IT managed service providers live, and if they’re lucky, thrive, by their hardware and software tools. A few months ago, we ran down the seven tools every MSP should have in their toolkits. Remote monitoring and management (RMM) and professional services automation (PSA) software made the list, but is there enough room in that kit for both? Are these tools necessities for MSPs, VARs, and service providers with smaller IT shops, or are they better suited for the bigger vendors that can more easily afford to manage them? Let’s find out.
The Low on RMM and PSA in IT
A good RMM solution can benefit both an MSP and their clients. Equipped with this type of platform, the provider can effectively manage client servers, desktops, applications, and even mobile devices from their cozy remote location. Bundling features such as centralized administration, patch management, and scripting, RMM tools allow MSPs to deliver superior IT support and provide a better overall service. However, not all players are on the bandwagon.
So what’s not to like about an RMM solution? Quite a bit according to a group of MSPs, VARs, and IT support companies. A study conducted by GFI Software found that a tedious setup process, the hassle of training employees, and not being able to make full use of the system were among the reasons some vendors are not fully on board with the concept. It also revealed that 42 percent of them feel RMM tools don’t meet the expected return on their investments, while 45 percent consider the initial investment too costly. This research is a couple of years old, but goes to show that it is possible to tough it out without an RMM program.
As for PSA tools, they prove their worth by helping MSPs manage the day-to-day aspects of their operation. In addition to automating various operational tasks, this type of system is rich in customer service benefits, providing the ability to create and print invoices, eliminate billing errors, and service customers through support tickets. PSA systems have been called glorified helpdesk systems, but they can go a long way boosting customer satisfaction. When customers have a way to submit their own support tickets and keep up with what’s going on in the loop, MSPs are far more likely to meet their service agreements.
A Few Deciding Factors to Consider
Deciding whether to adopt an RMM or PSA tool can be a daunting decision. While they are from different categories, MSPs can take the same considerations into account when deciding which type of software they need.
IT Budget. RMM and PSA tools both offer the irresistible promise of lowering operational costs, but obtaining that system does require what is often a significant investment. Needless to say, budget will come into play. Your budget may determine the feature set you’re able to acquire, or whether you can afford to make this investment at all.
Management Resources. Any new technology is another system that has to be managed. Before making a decision on RMM or PSA, MSPs must determine whether they have the IT expertise and personnel on-hand to keep the system running efficiently. A rigorous training period may be required in either instance.
Cloud or On-premises. MSPs can offset some of the cost and management challenges associated with implementing these two systems by opting for a cloud-based solution. When deploying these applications in the cloud, vendors pay on a flexible usage model that accommodates their budget, and offload the hardware maintenance and management aspects on another service provider. At this point, the only question is whether they are equipped to deal with the known drawbacks of cloud computing.
Give Some Thought to Integration
If your company is anything like many of today’s managed service providers, you may conclude that RMM and PSA software are both necessities. When this is the case, an integrated solution may be your best option. A top provider of IT software in the MSP space, LabTech Software is leading the charge of an industry trend that sees more vendors blending the best of RMM and PSA technology in one package. Thanks to the integration of these concepts, LabTech clients enjoy benefits such as synchronized IT assets, streamlined workflows, and better reporting across key network resources.
Whether it’s a native connection, or simply choosing two systems that play nice with one another, integrating RMM and PSA tools can provide MSPs with the visibility, scalability, and reliability needed to maintain an edge in this fiercely competitive market. By going the unified route, you can neutralize two birds with one stone, simplify management overhead, increase productivity, and possibly enjoy a better return on your investment. That sounds nice!
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