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We have been talking about the MSP 1.0 and MSP 2.0 business models recently. Now we are moving to the delivery side. What needs to be true to be able to say we do MSP 2.0?

The theories behind the business models are distinct from those behind the actual delivery. The MSP 2.0 model could be overwhelming as we’ve observed that changing the value proposition and solving the clients' IT management challenges means we must make numerous significant changes in our business approach.

We’ve developed the 7C IT Management Framework to solve this exact problem. It comprises a full suite of processes to enhance the IT management of clients in the 20-300 seat segment.


Frameworks in general are good for:

  • helping the service provider see all the client’s functions and service delivery areas
  • helping the clients understand their situation and the context within a clearly defined system
  • measuring the current state against the framework benchmark, define the goals for both parties, and attain team alignment
  • creating a transition between the current state and the future state - the action plan

The goal is to move from an ad-hoc attack strategy to more systematic thinking.

This approach is more likely to give a comprehensive perspective so you can make an informed decision where to invest and where not to.

The 7C IT Management Framework was designed to solve the problems of small and medium sized companies. These companies do not usually have a full-time, fully trained CIO or VP of IT, and without a skilled person in that role, IT decisions are made by the wrong people, such as:

  • The COO, CEO, or CFO, doing the job part-time, without the requisite experience of the full range of technologies and trends;
  • The IT Administrator, doing the job but with no experience in managing projects or understanding business needs; or
  • The outsourced, managed-service provider, with no understanding of the scope of the infrastructure and too technology-focused to have the most effective and productive strategy skills.


In many cases all employees work together on IT management. One will prepare a budget, another will plan the infrastructure, and a third will manage the projects. Often as IT managed services providers we are in the middle of this tornado, with no clear responsibilities, deliveries, or measurements. Everything is a bit foggy, but we try our best to do our best for the client.

The 7C IT Management Framework creates the following alignment:

  • defining all the necessary elements that could be leveraged to get a competitive edge with technology
  • measuring the current IT management maturity through a simple scoring system
  • discovery of the business needs through a goal setting workshop
  • creating an action plan to get to the target scores
    distributing the work and the responsibility across the IT ecosystem

The benefit is a competitive edge for the clients through technology:
  • more revenue to leveraging technology on the Value Proposition, Marketing, Sales, and Customer Loyalty parts of the company
  • lower expenses in leveraging the technology on the Operations, Business Processes, People, and Systems parts of the company
  • maximized business continuity, ensuring smooth operations and minimizing the impact of ‘disasters’ on the performance of the company

The 7C IT Management Framework

The 7C IT Management Framework covers 7 critical management areas of IT and asks these questions:
  • Continuous: What is the level of the IT security?
  • Competent: How efficient and professional is the IT ecosystem?
  • Charged: How proactive and responsible is the IT ecosystem
  • Conscious: How strategy and business focused is the IT ecosystem?
  • Controlled: How measurable, governable is the IT ecosystem
  • Clear: How transparent or clear is the IT ecosystem?
  • Cost effective: How well are costs controlled in the IT ecosystem?

These seven Cs are the key questions every CEO has to answer in order to have a competitive edge in IT. That also makes them the areas in which every MSP has to provide service, in order for the same goal.

As an MSP, you are providing value-added services to your client like backup management, disaster recovery planning, IT strategy building, and providing proactive services.

However, if you do not create a clear structure for clients you won’t inspire confidence. These are interrelated services, but if there are no defined boundaries, structures, or systems built around these individual services you will fail to maximize their potential.

7C, like any framework, is intuitively and expansively organized. The backup management and the disaster recovery are in the Continuous block; The IT strategy is on the Conscious block and the Proactive Services are in the Charge and the Competent blocks. If you can map every service you are doing and show your clients every management area in which there are deficiencies you’ll become aligned and effective.

Use 7C to map all your services and show the clients the big picture. It will also help discover the maturity level of your current service offering, and what services you should develop next.

7C is not a delivery framework. Its goal is not to tell you how to do better backups, or how to develop a better IT strategy. Its goal is to help clients understand what you are doing as an IT service provider, and for you to be able to get aligned on the service with prospects and clients.

One of the most important parts of 7C is the IT competitiveness quotient, which measures all of the 7C building blocks on the client side. It is an award-winning tool, which measures current maturity and generates an action plan based on the client's delivery areas.

Let's look at the defined service delivery areas based on different building blocks.

 

1. Continuous: Services to Increase the level of IT security 

Backup management implementation

Keep the data safe and sound, without any chance of data loss as a result of any single point of human error, lack of responsibility, or technical failure.

  • Backup policy, regulation implementation
  • Backup process implementation
  • Backup process responsibilities setting
  • Data recovery testing & implementation
  • Offsite backup implementation
  • Data recovery plan implementation
  • Offsite backup solution implementation

Disaster Recovery Plan implementation

Have a plan for when a disaster happens. It is a practical document that walks through all possible scenarios in case of an emergency event.

  • Business Assessment
  • IT Assessment
  • