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How to Set the Right Business Goals to Scale Your MSP

Goals. We have meetings to discuss them, meetings to set them, meetings to track progress, meetings to evaluate them. Sometimes we even plan retreats and getaways to dedicate full days to looking at ...
Goals. We have meetings to discuss them, meetings to set them, meetings to track progress, meetings to evaluate them. Sometimes we even plan retreats and getaways to dedicate full days to looking at how they can drive our teams, initiatives, and planning.   In fact, every organizational management book stresses the importance of goal-setting. But, goals are worthless without understanding why they work and what you can achieve with them! But, before you dive into the goals your business should be aiming for, it’s important to look at benefits any business can realize with the right goals. To start, organizational goals work to define the strategies needed throughout a company’s entire structure. Executives and management define and champion those strategies and goals themselves.   Then, team goals influence the processes employed within those teams. And finally, there are individual goals which help to define workdays and dictate areas of focus for individual employees. As you can see, there’s a structure to goals themselves, and team and individual goals should be working to see the realization of the larger business goals. Therefore, it’s important to plan accordingly.   Quick Links What are business goals? Why business goals are important Setting outcome and process goals Choosing between outcome and process goals Why business goals are important for MSPs How to choose the right goals to scale your MSP How to track your goals using BG's goals and dashboards What Are Business Goals? Simply put, business goals help establish the priorities for a business. Your organization should anticipate being able to meet your goals over a set period of time, and be careful to not set the bar too low, or choose something unattainable. In fact, it’s important to set S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely) even at an organizational level. These goals should be big enough that each team can see its role and can identify the goals they’ll need to reach to make the larger goal possible. For example, your MSP may set a goal of $10,000 Net New MRR each month. In order to facilitate that, team goals should contribute as well. What would contributing goals look like across marketing, sales, and customer success teams?   As we all know, MRR doesn’t just steadily build. In fact, customers are often in flux and one occasionally slips through the cracks. Therefore, the customer success team goal might be to keep churn at five accounts or fewer each month.   For the sales team, they’d need to calculate how many new accounts they need to reach the goal. Let’s say they need 10 new accounts at $1,000 MRR each to reach the $10,000 Net New MRR goal. However, we also want to consider organizational alignment. In other words, if the customer success team has set a churn limit of five accounts, the sales team will need to close 15 new accounts to be on the "safe" side and mindful of potential churn.   At the same time, the marketing team would need to focus on the number of demo requests that must be driven to the sales team in order to close these 15 transactions. If sales closes 50% of the demos and upgrades sent their way, then for the sales team to close 15 new accounts, marketing must send them 30 demo requests.   No matter what your organizational goals are, once you’re able to get all of the moving parts within your business aligned and working towards the same big-picture target, you’ll find that your business will thrive! Why Business Goals Are Important There are a variety of reasons business goals are important. Not only do they provide direction for each team, but they allow everyone to plan. As in the example above, without the larger business goal, each of those teams could create goals that don’t support one another, or the larger business. However, there are other benefits as well. Business Goals Help to Create Focus and Engagement In order for almost any organization to reach lofty targets, there has to be laser-like focus at all levels. Goals help clarify that focus and define what you are truly after. In fact, by outlining both your process goals and outcome goals (we’ll cover these in detail later in this post), you’ll ensure that your company is headed in the right direction and focused on the steps that will get you to your desired results. It’s also important to note here that goals provide task direction. During downtime when your team is looking for an action to take, task-oriented goals provide a blueprint for meaningful action. Across dozens or hundreds of employees, this targeted focus has a compound effect that drives organizations forward. Further, given that each team and each individual has a role in achieving both team and business goals, they are more likely to be invested and engaged in the process. Business Goals Help to Facilitate Accountability Having goals in place is not enough to guarantee success. A certain level of accountability needs to be maintained to ensure that goals are being met and new goals are being created to replace them. That’s why you must have a cadence for checking in with individuals and teams — it’s a vital part of keeping the motivation flowing across your company. Let’s face it, we all perform at an increased level when we have people we respect holding us to a higher standard!   By encouraging accountability within your organization, your chances of success in completing small process goals and larger outcome goals are improved. Additionally, the accountability factor that’s tied to cadence is a two-way street: It highlights success and also sheds light on failures. Setting Outcome and Process Goals In most organizations, goals can be broken down into two categories — process goals and outcome goals. If you aren’t sure of the difference, here is an easy way to remember them: Outcome Goals - What you want to achieve Process Goals - The steps or actions you must take to help you attain the outcome goal   If you’ve read Traction or are familiar with EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) Worldwide, then think of your scorecard as your process goals. Your company priorities, or outcome goals, are what they refer to as rocks — these are must-have goals destined to get completed due to their importance. Rocks may be company-wide or individual goals. Their scope isn’t what defines them; their importance is. For instance, let’s say you have a goal of obtaining 10 new paying clients in a given month. This is a perfect example of an outcome goal. However, landing those clients is outside of your control because whether or not you are able to sign those clients depends upon a myriad of other factors including competition, scheduling issues, and yes — even a bit of luck. That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t set an outcome goal for yourself. They are, after all, the end desire you want to achieve. However, it’s better to set goals that aren’t dependent upon forces outside of your control. This is where process goals come into play. Process goals are smaller, step-oriented goals that help you build toward your big picture aspirations. These are goals that are completely within your control and as a result, are actionable and clearly defined. Your goal post for success should be clear. Using our previous example to sign 10 new clients in a month, your process goal might be to call 20 people per day from your prospect list. This smaller, action-oriented goal is the driving force behind landing those clients because if you’re able to hit your daily goal, then you’re actively pushing toward meeting your larger outcome goal for the month. If you’re not able to land those 10 new clients, you should go back and decide how to alter your process and what your new daily goal should be. It’s important to remember that one type of goal isn’t better or more important than the other. Process goals and outcome goals work together. Stress the importance of pairing the two in order to instill commitment and focus among your teams. Choosing Between Outcome and Process Goals Having an understanding of when to use outcome or process goals is the critical first step toward actually achieving them. Every company has an outcome goal in mind: It’s what they’re striving for. Once you have your outcome goal dialed in, start by breaking it down. What are the actual steps that will need to be taken in order for you to achieve that outcome goal? Don’t worry too much about complete accuracy at this point, as the process goals can be changed later when you have some data to work with. Once you’ve broken down your outcome goal into all of the individual steps that you will need to take to achieve success, you can begin crafting and assigning those tasks to the appropriate teams and individuals that will complete them. Using our previous example of closing 10 new clients, there are many tasks that you may need to tackle, in order to accomplish this outcome goal. Your process goals may include: Making sales calls to prospects Ensuring that your prospect database stays refreshed with new contacts Putting together proposals for interested prospects Researching and understanding their business Drafting a suitable contract for your partnership Once you have outlined the processes required to reach your outcome goal, you can then break them down into more specific tasks. For example, “making sales calls to prospects” would become “make 25 sales calls to prospects each day.” This helps to draw a firm line between success and failure and provides a measurable goal for whoever ultimately is assigned the task. How to Monitor and Manage Your Goals Both process and outcome goals need to be tracked and evaluated weekly. Perhaps your initial goal of 25 sales calls per day turns out to be a little bit ambitious, and 15 turns out to be more reasonable. Or, maybe your sales team is capable of making more calls than originally expected. You could find that your entire outcome goal of signing 10 new clients that month is too lofty and needs to be altered. Goals can be changed. The important thing is to make sure that you are constantly evaluating your efforts to reach them and tracking your success! Why Business Goals Are Important for MSPs Like any other business, MSPs need goals to help set a direction for the future and establish the best ways to facilitate growth. Further, goals shared across the organization ensure alignment and can improve productivity, moving the needle on KPIs. And, the right goals can help an MSP scale strategically, improving service options, boosting customer satisfaction, and allowing teams to identify appropriate market opportunities to aim for. While many companies are eager to grow, and grow quickly, there are significant dangers to growing too fast. Any business, especially one that has a foundation in service, must grow at a steady pace because SLAs matter and meeting them impacts customer retention, relationships, and churn. How to Choose the Right Goals to Scale Your MSP No doubt you’re itching to grow if you’ve successfully gotten off the ground. The fact that the MSP industry is poised for significant growth likely means you want to capitalize on that too. However, growing too fast and for the sake of growth alone (without goals) could ultimately be disastrous. So, how do you choose the right goals to scale your MSP? 1. Start With Process Goals No doubt the start of your business included a lot of trial and error, particularly in relation to the processes that move a lead to a customer, and a customer to a satisfied customer. However, it goes beyond that.   Before you start adding in more clients, you want to make sure that all parts of your business from administration and marketing to customer success and service have tested processes that will provide the stability you will need to grow. 2. Set Attainable Goals That Allow You to Scale As noted elsewhere, while growth is the goal, explosive growth has the potential to overwhelm the services team and that could hurt service quality that enabled you to get there. The key to sustained and successful growth is scaling. Runners don’t go from a 5k to a marathon in a month, nor should your business. 3. Look At Ways to Grow Recurring Revenue   Successful MSPs have a majority of their revenue stemming from managed services rather than product sales or partnership programs. So, when setting outcome goals, consider MRR growth as a goal, and align your teams, as in the example at the start of this piece suggests. Getting all teams on board with an MRR outcome goal is one path to sustained and successful growth. 4. Assess Customer Distribution  In an ideal situation, you’ll have a good number of customers who are providing you revenue rather than a smaller number of existing clients who are contributing the lion’s share of your revenue. In looking for an area for growth, you may want to consider looking at how you balance this.   Successful MSPs have their revenue streams more evenly distributed. In fact, your strong business becomes significantly weaker if just one of those large customers goes elsewhere. In this case, you’ll want to choose an outcome goal that enables you to find the kind of clients that stabilize your revenue and business.   5. Assess Resource Utilization Prior to setting any goals for growth, you need to know where you’ll need to scale and gauge what you can afford. That means you’ll need a complete and full understanding of how all of your resources are currently being used before you can assess whether you can afford, in terms of time and money, to grow a specific service or take on the clients you’re targeting.   Similarly, don’t add team members until you need them. Grow as you need rather than as you want. 6. Track Your Metrics    If MRR is the primary revenue stream for a growing MSP, then tracking metrics, especially those that relate to your SLAs and customer satisfaction, becomes crucial. Knowing where you stand in terms of a reliable revenue stream as well as in terms of service quality enables you to retain the customers who build reliable MRR. Additionally, those metrics will enable you to establish both the process and outcome goals you need to set to grow. How to Track Your Goals Using BrightGauge's Goals and Dashboards Speaking of assessing resource utilization, knowing how your team is spending time is vital to your growth goals. Therefore, any tool you can add to your arsenal to ensure your team is working efficiently and effectively is a boon to your business. And if that tool enables you to establish goals, track metrics, gauge progress, and share all of that information with the people who need it most, wouldn’t it seem like a wise investment? BrightGauge’s solution offers all of those capabilities and more. By facilitating goal setting and then providing the tracking tools you need, you can keep your business, your teams, and your individual employees focused and aligned. If you’re ready to grow your MSP in a scalable and sustainable way, then you need the tools to facilitate that.   Get in touch with the BrightGauge team today to discuss how we can help!

