Don’t let your MSP sink… sync your sales and service delivery!

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Sync Sales and Service

Who was it that said, “Not to decide is to decide?” The saying has never been truer than when it comes to Aligning Sales with Support at your Managed Service Provider.

To continue selling, and hoping Support guesses what has been sold, runs the risk of sinking your sales efforts & increasing churn – or at least maintaining if you already have a high churn rate (p.s. any churn is a high rate).

A Day in the life:

I remember the day an Account Manager tracked me down because he was honked off that we refused to schedule a PC install under the proactive regularly scheduled Network Administration visits. It seemed the Customer did not want to pay extra for the install, and therefore was asking for it to be done under the Recurring Network Administration Visits agreement.

My response to the Account Manager came from the President of the Company who said, “No more Service Request work is to be done under the Network Administration agreements or during the pro-active visits; it’s to be billable time outside of the Managed Service Provider Agreement (MSA).”

A few minutes later, the same Account Manager returned with the signed MSA where it clearly stated that Network Administration time covered “the Net Admin checklist, and any other work the Customer requested.” I took a photocopy of this section of the agreement and sent it to my supervisor, informing him of what I felt we had to do – schedule the install under Net Admin time.

From my experience, this is not an isolated case. It seems to me that it’s become common for Service Delivery to not know what Sales is selling, and what Sales says they are selling is not in the signed agreements, nor in the PSA configurations.

Communication: A Simple Solution. But what if it’s not that simple?

At first there seems to be a simple solution – communicate (go figure). But in reality, the Syncing of Sales with Service Delivery is a lengthy process and one that takes months to go through.

We have written on this subject before, but having just come off the series teaching: Techs to know what to work on next, and Service Coordinators to manage all open tickets, it bears a quick review. Here are the 5 steps below, but they should come with a bit of a warning: good luck getting through them in less than 3 months…

5 Steps for keeping IT Service Delivery in-sync with Sales

Let’s cover a 5-step solution you can implement to set the stage for greater success moving forward:

  1. The IT Service Manager needs to sit down with the Sales Manager and review the agreements so there is a clear understanding of what services are being offered, in general.
  2. The IT Service Manager and Sales Manager (together) need to create a list of Customer Agreement one-offs.
  3. A simple presentation (Excel Services Grid, PowerPoint presentation, etc.) needs to be created and distributed to everyone in the Company.
  4. Services need to be added to the Customer Contracts in the PSA/IMS tool, so that the intake personnel and Technicians can quickly review what Services are available for that Customer and update the Ticket accordingly.

Hint: if the Service is not available, then the work is out of the scope of the agreement.  This should also prompt you to choose a Role or Work Type that automatically excludes the work from the contract.

  1. The IT Service Manager needs to monitor Ticket quality, looking for coaching opportunities to prevent profit loss, or to verify the Support Team understands what is covered by the Managed Services Agreements.

3 months later…

Now that we have Sales in Sync with Service Delivery, including the Customers expectations and PSA configurations, the next step is to automate the process as much as possible.  This is so that invoicing is correct without a burdensome Invoice review process.

How burdensome, you ask?

Before automation, it would take the Account Manager a day and a half every billing cycle to review and mark up invoices. Even if that was 2 days per month, it would cut their Sales by 10%. For each $1M, 10% of your top line revenue would be $100K…

The process of Automation is in how the Contracts are configured in the PSA software (as opposed to Workflow Rules, which is the norm or SLA Automation which we just finished writing about). Properly configuring the Contracts requires Services, Roles, and Work Types to be correctly configured first.

Hint: The heart of the automation is Contract Exclusions based on Roles or Work Types.

When to Use Work Types and Roles

(See previous article for more info)

Work Type:

Autotask Statement: Work Type is the 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.

SDB-C Statement: Keep the Work Type list as short as possible.  Standard Rate Work Type, Contract Exclusion work at Standard Rate, Taxable, and Non-Billable are the only ones needed.  Remove any Work Types that are billed at the Standard Rate, or need a rate adjustment in the T&M Exclusion Contracts.

Roles:

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

SDB-C Statement: Plus, Roles that look like Work Types that are needed as a billing rate adjustment in T&M Exclusion Contracts. Adjusting the billing rate-based Work Types is not available in T&M contracts.

Services:

We strongly recommend for each service mentioned in the signed agreements that you have a service configured in the PSA tool. Even Autotask Employees recommend not bundling services at the Bundled or Contract level.

The reason for this is, once the services are rolled up, profitability by service is hidden and undetermined. From a Service Delivery perspective, yes, the Managed Service Provider Agreement is not profitable, but which Service in the Agreement needs engagement performance improvement?

In other words, which Service Vendor do we need to lean on more for support, or where do the Techs need service-specific training to improve the efficiency of engagement?

Moreover, factor in the Director of Sales’ decision-making regarding the pricing of the service – or if it shouldn’t even be offered in the first place.

While Signed Agreements are often overlooked when it comes to Service Delivery improvements, we hope this article has been insightful not only in the value, but also in the process and how it impacts overall MSP operations.

Want to learn all about creating new contracts and layering in exclusions based on Role & Work Type by Service? That’s the topic of next week’s article, so stay tuned!

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