there are common denominators in most sales processes. Becoming acquainted with the following steps will increase your chances of success:          1. Know The Services You Offer Like the Back Of Your Hand First things first. You can’t sell something you don’t understand. You may miss upsell and cross-sell opportunities — or making a sale in the first place. Fully understanding how each service works and all related processes provides you with credibility, as it allows you to explain everything confidently.  In addition, knowing everything well will allow you to provide the right solutions for the specific prospect you’re speaking with at the moment. There’s no need to complicate the conversation by bringing up services that aren’t relevant to them.          2. Aim to Understand Their Pain Points Something that is useful in the context of sales is familiarity with the Jobs to Be Done framework. This is an approach that focuses on the customer’s specific end goals. People aren’t buying software just for the sake of owning it.  They want to scale and grow their businesses so they can leave a legacy. They want to work more efficiently so they can enjoy their personal lives more. They want to help small businesses meet their goals. So what can you do to get them there?         3. Offer Customized Solutions There seldom is a one-size-fits-all approach that’s effective. You want to offer solutions that reduce the time a prospect spends working — from APIs, ensuring end-to-end security, or developing an application, to name a few. This is the reason why it’s essential to ask the right questions in the first place.  Instead of presenting prospects with generic menu options, you are offering something that would specifically help them.          4. Provide a History of Your Success When pitching a new prospect, one of the best ways to build trust is to show evidence of a long track record in the services that you are offering. Do that by showing them hard data that details how you’ve helped clients become more profitable. As a new company, you might not have a lot of data on hand to back that you are the best choice to handle their IT systems. If this sounds like your scenario, then consider these options to help prospects vet your company: Share personal achievements and experience. If you have experience working within the industry, that experience is relevant to your prospects. Share your experience with them to ease concerns and show capability in the services being discussed. Provide testimonials and referrals from previous clients. Being able to point to previous clients who have had positive outcomes from your services is a great way to show experience and ease concerns. You can even go a step further, and set up a conversation between a new prospect and an old client to discuss the results from your services. Bring them on a tour of your office. Bringing potential clients in to see your office shows them that you have your team, your procedures, and your business under control. With dashboards on heads-up displays throughout the office, they can see that your SLAs are always top of mind, and they can observe how your team works together to resolve tickets for your existing customer base. Reliable IT services are a crucial part of any modern business, so it makes sense that any company considering your business will want to confirm your expertise before agreeing to a long-term deal. If you’re a new MSP, that could mean you have to put in a bit of extra effort to help ease concerns before working to secure any new, high-value clients.         5. Define Your Scope of Work One critical aspect of negotiating a managed services agreement is ensuring that both sides have a firm understanding of the service scope. A well-defined scope helps avoid future disputes where the client feels as if the agreed upon service hasn’t been delivered. Your contract should outline each individual service separately and clearly set expectations. Here’s a look at part of the scope that we would list in each one of our managed services agreements (there were also sections to cover the scope of network security, endpoint management, and strategic planning):   You should also take the time to conduct a full evaluation of the network and IT services of the prospect before providing a proposal. It’s impossible to know what to propose without first understanding the systems that they already have in place. The less amending that must be done later, the better.         6. Know Your Value and Price Accordingly A common mistake made by young MSPs is a willingness to negotiate pricing. If you’re tempted to lower your price to bring in initial clients, you also have to remember that a price drop can negatively impact their perceived value of the services you offer.  Put another way, value-based pricing puts you in a position to charge what your services are worth to the client, so it’s imperative that you nail the value component of the partnership right off the bat. So rather than throwing out a “deal” or a price cut, instead focus on educating the prospect about the advantages that your service will bring to the table — and try to connect those advantages to real-world business cases when possible, because that’s the point where value becomes obvious to them. Allowing them to see that real-world data ensures clients never feel like they are being overcharged.  Plus, understanding your value and charging what you're worth can help to facilitate positive long-term partnerships with clients. At the end of the day, you’re not competing solely on price. You’re good at what you do. Charge accordingly.          7. Keep Contracts Simple No one likes reading convoluted language. It’s one of the many reasons lawyer jokes exist. Ensure that every service is spelled out as a line-item, detailing the exact scope of the service, as well as the monthly charge. Additionally, be sure to include upsells, upgrades, and additional consulting fees directly in the contract to avoid future disputes. Track the Progress of Your Sales Team With BrightGauge’s Data Dashboards With a variety of pre-built dashboard templates and a fully customizable system with filters for your departments, BrightGauge’s dashboard solutions can help you stay on track, adjust when needed, and meet your goals, short and long term. You can use existing dashboards or build your own, depending on your needs, and our team is ready to assist you.