How to Use Dashboards for Customer Success Reporting (+ KPIs to Track)

Definitions, in essence, are parameters. They are the boundaries of understanding, often as it relates to a single word. As discussed in a recent blog on customer success teams, how we use language matters. How we define service vs. success is a significant part of the relationships we build with our customers. So, when considering what customer success means, we need a way to gauge, define, and track that definition. Customer success aligns the success of our clients with the success of our organization. However, it’s not enough to establish a vague goal of finding the ways in which our goals sync up with those of our customers. As we all know, customers want something concrete. They want evidence and data that supports and often financially justifies their relationship with an organization. One great way to do that is to utilize customer success dashboards to track the success of those objectives.   Quick Links What is customer success? Why do businesses need to track customer success? KPIs to track customer success How BrightGauge can help you meet your own customer success goals What is customer success? Customer success offers an alternative view to customer service. In the past, many businesses focused on the functions, products, and services they provided for their customers and saw meeting their customers' needs as a role separated from their own business goals. Customer success reframes those concepts in a way that allows businesses to align their success with the success of their customers. In other words, customer success looks at how an organization helps their customers achieve their goals and recognizes that a satisfied and successful customer is their goal as well and the two are intricately tied.   Why do businesses need to track customer success?   The short simple answer is that customer success is essential to your own organization’s success. If your customer isn’t achieving their goals, they’re more likely to seek services elsewhere. Tracking customer success can:   Ensure a consistent revenue stream. If your customers are successful, they’ll stay. This means you can count on their MRR, month after month. Reduce churn. Again, with their success you earn their loyalty; you build relationships. Customers who are realizing their goals with your partnership will stay with you. Improve customer satisfaction. A customer who is achieving their goals is likely to be happier than one who is not. In turn, they’ll spread the word, be open to upsell opportunities, and provide positive reviews or testimonials. Improve your product or service. If you’re focused on ensuring your customers are having the best experience and continued success utilizing what you offer, you’re bound to improve what it is you offer. Build your reputation. When your customers are successful, obviously this reflects upon you and your organization. As such, other businesses and potential customers are more inclined to do business with you. Further, the positive word of mouth and increased reputation will lower your new customer acquisition cost. Increase employee satisfaction and engagement. When a team wins consistently via customer success and when customers are happy, morale increases. Similarly, your employees will be willing to look for ways to improve your customer’s experience thereby increasing their engagement and investment. This is the kind of corporate culture most businesses seek. It’s clear to see that there are a multitude of reasons that customer success is important and a variety of ways in which it enables the kinds of tangible and intangible benefits many organizations struggle to achieve.  KPIs to track customer success Customer success KPIs will enable your business to track and gauge exactly how well you’re meeting the goal of improving customer success (and in turn meeting several of the larger goals noted above). Therefore, knowing what to track is an essential part of developing a winning customer success strategy. Here are some of the most important metrics to track:   Churn Rate - As mentioned above, the rate at which your customers are leaving may be a good indicator of how successful they’re feeling. Happy customers stay customers, so tracking your churn rate is a great metric to use in gauging whether customer success initiatives are working.   Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) - As noted above, successful customers will sign on for additional services, purchase more products, and spend more money with your organization. Therefore, rises in CLV likely indicate customer success and satisfaction. MRR - Much like CLV, consistent and steady MRR means satisfied customers. Similarly, a steadily increasing MRR means customer acquisitions or existing customers signing on for more services. Both can be indicative of customer success and satisfaction.   Customer support tickets - There are a variety of reasons you should be tracking this data, but if customers are regularly encountering issues, and severe enough issues that they need to contact support, it’s likely they’re not satisfied or missing out on success. Tracking this metric means your team can not only gauge a customer’s success with your product, but also determine where the issues are and make the needed adjustments.  Net Promoter Score - If you’re gauging customer satisfaction, that likely means you’re amassing data from customer surveys. While you should be asking whether a customer is likely to recommend you, you should also be asking what customers like about your product or services and what they would change. This enables you to be constantly evolving to meet their needs and improve your offerings. Customer satisfaction - Speaking of customer surveys, this is an obvious metric you should be gauging and one that can provide a good “temperature check.” However, it’s vital that customer surveys go beyond the satisfaction rating and ask what earned that score. Again, that’s where you get the opportunity to build on the services or products your customers love and address any friction or pain points with your service. How BrightGauge can help you meet your own customer success goals Now that we’ve established the customer success KPIs you’ll want to be tracking, let’s move into the tools you’ll want to use for monitoring those metrics and turning them into movement.  Using dashboards to track customer success To start, one of the most valuable aspects of a dashboard is that it enables you to gather your data in one place. Further, dashboards, like the ones offered by BrightGauge, provide a quick visual representation of that data enabling users to see, at a glance, where your team is meeting success and where they’re falling short of goals. While design elements certainly enable quick visual recognition of vital metrics, so does BrightGauge’s out-of-the-box dashboard design, which doesn’t require complicated coding. This means that anyone who needs to can set up a dashboard and team leads as well as individual members of a customer success team can track what they need to for whom they need to. Customer success reporting   Customer success metrics, much like the dashboards, are amazing tools, but a hammer that sits on a shelf doesn’t build; someone has to wield it; someone has to put the hammerhead to a nail. Customer success metrics are similar. Without reporting to the folks who need it, customer success metrics won’t change much, not in your service teams and certainly not in your sales departments. For that reason, ensuring that you’ve got a tool, like BrightGauge, that enables easy automated reporting is essential. Data is great, but if you’re not leveraging that data to make improvements or convert leads to customers, then it’s just data. If you’re looking for ways to turn customer success KPIs and customer success data into data-driven customer success strategies, then you need to invest in a tool that enables that. Focusing on a customer success initiative can save you acquisition costs and increase both lifetime value and MRR. The tool that enables you to track and report on those vital KPIs is an investment in your team, your customers, and your future. Get in touch with the BrightGauge team today to talk about how our dashboard and reporting solution can help you leverage your data for big gains.

