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The BrightGauge Blog

7 Things To Consider When Choosing a Dashboard Software

How many software programs do you use a day? From Gmail and Microsoft suites to media players, we’re all pretty much hooked on them. Most of what we do requires some type of program. It’s just a part ...
How many software programs do you use a day? From Gmail and Microsoft suites to media players, we’re all pretty much hooked on them. Most of what we do requires some type of program. It’s just a part of life. The status quo. C’est la vie. So naturally, it makes sense that we also use software for everything at work. And something that goes hand-in-hand with all these technologies is analytics dashboards. They are the starting point of any business’ roadmap for profitability and growth. When it comes to dashboard software, you know that in theory, they are supposed to lead to sound decision making. But which factors should you consider to make sure you’re purchasing the right one? Quick Links What Are Dashboard Platforms? Why Are Dashboards Important for Your Business? Benefits of Dashboard Software 7 Things to Consider When Choosing a Dashboard Software for Your Business Choosing the Right Dashboard Tools What Are Dashboard Platforms? Dashboards provide snapshots of business intelligence — such as key performance indicators and metrics — all in one centralized location. They are often updated in real time and can be customized to take into account several factors: The subject matter you’re tracking All related information Displayed by relevance Your preferred method of reading data (line graphs, pie charts, etc…) Why Are Dashboards Important for Your Business? Dashboards are important because they allow users to examine the performance of their business at a glance — all on one single screen. They’re also displayed in easy-to-understand ways. Being able to do so can help you: Identify whether you’re on track to hit your targets Identify any anomalies in your processes Identify risks Monitor day-to-day activities Ensure everyone’s on the same page Benefits of Dashboard Software Once you make it a standard business practice to study dashboards, you’ll soon discover many advantages: Easy to Read Effective dashboards are visually appealing and easy to read, regardless of whether you have any experience as a data analyst. This way, you can get to work as soon as you identify any issues instead of spending an eternity trying to figure out what it all means. Transparency Dashboards let you see exactly what’s going on in a particular area of business. Numbers don’t lie, and seeing them right in front of you lets you and your team know whether there are any issues and work on ways to resolve them. Identify Trends By looking at analytics on older dashboards, you can notice historical trends, which you can then compare with the current ones. You can also notice customer hurdles, such as when website visitors tend to leave when they reach a specific page, or a decrease in sales during a specific time of the year. This is crucial to improve on such deficiencies. Business Monitoring You can build a dashboard to monitor process efficiencies, team productivity, inventory, sales, or anything else that’s relevant to your business. Need to hit daily targets? Ensure that a certain number of tasks are completed? Check on your team’s workload capacity? All of this becomes easily identifiable with the right dashboard. Optimize Performance Once you’ve identified what’s not working, you’ll know exactly how to move forward to fix it. Even if you have to do A/B testing on your marketing campaigns, hire more people, or ramp up your cybersecurity, these trial-and-error actions are still pushing you towards finding something that works. 7 Things to Consider When Choosing a Dashboard Software for Your Business Ok. So dashboard software is extremely useful. But they’re not all created equal. When deciding on which one to purchase, consider the following factors: 1. Integrations Nothing in any business works in silos, so the ability to integrate with other tools you currently use is essential in finding the right one. BrightGauge dashboards integrate with 40+ tools that you're already using. We are also part of the ConnectWise family, and BrightGauge integrates with some of its most popular tools used by managed service providers (MSPs), such as Manage, Automate, and Sell. 2. Understands Human Cognition There’s only so much data the brain can process at once — and it does so most effectively with images. While this is why dashboards are the most effective way of communicating data, you still want to ensure you have visuals with a simple structure. At the end of the day, most people have the capacity to remember 5-9 things at the same time. 3. Customization Not everyone reads data the same way. You want software that allows you to choose how to view information. For example, clients may prefer various visualization formats, like graphs, charts, and boards. You also want features that allow you to adjust sizes, fonts, colors, and styles, and provide the option to deliver content in a way that matches a user’s job role. This way, each person can only access the data that is most relevant to their responsibilities. 4. Collaboration Some dashboards limit the number of users who can access it — or the number of people who can work on it simultaneously. Depending on your specific needs, you’ll want to verify whether a software enables multiple departments to work together, or if you’ll have the ability to share the data with external users 5. User Experience User experience (UX) is crucial with any type of software. Your dashboards should be easy to navigate and offer clear data visualization. Another important feature to look for is the ability to choose to show only the most relevant data points specific to different end users. And finally, you want a dashboard that explains what data means — whether by labeling or verbal descriptions. 6. Automated Refreshing If you’re creating operational dashboards or displaying any other information that’s time-sensitive, you want to see information displayed in real time or in near real time. This is where automated or scheduled refreshing can help streamline your reporting – no more manual updates and long waiting periods to collect your data. Simply set a schedule to refresh your dashboard at specific intervals. For example, if you have a weekly sales meeting every Friday afternoon, schedule automated refreshing for Friday mornings. 7. Automated Reports Sometimes, you have to wait a long time before you’re able to compile all of your data and start looking for trends. This is tedious and extremely time-consuming. Therefore, you want to look for software that automatically gauges daily, weekly, or monthly pictures of your metrics; then lay them side by side. This allows you to identify noteworthy patterns much sooner. Choosing the Right Dashboard Tools Creating effective dashboards doesn’t have to be as time consuming as it sounds. With the right tools, like BrightGauge, you get powerful reports out to your clients whenever you want. Some of our partners have reported that our tools have saved them 8-10 hours per week, which is time they can now spend focusing on revenue-generating tasks — or on doing some fun stuff with their loved ones after a long day at work. For an in-depth look at the BrightGauge dashboard technologies and other features, please contact us so we can set you up with a live demo.