7 Ways to Use Client Reporting to Improve Your MSP

Transparency. We stress it often because it’s a core value of who we are. Likewise, we think it should be a core value of your business because it’s a simple way to build, maintain, and enrich your business relationships with both clients and employees. And, if you’re an MSP, the very heart of your business, the way it grows, is through those relationships. It’s why we talk about transparency and the best mechanism you have at your disposal to provide that: reporting. Quick Links What is client reporting? What is automated reporting? How automation is transforming the reporting process Why reporting is important for your MSP 7 best practices for automated reporting for your MSP Experience greater client success through BrightGauge’s client reporting tools What is client reporting? Client reporting is the practice of sending reports about important activities and key performance indicators (KPIs) to clients to help build transparency and trust. For managed service providers (MSPs), generating reports for clients is an important part of managing client relationships. With a well-made report, MSPs can show exactly how they are (or aren’t) meeting their service level agreements (SLAs). What is automated reporting? While client reporting is essential to managing client relationships, manually assembling these reports can be a big time sink for MSPs—especially when there are a lot of relevant metrics and activities that need to be tracked. Automated client reporting tools, such as BrightGauge’s reporting feature, can be a massive time-saver and transform the client reporting process. Automated reporting enables you to identify and compile specific metrics or data into a template and automatically send it to the necessary individuals as pre-programmed intervals (like once a week or once a month).  How automation is transforming the reporting process Think of the classic client reporting solution—the old Excel (or some other spreadsheet software) sheet with a bunch of numbers or a Word doc template with a bunch of spots for key data points. Except entering the data that populates either of those sheets is a long manual process. It takes someone significant time and effort to:   Track down all of the necessary information; Copy said information into the right spots of the spreadsheet/report; and Review the document to make sure everything is correct and nothing is missing. In addition to being time-consuming, manual data entry is highly susceptible to human error. That may result in important information being missed or entered incorrectly—which is less than ideal when sharing a report with clients.   Client reporting software and automation solutions are changing things by making the process of generating reports less time-consuming and more consistent. Instead of having to enter data manually, report automation solutions like BrightGauge allow users to connect a few data feeds to automatically populate a customized report—then send that report on a set schedule as needed.   Now, instead of having to spend hours poring over different data sources, MSPs can set up a bit of reporting automation and not have to think about it again—unless there’s a change in the metrics the client needs to see. And, that also means you’ve got more time for other jobs or even more reporting for clients, employees, or supervisors. In addition to the benefits for you, your client also sees benefits in knowing what to expect, when to expect it, and exactly what’s going on with the services you’re providing.   Why reporting is important for your MSP One of the best tools for an MSP is reporting. You’ll find no shortage of MSPs industry sites and blogs touting the importance of quarterly reporting and make no mistake, the quarterly business review (QBR) is important. However, you don’t want the QBR to be the primary touchpoint for your client relationship. In fact, if things are going well, your services can be largely invisible and so you want to take the opportunities you can to reinforce the services you provide regularly, not just quarterly. Not only does regular reporting serve as a reminder of your service quality, but it also opens opportunities for follow-up communication and the kind of trust and transparency that builds relationships. 7 best practices for automated reporting for your MSP  While report automation can be a big boon for transparency and improving customer satisfaction, it’s important to use that automation the right way. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of reporting automation:   Identify the data that’s most important to the client getting the report. MSPs have limited time—but so do their clients. Sending an automated report that’s chock full of all kinds of data sounds impressive, but if that information isn’t valuable to the client, then it’s a waste of their time to read it. So, it’s important to consider which data points are of the most interest to the client in question, and to customize the report so that only that information is presented to them. Add a data dashboard to the report. Creating a report format with a kind of KPI dashboard-like appearance that puts all of the most valuable information on a single page can be really helpful. How? It makes important data points more digestible and accessible in the report. Instead of digging through several pages of information, the data about the client’s biggest concerns can be presented front and center—which many clients will appreciate. Share the good and the bad. It might be tempting to alter which form fields are in a client report to highlight the successes and downplay shortcomings. However, this doesn’t build transparency. It’s important to share the good and the bad with clients in the report so they can see that nothing is being hidden. Then, on calls with clients, it may help to address the potential reasons for the shortcomings and identify ways to improve results for the next report. Identify all of the key stakeholders in the client’s organization. Who is responsible for what in the client’s organization? Are reports reaching all of the right stakeholders to keep important people in the loop? Get a list of all the key stakeholders that need to see the reports being generated and ensure that they’re all on the email list for the automated report send. Consider customizing client reports for different stakeholders. Not every stakeholder in an organization cares about the same things. Some may need to know about different things as part of their job. So, creating variations of the client report template for different departments and stakeholders can do a lot to improve communication. Some stakeholders may really appreciate getting a customized report—even if sending it costs no extra time or effort at all after the first one! Periodically revise the KPIs in the report. Client needs and services may change over time. For example, if a major goal with a client was to decrease ticket response times in Q1 and that goal was met, then in Q2, the goal might shift to decreased open tickets instead.  Revising your client reporting software’s settings so that they are consistently presented with the KPIs they currently need to know is important for keeping clients happy and informed. Verify the best time to send reports. When is the most convenient time for a report to hit a client’s inbox? Taking the time to ask clients when they prefer to receive their reports can be a great way to earn some appreciation and make things easier on the client. These are just a few best practices for using reporting automation to share important business KPIs with your MSP clients.    Experience greater client success through BrightGauge’s client reporting tools With BrightGauge, you can easily modify your client report templates and set up customized reports for different clients or even different stakeholders within the same organization. The automated report can pull data from multiple data sources and collate them all into an easy-to-read format for your clients to peruse.   Select what data you want to share, organize it how you want, and pick out how often the report should be sent—then kick back and relax as BrightGauge’s software takes over.   Are you ready for a simple and effective client reporting solution? Then reach out to the BrightGauge team today!