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Top 3 NOC/Operations Team KPIs

Perhaps one of the largest things we take for granted, as humans, is the ability for our body to work in coordination with itself, even when each distinctive part is doing its own thing. For example, when we walk, our arms swing. Their job? To help keep our torsos and hips steady from the impact of our feet hitting the ground. In fact, research suggests that even that small swing saves the muscles in our legs from expending energy. If that swing suddenly stopped, we’d likely notice. There might be some pain and walking might be a bit more difficult. Truth is, businesses aren’t that much different. When functioning well, as a finely-tuned machine, each of your teams is going to be contributing, in its own way, to your forward progress. More specifically, your Sales Team is going to contribute to success in different ways than your Project Team, Service Team, or Finance Team, but each will be vital. Let’s not forget about your NOC/Operations Team, arguably the lifeblood of your organization. Much like our bodies, we want to check in on our teams, check their performance, and ensure that everything continues to move smoothly. For that reason, setting goals, and tracking and monitoring KPIs, is an essential piece to ensuring success. For your NOC/Operations team, whose mission is critical, we recommend including 3 specific KPIs to track on NOC dashboards. Quick Links What are Network Operations Center (NOC) services? How to choose NOC dashboards to monitor Top 3 KPIs for Operations and NOC teams How BrightGauge helps you track NOC performance metrics What are network operations center (NOC) services? Network Operations Center refers to the primary location used by network services to monitor and manage IT infrastructure and services, including databases, applications, security, and hardware components. For that reason, it’s a vital part of any business that relies upon any kind of IT services for its core business. The network operations staff is typically the first team to recognize system bottlenecks, potential service disruptions or slow downs, or to identify threats, risks, or active attacks on a network. Because a good portion of what they do is securing your IT resources to ensure their reliability, they’re a vital part of your team.  In fact, it’s this team that helps nearly every other team in your business. They ensure your staff can access the information, systems, files, and databases they need. And, further, they ensure your customers can access the information or services they need. As such your operations team must have a working relationship with them and open communication to ensure that the services that generate revenue are not interrupted or impacted by IT issues. If you’re in the IT, SaaS, MSP, or any business that provides critical IT services, your operations team and your NOC are one and the same. How to choose NOC dashboards to monitor Prior to building BrightGauge, our founders Brian and Eric Dosal owned an MSP, so they have been ingrained in the industry for quite some time. They have first-hand experience of what it takes to run an operations center successfully. This paired with insight from industry benchmarks has helped us prioritize goals. Obviously, in choosing KPIs to monitor, you’ll want to select the metrics that really isolate and help determine how effective a specific team is. For that reason, you’ll want to first identify the team’s primary purpose and goals. For an operations team, a good part of that will be related to security, but you’ll also want to keep an eye on metrics that matter to you.  The recommendations we’re making  are based on our experience, but we recognize you may have different metrics that matter to you, which is okay! Every business leader has to run their business on their own terms, but we believe our advice can provide a bit of guidance.   Top 3 KPIs for Operations and NOC teams   NOC technicians are the ones getting their hands dirty, so to speak, when it comes to your technical tasks and issues, so their contributions are going to be pretty significant to company performance. They are monitoring networks and working hard to ensure that everything runs as it should.   The results of an Operations Team’s actions, whether good or bad, will have an impact on your reputation, so it’s important to give this team careful attention. Monitoring their actions through NOC dashboards will help you stay on a path towards success. Critical Alerts/Issues Opened   Handling incoming tickets and escalation in an organized and effective manner takes a lot of time and effort, but it’s absolutely necessary. Not only will monitoring critical alerts help you be proactive in resolving issues before they become disasters, but it also shows that you’re intent on meeting SLAs and providing your clients with great service.   Additionally, tracking your issues opened will allow you to identify trends over time - are you noticing that the same clients are opening tickets time and time again? Do you need to charge them more? Are there recurring issues that can be prevented?   Taking note of patterns by use of NOC dashboards will make you a stronger and more productive agency over time.   Backups Missed     All service technicians understand that regular backups help networks run optimally. Additionally, backups are vital to business continuity should disaster strike. For those two reasons, backups are a daily task in a NOC, so keeping track of them is a necessity and most likely a part of your SLA.   When a backup is missed, internal teams need to understand why and clients must also be notified. NOC reports keep things transparent, keep you accountable, and allow for trustworthy partnerships.   Documentation Engagement   Why is documentation so critical? Here’s one example. You likely have more than one NOC technician employed and it’s possible your techs work on different client sites. What happens if a client has an urgent issue and their assigned tech is on vacation? Ideally, a documentation trail outlining a history of the work that’s been done for that client will guide any other tech in solving the issue.   There are bound to be countless other important documents that are specific to a NOC and keeping them organized and accessible ensures that things run smoothly.   Tracking how often your team members are documenting (per day or per week) holds them accountable and encourages a really productive, transparent department. It also helps you see how well (or not) you’re adhering to client SLAs, so that you can take corrective action if necessary.   How BrightGauge helps you track these metrics   BrightGauge pulls data in from different business solution tools you’re most likely using, like ConnectWise Manage, Datto, Backup Radar, Webroot, IT Glue, and more. Whether you are using an RMM, PSA, or a financial tool, BrightGauge compiles all of your important metrics into one operations dashboard, so you can keep an eye on the data that matters most to you.   Since a lot of work in the IT industry is time-sensitive, we built BrightGauge with the intention of allowing you to get going on day one. For each of our integrations, we determine the top metrics to track and pre-build gauges, dashboards, and reports based on that information, which means that you’ll have access to your data as soon as you open an account.   As a business leader, there’s so much you have to monitor and take into account on a daily basis, and our goal for BrightGauge is that it helps you manage your daily tasks more easily.   Aside from displaying your data in one NOC dashboard, BrightGauge gives you the power to create custom, interactive reports you can automatically share with your clients (transparency for the win!), and helps you foster an accountable and motivated team through goal-setting and tracking.   You’ve got a lot of KPIs to track and BrightGauge can help you get a handle on that. If you want to learn more about the importance of KPIs and how BrightGauge can help you create custom dashboards to monitor what you need, get in touch with our team today!

Dashboard of the Month: Support Shift Handoff

As a Service Desk Manager, how are you approaching your changes in support shifts from day-to-day? How does one shift manager loop the next shift manager in on all the important data they need to know in order to keep things running smoothly?    We know this has been a topic of discussion amongst managed service providers (MSPs), so we worked with Chris St. Pierre, Managed Services Manager at Next Dimension Inc., to learn more.    In talking with other MSPs, Chris discovered that most companies just sent a note or an email to the team that was taking over the support shift. Together, we felt that a dashboard could get the job done more efficiently.   Chris sent me the metrics and tasks his team must be aware of when support shifts change, and we created the Support Shift Handoff dashboard.    Support Shift Handoff dashboard - view here Chris's crucial metrics include: Number of currently open incidents Requests and changes  Stale and escalated ticket details Daily average response time Kill rate to understand if the backlog increased or decreased during the day  Ticket distribution by client    The Support Shift Handoff dashboard keeps his team informed on where their focus should be, while monitoring alerts give them a heads up on anything that requires immediate attention. As a manager, this dashboard helps Chris relay any important messages to his team and keep track of where everything stands.    If you want to recreate and customize this dashboard for your own service team, check out the links below: Support Shift Handoff dashboard (public view link) Support Shift Handoff Buildout Key   We'd love to see how you are using this dashboard with your own teams. Please feel free to reach out to with any questions you have!