5 Things To Consider When Designing Client Facing Dashboards (+ Best Practices)

Clients are the bloodline of your business. You exist because of them. Your team works because of them. You set quarterly goals because of them. However, this doesn’t mean that they fully know everything that goes on behind the scenes at your company. And, while they may not need to know everything, they do need to know what’s going on with their account. This is where client facing dashboards come in really handy. So sit back and read about best practices for these types of dashboards, ‘cause it’ll make the process a lot easier for everyone involved. Quick Links What Is a Client Facing Dashboard? Why Are Client Dashboards Important? Dashboard Design Best Practices (+Examples) 5 Things to Consider When Creating Client Facing Dashboards Choosing the Right Dashboard Tools What Is a Client Facing Dashboard? As the name states, a client facing dashboard is an online document with business intelligence in which you add your B2B client as a viewer. They can then create an account with their own login credentials. However, they will only have access to see the information that’s displayed. They typically don’t have any additional permissions. Why Are Client Dashboards Important? Client facing dashboards are important because communication is crucial to build long-lasting relationships with your clients. Not only do they foster transparency, they also showcase elements of your work that they may not have been familiar with — yet are necessary for them to conduct their business. Specific examples of what you can use these dashboards for include: Marketing campaign performance Project timelines Cybersecurity trends and risks Depending on the purpose of the dashboard, they may also make it a lot easier for your team to handle their workload, since customers would be able to log in to check data instead of having to regularly call in. This is the kind of interaction that provides tangible value and turns existing clients into repeat customers. Dashboard Design Best Practices (+ Examples) Ok. So client dashboards aren’t really the eighth world wonder — but they can be if you are mindful of industry best practices. 1. Keep It Simple The single biggest piece of advice that we give to clients when setting up their BrightGauge dashboard is to keep it simple. While it might be tempting to load every important metric into a dashboard, it is best to focus on only the most essential information. We advocate for a 5-second snapshot rule. At a glance, your BrightGauge dashboard should let you know where attention is needed in 5-seconds or less. By placing only the most important and relevant gauges on one dashboard, you’ll quickly have a better understanding of where you stand. However, keeping it simple doesn’t mean you need access to less data. There are likely many data points that you need to analyze to gain a complete picture. When you need more data, you can use the rotate feature to view additional gauges that are relevant to your dashboard. Remember, you are never limited to a single dashboard, so try to group metrics with each other based on relevance. 2. Keep the Viewer in Mind When deciding which gauges to include on your dashboard, consider who will be using the dashboard most often. What role does this dashboard viewer cover? What metrics will they need to do their job? Which metrics won’t be needed so often? Work directly with your teams to determine which metrics they access most in their daily work, and include those gauges on your main dashboard for that specific role. As for deciding the number of gauges to include on a dashboard, we recommend choosing seven. Why seven specifically? We call all the way back to a study from the 1950s that showed that seven objects was the average capacity for the brain's working memory. Providing more metrics might provide more information initially, but will they retain that information? Don’t overwhelm your teams with a page full of numbers. Instead, focus on keeping relevant information together and try not to exceed seven gauges on any single dashboard. 3. Choose the Right Gauge At BrightGauge, we know each of our users are unique, with different likes and preferred styles. For that reason, we offer several different gauges (e.g. charts or diagrams) to choose from. The gauge style that you choose should be influenced by the metric that the gauge will be displaying. Remember that certain gauge styles lend themselves well to certain types of metrics. For example, here's a look at the same Server Patch Status data, but shown as a pie chart, bar chart, and a table: Choosing the wrong display style can misrepresent the data in the eyes of the viewer. Consider what you want to learn from each specific metric. For instance, a pie chart wouldn’t be a wise choice for comparing daily support ticket metrics among dozens of service reps as it would be jumbled and difficult to read. Selecting the right gauge type is important for interpreting and analyzing data, but if you pick a style now and decide to change it later, you can easily update your choice with a couple of clicks. 