How MSPs provide their services



  • When I started as a MSP I used some of the free tools for some tasks and paid for ScreenConnect and a few other things. Then I kind of hit a wall where the free tools wouldn't let me do things that I needed for some of my more demanding clients. I decided to go all in on the MSP side and start moving away from break fix, so I needed more automation to be more efficient. So far, I'm glad I did.

    To answer your question about tools, for a new client, I spent 15 minutes putting an agent on his network. Then later that day I emailed him a report that showed all the machines that were missing patches, running AV or not, running questionable software, etc. Graphs, colorful pictures, etc right out of the box. 20 minutes of my time. Have you ever tried running a report out of Spiceworks?



  • In your hypothetical example, my tools allow me to install patches on the hyper v server on Saturday night, and patch and reboot the VMs Monday night. I can also create different groups for the workstations and patch them different nights instead of the way WSUS and group policies handle it.



  • @mike-davis said in How MSPs provide their services:

    As a MSP gets larger, to be really efficient, you need a RMM and a PSA to be really efficient. As far as the RMM I'll add that the paid tools like Connectwise Automate (LabTech) and Kaseya go way beyond the stuff you can string together for free. Sure there is probably a developer out there that could string stuff together, but at what cost?

    Having just been forced to use ConnectWise, we found it to be horrible. The tech works, but the overall integration and system was so bad that there is no way we could work if we had to use that all of the time. The theory is great, but the execution failed.



  • @mike-davis said in How MSPs provide their services:

    When I started as a MSP I used some of the free tools for some tasks and paid for ScreenConnect and a few other things. Then I kind of hit a wall where the free tools wouldn't let me do things that I needed for some of my more demanding clients. I decided to go all in on the MSP side and start moving away from break fix, so I needed more automation to be more efficient. So far, I'm glad I did.

    To answer your question about tools, for a new client, I spent 15 minutes putting an agent on his network. Then later that day I emailed him a report that showed all the machines that were missing patches, running AV or not, running questionable software, etc. Graphs, colorful pictures, etc right out of the box. 20 minutes of my time. Have you ever tried running a report out of Spiceworks?

    Yeah, having the right tooling is essential. And it needs to he hosted external to the clients on an MSP model. Needing to install something like SW at every client site is untenable for an MSP. But SW is not meant for that, either. It's meant for in house use only (that's not opinion, that's what the developers said when they designed it - no accommodations for MSPs.)



  • @scottalanmiller said in How MSPs provide their services:

    Having just been forced to use ConnectWise, we found it to be horrible. The tech works, but the overall integration and system was so bad that there is no way we could work if we had to use that all of the time. The theory is great, but the execution failed.

    Which piece of ConnectWise? ConnectWise has a bunch of "formerly known as" products under their umbrella. LabTech, ScreenConnect, and Manage to name a few.



  • We use ScreenConnect for remote management. I like it a lot more than Kaseya and some others I've used. There is a baseline to what you should do to support a client, but really every engineer can do what they feel is best for the client.

    I'll use other tools as needed, such as a VPN or whatever. But my workstation has few tools. Each environment has its own setup, so I have a password manager/remote tools (Remote Desktop Manager... Does SSH, HTTP/S, ADSM, etc. All pre-configured connections). I treat every network as if I don't have a laptop on site, and I have to rapidly support them. They have their own service accounts for services, which alert me externally with things expiring. That makes it easy for any other company to waltz in and take over, if the client is not happy with us.

    What I despise is company's who hold a client hostage, and some how lock them in. I give over network diagrams and passwords in a nice, readable format. Alerts to my external account are all changed, based on which services are currently documented. So that means my documentation is really well kept for internal as well; any of our engineers can take over very easily if I'm sick or unreachable. Consequently, I've also never lost a client. If I did, they'd be happy with the transition though.



  • @mike-davis said in How MSPs provide their services:

    @scottalanmiller said in How MSPs provide their services:

    Having just been forced to use ConnectWise, we found it to be horrible. The tech works, but the overall integration and system was so bad that there is no way we could work if we had to use that all of the time. The theory is great, but the execution failed.

    Which piece of ConnectWise? ConnectWise has a bunch of "formerly known as" products under their umbrella. LabTech, ScreenConnect, and Manage to name a few.

    Their helpdesk specifically was unusable. And that's a pretty important piece, the part we need to work to know to use the rest of it.



  • @scottalanmiller said in How MSPs provide their services:

    @mike-davis said in How MSPs provide their services:

    @scottalanmiller said in How MSPs provide their services:

    Having just been forced to use ConnectWise, we found it to be horrible. The tech works, but the overall integration and system was so bad that there is no way we could work if we had to use that all of the time. The theory is great, but the execution failed.

    Which piece of ConnectWise? ConnectWise has a bunch of "formerly known as" products under their umbrella. LabTech, ScreenConnect, and Manage to name a few.

    Their helpdesk specifically was unusable. And that's a pretty important piece, the part we need to work to know to use the rest of it.

    To be fair the MSP we were pitching in with might not have done a good job setting anything up so it could be because they didn't know what they were doing with it.