How to Reduce Your MSP's Churn Rate

“To everything churn, churn, churn…” Nope. Those aren’t the lyrics and for good reason. Most businesses, like your MSP, are trying to avoid churn. We could pretend there’s some complicated algorithm or some complex cascade of factors that impact when a client leaves, but the truth of the matter is, most of the time, it’s because clients aren’t happy. Whether your services aren’t meeting the standards set in the SLA, communication isn’t clear, or it's something else altogether, churn is a very real problem for a lot of MSPs.   Of course it’s important to understand why clients are leaving, but the next step, how to stop it, is equally important. Further, if you’re not meeting SLAs, it’s not enough to say “We’ll just have to meet those standards.” If you’re well versed in S.M.A.R.T. goal setting, you’ll know that’s not enough. So exactly how can you prevent churn in your MSP?    Quick Links What can an MSP do for its clients? What affects churn rate? Reducing your MSP’s churn using goals and dashboards What can an MSP do for its clients? The IT landscape can be overwhelming...and expensive. These unforgiving factors are especially true as technology needs keep evolving and growing. Similarly, customer demands and expectations push businesses to provide the kinds of services that require a robust IT infrastructure and network. When we factor in that those same end users are demanding reliability, speed, and security, it’s easy to see how any business can have a difficult time meeting all of those needs while managing the rest of their business. IT can quickly become a full-time job for a business who needs to invest its time and resources on other business goals. This is, obviously, where the MSP comes in. This is where you swoop in to save the day. By providing the hardware, software, expert IT staff, and any other resources a business may need, you save them time, money, and stress. An MSP can help a business: Save time- Improving IT performance can improve efficiency meaning workers can be more productive. Up-to-date software and hardware and fewer work arounds, like those needed for legacy systems, save a team time and let them focus on the work, rather than getting bogged down by slow computers or complicated additional steps. Save money- The money saved is a bit complex as it happens on multiple levels. An MSP provides a consistent IT cost to what can, traditionally, be variable and expensive. This includes software, hardware, security, staffing, and all of the elements that factor in to maintaining a reliable, fast, and secure network. Again, the efficiency of a team and their increased productivity means more business opportunities and more time spent on revenue generation ideas than network maintenance. Enhance IT- Not only can a business adopt new technologies faster, but it can scale as needed. Further, enhanced security means an organization’s reputation and data are both safeguarded. For some, that security includes backup and disaster recovery. Typically, all of these would require expensive hardware and human resources that often aren’t available or are too costly. Data analysis- Many businesses are relying on the data they gather from their customers and clients, but the data game isn’t about how much one can collect, it’s about what they do with what they gather. More MSPs are beginning to provide analytical services that allow businesses to leverage their data into strategic business initiatives and goals. These are all amazing value adds. Essentially, an MSP provides services that just about every business needs, all while saving time and money. MSPs improve security, productivity, and efficiency; allow for scalable and responsive networks; and provide maintenance, security, and, in some cases, data analysis. Businesses should be knocking down your door...and if they’re not? Or if they’ve knocked, but now they’re looking for the door to make an exit, it’s time to look at what you can do to prevent that. What affects churn rate? As mentioned, briefly, above, one of the biggest causes of customer churn is failing to meet SLAs. The SLA is the agreement between a provider and customer that establishes the type of services provided, the level at which they’ll be provided, and the, hopefully, very clear expectations and benchmarks for that service (hint: that means they’re trackable!). Failing to meet the SLAs is one element, but it comes down, in part, to customer service. If you’re not meeting those SLAs and your customer is dissatisfied, you’re not meeting their needs. You’re not “serving the customer” which also likely means you’re not communicating, analyzing your service levels, and adjusting as needed (hint: it’s why quarterly business reviews are so important!). If you’re not being proactive you’re likely considering customer service rather than customer success. It seems pretty clear that a service provider who’s not meeting standards, not responding to needs or working towards proactive initiatives, isn’t the right partner for many businesses. While meeting SLAs and customer success are vital to your success, poor relationship building and poor onboarding have also been identified as major forces in customer churn. Essentially, what we can take from these lessons about churn is that MSPs need to stay focused on their customers’ expectations and needs and need to monitor how they’re progressing.    Reducing your MSP’s churn using goals and dashboards What if we told you there is a way to monitor and track your customer’s goals, your SLA metrics, and your customer success and retention KPIs? Well, it is what we’re saying. The goals feature of BrightGauge was designed to help your MSP and your team stay on track. Based on your SLAs you can build out your goals and allow multiple team leaders to assess the goals their team must meet to meet your service agreements. Further, you can set customer relationship goals and track the KPIs that allow you to build on those relationships. For example, if your goal is to increase customer satisfaction, responsiveness is one of the most important attributes of any service organization. In fact, failure to resolve an issue quickly is one of the top 2 reasons for a customer loss. Further, 41% of customers expect a response within 6 hours, and 24 hours is often considered the maximum acceptable response time. Understanding how long it takes your team to respond to client issues can help you address why response times are taking longer than they should, or reward team members for successfully meeting those goals! Or, let’s say you’ve got a goal of improving the efficiency and success of your onboarding process. You can track the KPIs that help determine how successful you are such as: customer training progress, responsiveness, product adoption rate, and more. By tracking the KPIs, you can identify where friction points are, improving the onboarding process and improving customer satisfaction early in your relationship. Being able to track these kinds of metrics means you’re on top of your team’s performance and how it’s impacting your customers and their satisfaction. Further, BrightGauge’s dashboards allow you to track and customize the KPIs along the path to your objectives or your customer’s needs. You can share those with your team as a whole or individual employees, and, even better, you can increase customer satisfaction by automating those reports and communicating directly and frequently with your customers. In short, goal setting is important, service levels are important, but they’re only as good as your ability to track and monitor your progress, to analyze your successes, adjust where there are shortcomings, and report on all of these things to the people that matter most, your team and your client. If you’d like to talk more about how BrightGauge’s solution can help you reduce your MSP’s churn, get in touch with our team today!

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

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How to Measure Motivation of Your Employees to Increase Performance

While it’s true that great managers are a constant source of encouragement and talented employees possess the ability to self-motivate, using other motivational techniques is never a bad idea. But, let’s be honest. Two-dimensional efforts to motivate employees, like posters of kittens dangling from tree limbs broadcasting “Hang in there!” just doesn’t cut it in most cases. While some employees may feed off motivational phrases and signs, others might be motivated by team cheerleading sessions and others only by financial rewards, public recognition, or “winning,” whatever that may look like on your team or in your organization. Regardless of these motivational methods, one method stands out above all and that’s feedback...consistent, regular feedback. It’s even better if it’s delivered quickly rather than waiting for a quarterly or even yearly review.  The ability to provide that kind of feedback, easily and efficiently, is what makes goal setting and dashboards so valuable in the race to motivate. Quick Links Why is employee motivation important in the workplace? What motivates employees? 10 employee motivation stats you need to know  How to use dashboards and goals to help motivate employees and increase their performance Why is employee motivation important in the workplace? Ask anyone who’s set a goal what helped them achieve it and they’ll likely tell you they really wanted it. It’s that “want” that drives us. It’s motivation. So when we look at employee motivation in the workplace, we must understand that it is also the drive that helps us achieve the goals we’ve set for our teams or our business. It’s also the commitment, time, energy, and effort employees are willing to put into achieving those goals. It’s easy then to see how motivation can make all the difference in the success of our businesses. In fact, highly motivated employees are far more likely to be highly productive and highly engaged in their work. The benefits of that are pretty contagious as well, not just with other staff, but with customers and clients as well. What motivates employees? As noted above, though a bit jokingly, what motivates employees really depends on the employee. While it would be amazing to always have teams of self-motivated employees, that’s just not realistic. So, the best thing team leaders can do is, first, lead. Effective leaders have a significant impact on motivation. However, leaders have several other tools at their disposal to determine what motivates their employees. The first tool seems obvious…ask. Most people can tell you what motivates them, but we rarely ask. We often ask, in interviews and yearly reviews, what an employee’s goals are, but we rarely ask what we can do to help with the motivation to get there. Assuming their goals are aligned with business goals or team goals, we should be asking. The other tool at your disposal is observation. Simply by observing your employees you can gain a strong sense of what energizes them. What tasks are they excited to tackle? Are they team players or solitary stars? Gauging how they respond to different tasks, different objectives, and different rewards will help reveal what motivates them and enable you to use that tool more often. That said, there are a few known methods to motivating employees: Competition Incentive programs Group or individual rewards (like time off, meals, parties, events) Consistent and regular positive feedback Encouraging creativity, fun, and individuality And many more ideas out there! 10 employee motivation stats you need to know So before we jump into a few great stats that illustrate the importance of motivation and its impact on your organization, let’s review  a few points so that when we look at the stats, we understand how they’re connected: Motivated employees are engaged employees.  Engaged employees are happy employees. Motivated and engaged employees are productive employees.   Just 13% of employees report feeling engaged at work. Disengaged employees cost organizations between $450-550 billion annually. Teams with highly engaged employees have a 41% reduction in absenteeism and 17% increase in productivity.  Connected (engaged) employees are 87% less likely to leave a company.  85% of organizations have a rewards program in place with 70% offering up to 6 options.  Organizations with engaged employees have 233% greater customer loyalty and see a 26% increase in revenue than organizations whose employees are not engaged. According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workforce Study, 43% of highly engaged workers receive feedback weekly. Managers are crucial to employee engagement and satisfaction. 39% of employees mention their direct supervisor as a reason for leaving while Gallup’s study found that managers are responsible for up to 70% of an employee’s job satisfaction.  39% of employees feel under-appreciated while another 77% report, if they felt recognized, they would work harder. Employee engagement increases by 60% when recognized by managers. How to use dashboards to help motivate employees and increase their performance So, given that feedback, recognition, and rewards are an excellent way to help motivate employees, how can you, as a manager, facilitate that? First, you need to set goals. Once the goals are set, and the team has alignment on what they are and understands their tasks, milestones, and benchmarks along the way, one of the best tools you can utilize to not only track progress and performance, but to also provide ongoing feedback, is a business intelligence dashboard. Track Progress with Goals BrightGauge Goals are really easy to set up and monitor over time.  They allow you to assign a specific and measurable goal to an individual employee, with a due date, and automatically send weekly check-in reminders to the individual. Not only does this allow you to assess whether an employee is on-track to be rewarded, but it encourages accountability with team members, while provided that very essentially regular feedback which are both so important.   Dashboards are a Simple Way to Track KPIs The kinds of metrics required for motivation are generally the kinds of data that document the success of the company as well. Performance data should be tracked across time to establish visible baselines for the company’s growth and progress, which ties back to KPIs and how they’re measured. BrightGauge makes it easy to track KPIs and other important company, team, or individual metrics by automatically collecting data from your unique data sources and displaying it on easy-to-access dashboards.  Work performance metrics like response times and latencies can be automatically measured, inbound calls can be counted, and sales numbers can be accumulated in the course of daily activities. Further, you can automate your reporting and share these dashboards with your team to keep them focused and motivated. If properly identified and effectively measured, KPI indicators can form the basis for performance reports that enable the kind of regular feedback to be delivered readily and efficiently. Graphics also display critical statistics so performance becomes highly visible and measurable. If you'd like to talk more about how BrightGauge tools can help you motivate employees and track their progress on key goals and initiatives, get in touch with us today!