4. Design Logically The English language and most other modern languages read from left to right. Most of us have been reading from left to right since we started elementary school. Our brains are wired to seek out information in that way. You can see this concept reflected in eye-tracking studies, where “F” patterns seem to dominate digital reading patterns. Most people will read through digital information the same way that they would a book — from left to right, all the way down the page. So, design your dashboard with these things in mind. Put the metric that you would like to read first at the top, left-hand side of your dashboard. Place other metrics in order of importance from left to right, moving down the page. 5. Review Regularly The beauty of a BrightGauge dashboard is that nothing is ever set in stone. You can change the layout of any dashboard at any time. Are you finding that you are not paying much attention to a specific gauge? Remove it and replace it with a more useful one. Have your metrics priorities changed? Shuffle your gauges around to reflect your most important metrics. Every few months, you should re-evaluate your current gauge layout and determine if it’s in line with your priorities. Don’t be afraid to try out new things! If you find that a decision isn’t working for you, you can always revert to your previous design. 5 Things to Consider When Creating Client Facing Dashboards So now that we’ve gone over some examples, there are a few other things you want to take into account when creating client facing dashboards: 1. Your Audience Who’s reviewing the dashboards? Because they will look very different if you’re preparing them for a data analyst or for a stakeholder. Make it as easy as possible for them to navigate and understand the information; and only go into details if their job role requires them to be aware of additional information. 2. Customization Always ask your clients about their preferences. What do they want to see first? What type of chart or graph makes it easier for them to understand data? What’s their preferred layout? Do they want specific colors in the dashboard legends? The customer is the star. Build the dashboard around them. 3. Interactive Elements While static reporting can be useful, interactive features can be more efficient, since they can allow users to do actions such as filter, compare, link data from spreadsheets, and see real-time updates. This makes it a lot easier for customers to fully visualize data within context. It also saves them the time it would take to update everything manually. 4. Which KPIs to Track Include the most critical data points to achieve your client’s goals. This will vary depending on the type of dashboard you’re creating. For example, if your customer wants to track their sales cycles, KPIs to include may be the number of leads in the pipeline, cycle length, customer acquisition costs, and revenue. Don’t go too crazy throwing in everything and the sink. You can always create additional dashboards if the main subject branches too much. 5. Integrations Every single one of your customers is already using different softwares to help them run their business. Use dashboards that integrate well with the tools they’re already using. Let’s take this moment to point out that BrightGauge dashboards integrate with over 40 software platforms and it’s part of the ConnectWise ecosystem. Choosing the Right Dashboard Tools Creating effective dashboards doesn’t have to be as time consuming as it sounds. With the right tools, like BrightGauge, you get powerful reports out to your clients whenever you want. Some of our partners have reported that our tools have saved them 8-10 hours per week, which is time they can now spend focusing on revenue-generating tasks — or on doing some fun stuff with their loved ones after a long day at work. For an in-depth look at the BrightGauge dashboard technologies and other features, please contact us so we can set you up with a live demo.

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Dashboard of the Month: Financial Overview

This month, we are teaming up once again with Kevin Nincehelser, the Chief Operating Officer at Premier One. Back in August, Kevin shared the MSP Overview Dashboard he uses to share high-level KPIs and data with his executive team. Now, we are sharing the Financial Overview dashboard inspired by the August User Showcase Webinar: Building Key Financial Metrics that Impact your Bottom Line. This dashboard is intended for the executive-level team. It highlights net and gross profit tracking, MRR, P&L Performance, and a 'turning point' gauge that shows when they've hit their breaking even point for the year. Financial Overview Dashboard - view here The Financial Overview Dashboard helps the executive team make data-driven decisions around: Staffing Cash-in-hand at any given time Gauging where income and expenses are coming from Understanding which business lines are most profitable Where investments should be made Shifting focus to areas that will improve the business The Premier One team also uses BrightGauge progress gauges to set and track goals and targets throughout the year. Kevin is co-host of the Tech Exec podcast, where he shares business insights and guidance for leaders in the technology space. We're always happy to hear what he has to say! If you want to recreate and customize this dashboard for your team, check out the links below: Financial Overview Dashboard (public view link) Financial Overview Dashboard Buildout Key Make sure to visit our library of more report and dashboard templates and please feel free to reach out to with any questions!

