How to Prepare for DATTOcon 19

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Dattocon19: Are you ready for it?

Before you go to DATTOcon, you should note that it may be difficult to focus on leveraging & planning improvement in your MSP compared to when you were at Autotask community live.

DATTOcon 19  – happening this June 17th thru 19th in San Diego, CA – will be no different due to the mix of Backup, RMM, File Storage, and Networking products all hawking for your attention. 

PSA Evaluation

For more PSA Evaluation Details you can take the free 49-point PSA Software Evaluation

As a PSA-only focused guy, I thought some pointers on what to think about before the Conference (and how to prepare for DATTOcon 19) might be helpful. Without further ado, let’s jump right in! 

There are 10 areas of the PSA tool that are typically underutilized. Here is the list, along with some thoughts and helpful pointers: 


The Fundamentals of IT Service Delivery include: 

  1. Dividing the Customer Request into four workflows 
  1. Incident 
  2. Service Requests and Installs 
  3. Projects 
  4. Proactive Maintenance (Network Administration visits / Technology Advisor visits) 

For more information on the subject, re-read Steve’s guest posting on GMS Live Expert blog site:  Parallels Between Healthcare Procedures & IT Service Delivery 


ITIL promotes dividing all IT work into two groups and differentiates by calling them Incidents (Break/Fix, Reactive, etc.) and Service Requests (everything else).  

An Incident is defined as a network, system, or device that is not working as designed. Therefore, a Service Request is a network, system, or device that is working as designed.  

ITIL also promotes an Urgency vs Impact matrix to further define incidents into the four priority levels of Critical, High, Medium, and Low (the matrix is provided below *).  

However, it is in the best interest of the IT Support Center to treat priority as a guideline rather than a hard and fast rule. We all know the “noise” caused when someone wants special treatment and starts making a case as to why the priority needs to be escalated up a level.  

For more information on the subject, re-read: Prioritizing the Priority of Priorities for the IT Service Manager  

Contracts and Services 

If the Sales side of the house can’t agree on what is included (or not) in the Services Offerings, how can the IT Service Delivery/Support side get it right? Moreover, why is this important?  

Without crystal clear definitions (communicated in simple terms) of what is covered by Contract or what is T&M, it will never be right.  

In the case of T&M, the Managed Service Provider (MSP) is giving away profit. In the case of Contract, the true profitability and value of the offering is understated.  

Need more info? Check out: IT Managed Service Agreements: What’s Included? 

Roles and Work Types 

Roles and Work Types are critical to the Managed Service Provider because they drive your per hour billing rate. The normal billable rate for Technicians and Engineers is set in the Resource/Users (HR) – Role module, along with the billing rate for their other Roles. The adjustment to the Role rate based on the type of work being done is set in the Finance, Accounting & Invoicing – Billing Codes module. 

Some common examples include situations where:

  • The Employee is using skills that have taken more than the normal amount of schooling or experience – i.e. Sr. Engineering rate 
  • The type of work is outside of normal business hours – afterhours, on-site, etc. 
  • The type of work is beyond the scope of the MSP’s normal billing practices – i.e. taxable.  


The Role is the hat the Technician/Engineer is wearing at the time of the engagement — Technician, Engineer, Network Administrator, Sr. Engineer, or Network Architect, to name a few.  

Work Type: 

Work Type is what work the Technician/Engineer is performing at the time of the engagement: Afterhours, Network Administration visit, Project work, On-Site, Consulting, Non-Billable- shows on Invoice, Non-Billable- does not show on the invoice, taxable, etc. 

Get more info with this helpful read:  Here’s Why Roles & Work Types Matter to Your IT MSP  

Service Level Agreements 

There are two ways to look at the value of an SLA:  

1) A measure of IT Support performance that can be benchmarked and used as a basis for continuous quality improvement. Tip: for more on this term, research Total Quality Management (TQM) by W. Edwards Deming. Here we are just monitoring, tracking, adjusting and letting the performance float to whatever level the IT Support Team can deliver.  

