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3 steps MSPs can take to improve operational efficiency

December 13, 2021 | Eric Gourmelen 

Increased efficiency leads to the likelihood of increased profit 

The greater a company’s operational efficiency, the more profitable it will be. The statement is both simplistic and almost always true. 

Many factors comprise operational efficiency, including eliminating redundant processes and waste, increasing employee productivity, monitoring performance — finding ways to improve these areas and so much more. This is generally accomplished by focusing on resource utilisation, production, inventory management and distribution. 

During recent conversations with IT solution and service providers who have also found success becoming managed service providers (MSPs), the question has repeatedly come up: “What are the top things we can do to improve operational efficiency so we can provide better customer service and increase our stickiness?” 

There are plenty of ways you can help your customers simplify the digital supply chain and automate end-to-end processes that will also help you grow and compete in an increasingly digital world. However, for MSPs providing cloud services, the top three areas to start on are: 

  • Automating provisioning 
  • Integrating as many systems as possible 
  • Providing bundled, subscription-based services 

Let’s explore how offering these services (and incorporating them yourself) will increase your operational efficiency while helping your customers thrive in today’s digital landscape. 

Automating provisioning services                    

Simply put, provisioning means automating a service that traditionally required human assistance — often several — carrying out different roles and different steps. Remember how the typical IT procurement process used to take place? A business would solicit RFPs, receive quotes, take time for product demonstrations if appropriate, choose the best option and sign the winning proposal before purchasing hardware and software — all of which often took multiple hours and, depending on the case, even weeks. 

Automated provisioning, also known as self-service provisioning, eliminates these time-consuming tasks, including data entry, enabling MSPs to deploy IT and related services using pre-defined procedures electronically without human intervention. Through automated provisioning, the MSP quote-to-delivery (service activation) process is condensed from weeks to minutes, often taking just a few quick clicks. 

Automated provisioning enables you to quickly make changes or add services according to your customers’ needs, providing a more proficient and rapid response to business requests. 

Integrating as many systems as possible 

If your software — or your customers’ software — doesn’t play well with others, information is siloed, and business is hindered. For instance, if the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system doesn’t communicate with the cloud management system, which doesn’t integrate with the accounts payable (AP) system, and so forth, neither you nor your customers can achieve operational efficiency. Therefore, as business grows, the importance of system integration grows with it. 

And since we live in a platform economy, in which just about every service is consumed through a platform, increased operational efficiency relies on system-to-system connectivity. This connectivity comes through application programming interfaces (APIs). APIs seamlessly connect business processes, services, content and data to IT providers, their customers, vendors and distributors easily and securely. 

ArrowSphere, our cloud delivery and management platform, is a one-stop-shop for MSPs to run their cloud business — and achieve operational excellence in the process. From quoting to ordering to provisioning, the easy-to-use platform simplifies the complexity of delivering cloud services with the help of API integrations.     

It’s interesting to point out that the platform economy has a network effect: the more people that use a platform, the better the platform becomes. The network effect can lead to an improved experience when more people participate and can encourage new participants — customers and IT vendors alike — as they look to benefit from the network. Which leads us to what goes with how platforms are used — subscriptions. 

Providing subscription-based services 

Forrester tells us the age of subscription is underway as today’s companies want and expect to pay for the IT services they consume rather than huge amounts on expensive equipment. Along with providing dependable, repeat business, the subscription/consumption model helps MSPs further embed yourself into your customers’ businesses. 

Increasingly, preferences are to rely on one IT solution provider to give them all the services they need rather than going through several companies. 

Say for instance, a customer needs hardware that includes laptops and headsets, cloud storage and security solutions. And another customer has an entirely different set of needs. 

Providing customised (and often bundled) solutions enhances operational efficiency not only for your customers but for you as well, particularly when you, like your customers, can go to one IT vendor to meet all your needs. 

At the end of the day, subscriptions allow MSPs and the customers you serve to get what is needed, paying only for the services consumed. 

Go through one to get to many 

Arrow is the distributor of choice MSPs can go through to get to many. In doing so, we can help you increase operational efficiency, which, in turn, will help you attain greater success. 

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