The Sierra Pacific Playbook: How MSPs Can Unlock Service Efficiency with Modern Tools
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When MSPs are mired in legacy service delivery workflows and antiquated software tools, their business efficiency, resource productivity, and service profitability often decline in tandem.
Sierra Pacific Group are experts in helping MSPs improve efficiency and combat these issues by implementing industry-proven best practices built over their 15 years in the channel. SPG's solutions range from ConnectWise Improvement Projects to Integration/Migration Projects, Virtual Administrative Services -- and even Outsourced Accounting for CW Manage users.
We sat down with Adam Bielanski, Sierra Pacific Group’s CEO and a ConnectWise Advisory Council member, for a masterclass on the business value of improving antiquated systems. We cover:
- Best practices for MSP operators to improve their service delivery
- Two reasons why great service delivery is so hard to nail
- Processes and tooling that can simplify time entry
“Integrated chat is the future of providing the best possible service delivery – especially for MSPs looking to cut costs and increase profit margins.”
Why Legacy Service Delivery is Uniquely Expensive
In the era of remote-first knowledge work, talent is found anywhere with wireless internet.
Many MSPs find advantages in strategic sourcing and its positive bottom-line impact, yet service delivery remains quite expensive, leaving operators a tough choice: service quality, or healthy margins? This usually happens for one of two reasons:
- The salary costs associated with top-tier technicians and engineers
- Finding, implementing, and integrating the appropriate tooling
High-Quality Employees Are High-Cost
Adam emphasizes that the number-one cost is likely the salaries of your technicians and engineers. The current market necessitates exceptionally high base pays.
So, you have to pay up to provide truly exceptional service.
As you might expect: The higher you pay, the more relevant employee experience you get — and the greater quantity and/or quality of customer service that person will deliver.
With that, Adam recognizes there’s a spectrum of service needs and abilities to pay for quality. Most businesses are able to find a happy medium to balance quality with cost.
Overall, providing a top-tier experience requires significant (and unavoidable) labor spend.
Legacy Software Tools Increase Burn Rate
There’s also the cost of the tooling those employees will use.
Adam stresses that tools must be integrated and utilized appropriately from the get-go.
Software should enable and enhance – rather than gating or complicating – your service delivery model. It’s not as simple as paying for the fanciest stack and calling it a day. Instead, look for platforms that optimize on time-to-value for your business – otherwise, many operators find they become a burden that requires even more labor resources to manage.
As mentioned, labor is far costlier than the tools themselves.
So, if you don't have integrated tooling, you’ll wind up with two major resource drains that continually feed off one another to burn cash — faster and faster.
Ultimately, the end customer experience suffers if:
- The MSP’s tools aren’t integrated
- Businesses don’t have their processes baked in
- Businesses don’t find the highest-quality service providers
Whereas many businesses feel like they’re, as Adam puts it, constantly fighting fires, the successful ones are robust in their people, stacks, and systematic workflows.
“Simply put: If you don’t pay top dollar, what you end up with likely won’t be high-quality. That’ll negatively impact the customer experience.”
The Outsized ROI in Streamlining Time Entry
Adam considers existing comms platforms (i.e., email and phone calls) strikingly outdated, especially compared to most business solutions that are innovating and competing on service experience.
- Email provides a channel for enriched content, but it's nontransparent and slow
- Phone calls are real-time, but lack rich context
Businesses that rely on these older channels lose time and productivity in handling antiquated service delivery frameworks and poor customer experiences.
Breaking this down further: attempting to support customer inquiries while also maintaining the highly technical internal conversation surrounding its resolution results in a fragmented representation of what is essentially a single issue.
The result? This one issue over-leverages an increasing number of stakeholders in varying ways.
As a solution, Adam highlights the opportunity to run systems that unify customer conversations with time tracking. He calls them one of a business’s most valuable resources.
After all, businesses need to appropriately gauge and budget time for every engineer and technician to optimize available labor resources. Here, Adam emphasizes the need for:
- A strong organizational culture around time policies
- Proper processes and training on those processes
Time entries are one tool for MSPs to drive engineering productivity forward, but, most importantly, drive billing. As a result, every minute they fail to capture a time entry has a direct impact on agreement health and overall profitability.
Ultimately, time entry and integrated chat within teams create a better channel for engineers to provide updates and ensure the quality of entry remains high by removing friction from the process: in essence, service context and communications are now one and the same.
To make the most of time entry, Adam recommends policies like:
- Holding people accountable for proper documentation of engineering expectations
- Creating and distributing an employee handbook, including disciplinary actions
- Implementing chat auto-tracking and auto-updating statuses
“We encourage a culture of accountability in terms of managing time. That requires better systems to capture it — through tools like Thread.”
How MSPs Unlock Efficiency with Modern Tools
In Adam’s words, he could talk forever about integrated tooling, choosing the right tools, and how to ensure you’re properly utilizing those tools.
To put it succinctly: He’s a die-hard proponent of leveraging your stack as smartly and as often as possible. To start off, he suggests organizations do two things:
- Write down every tool your business uses
- Ask yourself, “At what percentage am I utilizing each tool’s capabilities?”
After this, he recommends diving into questions like:
- Is each tool fully integrated?
- Are there necessary processes in place behind the tool?
- Most importantly: Are we using this tool as much as we should be to justify the cost?
Adam has seen far too many tech leaders pay for tools and then fail to integrate or apply them. From his experience, MSP leaders need modern tooling platforms that rapidly unlock – rather than gating or complicating – unrealized value, while also accelerating time to value.
Design Process, Then Layer on Advanced Tooling
For Adam, building good processes always depends on the specific tool and desired outcome.
Before integrating a new tool, it’s imperative to define how to best apply them and put documented processes in place. If your business isn’t utilizing new tooling correctly or intentionally, you could be setting your team up in an inefficient workflow.
To avoid this, Adam advises MSPs to understand:
- What business problem they’re trying to solve
- The steps required to solve that particular problem
- The specific outcomes they’re looking for from a solution
- How they’ll configure their systems to adapt to new tooling
“Too often, we’ll jump to adopt the tool without thinking about the actual business problem. Look at the end result and what you’re trying to accomplish.”
Parting Advice: Move Fast and Measure Carefully
When MSPs fail to drive efficiency and productivity across their service delivery, the end service experience for users and agents alike suffers. Critically, frequent interface switching on legacy tooling removes agents from service context, thus requiring more touches per request.
In aggregate, this has a demonstrable negative impact on MSP outcomes, productivity, and profitability. Moving beyond high-level efficiency, clear processes, accountability, and culture, Adam recommends that MSPs can and should focus on two controllable factors:
- Implementing documented paths — “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
- Executing initial fixes — As the saying goes, “Done is better than perfect.”
In the end, his secret to maintaining top-notch service delivery entails measurable, manageable processes — from tooling implementation to time entry – while also understanding you need to make the “not-so-great” V1 to get to the better V2, V3, and so on.
With regards to tracking measurable progress, notable metrics to track include Response Time, Resolution Time, Customer Effort Score, and Net Service Profitability.
“One huge point in service delivery is — don’t wait until it’s perfect. Just get it done. Then, perfect it down the road as you go.”
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