10 Metrics MSPs Need to Monitor to Grow in the New Digital Workplace

There are many components to building a successful business. You need funding, cash flow, talent, and a target market that’s willing and able to jump onboard. However, in addition to these traditional factors, businesses today should also be tracking key performance indicators (KPIs). You know that. We know that. Everyone knows that. In theory. But in practice, the process can be confusing and overwhelming. Every industry is different, so what works for one may not be as relevant to another. Specifically for managed IT services, one of the main focuses should be on ticket resolution. Yet, with so many services within that umbrella term, the concept needs to be defined more clearly. This has become even more pressing as workplaces evolve — digitization, collaboration, and remote work spaces have all had a significant impact on how work gets done. And it is within this context that you should prioritize your KPIs. Quick Links What Are Traditional KPIs? What Are KPIs Within Managed IT Services? Why the KPIs You Track Might Change How To Measure KPIs in a More Efficient Way Managed Service Provider KPIs You Should Monitor Additional MSP Metrics to Track Manage Your KPIs With BrightGauge's Data Dashboards What Are Traditional KPIs? You can’t manage what you can’t measure. And if you want your business to succeed, you need to find a way to track the progress of your operations. This is where key performance indicators (KPIs) come in. Traditional KPIs include items such as customer acquisition costs, revenue per client, customer lifetime value (CLV), and client retention. You then take this information to make informed decisions regarding all of your business strategies. If your numbers are satisfactory, you know that what you’re currently doing is working. If they are lower than you would like, you need to reassess your processes — which could be sales, marketing, or customer service, to name a few. What Are KPIs Within Managed IT Services? Within the managed information technology industry, it’s even more important to stay ahead of the curve with innovation. Tracking the right KPIs will help you run your operations more efficiently by providing you with valuable insights. Yet, it is entirely possible to write an entire volume as thick as a Leo Tolstoy novel with potential metrics, so knowing which ones to include on our dashboard right now is the first step to moving your MSPs in the right direction. Why the KPIs You Track Might Change There are many components that make a business successful. While it’s good to track the progress of every department, it’s not practical to track everything at the same time. For example, when you first open your business (or when you do a rebrand), you want to know how many new customers are coming in. So you focus all your efforts on lead generation, scheduled sales calls, and conversions. However, if you already have a healthy sales pipeline, you may want to shift focus to retaining existing clients. After all, customer satisfaction breeds brand loyalty and a higher number of referrals. It’s also less expensive to retain existing customers than to gain new ones. So while you still want your sales team to continue doing what they’re doing, customer experience KPIs become your priority. By the same token, maybe you’re doing well in both new sales and client retention, but you are wondering whether it’s time to expand your team. Within this context, you’ll then want to track their performance to see whether they have the capacity to accommodate new business, or if it’s time to hire additional staff. You’ll also want to revisit KPIs if you’re suddenly offering new services or ways for customers to communicate with you. If you used to only offer customer service by phone and now provide email and live chat support, you want to see how these new resources are performing to determine whether they are worth the investment. Context is everything, and the KPIs you should prioritize will depend on what’s going on in your business. How to Measure KPIs in a More Efficient Way While everyone can agree that tracking key performance indicators is essential, it’s also a well-known truth that the process can be time consuming and tedious. Since there are so many metrics to track, and so many tools to do so, many workers are familiar with having to work long hours extracting information from multiple sources and manually entering them into a centralized location. Fortunately, it’s the 21st century, so you have solutions for that. With the right platform, you’ll be able to integrate all your existing tools and keep all of your data in one place. This includes information sourced from PSA, RMM, financial, and other software. Some of them make the process as easy as possible for you by including features such as: Templates Unlimited dashboards and reports Unlimited viewer licenses Performance alerts Automatically