Using Dashboards and Reports to Motivate Your Team

Whether it was a basketball hoop over the trash bin, a Rubik’s cube, or any other myriad desktop distractions, keeping employees motivated and focused has been complicated for decades. When we add in the internet, social media, streaming video, smartphone games and more, it can be a struggle for employees and supervisors alike. With so many distractions surrounding us at all times, it’s easy to lose sight of the task at hand. Let’s be honest, no one wants to be the manager who’s on top of their team all day - and realistically, let’s also acknowledge that mental breaks are necessary - still, there are tactics you can employ to wrangle your team’s attention back to what matters most, especially when you have goals to hit! Quick Links Why motivation matters Motivating remote teams How reports can motivate Setting up a team report How dashboards can motivate How your MSP can use dashboards and reports to motivate your team Why motivation matters   Think about the last goal you set. Did you achieve it? Whether you answer yes or no isn’t as important as the follow up question which is "Why did you succeed or fail?" If the goal you set was S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timely), your success or failure likely hinged on your motivation. You may have wanted it in the same way your employees want a raise, or compensation, or recognition, but if you weren’t truly motivated, you wouldn’t have put in the daily work needed to get things done. That’s the bottom line. That’s why motivation matters in the long run. Motivation helps you achieve your goals and reap the rewards, but it does so much more. In addition to achieving goals and potentially earning additional benefits, motivated employees are:   More likely to feel happier at work Demonstrate increased productivity Easier to lead Less likely to leave More likely to trust leadership (which can lead to buy-in on initiatives)   In short, more than getting things done, motivation matters because it energizes your workplace in all the right ways. And then, when you hit your business goals and your employees realize their individual goals, it’s a perpetuating cycle of success. Who doesn’t want that? Motivating remote teams With the increase in remote work and work from home situations in a post-Covid world, concerns about productivity have waned a bit as research suggests employee productivity has remained high. Instead, work from home concerns seem to have shifted to employee engagement, motivation, and happiness. More specifically, realizing that many employees were happier working from home, the remote work shift, for many, became permanent. However, the struggle to keep employees engaged and motivated remains. Working from home may make employees happier and may not significantly impact their productivity, but it does mean they’re more likely to be challenged by distractions and other motivations. So how does your organization and leadership keep remote workers motivated? While traditional systems of motivation such as rewards and compensation are effective, data suggests that there are some non-traditional methods that we tend to overlook. Among those methods are including your team in goal setting. On its own, it’s a fantastic way to get buy-in from your employees, but there’s more to it than that. It’s not enough to engage them in the goals they’ll strive for, but you’ve also got to keep them updated on progress. You can even build rewards into that progress. Celebrate hitting milestones. It’s one reason reporting is beneficial not just to clients or superiors but also to your own team. How reports can motivate Consistently sending custom weekly reports to your team lets them keep important metrics at their fingertips reminding them of their goals and targets and will keep them all walking on the same path. Reports are a powerful way to drive productivity and they take almost no time to set up within BrightGauge, so the payoff is big. Not only does regular reporting help your individual team members (and teams) keep tabs on individual and overall progress, but disclosing the ins and outs of your business by sending reports helps team members feel like they’re stakeholders in your company. In turn, this creates a strong sense of purpose around the work they do. The truth is, everything trickles down from the top, so what leadership preaches, your team will practice.   Further, weekly reports put transparency into practice at all times. As we’ve discussed before, transparency is vital to building and nurturing strong relationships.   When all employees have visibility into the hard data that drive your operations, it’s empowering. They’ll get clarity into where things stand: Are there areas where the business is excelling? What could use improvement? Are we meeting the numbers that’ll keep us on track with our KPIs? What’s our projected revenue looking like?   Having answers to these questions (and so many more) leaves no room for speculation. Just think about the power in that. Speculation often leads to gossip or rumors or feelings of uncertainty about one’s performance and position… in other words, speculating is super distracting and has the potential to impact morale and motivation. Weekly reports refocus team members and motivate them to work hard on being successful (a much more valuable use of time). Setting up a team report What you include in your reporting is going to vary from team to team, but you want to include metrics that are relevant to each team member’s role. For that reason, each department lead should make an effort to generate reports for their own team. For example, if you're the MSP’s service team lead, your weekly report should probably focus on the previous week’s ticket stats. You might include data like: service team leaderboard (which looks at how each individual’s performance stacked up against the rest of the team), tickets opened, tickets closed, average response time, and customer satisfaction scores. In contrast, if you head up the sales team, weekly reports might include: opportunities won, deals closed, sales pipeline, dials made, and monthly recurring revenue.   Regardless of team, it’s also a good idea to include some general company metrics that all employees could benefit from seeing, such as revenue to date, progress on goals, total number of clients, etc.     Pro tip: make sure these reports are impactful, but easy to digest. They’re meant to refocus your employees, but you don’t want to take too much time away from their to-do lists. They should be able to analyze these reports in just a few minutes, while still coming away with important insights. When should I send weekly reports to my team? We should point out that we’re recommending weekly reports, but if you feel it’s better to send them on a daily or monthly basis, that’s cool! Trust your judgment. In any case, we generally like sending reports at the same time on the same day because it creates a  routine. If you send your reports every Monday at 8AM, your team will come to expect that report in their inbox and it can set the tone for the remainder of the week. A lot of decision makers and business managers are apprehensive about reports because they take way too much time to generate. That’s only true if you’re using Excel or doing everything manually. But if you use a business intelligence tool like BrightGauge, you can create really powerful reports in just a few minutes. Once you set up your report the first time, you can save it as a template and schedule it to automatically send out to the recipients you want on the date and time you choose.    Now that you have reports set up, it’s a good idea to investigate what other business intelligence tools you can utilize to further motivate your employees. For example, using real-time dashboards, you can hold everyone accountable to KPIs on a weekly basis so nothing falls through the cracks. Not only do your customers stay happy, but you also keep your whole team on the same page.   How dashboards can motivate As we've discussed in the past, the first step to getting your team aligned is setting goals and, as noted above, your team should help set those goals. Make sure they’re S.M.A.R.T. goals as well! Next, decide what you want to track and how you will get there (process goals). Set the cadence of your goals by establishing KPIs that need to be achieved by each team member. Be careful about over-assigning KPIs. Combine and condense where you can so that team members don’t get bogged down with tasks. Stay focused on the tasks that help you achieve larger organizational goals (outcome goals).   So how does this all help motivate? It helps in a few ways. Again, what motivates one team member may stand in stark contrast to what motivates another and so finding what works is a bit of mixed bag. For some, the connection that dashboards create by providing a visual representation of group goals is a motivator. These are folks who love to be part of a team and who connect through shared goals. For them, part of the motivation is making sure they’re doing their part. In contrast, for others, competition can be a great motivator. If you think your team (or certain members) would be motivated by being #1 on a leaderboard, then using dashboards for real-time tracking can add some much-needed fun and healthy competition to the room. Add leaderboards to your dashboards and position your screens in a central location where they are visible to everyone or simply share them at the start of every week! Your team will love seeing the numbers go from red to green and racing to the top! And, when the dashboard shows that KPIs are being met and goals are being achieved, make sure you celebrate with your team. With the right accountability and visible markers of success through BrightGauge’s dashboards, nothing will fall through the cracks. If you build in team and individual incentives, you can do even more with this. Remember, keeping your team connected can be a vital part of the motivation process. Build team spirit through team building opportunities.    How your MSP can use dashboards and reports to motivate your team If you’re an MSP, you can’t afford for anything to go overlooked. That means delivering for your clients and keeping your team motivated to do so. It should be no surprise that tracking your goals and sharing that information with your team is one of the best ways to keep everyone motivated. After all, you report to your clients, to your supervisors/leadership, why not your team? Whether it’s coaching a team or leading a business, feedback is important. Letting team members know where improvements are needed while celebrating successes gives them the drive to keep striving towards a goal. There’s no better way to do it than with dashboards that provide quickly digestible data and feedback and automated reports to reinforce the feedback.  That’s where we come in. BrightGauge’s tools provide you with fully customizable dashboards that allow you to provide all the feedback you need to teams and individuals alike. Our reporting tools allow you to automate reports and send them to the people who need them when they need them, whether that’s weekly or monthly. If you’re ready to talk about how our solution can help you keep your team motivated, whether they’re remote or not, and help your MSP reach its goals (and more!), then get in touch with our team today!

70+ Metrics for MSPs

Key metrics and accompanying formulas to help MSPs skyrocket growth and success!

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Julia Sos Joins BrightGauge as Technical Partner Success Manager

We’re excited to welcome Julia Sos to the team as a Technical Partner Success Manager! Join us in learning more about the newest member of our growing BrightGauge family.   In the beginning   Julia was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. Right before second grade, her dad’s company relocated to West Palm Beach, which is when Julia realized she was born to be a beach gal – she can’t get enough of palm trees and muggy weather. After just four years in West Palm, the company moved back to Cincinnati, much to the disappointment of Julia and her sister! Guess they couldn’t handle the heat.   After high school, Julia set her sights on a bigger city, and became a Drexel Dragon. Fun fact: this campus was once considered the ugliest in the Northeast! She loved being in Philadelphia and living close enough to New York City to work and play, without having to devote all of her money towards rent in NYC.   After college, Julia worked for a textile design company, traveling to cities across the US and Europe to consult with fashion designers. She loved it, but after three years was ready for a new challenge. When on vacation in Miami once, she thought, “What if I just moved here?” and she made it happen.   Joining BrightGauge   Prior to joining BrightGauge, Julia worked with a Commercial Embroidery Machine manufacturer as an onboarding specialist. At the time of her hire, she was the only person in the company who would train clients on how to operate their embroidery machines. Within 2.5 years, she had built a team of 5 onboarding specialists, focusing on internal training, creating content for their new products, and conducting live webinars for the respective software programs.   Through that, she found an interest in working with software and building a customer portal.   “The opportunity to work at BrightGauge came along at a perfect time in my life,” says Julia. “I’m looking forward to challenging myself in a new industry, learning a lot, and growing personally and professionally.”   Out of office     Like most in South Florida, when Julia is not at work, she loves being outside. You can find her biking to the beach, taking walks along the bay, or reading in the park. Julia has a big love for music, especially electronic, underground house, and concerts with live instruments. Her favorite time of year in Miami? Art Basel week, when she gets to indulge in installation art, modern art, photography, and sculpture!            

How MSPs Can Adopt a Data-Driven Strategy for Growth

If you scan the room you’re in, it’s likely that you’ve got at least 2-3 devices, if not more, gathering data. With the arrival of the Internet of Things (IoT) and smartphones, nearly every industry and every business or organization you interact with is collecting data for analysis with two primary goals, to create better products and services or to sell you more. In other words, the data is allowing businesses to develop strategies for growth.  As important as that external data is, most businesses and organizations are also collecting internal data regarding service level and quality, financial performance, human resources, and more. In short, these days, we’re dealing with a lot of data. How you use that data may just make the difference between your successes and failures. That data informs where you invest time, money, and resources. Learning to create growth strategies based on that data is essential for your MSP. With the right data-driven strategy in place, you can achieve sustainable business growth. This is where big data plays a vital role.  Quick Links What is big data? What are the 4 V's of big data? Why a data-driven strategy is important to your MSP How data-driven strategies create sustainable growth How your MSP can adopt a data-driven strategy for growth What is big data? Big data can mean a variety of things depending on one’s industry. Largely, the concept boils down to the sheer amount of data we have access to and how we handle it. As noted above, your organization is likely collecting a lot of data from clients, customers, employees, and vendors. Anyone interacting with your business in person or online is generating data which, when handled properly, can help inform strategic decisions. For many organizations, it takes a team just to parse the data into usable and actionable information. With data coming from so many sources and so many users, the volume alone is overwhelming. When one factors in the speed of the data as well as the need to determine its usefulness, it becomes easy to see why big data is big business. What are the 4 V's of big data? We hinted at it above, but let’s be a bit more clear. Big data gets broken down into what’s referred to as the 4 V’s of big data. They are: Volume- This, of course, refers to the amount of data coming in. Variety- This refers to the variety of sources the data comes from. While the IoT is certainly contributing to the influx of data, it’s also coming from traditional sources. How one defines traditional sources likely depends on their industry, but it might include in person interviews, online surveys and questionnaires, or even web forms. Whether it's a POS or handheld device, a call logged by our internal team, or a ticket opened via an application or online form, data is coming in through a wide variety of sources. Velocity- As suspected, this refers to the speed of data transmission. With the arrival of edge computing (which really enabled the IoT), data is moving back and forth faster than ever. Today’s networks are similarly moving much faster and the arrival of 5G promises to speed that up even more. It's a veritable avalanche of data. Veracity- The final V relates to the quality of the data. Can recipients (you) trust the source? How much value can you place in the data, especially when it comes in at such volume? How does one determine which data to keep and which to discard? Why a data-driven strategy is important to your MSP   So why does all of this matter to your MSP? There are a few reasons it’s important and while some of them may depend on the direction your MSP is taking or will take in the future, it’s also important to understand the market and where the big data market is heading. Through understanding the industry as well as the data available to you through your clients and internal teams, you can direct your growth in a way that is sustainable and utilizes a data-driven strategy. Managed Analytics  One of the biggest reasons big data might matter for your MSP is that data analytics is among the latest services to be offered by MSPs. With an understanding of the 4 V’s and the business model of MSPs that functions on partnering with businesses that don’t have the staff or the skills to handle IT functions, it’s easy to see why this service gap is one MSPs are gladly stepping into. As with many other MSP services, managed analytics allows an organization to save time and money while still getting the most out of the data they need to make data-driven strategic decisions.  Impact on Existing Provided Services There’s no doubt that the amount of data coming in is vital to businesses and that’s the next reason MSPs should be concentrating on the impact of big data. The 4 V’s reveal a need for strong and reliable infrastructure to support the barrage of data. Your MSP’s clients are counting on you to ensure their networks can handle the volume, are reliable enough to transmit the data at the speeds their customers demand, can respond quickly to a variety of requests from different sources, and can ensure the integrity of the data itself.  When big decisions are being made and strategies being formulated based on available data, for both you and your clients, you want to make sure the service you're providing ensures the data has value. Impact on MSP Performance Not only are your clients handling a lot of data coming at them at once, but so are you. From client metrics to network monitoring data, it’s likely you’re experiencing data overload as well. Further, how you choose to manage and analyze that data is vital to your own service quality and growth. If you’re not monitoring performance data of your networks, your clients, and your own employees, it will be difficult to identify service shortcomings as well as potential areas for expansion. How data-driven strategies create sustainable growth   To be competitive in any business, you have to be able to see the land in front of you as well as the horizon line and beyond; that takes data. You have to have a strategy. MSPs in the startup phase are usually worried about MRR (monthly recurring revenue) whereas MSPs in the next stage are worried about filling out both sales and support teams. Businesses reaching operational maturity have other growth targets in mind like expansion of teams and services to accommodate and acquire clients. Regardless of the growth stage or your organization, data is essential to understanding where you are and what strategies will help you grow. Early stage MSPs are more likely to be focused on providing high quality services for existing clients, creating a foundation to build on. For this reason, remote monitoring and management will be the bulk of their work and the data they’ll be focused on is related to machine memory, disk space, uptime/downtime, device monitoring and security, hardware health, and network speed and reliability. Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) data will allow your organization to be proactive and deliver the services your clients need providing a strong base upon which to build. The more you can monitor here, the more you can manage. The more you can manage, the more you can grow.  