How to Make SLA Metrics Reporting Easy

Two clear components of successful relationships are clear expectations and great communication. If we really think about it, this is true of every relationship we hope to foster in our lives and it’s no different in business. In fact, those two principles are the reason for the existence of SLAs and SLA reporting. We can, quite easily, reduce documents like SLAs to contractual documents, but they’re really more than that. The goal of a solidly written SLA and regular timely SLA reports is to help foster and build a relationship between provider and client. For that reason, it’s important to understand how to best use them to further that relationship building goal. Quick Links What does SLA stand for? How is an SLA measured? What are the 3 types of SLA? What is an SLA report? How to choose SLA metrics to report on Make SLA metrics reporting easy with dashboards   What does SLA stand for? SLA stands for service level agreement. The SLA outlines the type and level of services one business technology provider will deliver for another business. Not only does it lay out the services as well as the expectations, but it also covers the remediations and consequences should service levels not be achieved.   How is an SLA measured? SLAs are typically measured via specific and detailed metrics determined by the type of services being delivered. In other words, in a data center SLA one might expect to see uptime reliability as a reportable SLA metric. If you’re an MSP, one metric you might include is Resolved Tickets. Again, the SLA metrics included in an SLA will depend on the type of service being provided.   What are the 3 types of SLA?   As noted above, the SLA you provide will depend largely on the client.  That said, there are, traditionally, 3 different types of SLA. A customer-based SLA  is tailored to a specific client. Typically, this would be used when the client is only using very specific services that may differ from other clients and enables the vendor to keep things simple by utilizing just one SLA. In contrast, a service-based SLA groups customers together based on the one service they contact for. In this case, all customers are using the same service with no deviations. Finally, a multi-level SLA allows a larger organization to define different levels of services, such as across different departments, even if services provided are similar. For example, both a finance and human resource department may need the same umbrella service, but when drilling down into the details, they may need a different level of service based on their organizational and departmental needs. The multi-level SLA allows a vendor to tailor an SLA to meet varying needs within one complex organization. What is an SLA report? Essentially, the SLA report allows a provider to communicate with the client and maintain transparency on the deliverables outlined in the SLA. For example, if the SLA requires that trouble tickets are resolved within 72 hours, the SLA report would include data on whether that metric was met and, if not, how that issue is being addressed. Further, if the SLA includes device management, the report would include data and information on each device, its status, and where the management falls in relation to the metrics outlined in the SLA. While reporting SLAs does have some overlap with reporting performance metrics, there is a key difference between the two types of reporting: key performance indicators (KPIs) focus on business priorities for the service provider, while SLA metrics prioritize the client’s needs. Additionally, SLAs can be notoriously difficult to accurately track—especially when some SLA metrics are dependent on customer responses.   How to choose SLA metrics to report Odds are that, as a service provider, you already have a list of SLA metrics to report. However, it's important to ask how relevant those metrics are to your customers. Why are you tracking some metrics and not others? When was the last time you reviewed your service level agreements? Before you start reporting SLAs, it’s important to start addressing these questions. After all, if you’re tracking irrelevant metrics, what good does that do you? Picking SLAs based on adherence to your service contract is a good start because it helps you find metrics that make sense to your clients. However, there is more to tracking SLA metrics than that. When setting new service level agreement metrics to track and report, it can help to look at your current SLAs and how well they: Align with your business’ services; Match with the details of your service contract; Support your customer’s needs/wants; Can be measured; and Can be controlled by you or your team. Taking the time to converse with your customers about what they want, or at least surveying them about their perception of your performance, can further help you refine your list of SLAs to report. Basing SLA metrics on the details of the service contract can help to ensure that you’re satisfying each client’s specific goals.   For example, your SLA with one client may specify that you'll respond to support tickets within a day of receiving them. In that case, time to response would be a great SLA metric for your business to track.   When creating SLA metrics, it’s also important to consider how factors outside of your control can influence them. For example, time to resolution is a commonly-tracked metric. However, when resolutions are dependent on customer response times, your results can easily become skewed. So, it may be necessary to either modify the metrics you choose for your SLA reports, or to find ways to minimize the impact of outside factors on the SLAs you report—such as “pausing the clock” on time-to-resolution tracking whenever your team has to wait on customer input or tracking total labor time spent on tasks instead.   Having well-chosen SLA metrics helps make reporting tasks somewhat easier and more valuable to your customers.   How to make SLA metrics reporting easy After finalizing the list of service level agreement metrics you want to track and share with your clients, how can you make reporting SLAs as easy as possible?   One method is to use an automated reporting system that can pull the data you want to share from a preset source at the time the report is sent. Take, for example, BrightGauge’s own automated client reporting system. In the BrightGauge client reporting feature, you can select SLAs to share with your clients along with other KPI data.   In the reporting feature, simply click on the drag-and-drop interface to choose which KPIs and SLA metrics you want to include, rearrange their order to choose which ones to highlight, and drag-click the box edges to resize them however you want. Once created, these data boxes will automatically populate with the latest information from whichever datasource they’re using.   Alternatively, all available data sources in BrightGauge come with default report templates to help you get going right away. Choose a pre-built template, feel free to customize it, and you’re ready to send it off.   From there, you can use the client mappings feature to select who you want to receive each report and then select a frequency for how often you want those clients to get a report (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.). Once set up, these reports will be automatically generated and sent for each of the clients in your client map whenever you set them to send; all without you having to lift a finger ever again (unless you want to alter the report or change the recipient list).   For some BrightGauge users, this automated reporting feature can save between eight and ten hours a week on client reporting. The ability to report SLAs metrics consistently helps to build transparency between your organization and its clients—which helps to earn client trust in the long run. SLAs formalize the relationship between provider and client and enable alignment on expectations in a way that , when SLA metrics are met, helps build trust and long lasting business partnerships. If you’re ready to take your SLA metrics reporting to the next level? Reach out to our team at any time to get started!

Why You Need a Customer Success Team Now

Language matters; it’s often nuanced in ways we don’t explore. Further, it’s not important just because it’s how we communicate, but because it has the potential to shape the way we interact and the way we understand our worlds. For that reason, how we frame our interactions with customers matters. For decades we’ve focused on customer service with the implication, based on language, being that there is a clear delineation of roles suggestive of give and take, and often in a way that separates our goals from the goals of our customers. Customer success, however, looks at this relationship quite differently. Service, by definition, means the act of helping or doing something for someone. While there are relationships built on service, the key word here is for. Customer success, on the other hand, changes that word “for” and replaces it with “with.” The concept is one that shifts the focus away from what we can do for you to what we can do with you. And that whole idea changes the way we interact with our customers. When we start to view our success as intricately tied to our customer’s success, we shift a business paradigm in a way that has the potential to grow not only relationships, but also business and revenue. Quick Link What is customer success? What does a customer success team do? When should you start building a customer success team? Using your customer success team to guides your clients    What is customer success? Customer success, as a customer relationship management method, ensures your team understands your customers’ goals and actively partners to help them achieve those goals. Your product or service was developed or designed to help your customers achieve specific outcomes or goals, and customer success is the method by which you track the success of your service and support. Essentially, customer success helps foster an aligned relationship that ensures mutual successes. While you’re working to their goals, the successful relationship, continued business, and potential for upsells means your team is also reaching their goals. What does a customer success team do? Currently, most businesses employ customer service teams. Customer service is who businesses call when a product or service isn’t functioning as expected or promised. In contrast, customer success is proactive. It’s an engaged method and a dedicated team that looks at data and performance and is therefore able to identify potential friction points or possible opportunities to improve or expand services. In short, it’s the difference between having a reactive team or a responsive team. Additionally, a dedicated customer success team is empowered to focus on specific clients with the understanding that by focusing on one’s clients, and their successes, a business then is successful as well. Currently, many metrics focus solely on how one’s business is doing, how it’s growing, where it’s generating revenue. Customer success shifts that focus to the customer and whether they’re hitting their targets because when they do, your business wins as well. Some of the structure looks similar to existing customer service team structures. Specifically, however, your customer success team is made up of the following individuals: Account Executive-  This is primarily a pre-sale role responsible for prospecting, presenting demos, qualifying prospects, and closing sales. Once the sale is closed, the account/customer is handed off to the account manager. Account Manager- Post-sale, this person acts as the primary point of contact for the customer, managing and overseeing the needs and services provided for the customer. They are, primarily, responsible for nurturing the relationship. Success Specialist- As noted above, one of the goals of customer success teams is to have an individual who is responsible for understanding client goals and digging into customer/client data points to identify needs, proactively address issues or concerns, and ensure they are reaching their goals. Support Technician- Even the most proactive team will incur client issues. The role of the support technician is to handle any issues customers have as they arise, particularly those related to the service desk. The support technician will  manage the ticket queue, and help clients solve IT problems. While each person has a distinct role, ensuring each aspect of the account has individual oversight, the overall goal remains to keep alignment with the client’s goals and work to proactively ensure their success. When should you start building a customer success team? Ideally, from the start of the business, establishing the members of a customer success team is best. However, when a business is just starting, the focus will likely be on customer acquisition, product development, and other elements that will help launch the business. However, customer retention is often a much stronger revenue strategy than customer acquisition as it costs less and can, ideally, lead to inbound sales. In fact, a majority of your revenue will come from existing customers, so ensuring they are successful and happy is a key revenue generation strategy. For that reason, it will be clear, once your business has established itself and has clients who will benefit from this level of assistance. These are the clients who have potential to be long term, who have the potential to assist with word of mouth, and whose success will help you build your own success. There is, naturally, a point at which it will seem clear to switch your focus from building product/services out to aligning your products and services with client goals and ensuring the two are symbiotic. Using your customer success team to guides your clients  As noted above, customer success is about relationship building. The old customer service model involved a lot of handoffs, staff dedicated to roles and tasks rather than clients, and reactive services rather than responsive support. As your marketing team will tell you, your customer’s journey begins well before they’ve spent any money with you or on your product. The one agreed upon point across all sales is that multiple “touch points” are needed to close a sale. Each and every one of those touch points is an opportunity for your customer success team to begin nurturing the relationship (this is the job of the account executive). It’s an early opportunity to not only differentiate yourself in a competitive marketplace, but it also establishes the foundation upon which you will continue to build this proactive and responsive relationship. One of the key pieces once the sale is closed is a thorough onboarding process where the client has been provided a map and has had clear communications about what work will be done, when, and with whom. This ability to clearly communicate and provide a transparent process enables your business to demonstrate the nature of customer success vs. customer service. You can then continue this type of communication and dedication to their goals and aligning them with the services you provide and offer with a quarterly business review. Customer success teams can be the key difference not just between you and your competition but between churn and retention. Developing your teams, having them align with your clients, digging deep into their goals, and applying the tools and services you offer to help them achieve them is the future of proactive and responsive customer relationships. BrightGauge is no stranger to the MSP market where, among others, this strategy is incredibly valuable, but we employ this method as well. Our own Customer Success Team  interacts with partners on a daily basis, using our business intelligence software to ensure success on both ends. Get in touch with us today to talk more!  

