On a recent visit to McDonalds I asked for one of their bowels of chicken salad. In my mind its rather more healthy than much of the remainder of their menu. Anyway, I was told that they had none, but as I had already paid they added "but we can make one up for you if you like?" - I said that would be fine and they asked about the various things I'd like in it - then off they went
The reason to mention this is that the result was interesting. Clearly McDonalds can make up things as required, but as I watched them behind the scenes it became clear that as this item was not part of a standard offering it was creating a number of issues such as how to process it, where to get the elements from and who's job it was to get it finished. The resulting salad was OK, but it was the process of its creation that got me thinking
Lessons for MSP's ?
In a productive MSP Provider, the key is to ensure that you offer the best possible service to clients and to reduce the amount of hours it takes to maintain their systems. Both parties benefit in this relationship. The client gets reduced downtime and increased efficiency while the MSP is able to provide a service without high staff overheads or excessive resources. Many MSP's use automation to deal with this side of the equation and many others, like Abussi, standardise.
When companies type IT Support Birmingham into Google then they find a whole host of providers who could offer them the services they seek. Many believe that each company provides a bespoke and dedicated level of service to their exacting needs and to a degree that's true. However, most will have a standard toolbox of services that they have developed, are familiar with and that they can manage with ease. These may cover routers, internet providers, software, hardware vendors and other related services; but the key is that they understand how they work and can prove that they offer benefits to all clients.
Its how we do it
Abussi is no different, we standardised many of our services some time ago and some examples of this include deploying just one type of router to all clients to ensure we can manage them via a web portal; we offer a standard hardware platform (HP) as we know its reliable and well-priced with good support; and we only offer one type of Hosted Email service to those looking to move towards Cloud services. However, for some time we were not able to provide a standard antivirus solution as we were unable to find one that met all our needs.
Antivirus is a service that many companies know they need but don't see as vital. It's gone from one of the most important services in the early days of the Internet, when PC's started to talk to lots of other PC's and infection levels were high, to a service that has been lumped with many others into an 'all round protection' solution. Most antivirus services today are more than this and also include Web Filtering, Anti Malware, SPAM filtering etc. Managing these all in a single product and with ease was proving to be a problem which Abussi struggled with for some time. Additionally it was becoming clear that many of the products we were using were no longer effective across a wide range of threats - a solution was needed.
The solution - AVG
Many of us will be familiar with AVG - we know them as a provider of FREE antivirus software we all download to our home PC's when we realise that everything else has been paid for and we have no budget left ! Most of us consider them a domestic provider, not a business provider of software. Well, with AVG Cloudcare that perception needs to change. After being recommended to look at AVG by one of my IT engineers who had used it to clear a virus from a PC in the workshop, I reached out to AVG in the UK and requested a trial of their new Cloudcare product. It appeared, on the surface, to tick all of my box's in terms of need :
- It was a small footprint, lightweight program, that did not hinder PC operations
- It could be deployed as part of a wider selection of solutions from AVG including Web Filtering and Remote Management
- There was a central Web Portal for maintenance of any deployments, either as a whole or 'by company'
- They provided an MSP reseller model meaning that we could by in the service and then add this to our existing MSP fee's to clients with ease
The results ?
All I can say after running a 1 month trial on a handful of selected client PC's is that the solution is stunning. No more will I consider AVG as a cheap, home focused provider of software. AVG Cloudcare really does offer Abussi a professional and superior anti-virus solution that we can install with the confidence that it will protect our clients from virus's and other malware which may come onto the PC from standard web browsing, but also that we can manage individual or groups of PC's via a simple interface. The benefits to Abussi are huge and fall directly into the point of this Blog - standardise. We now have a solution that we roll out to all Abussi clients and its become the only antivirus solution we offer, priced into our MSP fee's per month and understood by our engineers who can manage the service centrally.
McDonalds have grown to be the largest global fast food giant by having standard procedures and by creating a clear process from buying, through distribution and into each restaurant where food is prepared using standard processes every time. Training is important for all McDonalds staff but their high turnover of people means that by standardising each tiny step they can re-train a person in a few hours, not weeks. I'm not advocating that all MSP providers look to become McDonalds, but next time you pop in for a bite, why not ask yourself how it is that they can take you from order to food on a tray in less than 3mins - the answer - by standardising it