2) To drive Automation and workforce performance to meet a predefined goal. The Automation is primarily a communication system that is used to engage management when needed to meet SLA goals.  

Get more info here: What Every IT Support Manager Must Know About SLA’s & Scheduling Objectives  

Ticket Categories, Templates and Checklists 

Ticket Categories provide different views for different folks at different times, Roles or Work Types. They speed up Service Delivery by providing defaults for most fields when creating a ticket and moving the fields together at the top of the Ticket to speed up the editing process. 

Form Templates work by pre-filling in all the fields in the PSA element that are common to most of these requests. If there is a field that is different regularly, either populate it with a default (you can always overwrite it later) or leave it blank and fill it in each time the Form Template is used. 

Checklists work similarly to templates. Rather than pre-populating many or all the fields in a PSA element, they work like reminders in Tickets and Tasks. Checklists are lists of up to 40 items that remind the Technician of all that needs to be done in the Ticket or Task, as well as the order in which to do them.  

If you need more info, then you’ll want to re-read: Two Keys to IT Service Delivery Efficiency: Templates & Checklists  

Automation via Work Flow Rules 

Ahhh, the power of a Professional Services Automation (PSA) tool. To us in IT, it’s almost as gratifying as getting behind the wheel of an old school Charger and hearing the roar of a tricked out Hemi…ok, maybe it’s not that exciting, but still… 

There are three uses for Workflow Rules (WFR):  

  • Communications (both internal and external) 
  • Control or Updating workflows 
  • Alerts 

  Check out how many of your Workflow Rules fall into one of these areas of PSA Utilization, and if lacking in any one area, mark it as an area of investigation while at the conference.  

Jump over to this fun read if you’re hungry for more info: The Hemi of the IT Managed Service Provider’s PSA Tool 

Issues, Sub-Issues, & Ticket Categories 

Tracking Issues and Sub-Issues does not directly help the remediation process. In fact, if you are not really using the data, it slows the Technician down and just becomes one more point of conflict between management and those tasked with meeting the Customer’s needs. 

Here are some important notes while using Ticket Category:

  • Fields of importance can be brought to the top.  
  • Fields of less importance can be pushed down, or hidden. 
  • Fields such as Issue and Sub-Issue would be major fields in the case of Service Support, if reporting on them is in place.  

  For an Inside Look at MSP-Ignite Peer Group Discussions, re-read: IT Service Support Issue with Issues and Sub-Issues?  

Dashboards and Widgets 

Use a Widget when you need real-time info.

This includes: 

  • How many hours the Techs have posted this week 
  • How many open tickets there are 
  • How many tickets with no activity for the last 2 days 
  • How many tickets are taking too long to remediate 
  • In which order should we engage on requests? 
  • and the list could go on… 

I’d like to give a shout-out to Evan Welch from Autotask who motivated me to use Widgets in my everyday life. One day, I was complaining to him that there was no way to save Ticket Search Filters.  

His response? “Use a Widget.” Sure enough, it worked like a charm and today I do all my work from widgets – Big THANKS EVAN! 

Standard Reports, Live Reports, and Data Warehouse 

Use a Report when historical info is what you need.  

This includes: 

  • Average number of Incident remediation hours needed per week 
  • How booked are we over the next 12 weeks? 
  • What is our average remediation time? 
  • What is our average Time to Completion per Issue/Sub-Issue? 
  • How many requests per End-User per Month do we receive? 
  • and this list could also go on and on…and onJ   

Get more info on this topic right here: Widgets or Reports: Which to Use? 

I hope this article helps you prepare for DATTOcon 19 by providing ideas on what to think about, look at, and talk about while at the conference.  

Memorizing this article (just kidding) should give you many conversations starters and talking points while pushing Vendors to do more for the MSP industry and yourself specifically. 

PSA Evaluation

Remember: If you’re not sure your PSA software is being fully optimized, you can take the easy PSA Software Evaluation checklist to see where you stand.

P.S.Will I see you at DATTOcon19 June 17th thru 19th, in San Diego?  Reply below so I know to expect you when you drop by the MSP-Ignite booth.

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