Dashboard of the Month: Client Account Overview

When it comes to providing exceptional customer service, it is oftentimes the small details that can win a customer over. Making an effort to take something just one step further can result in repeat business for a managed service provider (MSP), which is always the goal.    Something as simple as providing customers with a quick way to get an overview of their account details can make a difference in the way an MSP and a customer do business with one another. And that simple account overview is exactly what we are presenting this month.    The Client Account Overview dashboard is ideal for lower-touch customers or those customers who don't require detailed visibility into the service provided to them. Essentially, it contains basic MSP information for the customer.   Client Account Overview dashboard - view here   The Client Account Overview dashboard includes: Useful information like contact details, how to open a ticket, where to pay bills, etc.  Currently open tickets Number of workstations and servers A list of all services currently being paid for  Modules to insert client logos, images, contextual information, and more    This dashboard can truly be customized to include the exact information that would be most useful to an MSP's customer. At the end of the day, it's a way to add a professional touch to an MSP's relationship with their customer.    To recreate this dashboard for your own customers, check out the links below: Client Account Overview dashboard (public view link) Client Account Overview Buildout Key   We'd love to see how you are using this dashboard with your own customers. Please feel free to reach out to with any questions you have!  

The Complete Guide to Quarterly Business Reviews for MSPs

Ready for a breakfast meeting? Not quite? Grab a cup of coffee because we’re about to tell you how to prepare for one of the most important breakfast meetings on your calendar. The Quarterly Business Review is among the most important meetings you’ll have with your clients. It’s like a managed service provider wellness check. An opportunity to build relationships with clients while showcasing your services and ensuring an ongoing partnership.   In fact, there are few things more important than customer satisfaction in the business of managed services, and the keys to that satisfaction are transparency and great communication. For this reason, Quarterly Business Reviews are one of the best tools you can use when it comes to keeping your clients updated on all the work that you’re taking care of for them.   Quick Links What is a quarterly business review (QBR)? How to structure a quarterly business review How to create a quarterly business review How to prepare for a QBR meeting Benefits of Quarterly Business Reviews Next Steps for Mastering Your Review What is a quarterly business review (QBR)?   Sometimes referred to as a Technical Business Review or Semi-Annual Business Review, a QBR serves as an excellent opportunity, throughout the year, to touch base with clients, highlight the value of the services you provide, and create a strategic agenda moving forward. It’s an excellent opportunity to discuss your client’s business goals, projects or plans they have in the pipeline, and learn about their long-term goals. In turn, it gives you the opportunity to demonstrate how you and your services can help them along the way. In our managed services business, Compuquip, we learned a lot about perfecting these reviews and they served as a cornerstone in our efforts to keep clients happy and informed.   Let’s take a deep-dive into what a QBR meeting should look like, and how to leverage these meetings for closer, more fruitful partnerships! How to Structure Your QBR   As noted above, our managed service business afforded us the opportunity to become quite adept at structuring a QBR. Not only did our format and content enable us align ourselves with our client’s goals, but it also allowed us to showcase how our services were essential to helping them achieve their goals. These meetings and QBRs also allowed us to provide transparency with our clients that enabled us to build trusting relationships, the kind that enhance partnerships and create long-term success. Timing for a Quarterly Business Review If you think about your work week, and more specifically your work day, there are times you’re more amenable to conversation, less pressed for time, and more open to the kind of conversations that open doors rather than close them. This should all be taken into consideration when it comes to the timing of your QBR. First, ensure the meeting is convenient for all stakeholders. Still, it’s more than convenience. You also want to choose a time when everyone is alert and, again, open. Not easy, right?! That’s why we always suggest avoiding late lunch or a meeting near the end of the day. To be more specific, we found that QBRs as a breakfast meeting gave us the best results.   Why is that? To start, people are more likely to be in good moods, alert, and ready to take part in strategic discussions in the morning. Further, because other meetings are rarely scheduled first thing in the morning, choosing an early meeting ensures availability and can help you stand out from the crowd. Finally, most of our morning routine’s are hectic. We rush out the door, drop off our kids or clothes at the cleaner (sometimes the other way if we’ve not had coffee) and fight rush hour traffic to get to work. A meeting that allows us to sit down, grab a cup of coffee, have something light to eat is a pretty nice way to start the day.  Pro tip: Don’t think you have to assemble an entire spread of breakfast choices! Trust us... after years of successful QBRs, keep it simple. The secret? Bagels and coffee. They’re easy to transport, practically everyone loves them, and the price is great too!   In addition to when, you want to consider how often you should be meeting. You know your clients best, and it is important to provide them with a valuable interaction, that uses their, and your, time wisely. That isn’t always possible if you’re meeting too often. We recommend you try to meet at least three times per year as that keeps you in the forefront of their minds and helps build a stronger partnership. Who Should Participate in QBRs? Knowing the first step to QBR success lies in picking a time that will yield the highest attendance, it’s also just as important to make sure the right people are present. This helps ensure that the QBR has the proper gravity, that all stakeholders understand the connection between their business and your services.   Let’s take a closer look at who those stakeholders are:   Your Technical Account Manager: Bring the person who manages this particular account on a day-to-day basis because they know the ins and outs of the client’s business. This is the person who puts together the report, sets the agenda, and generally leads the actual meeting. Your Point of Contact: Invite the person your team regularly interfaces with because they have an understanding of your daily operations and is likely someone with whom you already have rapport. Depending on the size and structure of your client’s business, this may be an Office Manger or even a COO or CIO. The Boss: Who’s the top dog, so to speak, on the client side? Again, this depends on the size and structure of each client, but someone like the Founder, Owner, or CEO of the business. The Person Who Signs Your Check: Who signs off on your partnership? It’s absolutely critical that this person sees the value in your services and they are the most important attendee. For your smaller clients, this may be the boss, but with your larger clients, the money person may be a CFO. Find out who it is, and make sure they are included at each QBR. Other Department Heads: This should include people who are one level down from the executives, such as members of  a leadership team. Invite anyone who is relevant to the discussion, especially if you plan on pitching changes in processes that will involve their department. If necessary, provide a brief explanation for why you would like them to attend when planning the meeting. How to Create a QBR Okay. We’ve got a time, we’ve got a place, we’ve got the people. This is where we really dig in. It’s “The reason I asked you all here today…” Make QBRs Strategic, Not Tactical Your Quarterly Business Review isn’t the ideal time to get down into the nitty-gritty of daily operations. This is one of the few times you have executives from the client company there to listen to what you have to say — make the most of it and don’t get bogged down in the details.   Instead, zoom out and take a high-level approach to subjects you discuss. Executives and stakeholders are unlikely to be involved in day-to-day operations, so they don’t care about execution. They care about results.   Sometimes MSPs are tempted to use QBR time to discuss tactical issues, but we advise against it because those points should be discussed and coordinated directly with your day-to-day contact person. Executives aren’t as interested in the how as they are the what as in what have you done for them? For that reason, come to the QBR meeting armed with data. Show real-world returns from prevented problems and increased uptime. This approach builds trust and furthers your relationship as a trusted business advisor, rather than as just another vendor.    Additionally, during the meeting address the various roadblocks and obstacles that must be overcome to deliver an ideal service. This allows you to demonstrate your overall understanding of the landscape, where your client stands, and where they’d like to be. Identify areas where improvements can be made, and take a big picture strategic approach to problem-solving. Make sure you also listen closely to their concerns. In the end, both teams should align on ways to drive more value through your partnership. What You Should Include in Your Reviews   As an MSP, the goal of your Quarterly Business Review should be to provide a top-down view of operations, making sure each discussion offers transparency and highlights the value your MSP has provided in that specific area.   Service Ticket Review First, your QBRs should include a comprehensive service ticket review from the past quarter that shows how your team is handling ticket volume. The metrics are very straightforward - you want to compare the number of open tickets to the number of closed tickets. If your open and closed numbers are fairly even, it shows your customer that your team is handling support requests quickly. If the numbers are not relatively even, then you may have some explaining to do! Or more likely, it may be an indication the customer is over utilizing the service desk or they may need a different structure for their support. In other words, this is an opportunity for you to be a business advisor. Suggest an alternative structure or methods and techniques to decrease service tickets. Service requests, even if your team is responding quickly and efficiently, results in slowed workflows and, potentially, employee frustration. Now is the time to offer a plan to alleviate both concerns.   SLA Review Your QBR should also address your SLA. Compare your agreement to the services rendered and highlight areas where you have gone above and beyond. If there have been disputes or issues, now is a great time to discuss the matter while decision-makers are present.   