Guest Column | September 13, 2021

Address Your Clients' Labor Shortage Concerns With Automation

By Ryan Goodman, President of ConnectBooster

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Finding good people to fill job openings always has been a challenge for businesses. Over the past few months, that task has become much more difficult as the pandemic restrictions eased, ramping up the demand for new hires while the supply remains constrained.

From the small corner deli to the Fortune 500, white-collar to blue-collar, no organization or position is immune from labor shortages today. Some economists are even referring to the current situation as a crisis due to the extreme scarcity of willing and able workers and no simple solutions in sight. For example, there were 9.2 million job openings and just 5.9 million hires in May, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Employment experts suggest that the gap will continue to grow and, if left unchecked, could easily develop into one of the worst labor shortages of the last 50 years. Companies that employ blue-collar and manual services workers should be extremely concerned. Many retailers are already cutting their business hours because they simply don’t have enough employees to stay open all day. Manufacturers are also trimming shifts or mandating overtime to keep production lines operating.

The chances are good that your clients and potential customers are also experiencing labor shortages. The great news is that MSPs are in the perfect position to help, with process and workflow expertise and deep knowledge of efficiency-driving solutions as part of their service offering. You can significantly alleviate their labor shortage concerns with automation tools.

Implement Cost-Effective Productivity Solutions

The managed service provider community has a long history of saving businesses both time and money. When properly designed and implemented, technology solutions can cut, if not eliminate, manual tasks and reduce the confusion that comes from diverse and complicated processes. Automation is essentially a streamlining machine.

From the sales and marketing departments to accounting and HR, and all points in between, there is essentially a solution to drive new efficiencies in every part of an organization today. Automation helps manufacturers speed production with fewer employees and allows medical and dental offices to book appointments and send out reminder calls and texts without human involvement. Forms that track time meticulously and bill accordingly will appreciate tools that speed communications and boost collaboration capabilities. Removing people (and the associated costs) from the equation is a bonus.  

Those are just a few of the many ways automation can improve the workplaces and lives of your clients and potential customers. Helping businesses address their labor shortage concerns with automation can be a differentiator for MSPs, especially with the rapidly increasing costs of hiring new employees – if organizations can find anyone willing and able to fill the job. With fewer than half the number of candidates required to fill each open position and even fewer looking for more traditional manual labor roles, your clients are likely in need of some innovative solutions.

What could your team do to lessen their employee needs while improving response time? Which tools and integrations could ease their teams’ workloads by streamlining and automating processes? The answer will be different for virtually every business. MSPs that support clients in multiple industries must spend a lot of time and effort learning the nuances of various applications and workflows as a service offering, as well as the regulatory compliance requirements and unique demands of each organization.

The profit margins associated with the delivery of these full-stack services are typically quite high. From a lower-level bundled package to support for complex networks and backup monitoring, as well as other add-on services, MSPs can optimize and automate it all.     

Addressing Labor Shortages Through Automation    

Technology is the ultimate enabler. Many MSPs employ a comprehensive team that can empower their clients with a plethora of solutions that reduce manual labor and increase productivity. Standard automation options can streamline basic work tasks, push information into central repositories, and reduce the complexity of projects − all good ways to lessen the daily demands on employees.       

Microsoft 365 provides a great example. These cloud-based platforms not only deliver great profit margins, but empower project management, create new collaboration opportunities, and seamlessly boost communications across the entire business environment. While the automation points may not be complex, the time savings can help organizations struggling through the labor shortage. The efficiency and productivity improvements from these types of systems can minimize the need for new hires.

The next step up the channel business model ladder is process automation, a critical piece of any MSP's services today. These cloud or physical software applications can help your clients document and manage various steps inside their businesses, including HR onboarding, insurance or product replacement claims, logistics and supply chain management, and accounts payable and collections. For a set monthly service fee, automation can cut a company’s manual labor requirements and have a positive impact on management’s labor shortage concerns. A per-user pricing model makes that process even easier.  

ConnectBooster assists MSPs and their clients in this area. Payment and collections processes can be extremely time-consuming and frustrating for employees, so why not implement a solution that can substantially reduce both issues? ConnectBooster automates and simplifies those insufferable billing tasks, allowing businesses to reassign team members to other jobs, further reducing the headaches caused by the current labor shortage. Every managed IT service provider can improve cash flow and margins by implementing the platform in its own business and leverage the REV program to extend those same benefits to its customers. Why not boost everyone’s bottom lines with automation?

Integration automation is the final piece of the equation. These technology connections can control the workflow from multiple machines and applications, monitor and analyze data, and move information back and forth between the various systems, initiating other processes when needed. MSPs typically employ a team of experts who can enable and configure different integrations to help their clients maximize the efficiency of various parts of their operations. These automations, when properly implemented, can trim the hourly work requirements for companies feeling the pinch of labor shortages.       

For example, MSPs typically connect their RMM and PSA tools to streamline alerts and trouble tickets. When the monitoring system detects a problem, it kicks off an automated process that notifies all the right people with the correct information. From the on-call technician to the management team, everyone gets the information they need to take the appropriate action and keep the client up and running. An integrated services offering speeds the information delivery process and set off a chain of events that save services experts and their clients valuable time and reduce workloads. By automating multiple systems (adding mobile devices is also helpful) providers can truly help clients hit hard by resource constraints and the current labor shortage.

Craft A Strategic Efficiency Plan For Your Clients

Leveraging integrations and applications is the perfect way to streamline processes. MSPs can implement several automation tools to optimize their clients’ operations, improve resource utilization, and do their part to reduce the labor shortage. As always, the first step in that process is to develop a list of suitable tools and map out the proper course of action for each client.

Automation begins with a solid business strategy. Before adding technologies into the mix, IT service providers need to evaluate and enhance the processes that will become part of the overall program. Automating bad methodologies will lead to poor outcomes for both you and your clients. Streamlining and strengthening each process methodically before implementing automation technologies will help ensure that everything flows properly and most efficiently.         

A successful managed service provider looks outside pure-play IT services for new opportunities. Automation is one of those options, requiring providers to focus on processes, service levels, and business goals to help their clients attain operational maturity. Overcoming the current labor shortage is just one of the many objectives MSPs should have in their sights today.

Is your team actively streamlining and augmenting operations using new technology solutions, bundled packages, and integrations? Will automation consultation services alleviate some, if not all, of your clients' and potential customers' concerns over the current labor shortage? 

These are the types of questions that managed IT services providers should be asking their team members today. Those answering to the affirmative will likely see their businesses flourish in the future – as long as they can back up those aspirations with a high-quality design, an SMB-focused offering, implementation assistance, and support. 

Our team is always ready to lend you a hand. Learn how ConnectBooster and REV automation can help lessen the labor shortage concerns for both you and your clients.

About The Author 

Ryan Goodman is President of ConnectBooster.