Mid-stage MSPs have solid footing when it comes to RMM and are now looking at their core competencies and determining areas for growth, likely in the services they can provide. Data should be driving those strategies. Further, mid-stage MSPs are likely looking to optimize their services and cut costs so investments can be made elsewhere. While it may seem counterintuitive, some MSPs may begin to outsource or automate roles and tasks that are repeatable or aren’t their core competencies so they can save that time and money for other projects. As one of the primary goals of this stage is analyzing net margin, being able to determine where an MSP can enhance or grow services without increasing headcount is vital. And, as you guessed, that takes data. MSPs that have reached operational maturity are in no position to rest on that success. This is where MSPs must shine in the customer service department and where tools like reporting and quarterly business reviews become essential (reporting is, naturally, built on data). At this point, your MSPs services should be seamless and your role virtually invisible within your client’s organization. Further, the data you are collecting regarding your client’s network environment is where you can advise them on different or new services you offer and where you can make recommendations. The advances they make, the success they have, and any services gaps you see is where you can continue to grow. Analyzing your service metrics can help you create strategies for growth. In each stage of the growth cycle, your MSP must consistently be gathering data about your performance and your client’s performance. The data gathered informs your strategy and helps you address issues proactively, preparing you for the next stage of growth. Even if your business is built on RMM, your business is still all about the data because the data drives strategy. How your MSP can adopt a data-driven strategy for growth Data driven workplaces are more focused on goals and outcomes and are more effective at keeping teams aligned. If your current goals include strategic and scalable growth for your MSP, then tapping into the big data trend is essential. When you analyze the data available to you, you’re in a better position to hit the KPIs that help you advance to the next stage of growth. But how exactly does one adopt a data-driven strategy for your MSP? While the data that is of value to you will depend on your growth stage and the services you offer, there are really 5 key steps to developing a data-driven strategy.    1. Know your goal/mission   It’s next to impossible to build a data-driven strategy if you don’t know what data you should be looking at. More specifically, understanding the challenges your business addresses for clients and understanding what your organization’s growth goals are is fundamental in determining the next step. So the first step is hashing out what your immediate goals might be so you can develop a plan to get there. 2. Identify the data and sources you need Once you know what your goals are, you’ll want to determine what metrics you’ll need to measure to keep those on track. This is where a good business intelligence tool comes in handy. You’ll want something that will help keep you focused on the goal, but also measure the KPIs and metrics that determine your progress towards that goal. In some cases, the data you need may be coming from multiple sources and the automation of a data dashboard, which can pull from multiple sources, saves you time and allows you to quickly determine your current status.    3. Share your data It’s great if you’re collecting a lot of data on your performance internally (such as tickets opened to tickets closed ratios, average time to ticket resolution, etc.), but that data really only works for you if it’s shared with the folks on the front lines. If your service team isn’t also keeping track of the data and their metrics, it’s easy for them to lose sight of the goals as well as the weaknesses and successes. Sharing the data with them is fundamental to driving your team to success. However, you also want to be sharing the data with your customers and clients. One of the key foundations of MSP success is transparency and reporting. As noted above, the goal of many MSPs is to have their service be invisible, meaning it runs smoothly enough that the customer or client almost forgets the service is there (few tickets opened, no downtime, problems addressed proactively) and if you’re successful with that, you want to make sure you’re touting that to your clients. You’ll need to remind them what it is you do and how well you do it.    4. Analyze the data Data-driven strategies are not made on current data alone. In fact, the more data you’ve collected, the more history you have, the more valuable your data becomes and the stronger your strategies. More specifically, historical data allows you to identify patterns as well as make predictions and comparisons. For example, let’s say you have two clients who are in the same industry vertical, one new, one old. If you have been successful in helping the older client grow, you can look at the historical data, compare it to the new client and make decisions or offer advice based on that data. You not only become more useful to your client, but you also become more successful in delivering the service they want and need. Analysis is also useful internally. Historical data allows you to identify circumstances under which you struggled or were successful. When you see those situations on the horizon, utilizing the data you have at hand, you can proactively strategize to ensure your success. Data helps you learn from the past and prepare for the future. 5. Make strategic decisions The final step in the process is making your decisions based on the information you have in front of you (also much easier if it’s in digestible visual form). Often in business we can think an area is one of strong performance simply because we’re not getting feedback on it, but the data doesn’t lie. Not only is it remarkably helpful in RMM, but let’s say you get a lot of great feedback on your ticket resolution time. You might think this is a strong suit of your organization. However, you might look at the historical data and see an uptick in tickets open which may indicate a problem. Consider the service implications and customer satisfaction increases if you could proactively address the ticket issues before your clients needed to open a ticket in the first place. In short, the data drives the strategy, which better prepares your MSP to be responsive and proactive when it comes to your client needs. What we’re experiencing and what we’re hearing from our teams, our clients, and our supervisors is all valuable information, but data can help us grow bigger and faster by really helping us identify opportunities and isolate problems.   Regardless of where your MSP is in its growth cycle, whether you gather and leverage the data available to you will impact your success. Further, it can also impact the speed of your growth and how quickly your team hits targets. When you’ve got a lot of data coming at you, from a lot of sources, learning how to utilize it can be overwhelming. That’s where BrightGauge comes in. We help you gather all of the important data in one place, our data dashboards help you quickly visualize what it is you need to know, and we facilitate your sharing it with your team and clients through automated reporting. We’re no strangers to the MSP market. It’s how we got our start. If you’re ready to talk to our team about how we can help your team become the data driven machine you want and need for growth, get in touch with us today!