capturing preset numbers for easier recordkeeping and comparisons In addition to internal dashboards, you can also create public ones so that you can show to prospective customers/partners your ticket response times, customer satisfaction score (CSAT), or any other metric that can assist with sales. Managed Service Provider KPIs You Should Monitor First and foremost, you want analytics that will maximize your profits. At the end of the day, that’s the reason you’re in business (Yeah, yeah, you also love to help people, but in order to do so, you need a sustainable business model). When customizing your dashboard, keep in mind the following metrics: 1. SLA Response Times This is extremely helpful not only to provide optimized customer service, but to also determine whether you can regularly deliver on your promises. This should always be a priority, as it affects your business’ reputation. In addition, depending on the terms of your service level agreements, your company may have to reimburse partners for services not provided — which affects your profitability. 2. Average Response Time As you’ll see from most of the items on this list, a common denominator for many KPIs is providing optimal customer service. Tracking how fast your technicians respond to a problem can help you identify trends — such as repeated calls regarding a particular issue — so that you can better train your technicians to resolve them faster. 3. First Contact Resolution Rates If you want happy customers, you need to resolve their issues as fast and efficiently as possible. If you start noticing that your first contact resolution rate is low, it’s time to provide your team with additional training and resources. You should also prioritize establishing — or expanding — an easily accessible knowledge base for your technicians. 4. Outstanding Tickets Finding out that you have a high volume of outstanding tickets month after month could be an indication that you need to automate some services, hire more technicians, or establish more efficient processes. 5 Cost Per Ticket You can determine the cost per ticket by adding up the number of tickets per month, then dividing them by the costs of running the service team (overhead, software, salaries, and any other relevant cost). 6. Reopened Tickets Ideally, you’ll want each ticket to be resolved and closed for good — and so do your customers. A good way to gauge your team’s performance is to track the number of reopened tickets per employee. If one or two of them are repeat offenders, it’s time to speak with them to determine the root cause. But if you see it occurring regularly across the board, it’s time to invest in additional training and certifications. 7. Contract Renewal Rates If a significant number of your partners are renewing MSP contracts, it means that (a) you’re doing customer service right, and (b) you’ll have to invest less on acquiring new customers (since the cost of retaining existing ones is lower). To calculate your contract renewal rate, add up the number of contracts that were up for renewal and divide them by the number of actual renewals. 8. Projects Resolved Within Budget Every project requires expenses. You take into account the actual costs, plus a little bit extra for a margin of error. You should then track how they are resolved to determine if they are within your established targets. Finding out that they regularly require going over budget is an indication that you have to address underlying problems, such as requiring updated software, automating tasks, or additional training for your techs. 9. Employee Turnover Rate This is a big one. Happy employees rarely leave their place of employment. And while someone who genuinely dislikes being an MSP technician is better off walking out the door, you do want to ensure you are incentivizing your team to stay and grow within your company. This is crucial, given that talent in the IT field can be hard to find, and that you incur additional costs every time you have to hire someone new. 10. Technicians’ Performance Tracking each team member’s performance requires more than one metric. However, this can be easily accomplished by setting up individual technician dashboards. By doing so, you’ll see areas that may need additional attention — such as those with a higher volume thanks to the increasing remote workforce, such as cloud-based services and securing networks. Additional MSP Metrics to Track The KPIs listed above are a starting point to ensure you are providing the best possible managed IT services. However, there may be additional metrics that are relevant to what’s most important to achieve your own specific business goals. This often entails keeping track of financial analytics, including: Service gross margins Customers lifetime value EBITDA margins Cash flow Accounts receivable Overhead costs Labor costs Profits Manage Your KPIs 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.