In your report, take a deep dive into your agreement and provide updates on goals. How quickly have you responded to service requests? Have you met or exceeded your agreed-upon standards? If not, is there a reason why this is the case? Have you reached your service request resolution goal?   The SLA Review portion of your QBR is a good place to leverage positive client satisfaction surveys as well. As always, focus on the value you’ve provided while being honest about how you can improve moving forward and how those initiatives will work for your client’s goals as well.   Technical Review   The technical review should make up the bulk of your Quarterly Business Review. It gives you the opportunity to put the value you’ve provided front and center, while also providing some insight into where improvements in process could be made on both sides. The technical review must include all aspects of your services to provide a complete picture. Your technical review should include the following:   Endpoint Management   Having the ability to centrally deploy, update, and troubleshoot endpoint devices for your clients is critical to a successful partnership, which is why most MSPs will agree that endpoint management is the “meat and potatoes” of your partnerships. You probably also know from experience that, when done well, the client rarely knows everything that goes into endpoint management and likely everything you’re doing for them.   For this reason, focus on detailing your endpoint management actions - it’s low-hanging fruit in terms of demonstrating value. Your QBR should include several aspects of endpoint management that should also be covered in your meeting: Patch management. Because patches are the first line of defense for your clients, it’s important to provide details about your patch management. More specifically,  detail which machines are fully patched, which machines are missing patches (and how many patches they are missing), and reasons why those machines are behind. For instance, if those machines were powered off during that last installation window; it’s an important fact you should relay. Endpoint Security. Endpoint security is an important but often overlooked aspect of an MSP’s services. Often, clients only look into endpoint security when something goes wrong. However, you should make sure you set aside time in your QBR meeting to discuss your proactive efforts on endpoint security. Provide stats regarding your threat reporting and antivirus efforts. How many threats were detected? How many scans did you complete to identify those threats? Not only does this establish transparency and provide a full view of the work you’re doing to protect their assets, but again, it provides an opportunity to align on goals and demonstrate your understanding of the security landscape. Warranty Reporting. Establishing your knowledge and oversight of your client’s devices is an opportunity to help showcase your value. Which machines will have their warranty run out soon? What are the recommended next steps? Will you soon provide a quote to extend the warranties? Infrastructure Management   The infrastructure management section of your QBR will include a lot of critical yet also technical information. While this is another excellent opportunity to showcase your value, reeling off a list of techie terms, speeds, and feeds won’t do that for you. Make sure that, in this section, you take the time to explain why each one of these areas is a big deal for the client’s business. Hint: If you use BrightGauge to monitor these areas, this is a great place to include your gauges and a visual representation of these values! If not, you can always include this data from other sources. Overall network uptime. Include network uptime data for all relevant servers. If uptime can be improved, provide insight into why the numbers are lower than expected and make recommendations for improvement. Alert trending data. Provide insight into recent trend reports. Is there a vital piece of equipment, system, or network that is constantly running into issues? What steps should be taken to improve performance? Server backups. How often are you backing up data? Have there ever been any issues during data backups? A summary of all relevant backups is a good thing to add, as it provides a detailed picture of how you are protecting their business. Domain admins audit. Who has access to the domain admin security group? Keeping a close eye on domain administrators that have access to servers, workstations, and files is important for protecting clients. How often is the user list being audited? Will that change moving forward? Server patch status. Which servers are up to date? Which servers are missing patches? Why are they missing patches? Offer a plan to ensure that all servers stay up to date moving forward. Again, the goal with each metric is to provide the data, look for and recommend areas for improvement, and take the opportunity to make those suggestions.   Network Security Defense   Since protecting networks against viruses and other threats is important for maintaining the security of the entire organization, you’ll want to detail some key aspects of your network security efforts in this section of your report (this may also be a good opportunity to touch on your GDPR compliance efforts): Server Virus Protection. How many updates and scans have been performed? Have any threats been detected? Provide a complete picture of server virus protection using data.   Email Security. Detail the protection efforts of the company’s emails and email server. Provide any relevant data regarding detected threats. Many organizations are compromised through employee email and clients know this. Reassure them that you have protections in place and demonstrate how those protections are working.   Strategic Planning   Keeping the subjects you just discussed in mind, now is a good time to dive into big-picture strategy and proposals to improve the business relationship moving forward. Make sure that everyone at the meeting has a solid understanding of what you are currently working on, what is planned for the future, and any recommended changes you may have. Include these recommendations in your report, and come to the meeting prepared to discuss those aspects of your partnership.   User-Training   Let your clients know which of their employees may require additional training, based on the support tickets you have received. Training not only enables your organization to save time, but it is also another way for you to prove useful to your clients during the QBR meeting. Training may also go beyond tickets, but can include updated security and threat training as this is often a shortcoming at many organizations.      How to prepare for a QBR meeting Got the bagels? Good. Truth be told, we all know it’s more than bagels and coffee. Again, this is your opportunity to stand out and demonstrate why your services are exceeding expectations and can continue to do so moving forward. You’ve got the chance to showcase how you are aware of your client’s business needs and goals and how your service can be tailored to help them achieve those objectives. Much like everything else outline here, however, there are a few steps you want to take to ensure your meeting runs smoothly and touches on all the points you want to address with your client.   Create an agenda The agenda is your opportunity to outline the information you’ll be presenting to your clients and also provides an overview for the areas you’ll want to research and be prepared to discuss in depth during the meeting. Finally, it’s important to remember that the QBR meeting is a chance for discussion, a chance for you to listen as well as speak, so the agenda is a good place for you to identify the areas where you may want client input. You can also outline here the time you anticipate you’ll need which allows any executives or upper management in attendance to understand expectations and block out time for you. Your ability to anticipate their needs and deliver on them, in even this small way, sends an important message. Gather your data and do your research   Three to four months, the time you’ll have, roughly, between QBRs, is ample time to analyze data regarding any initiatives started since your last meeting. Further, you’ll want to have the client data you’ll need as well as any relevant industry or market data to make any comparisons but also to provide that data and suggested initiatives to your client. It’s also an opportunity to review client goals discussed at the last meeting so you’re prepared to report on progress. You’ll also want ample time to formulate responses to any shortfalls or weaknesses and investigate potential fixes. Be prepared to demonstrate not only your awareness that they exist, but how you’re prepared to adjust your strategies and tactics to improve.   Benefits of Quarterly Business Reviews   After ironing out the QBR process in our MSP, we found that there are quite a few benefits. To start, it offers a personal touch that clients appreciate. As MSPs, we’re all too familiar with the dreaded “why am I paying you” question. Of course, we at BrightGauge advocate for weekly or monthly reporting to help avoid that question from popping up, but adding in the face-to-face QBRs is a great touch point and opportunity to explain things in detail or answer questions that may not come up in emailed reports.   Second, having several people there from each department makes it easy to pinpoint issues and receive input from multiple viewpoints. Additionally, you’ll have everyone you need to make decisions to solve those problems. Ensuring that several high ranking employees within the company attend, you will dramatically improve your CSAT scores and ultimately, your customer retention.   Another often overlooked benefit of conducting a thorough in-person QBR is the fact that it will help you to highlight which of your customers are not a great match for your services. During your meeting preparation, you may find that there are conflicts within your SLA that inhibit your ability to provide a valuable service. Some common examples include machines not receiving timely updates, or an unwillingness to invest in critical infrastructure. You can also use these reports to gauge the overall profitability of a customer and decide when it may be appropriate for both parties to go their separate ways. In fact, Andrew Hutchison, Network Ops Manager at BlackPoint IT, confirms “We had some hard conversations, but having the data available took us down the path of getting rid of unprofitable customers.” Next Steps for Mastering Your Review   Quarterly business reviews are a critical tool for your success. Instead of putting together a report and attaching it to an email, take the time to schedule a meeting with all relevant stakeholders. And, before the end of your meeting, schedule the next! Use each meeting to highlight the value you’ve provided, identify areas for improvement, and establish your business as a trusted partner, expert, and advisor, rather than an ordinary vendor.   In our MSP, we created a QBR template in Word that we could easily customize for each client with screenshot images from BrightGauge - and you can too! Download a copy of the Quarterly Business Review template that worked like a charm for us. And get in touch with the BrightGauge team to learn how our dashboards and gauges can enhance your QBR or how our reporting can streamline your data gathering efforts.