Top 5 Customer Success Metrics You Need to Track to Grow Your Business

We’re all familiar with the old question “If a tree falls in the woods, but no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” What this question really asks is if there’s an action, but no one monitoring it and no way to measure it (via sound), how do we know it happened? While on a philosophical front, this question asks us to look deeply at what it means to observe, but it’s also asking about metrics or measurements. How we gauge what is happening across any landscape, whether forest or business, means we have to be looking at metrics and measurements. This is especially true in the customer success sphere. Because the concept of customer success vs. customer service/support is to be proactive, it means those responsible for ensuring the success of customer initiatives must be actively monitoring customer success metrics; they must be in the forest to hear the tree fall.   Quick Links What is customer success? Why is customer success important? What customer success metrics should you be tracking? Reporting/tracking customer success KPIs How BrightGauge dashboards can help you monitor customer success   What is customer success? Customer success is a way of reframing the traditional service aspect of customer relationship management. As discussed in our blog on customer success teams, the language suggests a shift in the way businesses, particularly those that provide services, view their goals in relation to their customers' goals. In other words, rather than looking at what we can do for our clients and customers, we look at what we can do with them. By partnering our success with theirs, we ensure not only that both of our goals are achieved, but are done so through the strength and reliability of not just our service but also our relationship. Customer success means understanding that when your clients are successful, you will be too. Why is customer success important? The key to business success lies with your customers. If they’re successful, and your services help deliver those wins, they’ll stick with you. And, if you’re looking to grow your business and looking at where the revenue is (and how customer retention is less costly than acquisition) it’s in both up-selling and cross-selling to your existing customers. Additionally, happy customers are more likely to spread positive word of mouth which wins you even more business without investing marketing money. Simply put, success for your customers is success for you. That’s just the bottom line. It’s important to look beyond that as well. While all of the factors impact that bottom line, in many ways business success is connected to relationship management. There are few better ways to create lasting relationships than by investing in someone else’s success. It fosters trust and creates value for your customers. In turn, they’re more likely to be open to more services or products and more likely to recommend your business. While it all circles back around to increasing revenue and growth for your business, one cannot undervalue the connection this relationship strategy creates between you and your customers. What customer success metrics should you be tracking? If customer success is so closely tied to your own success or growth, then tracking customer success metrics is vital. As with any business data, these metrics can reveal a lot about the health of your organization and about your customer success initiatives. 1. Customer churn The first metric you’ll want to pay attention to is churn or the rate at which customers leave. While some attrition is normal, you’ll want to, first, establish whether you want to gauge this rate monthly or yearly. Then, you can determine your churn rate by dividing total customers by those who have left. Keeping an eye on this number is vital as customers who are successful, who find value in your services, don’t leave. Any uptick here, especially a significant one, merits investigation and response. 2. Expansion revenue If revenue is income, expansion revenue is the amount of that income that comes from existing customers. If you have been able to expand the goods or services they’re purchasing from you, it’s a pretty good indicator that you’re on the right track. As noted above, happy customers are amenable to up-selling and cross-selling and so this metric is a good measure of your customer’s success rate both with your services and with their goals. 3. Customer satisfaction Customer satisfaction is a metric you should be gauging through surveys as well as through qualitative measures such as conversations, reviews, and more. Numbers, like churn and revenue, are great measurements, but they don’t take the place of talking to customers to learn how they’re feeling. In fact, churn and revenue will provide the end result, but once you’ve got those numbers, it’s too late. In contrast, monitoring customer satisfaction can let you know of and respond to issues before the customer takes action, or before they leave. 4. Net Promoter Score (NPS) Especially crucial for service providers, the net promoter score reveals how likely existing customers are to suggest or recommend your service to others. NPS is fairly easy to gauge by simply asking how likely a customer is to recommend you. While asking is fairly easy, this simple score is indicative of much more. For example, businesses with higher NPS scores than competitors outgrow them by twice as much. Further, customers who report high NPS scores have an average lifetime customer value 3-8 times higher than other customers. In short, NPS is a great way to measure customer health. These customers are loyal, more likely to spend with you, and more likely to suggest your business to other potential customers. In terms of value, this can’t be beat. 5. Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)   Customer lifetime value is also a good customer success metric to be focusing on. As with other metrics, one number reveals far more. CLV estimates the value of a customer, how much they will spend, during their relationship with you. To measure customer lifetime value, you’ll want to divide the average revenue per account by customer churn rate. Once you have your CLV, you can then start gauging how much you should spend on acquisition which is an important metric to understand as well. However, in terms of customer success metrics, your CLV should be growing rather than shrinking. Growth in this number indicates that customers are staying with you longer or purchasing more services/upgrading. In contrast, if the number is shrinking, it’s time to examine whether your customer churn rate is growing as well or investigate the value of your services. Growth here suggests your customers see value in your services, enough to continue to invest.  As with customer success itself, customer success metrics require proactive monitoring. This stands in contrast to customer service which is typically responsive. When the client comes to you, you respond. Customer success, on the other hand, looks at all the metrics, from the ones listed above, to those codified on an SLA (service level agreement) and more and insists on action before the customer voices concerns. Reporting and tracking customer success metrics Now that we’ve identified the top customer success metrics you should be monitoring, it’s essential to know what you should be monitoring for. One of the advantages to using business intelligence tools is the ability to see these metrics with a visual representation, such as a gauge, but we’ll get to that in a bit. The key piece, however, is that you are both tracking and reporting these metrics to the folks who need to know. For your customers, that means you’ll need to be providing quarterly business reviews to provide information on SLA metrics such as response times and ticket times. For your team, you still need to be reporting and ensuring that the key customer success metrics are falling within your desired range. Early on, that may be based on industry standards, but as you perfect your strategies, you may want to include those metrics in longer term organizational goals. These numbers may differ based on your industry or the historical performance of your specific company, but most industry guidelines say you should consider: - A customer churn rate of no more than 5%. - Expansion revenue should be 20-30% (minimum) of your business revenue - A customer satisfaction score of 50 is average, but it really depends on your industry and, as always, aim higher. - A net promoter score again depends on industry, but 60 is average across multiple verticals. - Customer lifetime value will have to be calculated differently based on multiple business variables, but there’s a great overview here that will allow you to assess all of the factors that go into that number. Understanding the baseline and industry standards for these scores is a good place to start your tracking, but understanding how your business is performing is even more essential. That’s why using dashboards is a great way to stay on top of metrics. How BrightGauge dashboards can help you monitor customer success One of the biggest benefits of  business intelligence tools is their ability to put all the data and information you need at your fingertips. In fact, using dashboards and gauges enables you to see, on one screen, in one location, without complex coding or manually consolidating data, all the metrics you’re trying to track for different teams, initiatives, or even individual employees. BrightGauge’s tools allow you to customize your dashboards and automate reports. That means you can share your dashboard with your customer success team and regularly keep your customers informed about the services you’re providing. Remember, customer success is about providing proactive solutions and being responsive rather than reactive. If you’re ready to explore how BrightGauge’s tools can help your team embrace customer success as a strategy, get in touch with our team today!