How To Help Your Employees Set and Track Individual Goals to Drive Results

One of the most important things to think about when embarking in a career is: what are your goals? After all, these will always serve as a compass to move towards something better. There’s no joy in showing up to work just for a paycheck. While compensation is certainly necessary, most people need more than that to keep them showing up long-term. So what can you do to help your employees set and track individual goals? Do personal and professional goals ever overlap? And what’s the best way to keep tabs on their progress on their way to achieving them? Quick Links: What is Goal Setting? Why Does Goal Setting Matter? What is the Difference Between Personal Goals and Professional Goals? How Do Personal and Professional Goals Overlap? How To Help Your Team Set Goals How To Help Your Team Track Goals Achieve Your Goals Faster with BrightGauge's Data Dashboards What Is Goal Setting? Goal setting is a way to take an abstract concept and create a blueprint for an action plan. It’s a way to motivate and guide a person to deliberately work towards something. But not all goal setting is created equal. Even within this process, there are different types of goal setting: 1. Outcome Goals This is the big kahuna of goals; the end point of what you wish to accomplish. For example, signing up for a marathon means that you’re going to run 26.2 miles. So crossing that finish line is the outcome. Maybe you want to go even more hardcore and say that you’re going to run it in less than four hours. But you can’t just show up and run it. Although this is the end goal, there are steps involved to getting there, which brings us to performance and process goals. 2. Performance Goals To achieve the outcome goal, you will have to break it down into measurable steps. For example, first train for a 5K, then for a 10K, then for a half marathon. You may either choose to simply cross each of them off the list, or set time goals for them. Either way, as you accomplish them, each performance builds upon the previous one. As you do so, you keep riding the wave of momentum towards the next marker, until you’re ready to tackle that marathon. 3. Process Goals Process goals give you even more details of the path to follow. This is done by establishing the processes to get to the performance goals, and then to the outcome goals. For example, this could include running x number of miles a day, alternated between strength training days. Maybe hire a coach. Get informed on optimal nutrition. These processes give you something tangible to focus on every single day you show up to train. As you can see, setting goals provides motivation, while establishing processes and milestones helps you keep your eye on the prize. It’s also important to set up what are known as SMART goals. The acronym stands for: Specific In order to have something to move forward to, you need to define what it is that you wish to accomplish. It’s not the same thing to say: “I want the company to make more money,” than to say “I want to increase profits by 30% by the end of the year.” Measurable Once you have a goal set in place, you want to establish parameters to track your progress. Going back to the 30% increase in revenue, you can split it into how much more you should be making each quarter, which can be further broken down into how many more clients you are signing up every month. Attainable You have to be realistic about your goals. If you have been increasing your annual sales gradually and the trends show 30% to be a realistic number, go for it. But if the trends reflect 30% to be achievable, don’t try to raise the stakes by declaring that you want to double your sales. That will only set you up for disappointment. Relevant If you want to get more clients — or more upsell/cross sell opportunities — it behooves you to invest time and resources into accomplishing that. Now is not the time to look for a bigger office location, focus your energies on your influencer side gig, or organize your days around something that has nothing to do with your main goal of increasing sales by 30%. Time-Bound Always give yourself a deadline. Otherwise, it becomes way too easy to keep pushing things back to accommodate procrastination. Establishing a specific date by which to accomplish your goals also lets you organize the smaller steps accordingly and keep your team motivated. Why Does Goal Setting Matter? No matter the job setting, it’s crucial for employees to feel like what they’re doing actually matters. It’s good to know that all of their efforts are contributing to the employer’s goals — whether they’re weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Knowing that they’re helping move the needle forward gives them a sense of purpose. In a more micro sense, the benefits of setting goals at work include: Knowing where to place one’s focus and what to prioritize Having a roadmap from which to track progress Gaining momentum as individual tasks are completed Experiencing a sense of accomplishment with every milestone met Providing additional motivation Providing a means to keep everyone on the team accountable What Is the Difference Between Personal Goals and Professional Goals? Professional goals have to do with your career. They include both short and long term objectives. And while it may be tempting to think that it all relates to what makes you the most money, in reality, compensation is one of many factors that come into play to make a person feel accomplished — health benefits, 401(k), stock options, room for upward mobility, skills learned, continuing education, tuition reimbursement, paid time off, sick leave, paid parental leave, etc. Personal goals involve what you wish to accomplish within your lifestyle: Sleep more, register for a CrossFit competition, read more books, spend more time with family, finally write that novel, and learn how to cook a gourmet five course meal. In other words, this is what’s often seen as the fun stuff. While it may seem obvious at first glance (e.g. having a healthier lifestyle vs. making 30% extra in profits), the line between personal and professional goals often go hand in hand. How Do Personal and Professional Goals Overlap? Personal and professional goals have different labels because they each refer to different aspects of your life. But the common denominator is that it’s your life. Therefore, it’s only natural that they overlap. Professional Goals Even if you’re the type of person who likes to keep your personal and professional life separate, the reality is that most people spend the majority of their life at work. Even if you work from home, you have work responsibilities that require your attention for most of the day. And whether your professional goal is to work towards an advanced degree, a promotion, or a specific career path, your definition of success will definitely have a significant impact on your personal goals. Personal Goals Ok. So what are those personal goals? Maybe you want to change your body composition by developing muscles. Maybe you want to purchase a home in a specific part of town you love. Maybe you want to travel the world, eat healthier, or meditate more often. While all of these things are done outside of work, they are greatly influenced by what you can accomplish at work — your salary, your time off, your actual ability to take that time off, reasonable working hours, etc. They are often put on the back burner, since they usually don’t carry the urgency of professional goals. Therefore, both professional and personal goals, in the end, are personal goals. You are trying to reach an objective that you believe will help you in becoming happier. How To Help Your Team Set Goals While the entire team can present their ideas on how to accomplish goals, it’s up to leadership to establish the roadmap. Break Down Major Goals Into Manageable Steps Going back to the marathon example, big goals can feel overwhelming. To better manage big goals, you want to establish short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals. Use software to assign daily tasks, so that the business objectives aren’t just some abstract concept. As employees cross each thing off the list, they’ll get a sense of accomplishment. Put It in Writing Verbal communications can be miscommunicated, recalled incompletely, or forgotten. By putting your goals in writing, you’re giving employees a point of reference. Define them clearly. Include what the specific goals are, how you’re breaking them up into manageable steps, what are the resources and tools available to accomplish them, and how to track progress. Include processes for every step of the way. Creating this knowledge base gives your team the peace of mind that comes from being able to easily reference a document for clarification. Provide Adequate Training In order to reach a destination, everyone must be rowing in the same direction. And to get everyone to do so, you must first show them how to do it — how to handle situations at work (bottlenecks, conflicts, common customer concerns) and how to complete tasks (do you want them to do it a particular way, or can they work at their discretion?) This also lets them know what your expectations are, which will make it a lot easier for them to meet them. Ask for Feedback Your team is on the front lines. They know what’s working and what’s not. They know whether a particular software helps them do their jobs effectively, or whether they need something better. Keep an open door policy and let your team know that you’re always willing to listen to what they have to contribute to improve processes. Also, take the initiative to ask them directly — during one-on-one meetings and/or through anonymous surveys. Measure Progress The only way to know if what you’re doing is working is to compare where you are today versus where you were a few weeks ago. Are you inching your way towards your goal? If so, keep at it. If not, it’s time to reassess and develop new strategies. For accurate measuring, always look at the numbers: projects started, projects completed, new prospects, new signed customers, etc. Praise Success Praising success lets your team know that you’re aware of their efforts and accomplishments. This makes them feel seen and valued. In turn, they are more motivated to continue working to accomplish the collective business goals. How To Help Your Team Track Goals Everyone on your team should be tracking goals. And to do so, you need adequate tools. One of the most effective ways to do this is to set up a dashboard with the numbers that matter to you. Depending on your specific goals, this can include: Number of website visitors Number of people filling out forms in landing pages Number of prospects scheduling sales calls Bounce rates on webpages Tasks completed daily Sales, upsells, and cross sells Achieve Your Goals Faster 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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Data Visualization and Security Monitoring for Your MSP

