The benefits of VARs becoming managed services providers (MSPs) have long been discussed. Many VARs have been reluctant to join the MSP market in the first place, many experience extremely disappointing results when they try to make the move across, and many commentators have suggested that it is not worth the risk in the first place.
It could be argued, however, that some of the disappointment associated with the move towards managed services could be due to companies approaching the business model with unrealistic expectations.
When moving from, for example, a traditional break-fix setup to a true, value-adding MSP proposition, the key is to start by clearly understanding the responsibilities of an MSP, and then working to put the right pieces in place to meet these requirements.
It is essential to establish a business model that can be scaled up easily as you become more successful. A new MSP must be careful not to overcommit itself initially; doing so may put it at risk of losing money very quickly.
A good first step is to develop a monitoring service for existing clients and then define the service-level agreements, incorporating service levels that can be met.
One mistake aspiring MSPs often make is to define remote monitoring as managed services. While having the ability to monitor customers' IT systems remotely is a critical step, it's only an initial move.
It's what MSPs do after they begin to receive alerts from customers regarding their IT estate and how they resolve any issues that is the key to MSP success.
An ability to automate routine IT support responses can help MSPs offer more value to their customers. Rather than waiting for a problem to arise, systems can be monitored with patches and updates scheduled for the times that are least likely to disrupt end users.
This can help accommodate additional services and company growth while ensuring that existing customers get the same levels of support as before and even improving performance in the longer term.
IT requirements are constantly changing, and trends such as BYOD and cloud are continuing in the enterprise. As a result, IT departments are under huge amounts of pressure to deliver first-class IT services on shrinking budgets.
Successful MSPs will help educate their customers, enabling them to work smarter, not harder.
It takes time to transform a traditional IT sales business that is product-centric or break-fix oriented into a proactive, management-oriented business. It can, however, be a positive and profitable transformation.
The ability to supervise and support all elements of customer networks at any time, from anywhere will help MSPs tailor their offerings and become an invaluable extension to an in-house IT team.
Jacques van de Merwe is EMEA director of mid-market and inside sales at Kaseya
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