Growth in the Managed Services Provider sector is expected to surge from $178.5 billion in 2019 to upwards of $309.4 billion in 2025. The shift to Cloud-based systems and the cost-effective benefits of outsourcing, among other factors, rank MSPs among the hot-trending growth industries. Businesses will rely on frontlines technicians to deliver quality customer solutions efficiently. Thought leaders at MSPs may want to develop policies and procedures that maximize field technician productivity.
Jason Simons with ICS shares questions worth considering to guide management strategies and capitalize on opportunities.
Are You Delivering Leadership Messaging & Follow-Through?
Articulating clearly defined goals and expectations sets a company-wide tone. Entrepreneurs and other decision-makers may want to consider posting a set of guidelines that everyone can easily understand. That information can be supported by periodic electronic messages that help motivate the workforce. But, as the saying goes, “talk is cheap.” That’s why it’s essential to back up your words with tangible support such as the following.
- Provide Latest Equipment: Technicians usually know the difference between the latest tools and outdated ones. Some business leaders budget for new equipment after revenue increases. That can be a mistake. When workers have the best equipment, they are usually more productive and motivated. Techs love their tools.
- Organize Your Inventory: When technicians waste time looking for equipment and materials, the firm cannot bill clients for those lost hours. A few minutes here and there may not seem like a lot of lost revenue at the moment. However, it can add up to hours each week, days over a month, and a full workweek last by year’s end. Maximizing productivity begins with organization.
Although your workforce may possess significant expertise, it’s essential to consider ongoing training and education. As the growth bubble swells, decision-makers sometimes feel pressured to postpone training due to the expense and lost billable hours. It may be worth weighing the cost of putting technicians in the field who lack the latest knowledge and expertise.
Can Metrics-Driven Decisions Improve Productivity?
Business professionals across sectors enjoy a fascination for metrics and the analytic insight they offer. Well-conceived metrics help gauge performance through reasonable comparisons. The key for MSP leaders may be to recognize that hard numbers cannot always tell the entire story. Nor can they necessarily lead to positive outcomes when used as a standalone measure.
A classic example that supports this position is the metrics used by the Oakland A’s baseball team to make player personnel decisions. At the turn of the century, A’s manager Billy Beane famously enlisted an analytics expert to help make decisions based on statistics. The club was consistently competitive despite not having the salary bandwidth of big city organizations, such as the New York Yankees.
By contrast, a similar strategy was employed by the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, who hired one of Billy Beane’s proteges. When the team went all-in on metrics-driven player decisions, the results were disastrous. Why the different outcomes?
The simple answer stems from the fact that baseball measures are largely based on individual efforts such as hitting and fielding. Cooperative actions drive football data. Blocks open pathways for running backs to rack up yardage statistics, and quarterbacks rely on receivers to catch balls for their numbers. But what has this got to do with field technicians? Quite a lot if you consider some of the metrics used to calculate productivity.
- Time to Resolution Data: This measure can provide insight when considered over many jobs of a similar nature. What can be tricky is reviewing small samplings of time to resolution tickets. There may be x-factors such as downtime while waiting for parts or onsite customers impeding the process. Also, does that data make sense like baseball or unwieldy like football? Ask yourself: Are technicians free to swing away, or are they waiting for a receiver to get open?
- Percentage of Scheduled Work Completed: Few would argue that completing a task ranks among the top workforce metrics. When you task a technician to fix a client’s problem, failure to resolve an issue can result in lost business. But this insight could use a tweak. It may be more accurate to compile data on scheduled work that can be completed. When parts, materials, or other factors reasonably prevent completion, it should be thrown out as bad data.
- Customer Satisfaction: Trailing back to the sports analogy, it may be prudent to simply call this metric “winning.” Satisfied customers generally stay with your MSP and serve as a reference to bring in more clients. Short surveys or calls from customer care professionals can compile credible information. In many ways, this seemingly unscientific metric may be the most valuable of all. The way field technicians get along with clients makes a significant difference in growth potential. Ask yourself: Are they hitting home runs or striking out with good-paying customers. If it’s the latter, your MSP could get sacked.
In the coming years, maximizing workforce productivity while maintaining customer satisfaction are keys to your MSP’s profitability. Entrepreneurs, CEOs, and other decision-makers can anticipate fierce competition during this growth period. Managing your field technicians with a blend of personable leadership skills and honest metrics could prove invaluable.