Predicting the economic conditions in the next month, year or decade is as easy as telling us what the weather will be like at a certain point in the future. It’s not easy to forecast the changes that affect the business climate in one community, let alone those that shape a regional or national financial environment. The factors are too numerous for most industry experts to predict with a high degree of certainty, and that uncertainty presents a significant challenge to MSPs outlining their future staffing requirements.
For example, how do service providers determine how many technicians they will need to employ next year, and the proper mix of skills required to service their client base. If MSPs have to focus additional marketing or customer service resources to retain existing customers during a market downturn, the hiring pipeline will likely shift (or stop) as well. At most companies, human resources are the largest variable cost, so maximizing the return on this investment is critical to whether the business’ success. Projected revenue from new services and markets can be severely impacted by unforeseen economic factors, such as an influx of unexpected competitors or legislation that negatively affects that sector.
While the nature of business is risk, MSPs can minimize their exposure by employing proven cost-effective methods, such as outsourcing MSP Help Desk services for a new or rapidly expanding segment of their operations. Rather than hiring and training employees every time the service portfolio grows, many companies partner with a skilled team of professionals until the new business unit is self-sustaining. That method provides a host of options for MSPs, allowing them to take advantage of growth opportunities, without risking substantial economic and personal investments.
Would you take on a new endeavor if its failure could lead to eventual staff layoffs? Of course not; no one (I hope) enjoys having a separation discussion with any of their employees. Removing that risk factor from the decision making process makes entering new markets or offering new services much more palatable for solution providers. Business opportunities, by their nature, should provide an enhanced bottom line or ensure long-term viability of the company. For each new IT practice an MSP creates, and every market it enters, a viable business plan should be developed with details on how those goals will be accomplished (short term and long term).
For example, MSPs may want their technicians to be certified and well trained to handle network and server issues for their clients. Rather than have these employees handle first calls for issues such as monitor or simple connection issues, they employ a third-party help desk to take care of low level issues. That allows the MSP to concentrate on the part of their business that is a differentiator, while their partner company focuses on the basic support needs. Other solution providers go the opposite route, perhaps using an offsite help desk to assist with their VoIP or unified communications technology needs. Both options allow the MSP to focus and only add the employees (and the associated costs) required to run their core business, while fulfilling all of their clients’ support needs.
When building the company strategy for a new offering or market, solution providers should estimate the costs of hiring and training their own skilled help desk team to support the new business. If the expertise is specialized or requires additional certifications, they must factor in the extra expense to recruit those skilled individuals. Then the MSP should contact a third-party help desk provider—with a staff similarly capable to handle that focus area or technology—and get a quote for their service. Chances are, partnering with another organization will be less costly and allow the business to thrive, without significantly increasing the company’s risk.