Buyer's Guideby Taylor Short,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: December 13, 2018
The complexity of technology management and the rise of cybercrime will force more small and midsize businesses to seek the services of a managed service provider (MSP) to monitor their IT operations.
As a managed service provider, are you ready to handle this influx of clients?
MSP software can ease your administrative burden and improve your efficiency by helping you remotely monitor and troubleshoot multiple client networks, generate customized invoices and reports and service specific client requests.
There are many MSP software solutions on the market available at different price points and offering varied features. Your challenge is to identify the one that meets your needs and fits your budget.
This Buyer's Guide provides an overview of the key features, benefits, and other considerations that you must keep in mind while purchasing MSP software.
In this guide, we'll cover:
What Is MSP Software?
MSP software helps service providers track and troubleshoot errors, network interruptions, software deployments and security issues across multiple client networks. It also helps with report generation and invoicing.
MSP software provides a single point of view of all client IT systems you manage.
Managed service providers deliver specified IT service levels to their customers based on the service level agreements (SLAs) made between them. MSP software helps you maintain the different service levels from a single location and get a consolidated view of multiple client systems.
This type of software helps you avoid managing separate tools for each client. Remote monitoring and management of client systems, automated invoicing, reporting, data backup and disaster recovery services are some of the key functions of MSP software.
Common Features of MSP Software
MSP software helps you track and control network operations on several client systems from a single console. You can also manage multiple customer accounts including generating invoices for different clients from one interface.
Most MSP software solutions offer all or some of the following key features:
|Remote monitoring and management (RMM)||Identify potential network or system issues without disrupting clients' systems. Access and control their IT infrastructure to provide troubleshooting assistance.|
|Autodiscovery and deployment||Discover all the IT assets in your clients' networks and deploy the required software solutions and patches automatically.|
|Account management||Manage accounts of multiple clients from a single application or console including tracking expenses and creating reports, service level agreements and a knowledge base.|
|Automated billing||Manage billing services for multiple accounts accurately without the need to shift between tools or use manual methods.|
|Help desk||Automatically process tickets or service requests from different clients sent through multiple channels (such as email, phone or chat) and assign them to the right technicians.|
|Alerts||Set alerts to notify clients about service interruptions, new software installations or any other system changes.|
|Reports||Create overall reports on all the networks that you manage as well as custom reports for each client.|
|Integrations||Integrate with multiple IT systems used by different clients as well as with other software like professional service automation software, CRM solutions or backup and disaster recovery tools.|
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Managed service providers either offer a broad range of services including remote monitoring and management, network security, cloud security services or mobile device management, or they specialize in one area of coverage.
The MSP software features you need will depend on the type of services you offer and the size of clients you cater to. Here we discuss some broad categories of MSPs and the kind of software tools they require.
Pure play MSP. Pure play MSPs focus only on monitoring the performance of clients' networks and IT applications. They are usually smaller players with a limited geographical footprint. Pure play service providers need MSP software tools with basic features such as RMM, alerts and reporting capabilities.
Mid-level MSP. In addition to remote monitoring, mid-level MSPs help clients manage software patches, upgrades and new installations. They may also maintain client websites, troubleshoot network issues and help reduce downtime. Mid-level MSPs require software tools with capabilities such as remote control, auto software deployment, integrations and patch management.
High-level MSP. High-level MSPs take care of entire IT operations of their clients. Such players require software with capabilities for account management, automated billing, help desk and more, in addition to the core features. The software must also integrate with third-party applications for CRM, accounting, security, analytics and disaster recovery.
Industry-specific MSP. Some MSPs service clients within a specific industry alone. Industry-specific MSPs must ensure that the software solution they choose supports compliance with industry-specific regulations, information workflows and data protection rules. There is specialized MSP software available for industries such as supply chain management, information services and transportation.
Benefits of MSP Software
MSP software helps managed service providers organize client networks, IT assets, client tickets and service level agreements to provide optimal support to each client. The software also reduces the costs and resources needed to perform daily operations.
Some of the most notable benefits of using MSP software are:
- Improved efficiency. MSP software helps managed service providers reduce the time needed to track operations of multiple networks. It helps MSPs track errors and check the functioning of multiple networks from a single console. It also helps MSPs save time and manual effort in their daily operations, thereby improving efficiency.
- Lower overhead costs. By using MSP software, managed service providers can concentrate on the core technical aspects of their job and reduce costs involved in hiring staff for monitoring/tracking different networks. The software also helps them troubleshoot issues remotely, reducing the costs to deploy staff to each location.
- Data-driven decision-making support. MSP software solutions provide service providers with real-time data collected from different points across multiple networks, helping them make decisions on troubleshooting, software deployment and updates. The data collected by the software also helps MSPs identify security threats and investigate incidents.
According to Charles Weaver, president of MSPAlliance, managed service providers find it difficult to identify the right software tools, often trying three to four solutions before identifying the right fit.
To help you choose the right system and minimize the costs associated with frequent switching of tools, here are some key considerations you must take into account when purchasing MSP software.
Cloud vs. on-premises. MSP software is available both as cloud-based and on-premise solutions. While cloud-based solutions help when you have limited investment capital, the subscription charges can add up quickly as your business grows. Eric Simpson, CIO of Intelligent Enterprise, advises MSPs with sufficient capital to purchase an on-premises tool outright, to be profitable in the long run.
Evaluate additional features offered. Most MSP software offers comparable core features such as remote control and monitoring. The difference lies in the additional functionalities provided. Look for tools that offer a greater range of integrations, flexible reporting, or features for backup and disaster recovery. You may also consider buying MSP software with built-in backup and security features since it is easier to use than trying to integrate with separate applications.
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