50 Goal Ideas for Every Member of Your Team

As we hit a few months into the new year, now is typically the time when memories of our resolutions start to fade, we lose track of our goals, or abandon them altogether. We’re here to say now is the time to recommit, rather than give up. It’s completely reasonable to review and adjust your goals regularly throughout the year. For many, 2020 was an interesting year and that means we put off setting goals in 2021 until we could see what the landscape might look like. Now is the time to set those goals. If you put them off or just need to re-evaluate, seize the moment. Quick Links What are team goals? How to set team goals Best practices for goal setting 50 team goal examples How BrightGauge Goals help you track progress throughout the year What are team goals? Goals help to keep our eyes on the prize, working towards a desired outcome, and focused on success. When we have an end result in mind, it’s easier to stay hyper-productive and in a deep workflow. This is especially true when working in teams. With a team goal, you ensure that everyone stays on track and focused on the common objective, even if their individual tasks seem isolated. When setting goals, both team and individual, it’s important to remember that there are 3 types of goals you, or a team, can set. Outcome goals are the results we’d like to see or what it is we hope to achieve. Process goals are the strategies or actions that will lead us to the outcome. Performance goals are the standards you set to apply to your process. For example, let’s say your team sends out a customer service survey after interactions with your team and lately those scores have fallen by 7 points. The outcome goal associated with this might be to increase customer service satisfaction scores by 7 points. The process goal would be to have weekly check-ins with your customer. Your performance goal would be to spend at least 10 minutes discussing concerns with the customer and ensure they have no questions or concerns when the call is done.  How to Set Team Goals When setting a team goal, it’s important that you’re not just “going through the motions.” Often when we talk about goal setting, people envision lofty goals that are unattainable, and so faith in goal setting as a practice is weaker than it should be. When specific and challenging S.M.A.R.T. goals are set, especially for a team, they can be motivating. When setting goals for a team, you want to do the following: 1. Figure out the outcome First, nearly 40% of employees do not know what their business’s goals are. This should be deeply concerning to a company, and to teams. While team goals may only be part of the larger business goal, getting everyone on the same page is key. Right now, according to these stats, half the team isn’t even reading the right book! Further, if you don’t know what you want to achieve, it’ll be next to impossible to figure out the process or performance goals that will help you get there. You’ll want to assess the larger business goal (outcome) and see where your team fits in achieving that. What will the outcome for your team look like? How does it align with the overall business goal? 2.  Have team members set personal goals One of the greatest assets you have is your team itself. For that reason, you want to ensure buy-in on your goals and one great way to do that is to allow team members to determine where their individual process goals will help achieve the outcome. Not only does this strategy ensure individual team members envision how they fit into the larger goals, but it can also improve efficiency and the chances of success. In setting these goals, it’s vital to remember the principles of S.M.A.R.T. goals: S-Specific - Keep it simple, but detailed. M- Measurable- Find a way to track it. How will you know when it is achieved? A- Achievable- Keep it realistic. R- Relevant- Does it matter? Does it help you get to the outcome? T- Timely- Set a deadline and keep that realistic, but challenging.    Here’s an example: If you’re in sales, it’s not enough to say, “Next quarter, we'll close more accounts.” Instead, a S.M.A.R.T. goal would be, “By the end of next quarter, I will bring in 10 new accounts that will result in a higher commission for myself and contribute to the overall revenue goals of our company; I’ll do this by increasing the amount of calls I make from 100 to 150.”  3.  Set deadlines One of the most important aspects of goal setting is creating deadlines. The fundamentals of S.M.A.R.T. goals include being timely. Open-ended goals, or a failure to create specific tasks (process goals), to be measured in a specific time, are likely to lead to confusion and, quite possibly, failure. Remember, it’s important to set realistic deadlines, and, if necessary, break large tasks into smaller tasks that can also be measured, and also have deadlines.  4. Track progress S.M.A.R.T. goals must be measured. That means you, and your team, need to be aligned and reviewing progress. Successes and meeting benchmarks will motivate team members, but tracking also allows your team to adjust. Some tasks may take longer than others and others may present unexpected challenges. By checking in with team members, and tracking progress, team leaders, and members, can step in where needed and adjust. 5. Adjust as needed One reason tracking is so important is that it allows you to adjust. Many people view goal setting as black and white. Success or failure. What this fails to account for is the importance of tracking progress and remaining agile throughout the process. Regular feedback and team input can help create the kind of cohesion that leads to success, even in the face of challenges.   Best practices for goal-setting   When you’ve landed on a goal that resonates with you and your team, and aligns with your overall business goals, be sure to keep a few things in mind that will ultimately help you be successful.   Tie your goals to overall KPIs. We often compare key performance indicators to a North Star because KPIs are what keep everyone focused and aligned. If your individual goals aren’t tied to KPIs, then you won’t be working towards the target you care about most. And remember, just like goals, your sales team, service team, project team, finance team, and NOC/operations team KPIs will all vary from one another. Don’t rely on goals for performance reviews. This can be hard to do, but remember: goal-setting should encourage employees to stretch for something big. And in the process, it’s okay to not be afraid to fail and to not settle for mediocrity. It's also important to keep tracking, keep monitoring, and adjust as needed.   If goals were simply boxes to be check and then tied to compensation, teams would naturally only choose attainable goals, which wouldn’t leave a lot of room for growth. Risk has its rewards. While goals should be attainable, they should also present a challenge. 50 team goal examples Each department in your organization contributes to the overall success of your company in different ways. Your support team will have different responsibilities than your sales team, and so each of your employees’ goals will vary as well. Make sure that the goals that are being set are relevant the goal owner. Here are some ideas: Leadership Team: Build on existing MRR: create upsell goals for existing managed services revenue Develop Existing Resources: look at how you can develop your team to meet hiring plans for the future Customer Satisfaction: monitor your percentage of satisfied vs. negative surveys (good for services lead) Reactive Kill Ratio: calculate whether your service team is closing more tickets than are being opened (good for services lead) Utilization Rate: hours billed vs. total hours in the week (good for operations manager) Past Due Receivables: track how much is owed to your business that is past due (good for finance lead) Average Response Time: monitor the time it takes to respond to a service request (good for services lead) Cash in Bank: see how much cash is in the bank at the end of the week (good for finance lead) Employee Engagement: assess whether you’re keeping and attracting top talen Current Pipeline: the total amount in the pipeline multiplied by percentage chance of closing (good for sales lead) Service Team: Bring Down Response Time: are you responding to support requests quickly enough? Bring Down Response Plan Time: are you starting work on the ticket fast enough? Bring Down Resolution Time: total time to resolve tickets, minus business hours and hold statuses New Certifications: stay on top of certifications that keep your team members relevant Customer Satisfaction: monitor your percentage of satisfied vs. negative surveys (good for services lead) Reactive Kill Ratio: calculate whether your service team is closing more tickets than are being opened (good for services lead) SLAs Missed: tickets that missed their SLA (good for services lead) Noisy Tickets: tickets with more than 5 time entries that are still open Ticket Backlog: tracking the backlog of tickets to make sure they are coming down Stale Tickets: open tickets that haven’t been updated in over 3 days Finance/HR Teams: Implement Quarterly Fun Event: a great one for HR, to keep team members engaged and close knit Nothing Over 90 Days Past Due: strive to reduce AR to as little as possible Past Due Accounts Receivable: total dollar amount of past due invoices >90 Days Past Due: total dollar amount greater than 90 days past due Cash in Bank: monitor how much cash is on hand Payables Past Due: total money owed to vendors/clients Invoices Delivered: monitor how efficiently and on-time invoices are being sent Continued Education Hours: track how well you’re investing in employees and how much continued education they are completing Operations/Projects Teams: Fixed Fee Projects > 20k: keeping track of the fixed fee projects in your pipeline Document Sales to Project Team Handoff: document the process for sales to hand off a won project to the project team Projects Over Budget: number of projects that are over budget against Work Plan hours Project Hours: track these to determine if too much/too little time is being spent on projects and see if priorities need to be readjusted Documentation New & Updated: monitor how many documents are being created and updated Open Projects: keep an eye on overall workload Hours Not Billed: hours without an agreement or project without an associated invoice Sales Team: New New MRR: the amount of money closed in managed services revenue Pipeline Per Sales Rep: the current weekly pipeline multiplied by stage Networking Events Attended: an important one for sales reps as they can result in new business, track the number of networking events they are participating in Dials Made: count how many outbound calls are being made Opportunities With No Activity: the number of opportunities with no activity in the previous week While professional goals are of utmost importance, we always like to leave room for personal development, too. That’s why we think it can be a good idea to assign 1 ‘fun’ goal to each employee per cycle. When we’re growing and pushing our own boundaries, it makes us more well-rounded and productive employees. Fun goals: Watch all the Oscar winning movies from your birth year Learn how to juggle Explore 3 new parks this quarter Win a trivia night this year Walk 50,000 steps in one month Learn an instrument Call at least one family member or friend on way to or from work, weekly Get an hour massage this month Watch a Ted talk with a friend or partner then discuss over coffee   BrightGauge Goals helps you track progress throughout the year We’re passionate about goal-setting, and the goals feature of BrightGauge was designed for that reason. It makes it easy to stay on track of progress because it's automated for you. Further, our dashboards allow you to track and customize the KPIs that are along the path to your objectives. You can share those with your team as a whole or individual employees. Send employees an email to check in on their goals through highly visible goal cards. You'll keep team members motivated and accountable for their process goals. Plus, those inspiration ideas  we mentioned above? Most of them can be found in BrightGauge, so if you’re feeling intimidated about the process of actually coming up with goals, fear not. They take just a few minutes to set up. We live for goals. Let us help you achieve yours.

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