MSPs and the 4 V’s of Big Data

With big data comes big data responsibility. Simply collecting large amounts of data isn’t helpful in and of itself. To use data to its full potential, it is vital that companies have strategies in place for collecting, storing, managing, and utilizing that data. Unfortunately, many MSPs often place too much focus on collecting data and too little on getting the most out of it.   The earliest attempt to define the essential attributes for big data management came from Gartner in the late 1990s. Their system, known as the “3V’s Framework” provided an outline for understanding and managing data assets. As time has gone on, other companies have expanded upon their framework. Today the most commonly referenced big data management attributes feature a fourth V:   Volume Velocity Variety Veracity   Every organization collects data from a range of different sources. Those sources often include transactions, content, and internal data among others. The 4 V’s provide a framework for leveraging and maintaining that data to produce superior value. Let’s take a deeper look at each of the 4 V’s and examine how MSPs can analyze them to achieve superior results.   MSPs and Data Volume When discussing big data, analysts use the term volume to describe the amount of data involved in the process when considering all the different possible data sources. Pound for pound, there are few types of companies that collect more data than MSPs. Not only do they collect a lot of internal operations data, but they are often responsible for their client's data as well.  According to IBM, 90% of today’s data has been created in the last 2 years. It’s easy to see why data volume can quickly become a serious concern. That concern isn't just for storing large amounts of data, but for accessing, managing, and effectively using that data. The volume of data a business produces on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis can be overwhelming. Not only does your team need to manage traditional data points, like tickets opened, employee time, and sales deals closed, you may also need to keep track of and monitor any data created by social media networks. Additionally, considering any historical data you may have on hand, curating information from employee reports, customer logs, and other sources gives your team a long term look at trends and patterns. Having more data sources to analyze allows you to explore and create a bigger picture but challenges your team to create and manage both a storage system for this information and a user-friendly system for analyzing and explaining these data points.     MSPs and Data Velocity The term velocity is used to describe the rate at which data is processed and the pace at which the data flows from the customer or consumer to the management team. With the widespread use of computers and the introduction of mobile technology like tablets and smartphones, the flow of data can be overwhelming. In addition to traditional means of interaction, like phone calls, surveys, and emails, customers and clients are leveraging the power of social media in order to be heard, creating an almost continuous stream of data. MSPs in particular often deal with rapid influxes of data, and it can be overwhelming if you don’t have a system that allows you to store, categorize, and filter incoming data on a real-time basis. Being able to filter out some of the “noise” and focus on the information that helps you streamline your decision making process is critical in order to identify potential problems, and implement solutions and alternatives well in advance.     MSPs and Data Variety In the context of big data, variety is used to describe both the different types of data as well as the different sources it comes from. Management analysts and experts often tout that businesses “can’t manage what they can’t measure”, meaning that you can only be accountable for the data and processes that are available to you at any given time.  With the influx of new data provided by social media and mobile technology as well as traditional data generated by your clients and customers, the sheer variety of your data can cloud your management picture. There are two varieties of data that businesses collect:   Structured data: refers to data types that have a meta model for storing and filtering results. Structured data includes things like bank statements, transaction logs, and usage logs.   Unstructured data: refers to data that does not have a consistent meta model and could include examples such as social media updates, web pages, and web logs. Unstructured data is the largest driver of rapid growth in data collection.   The best way to address data variety is to streamline your information into one singular view so that your managers have a clearer picture of what’s happening with any client or customer.     MSPs and Data Veracity Data veracity refers to the trustworthiness of the data collected. Companies with high-volume data operations are more likely to suffer from low-quality data. In turn, business decisions made based on bad data are unlikely to result in the desired outcome. On a big-picture scale, it is estimated that poor data quality costs the US economy up to $3.1 trillion every year. Translated to the MSP industry, high data volume and variety are commonplace, and because of that occasional data abnormalities are unavoidable. The most important thing to remember about veracity at your MSP is to take the time to clean up incoming data and filter out that of poor quality. Maintaining clean, reliable data is critical for the health of your business since your data is the foundation of your decision-making process.   How to master the 4 V’s of Big Data There is a lot to consider when attempting to improve your data operations. The 4 V’s - volume, velocity, variety, and veracity, encompass the most critical demands of effective, data-driven decision making. Learn more about how to successfully manage big data using BrightGauge in our free white paper:    

Dashboard of the Month: Service Operations Management

If you watched our June User Showcase webinar, Increasing Productivity Through Transparency Across Your Team, then you are familiar with Mark Wright, VP of Automation, at I.T.Works!   During the webinar, Mark showed how he and his team use BrightGauge to share and track data across multiple teams with the goal of boosting operational efficiency.    Inspired by that content, we're sharing this month's dashboard: Service Operations Management.    Mark's Service Operations Manager uses this dashboard which provides a high-level overview of their service team's productivity and their clients' happiness rating for the last 30 days.    Service Operations Management Dashboard - view here   The key performance indicators (KPIs) monitored using this dashboard include: Managed endpoints supported Tickets per endpoints Hours per endpoint Ticket escalation ratio SLA adherence   With this dashboard, a Service Operations Manager has a quick way to spot problems, trends, and any automation needs and is able to see the top ticket closers for the month.   If you want to recreate and customize this dashboard for yourself, check out the links below: Service Operations Management Dashboard (public view link) Service Operations Management Dashboard Buildout Key   Thank you, Mark, for sharing your valuable insights!   Make sure to visit our library of more report and dashboard templates and please feel free to reach out to with any questions!