We live in an age where data monitoring is everything. Some people track their daily steps, their macros, and sometimes even their sleep. When you market your business, you want to know the numbers — how much is being invested, how many leads are you getting, what are the conversions? The reason why everyone has become so data driven is because when you have this information right in front of you, you see trends you would’ve otherwise missed. And this is what helps you make better informed decisions. Whether it’s on a personal or professional level, these insights can help guide you to success. And when it comes to cybersecurity, they provide you with information that can literally save your business. Quick Links What Services Do Managed Service Providers (MSPs) Offer? How Do MSPs Provide Security Monitoring? What Kind of Metrics Monitor Security? BrightGauge's Dashboards Facilitate Data Visualization What Services Do Managed Service Providers (MSPs) Offer? Managed service providers perform a wide variety of essential services, including network, infrastructure, and applications management (both on-site and cloud-based). They also offer ongoing help desk support. Some MSPs may also team up with other vendors to provide a more complete suite of services. For example, while offering infrastructure services, an MSP may work with a partner to offer disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) or backup as a service (BaaS). While all of these services are pretty much required for your business operations, they all are built upon the safety net of network and cybersecurity. After all, a security breach could end up costing you — financially, your reputation, and even your business license. That being said, it’s crucial to note that MSPs work in partnership with their clients to keep networks protected. While MSPs work to secure and manage infrastructures, their efforts will only be effective if their clients also do their part to protect their networks. For example, enabling two factor authentication and restricting access based on job roles. Employers should also regularly train employees on internal security policies, such as learning how to recognize telltale signs of a phishing scam, installing software updates as they become available, and regularly changing passwords — ensuring that these are difficult to guess (whether by getting ultra creative or by using a password manager tool). In addition to training, all security protocols should be easily accessible to staff. Easy ways to do so is to create infographics and/or bullet points lists and include them in email reminders. It’s also advisable to review these policies at monthly meetings. By ensuring everyone on your team is prioritizing internal security, MSPs are better positioned to do their jobs. How Do MSPs Provide Security Monitoring? Did you know that 92% of organizations would consider using/moving to a new IT service provider if they offered the right cybersecurity solutions? When you hire an MSP to provide you with cybersecurity services, that may include: Updating antivirus software Patching vulnerabilities Upgrading network security configurations Monitoring threats in order to prevent them Responding to existing threats Using end-to-end security Monitoring employee passwords Granting permissions to employees based on their job roles Ensuring compliance with privacy laws and industry regulations MSPs are able to provide security monitoring by staying updated on security threats. This includes regularly checking to see if any app or hardware vendors have announced network security configuration upgrades. But other than reading industry news, they also rely heavily on data from different sources. This allows them to spot any threats before they become bigger issues. One big challenge with security monitoring is that security data is everywhere. You can create dashboards sourced from a variety of tools. Everywhere you look, someone’s trying to sell you the newest gadget or software. A good MSP will know how to organize such data. They know how to sort through it efficiently so that they can immediately identify key indicators of a security threat. Once a threat is identified, they act preemptively. What Kind of Metrics Monitor Security? The metrics you need to monitor can vary depending on your specific business needs. This can include industry regulations, risk factors, and risk aversion. However, you should always pay attention to the following numbers: 1. Number of Known Vulnerabilities MSPs should always be aware of internal and external vulnerabilities, as well as their level of severity. This includes viruses, malware, and personnel (password weaknesses, unauthorized access, or lost or stolen devices). Once this information is available, they can design security objectives and priority lists. 2. Attack Frequency Cybersecurity has been a serious issue for years. However, cybercrime has increased significantly (by as much as 400%) since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, as businesses have adapted to a remote workforce. They are often the result of phishing scams, ransomware, or people accessing unsecured WiFi connections. 3. Third Party Incidents MSPs will know the number of unidentified users or devices within a network. They can also monitor the frequency of third party actors attempting to access our network. This helps identify possible weak access points. 4. Data Breach Response Times Time is of the essence in the field of cybersecurity, so it’s crucial to have skilled technicians acting fast. Security patches need to deploy as quickly as possible. Therefore, numbers to be acquainted with on a regular basis include MTTI (mean time to identify), MTTC (mean time to contain), and MTTP (mean time to patch). The longer these go unaddressed, the more disastrous the security breaches will be. 5. Number of Users with Administrator Access Knowing who has access to what and limiting users to only the systems, data, and resources they need is a best practice in data security policy and procedure. Keeping tabs on who has access to everything can help you and your client identify how many hands are in everything — and should there be a breach, identifying potential in-roads or actors. 6. Frequency of Access By Third Parties or Vendors As with your own employees, users representing third parties or vendors who have access to your network open the door for potential problems. Monitoring how frequently these individuals have access can reveal unknown or unidentified opportunities for attack or unauthorized usage. 7. Volume on Corporate Network Abnormal spikes in the volume may indicate misuse or resources that could include users transmitting large files or downloading unapproved applications or files. These transmissions may leave doors open for malware or other malicious attacks, so monitoring volume and looking for consistent numbers is a key step in threat detection. 8. Training Effectiveness Sometimes, internal breaches occur due to employees not being properly trained on security protocols. Therefore, every business should provide resources to remedy this issue — webinars, certification courses, newsletters, to name a few. Afterward, track whether there has been a reduction of incidents and adjust accordingly. Keeping track of these metrics can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways businesses can better monitor and interpret the effectiveness of their security measures. This is where data visualization comes in. How Can Data Visualization Techniques Improve Security Monitoring for MSPs? Data visualization is the visual representation of all collected data. It is an invaluable tool for MSPs when monitoring security because all relevant information is displayed in one centralized location. You can choose to have such data laid out as charts, graphs, gauges, or whatever other method you find helpful. Creating dashboards with the data you want to track allows MSPs to access and interpret the data in real time. In turn, they can design and implement security measures that are specifically tailored to protect your business. BrightGauge’s Dashboards Facilitate Data Visualization When it comes to choosing your business intelligence tools, you want to choose options that have all the functionality you need, out of the box, without complex coding involved. BrightGauge’s data dashboards integrate with over 40 platforms and are fully customizable to your business needs. You choose the metrics that matter. We help you monitor them.

Dashboard of the Month: Client Manager

August's Dashboard of the Month is a Client Manager Dashboard inspired by the July User showcase Webinar: Tailoring Best Practices: Building Off of Your Daily Metrics with Josh Smith, the Director of Support Services, and Harrison Teel, the NOC Manager, at Systems Solutions in Paducah, KY. Josh and Harrison built this Client Manager dashboard and cloned it out for each individual client manager in their office. The dashboard provides the client manager (aka account manager) a home base for managing their book of accounts. It includes proactive gauges such as: CSAT follow ups Tasks for Quarterly Business Reviews Metrics focused on future client opportunities Client Manager Dashboard - view here The Client Manager dashboard allows the Systems Solutions team to remain proactive while also setting goals and targets for obtaining new clients. If you want to recreate and customize this dashboard for your team, check out the links below: Client Manager Dashboard (public view link) Client Manager Dashboard Buildout Key Thank you, Josh and Harrison, for sharing your insights! Make sure to visit our library of more report and dashboard templates and please feel free to reach out to with any questions!

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 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.

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!

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