  • @minion-queen said in How MSPs provide their services:

    @scottalanmiller said in How MSPs provide their services:

    @mike-davis said in How MSPs provide their services:

    @scottalanmiller said in How MSPs provide their services:

    Having just been forced to use ConnectWise, we found it to be horrible. The tech works, but the overall integration and system was so bad that there is no way we could work if we had to use that all of the time. The theory is great, but the execution failed.

    Which piece of ConnectWise? ConnectWise has a bunch of "formerly known as" products under their umbrella. LabTech, ScreenConnect, and Manage to name a few.

    Their helpdesk specifically was unusable. And that's a pretty important piece, the part we need to work to know to use the rest of it.

    they didn't know what they were doing with it.

    If they screw up alot, follow them around to their clients. Easy pickins. 😃



  • @bbigford said in How MSPs provide their services:

    @minion-queen said in How MSPs provide their services:

    @scottalanmiller said in How MSPs provide their services:

    @mike-davis said in How MSPs provide their services:

    @scottalanmiller said in How MSPs provide their services:

    Having just been forced to use ConnectWise, we found it to be horrible. The tech works, but the overall integration and system was so bad that there is no way we could work if we had to use that all of the time. The theory is great, but the execution failed.

    Which piece of ConnectWise? ConnectWise has a bunch of "formerly known as" products under their umbrella. LabTech, ScreenConnect, and Manage to name a few.

    Their helpdesk specifically was unusable. And that's a pretty important piece, the part we need to work to know to use the rest of it.

    they didn't know what they were doing with it.

    If they screw up alot, follow them around to their clients. Easy pickins. 😃

    If that wasn't a totally douchy thing to do I totally would



  • @minion-queen said in How MSPs provide their services:

    @bbigford said in How MSPs provide their services:

    @minion-queen said in How MSPs provide their services:

    @scottalanmiller said in How MSPs provide their services:

    @mike-davis said in How MSPs provide their services:

    @scottalanmiller said in How MSPs provide their services:

    Having just been forced to use ConnectWise, we found it to be horrible. The tech works, but the overall integration and system was so bad that there is no way we could work if we had to use that all of the time. The theory is great, but the execution failed.

    Which piece of ConnectWise? ConnectWise has a bunch of "formerly known as" products under their umbrella. LabTech, ScreenConnect, and Manage to name a few.

    Their helpdesk specifically was unusable. And that's a pretty important piece, the part we need to work to know to use the rest of it.

    they didn't know what they were doing with it.

    If they screw up alot, follow them around to their clients. Easy pickins. 😃

    If that wasn't a totally douchy thing to do I totally would

    Guess I'm being a douch then. Of course the MSP I'm stalking thinks Inverted Pyramids of Doom are a fine and dandy thing to foist on suckers (customers).



  • @minion-queen said in How MSPs provide their services:

    To be fair the MSP we were pitching in with might not have done a good job setting anything up so it could be because they didn't know what they were doing with it.

    Their is a fair amount of set up and tweaking to be done to make it work like you want it to. It took me a month of learning what it could do and the advantages of doing it one way or another to make all the decisions and set mine up.

    Today I finished building my first project proposal out of it. The client accepted, so now all the steps in the project turn in to tickets that I can take notes on and track time on. It's really cool.



  • @mike-davis said in How MSPs provide their services:

    @minion-queen said in How MSPs provide their services:

    To be fair the MSP we were pitching in with might not have done a good job setting anything up so it could be because they didn't know what they were doing with it.

    Their is a fair amount of set up and tweaking to be done to make it work like you want it to. It took me a month of learning what it could do and the advantages of doing it one way or another to make all the decisions and set mine up.

    Today I finished building my first project proposal out of it. The client accepted, so now all the steps in the project turn in to tickets that I can take notes on and track time on. It's really cool.

    That's a lot of investment for a system like that. If you have hundreds of customers, it can make sense. But it takes a lot of customers to recoup the lost time into that system. It can work out well for a traditional MSP, but depends on large scale standardization to justify the investment.



  • @scottalanmiller said in How MSPs provide their services:

    That's a lot of investment for a system like that. If you have hundreds of customers, it can make sense. But it takes a lot of customers to recoup the lost time into that system. It can work out well for a traditional MSP, but depends on large scale standardization to justify the investment.

    I don't know about hundreds of customers. The number of end points might be more relevant. For me at about 10 MSP customers I can justify the investment. When you look at the time it takes to set up something like a zabbix server and maintaining a WSUS server vs not having to that helps make it worth it. Missed revenue because you didn't have a system in place to capture every minute hurts.



  • @mike-davis said in How MSPs provide their services:

    @scottalanmiller said in How MSPs provide their services:

    That's a lot of investment for a system like that. If you have hundreds of customers, it can make sense. But it takes a lot of customers to recoup the lost time into that system. It can work out well for a traditional MSP, but depends on large scale standardization to justify the investment.

    I don't know about hundreds of customers. The number of end points might be more relevant. For me at about 10 MSP customers I can justify the investment. When you look at the time it takes to set up something like a zabbix server and maintaining a WSUS server vs not having to that helps make it worth it. Missed revenue because you didn't have a system in place to capture every minute hurts.

    It would be a blend, I'm sure. A single customer with a million end points wouldn't make sense because you'd use more traditional tools in a single customer scenario. And a hundred with only one end point each wouldn't do it either. So some combination of enough end points for volume and enough customers for complexity put together.