“Time is money.” It’s a centuries-old adage that first appeared in our lexicon when Benjamin Franklin penned the words in 1748. This phrase is no truer today for any industry than for MSPs. You and your technicians only have so much time in a day, so minimizing tickets and the time spent on common IT tasks can help you gain time elsewhere, increasing your business’s profitability and enabling you to scale.
In order for an MSP to grow, there must be a concentrated effort toward efficiency throughout your organization. The most valuable asset to your bottom line is time, and the No. 1 cost for any MSP is labor. Every penny spent on your IT tool stack should have a direct impact on not only driving profit but also on reducing your labor cost. To maximize your technicians’ time and get the most out of your resources, you need to adopt heavy use of IT automation.
By streamlining the services your clients rely on, you free up your time to focus on the root cause analysis of recurring tickets, which can save you even more time and money, creating a perpetual cycle that can lead to an even stronger business. This is accomplished by removing downtime from the equation while also securing data and protecting infrastructure. By automating repeatable and routine tasks, you can provide a comprehensive IT management service at an affordable rate for your clients and can grow your business in ways you may have never thought possible.
When you work toward a sustainable system in which your technicians can focus on bigger, more valuable issues, you’ll find productivity increasing, operating costs decreasing, and a boost in profits and scalability. To get there, follow this four-step playbook for IT automation success.
Step 1: Determine Which Functions To Automate
Begin with the obvious: processes that are ongoing and repetitive. Think of the routine tasks your technicians do day in and day out for clients — things they could do in their sleep (and hey, maybe they have). For example, IT documentation has always been a time-consuming but necessary task to keep your team functioning as a cohesive unit. With IT automation, it’s relatively simple to streamline your documentation, and the benefits of documentation are never lost. Instead, you continue to retain the valuable information that promotes continuity among technicians without wasting time on creation.
Other simple, yet important, examples include software updates and patches, regular disk cleanup and backups, customer-facing functions like reporting and ticketing, and compliance processes.
Step 2: Adopt Automation To Deliver Proactive Services
No matter your remote monitoring and management (RMM), professional services automation (PSA), or IT documentation tools preference, you can easily find the automation solutions you need to make it happen and begin implementing the process. Start with some of your easiest processes to offload, like software updates or cleanups. These services are more proactive and demand a limited amount of manpower. By offloading them onto IT automation first, you’re freeing up more time immediately and testing a new procedure on a process that’s not as detrimental as repairs or patches.
RMM tools enable MSPs to automatically perform a variety of diagnostic and preventive maintenance routines to identify potential difficulties before they become major problems. And PSA tools allow technicians to remotely enter the time they completed services, which makes time and tasks easily trackable. This is invaluable in calculating the cost of service delivery.
When your RMM and PSA tools are integrated, IT automation success is inflated, and your processes become more scalable.
Take automation to the next level and consider inviting your customers to the automation party. Many end users are now more tech savvy then they were just five years ago, so look to invest in self-service capabilities for activities that clients can perform themselves, such as password resets. A self-service portal opens your help desk to clients with restricted access so they can log incidents and service requests, find resolutions, and track the progress of their tickets by themselves.
Step 3: Manage Dynamic Cloud-Based Solutions And Advanced Automation
The cloud offers solutions that no other platform can, and the implementation of RMM and PSA tools can enable MSPs to seamlessly manage these dynamic solutions. Cloud-based solutions can pair with already existing platforms to transform your processes. This is IT automation at the next level. It can be used for endpoint and network security, backup, business continuity, and end-user security awareness training.
Compliance process automation platforms can also aid in furthering your IT automation into platforms that are custom-built for your clients and your process. Some of these tools even offer a wizard-driven workflow engine and programs for automated networks, computer data discovery, and built-in compliance, which can maintain and provide evidence of a client’s compliance.
As you transform how IT automation works and looks for your MSP, you can adapt it with tools found in cloud-based solutions or compliance process automation. The process will advance, and along with it, the solutions you can automate.
But that’s not all you can do. Your IT management tools can fix issues automatically by executing scripts in response to an alert. Here’s a simple example: You have to set up a monitor that generates an alert when disk space is low on a server or workstation. Next, you want to automatically validate that condition. Then, remediate the problem by executing a script to clean up the disk space. Lastly, you may want to run a weekly report on all of the alerts that have occurred during the prior week.
Step 4: Automate Routine Tasks With APIs And Scripts
Why reinvent the IT automation wheel? There are experts who have been in your very position and asked, “How can we streamline this process?” Looking to those industry leaders and other MSPs who have “been there” is a powerful tool. This is not an idea that’s lost on MSP IT automation tool innovators like Kaseya.
“We’ve adopted a unique, crowdsourced approach for enabling our MSPs to harness the power of IT automation,” says Taunia Kipp, executive vice president at Kaseya. “With our Automation Exchange, which is Kaseya’s peer-built marketplace for sharing, buying, and selling Agent Procedures, scripts, monitor sets, reports, templates, and other types of automation for Kaseya products, we built an automation sourcing platform into our offering that allows technicians to upload the automation they have created so that others can take advantage of it. While the majority of the automation available in the exchange is free to download, MSPs have the option to charge for their contributions. The exchange allows MSPs to save time and boost productivity while battling pricing pressure and streamlining their workflows by leveraging the power of over 10,000 engineers and Kaseya automation experts.”
As a real-world example, think back to when just about every system you were monitoring had to make the switch to Windows 10. Microsoft’s Windows 10 update was known to be the most bug-prone update in the company’s history. File deletion and driver compatibility issues created a never-ending saga of challenges. If you weren’t one of the shops who automated the process using scripts, your technicians could have spent that time of major transition and overhaul focusing on individual client needs and unique scenarios while your automation station did most of the work. Imagine how infinitely better that process could have been and how much more attentive your technicians could have been.
This process can also work with automating patch management — something that is often missed for many MSPs — routine server maintenance, billing statements, and backup testing. You’ll prevent problems from happening without having to even think about starting the process. Your IT automation process will have you covered, and your business will scale powerfully.
IT automation doesn’t take your team out of the game. In fact, it better prepares them for bigger, more important opportunities in the future. As a result, your processes will begin to work for you, your team, and your clients, saving you valuable time and ultimately earning you more money than you thought possible with the nitty-gritty of IT work.