Guiding MSPs through the Cascading Contract Definition Jungle

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Before jumping into the meat of guiding you through how to build Cascading Contract Automation, it is prudent of us to make sure we talking the same languageFrom our experience, there are several terms in our industry with double meanings, and this can lead to confusion 

For example: 

  • Project 
  • A type of Customer Request (Incident, Service Request, Project and Recurring Scheduled Engagement) 
  • A place to capture time (Ticket or Task) 
  • Service Level Management (SLA) 
  • Type of Work excluded from the Managed Service Agreement (Contract SLA) 
  • Response time expectation listed in the Managed Service Agreement (Response SLA) 

This double meaning jargon trips us up and is the 2nd biggest cause of disruption and inefficiencyLack of Communication is first (go figure).  

Since we do not want to be accused of not communicating clearly, we feel compelled to take some time to clarify the definitions we will be using in this series. Get ready to explore some jargon! 

IT Jargon with Double Meanings: 

Technician/Engineer/Resource: 

We use the terms interchangeably to mean a Billable Resource. 

Service Coordinator: 

The person intaking Customer requestsresponsible for shepherding them through from New to Complete.  This can also be a Tech responsible for reviewing “New” tickets. 

Service Manager: 

The person responsible for Service Delivery performance – both at the Company level and at the Individual Support Team member level. 

Project Manager: 

The person responsible for coordinating the won project opportunities between Sales, Project Team, Customer, and the rest of the Company. 

Note: this is usually a role someone plays in addition to their other responsibilities. For an MSP, they do not actually manage the project; that is usually the Lead Tech on the project. They just coordinate all the activities around the project, including making sure that project time is not eroded by break/fix requests.  

Owner: 

The person who has the final decision authority. This can be a partner, president, CEO, or many other arrangements. They usually are a Tech that struck out on their own and are now struggling to move from picking up the tools to focusing on growing the business. 

Project: 

ITIL’s definition: 

This is a subset of Customer requests that ITIL defines as non-Incident requests. What sets these Service Requests (non-incident) apart is the labor liability and the amount of risk in completing the work on time and on budget.  

PMI’s definition: 

PMI defines a Project as a specific amount of work with a specific start date and end date and then proceeds to define 9 competencies in their Project Management Book of Knowledge that it takes to manage projects. Most of these ideologies are true and work well – except for MSPs – who do a whole lot more than manage projects. 

SDB-C’s definition: 

Anything with more than 16 hours of estimated labor. 

Support Team: 

The group of people responsible to intake, engage, and complete all non-project requests. 

Project Team: 

All personnel directly engaged in or supporting the Project. Usually, this includes all stakeholders except the Salesperson, Ownership, and Customer. 

Service Delivery Team: 

Everyone on the Project and Support Team along with their managers and non-billable support personnel. 

Dashboard: 

A group of widgets that display real-time information and are used to track information that is changing on a daily/hourly/weekly basis. 

Live Reports: 

Live Reports are one of three reporting tools that come with the Autotask PSA software (in addition to Standard Reports and Data Warehouse SQL reports). 

Managed Service Customer: 

Any Customer with any type of Agreement with the Company, including HaaS agreements. 

Are there more terms than the ones we’ve highlighted here? You bet. But for this particular series we’re focusing on, these seem to be the terms we’re most concerned about.  

If, in reading the series or other articles on the website, there are terms that are confusing or we misuse them, please point them out in the comments below so we can have an opportunity to clarify where needed. 

Now we are ready for the Cascading Contract Automation seriesstay tuned!  

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