People regularly spend the end of the year engaging in holiday functions, planning vacations, and mapping out new resolutions. For businesses, it’s the fourth quarter, a time that requires an entirely different type of focus. Managed service providers, for instance, are up to their necks conducting audits to make sure things continue to run smoothly moving forward. In the following we take a look at what should be on an MSP’s list of year-end audits.
- Company Database
A corporate database may endure a lifetime of changes in a year. By the time the fourth quarter rolls around, it might be loaded with outdated contacts, old transaction data, double entries, and other information that is essentially taking up space. Retention policies will determine the best approach to auditing your data. How long do you need to keep certain records per industry regulations? Can files be moved to different systems (physical or virtual) to make better use of storage resources? Dump what you can, but don’t neglect your vital data – active, archived, or otherwise.
- Inventory and Assets
Thanks to today’s rapidly changing IT environment, keeping up with your IT assets has become more challenging than most of us would prefer. You have to track how and where resources are dispersed across different offices and systems, software installations and upgrades, system integrations, new IT projects, and much more. A thorough audit at the end of the year will help reduce management costs, boost productivity in all the right places, and calm those compliance fears for at least another twelve months.
- Technology Licensing
A diverse pool of software is needed to provide all those highly sought after managed services. Unless your application infrastructure is exclusively open source, you probably have active licenses for RMM software, VPNs, hypervisors, and other proprietary management tools. Licensing is critical to maintaining a certain level of performance, keeping cost under control, and holding up your end of the usage bargain. Vendors like Microsoft and Oracle have been known to surprise customers with audits requesting to see proof that they are indeed operating with legitimate, licensed products.
If you’re lucky, you have a couple of valuable partnerships in your back pocket. Whether it’s the referrals you send to the MSP alliance or replenishing the stock from your network equipment supplier, these relationships need to be managed to ensure that each party is on the same page. The business world is cut throat in many ways, and nothing is guaranteed no matter how long you’ve been working together. Use the year-end period to consult with your partners and discuss how you can continue making magic as a team in the future.
- Marketing Strategy
It’s tough to stay on top of promoting and advertising when you’re firing on all cylinders and servicing clients on a daily basis. The end of the year is the perfect time to reflect on your marketing strategy and its effectiveness. Is doing business from a website and email sufficient, or do you need to get more active in the social media space? Are you holding on to your direct mail campaigns because they still generate a positive response, or because you’ve been doing it for the past decade? Evaluate your presence in each channel and monitor the trends predicted to make a splash in the coming year.
In addition to what’s already been covered, MSPs need to run extensive reviews of finances, HR operations, company policies, and the numerous other areas that demand the attention of any organization. It’s a lot to look at, so don’t hesitate to go over this checklist with a consultant or legal professional who can make sure all the bases are covered. Wrap this year with a proper bow, and you’ll be in position to start the new one on the right foot – if not with a bang!
Photo Credit: Simon Cunningham via Flickr