8 Dashboard Report Best Practices to Successfully Leverage Data

Most of us would love to find more time in our workdays, but short of adding on more time at the end of the day, it’s pretty difficult to do so. When it comes to making sure we’re monitoring the important metrics and KPIs that leadership and clients care about, managing our teams to make sure we hit those marks, and reporting to everyone who needs the data, a good chunk of our workday is likely already gone. When you factor in emails, meetings, and casual conversations around the office, it’s easy to understand why many of us are clocking out later and later. While we’ve all got to work with the 24 hours we have, there are ways to free up time to focus on revenue generating tasks. By automating parts of your business that already run like a well-oiled machine, you can buy some of your own time back and move forward with growth opportunities. This can help your business develop a valuable competitive advantage. And, if you’re looking for a solution that helps you with all those tasks and can help you realize those goals, then let’s talk dashboards. Quick Links What are dashboard reports? What is the purpose of dashboard reporting? Choosing the right KPIs for your dashboard 8 best practices for your dashboard management Dashboard reporting with BrightGauge   What are dashboard reports? In short, dashboards provide data visualization. They present information regarding metrics or KPIs as gauges, graphs, or charts, so that those who need the information can take one quick glance at a single screen rather than creating spreadsheets based on data gathered from multiple sources. Because visual data is usually more quickly and easily interpreted, dashboards are an essential tool to monitoring and tracking data for your business. Dashboard reporting enables you to gather essential data from those dashboards and forward reports on to the teams or individuals who need to be kept up-to-date. Further, with some tools, you can even automate those reports which become a valuable asset in customer/client communication and transparency, thereby strengthening those relationships.  What is the purpose of dashboard reporting? Dashboard reporting allows you to track and take action on metrics and data that are imperative to your company’s bottom line and your customer’s success.    We’ve heard from MSPs who spend too much time each week compiling their data into meaningful reports —sometimes, upwards of 8-10 hours per week. That’s one entire workday of logging into multiple accounts, toggling between windows, pulling data into an Excel spreadsheet, and analyzing that data to find any compelling trends or indicators that drive your decisions. Sound familiar? We thought it might. The good news? There’s a different way to do things.   With dashboard reporting, the process of gathering data is automated, making it an easy and efficient way to buy back a big chunk of time.    Perhaps an even stronger argument for dashboard reporting is the effect it can have on internal and external relationships.    As briefly mentioned above, long-term, trustworthy relationships that result in employee loyalty and repeat business stem from being honest, unbiased, and transparent. Transparency means being open about the reality of your situation, whether it’s good or bad. When you act as an open book and report on actual data, you establish both credibility and reliability, especially when those reports are delivered consistently and on a regular schedule.   A dashboard report is also a professional and easily digestible way to show a clear snapshot of your business.    Let’s say your MSP is responsible for your client’s 25 endpoints. Every week, you may share with your client a dashboard report that shows the patch status of each endpoint, which machines are set to expire soon, and how many threats you mitigated in the previous week. This is an excellent way to prove your value as a partner while keeping your client looped in on their investments. Further, it’s also a great way to allow your team to track the same metrics and goals. Then, when it comes time for employee and team evaluations, everyone’s on the same page regarding where improvements are possible.   Other dashboard reporting examples are: A sales dashboard showing your team’s active and won opportunities A support dashboard reporting on ticket statistics such as open tickets and time to resolution A customer satisfaction dashboard telling your clients how others are rating you A finance dashboard providing a quick look at the health and profitability of your company And so on.    Regardless of the metrics chosen for a dashboard report, its purpose will always lie in allowing you to focus on priorities while strengthening the basis of your client and team relationships. This means dashboard reporting can add value to any business—no matter your location, size, or industry.  What makes a good KPI dashboard? Understanding why to use dashboard reporting is only the first step. Next, determining which KPIs are the right ones to make your dashboard a strong one. This will vary by department and by the overall goals of your company or your client, but there are some consistencies across the board.    For effective dashboard reporting, quality reigns over quantity. With a dashboard, you have one screen to paint your picture. Anyone looking at that screen should be able to quickly and easily digest the vital information. Overloading your dashboard with unnecessary gauges or graphs muddies the message and can lead to confusion about what’s really important.    You really want to prioritize the right KPIs for your dashboard report. More specifically, choose the ones that tell your data story in the most compelling way. What are the most meaningful KPIs to your bottom line? What would the person receiving the report want to see?    Business right now is data obsessed and, no doubt, data is key to so many business decisions and strategies. However, it’s easy to get attached to data and feel like it’s all important, especially when you’re trying to prove your value to your clients, but less is more! Focusing in on just a handful of essential KPIs will make your dashboard reporting more impactful.   KPIs should align with overall company goals and serve as a north star. Not only does reporting on those KPIs help guide a company towards success, but it gets everyone in the organization on the same page. Different teams have their own goals to work towards, but everyone’s ultimate mission is to see the organization succeed, and KPIs are a clear way to unify everybody. Similarly, these reports can work to do the same thing for your clients. Simplifying their jobs and streamlining their ability to communicate to their leadership how your service is helping to achieve their goals can be incredibly valuable.   In general, all businesses are looking to evaluate performance in the areas of finance, customers, sales, marketing, operations, and within their own internal teams. Knowing this, your dashboard reports will likely have a healthy mix of KPIs from those business segments.    Here are some KPI examples to include in dashboards:   Finance Debt-to-Asset Ratio Return on Investment (ROI) Net Profit Margin   Customers Customer Satisfaction Net Promoter Score   Sales Monthly Recurring Revenue Age of Opportunity Quote to Close   Marketing Cost Per Lead Market Growth Rate Conversion Rate   Operations Effective Hourly Rate Service Level Agreements (SLAs) Time to Resolution   Internal Teams Revenue Per Employee Employee Churn Rate Employee Satisfaction 8 best practices for dashboard management Regardless of the type of dashboard reports you’re producing, here are 8 best practices to ensure you’re staying organized, productive, and efficient:   Make sure your data is relevant. Who is receiving your dashboard report or viewing your dashboard? Display only those metrics that make the most sense for those recipients. And, if you categorize your dashboards by recipient, team or topic, don’t include any metrics that may seem out of place or irrelevant.  Use strategic metrics. Be strategic in what you choose (quality over quantity) and make sure the metrics you’re tracking align with your strategy for success. Look for and use compelling data that influences business decisions in a positive way. For clients of your MSP, you’ll likely want to report on service level agreement (SLA) KPIs. For your team, you’ll likely want to report on team or organizational goals. Set yourself and your customers up for success.  Choose measurable metrics. Ever heard of SMART goals? SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. By creating SMART goals, you can effectively measure your performance against benchmarks you’ve set so that you objectively know whether you’re on track. While it’s worth considering both qualitative and quantitative metrics,  it’s more important to remember that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.  Keep your dashboards clean. Do yourself a favor and stay organized. Just like cluttered workspaces can be detrimental to your productivity, so can a cluttered dashboard. If looking at your dashboards causes you any sort of anxiety, your recipients are probably feeling the same. Choose the fewest metrics needed to completely tell your story and you should be in a good place.   Track data you can take action on. Data is awesome and powerful, but it can only take you so far. What you choose to do with that data is what really matters. Focus on data that can influence your processes, hiring decisions, SLAs, annual goals, and so on. If you have a piece of data as an FYI, but can’t really act upon it, ask yourself if it’s worth tracking. The goal of businesses isn’t to just collect data, but to make data driven decisions. Take the ‘at-a-glance’ test. Once you’ve got your dashboard reporting template in place, take a quick glance and see what you’re able to glean from it in those couple minutes. Are you visually representing your data in a way that’s easy to digest? Are you using colors, bar graphs, gauges, and pie charts that get the message across pretty quickly and clearly? Avoid lots of text and numbers and use graphics when possible. Group your metrics into a nice grid. People like symmetry and organization and tend to gravitate towards clean lines that bring a sense of calm. Organize your dashboards as such. Different dashboard reporting tools allow you to modify and resize your buckets to your liking so that your dashboard is designed to your taste. Group relevant metrics together (like tickets closed beside tickets opened) so that your dashboard report is easy to read.  Use dashboard filters. BrightGauge is a dashboard reporting tool that allows you to add dashboard filters to your reports. This can save you a ton of time. For example, a service desk manager who wants to send a report to each individual technician, specific to their projects, can create one dashboard reporting template and then create a dashboard filter that only returns data specific to that individual (so, Rick’s dashboard, Alex’s dashboard, Sam’s dashboard, etc.). In BrightGauge, you’d simply toggle on the dashboard filter for the individual you’re looking for and that’s it.  Dashboard Reporting with BrightGauge There are different dashboard reporting tools out there that can help you create meaningful reports. Whichever you use, remember to employ these dashboard reporting best practices so you can make the most out of the data you’re tracking. While these tools can’t put hours on the clock, they can put hours back in your day.   Whether you’re looking at making remote work a regular option, have team members in multiple locations, or offer your MSP services to a wide variety of customers, dashboard reports can help your entire organization stay on top of teams and client-partner relationships.    To learn more about how BrightGauge can help you make faster, stronger, more informed decisions based on data, get in touch with us today. 

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