From The Editor | August 10, 2010

What Does It Take To Successfully Migrate To Managed Services?


By Gennifer Biggs, security, storage, and managed services editor

During day two of CompTIA's annual Breakaway event, I had the honor of moderating a panel of experts and discussing their advice to traditional VARs that see many hurdles standing in their way as they consider managed services. I was lucky enough to convince several industry experts — both on the vendor and MSP side — to share their knowledge and insight about the topic — successfully migrating to the managed service model.

On my panel were Scott Barlow, Reflexion; Jeannine Edwards, ConnectWise; Alex Rogers, ARRC Technologies and CharTec; MJ Shoer, Jenaly Technologies; and Edward Stringfellow, Stringfellow Technology Group. This mix of vendors, master MSPs, and MSPs spared no detail, talking in-depth about the considerations a VAR must face when thinking about managed services — changes in tools, incurred costs, drastically different financials, a new take on sales, marketing themselves vs. technology, tackling the intricacies of the recurring revenue business model, approaching completely different kinds of customer conversations, and building new kinds of value propositions — and ways the panel recommends getting around those bumps in the road.

Among the advice was their take on the habits of highly effective MSPs. Those tips included awareness of your business and your current process, and a solid plan for where you want to go with your IT business; consistencies in both process and deliverables; sticking close to your core competencies; leveraging your managed services contract negotiations as a point around which you improve your customers' networks and deploy the solutions you want to; self-branding your offerings (don't let your logo only show on the invoice); and leaning on your vendors for education and support.

At the end of the panel, I asked each guest to share one tip — and you're lucky, because even if you missed the panel — you can listen to their advice right here.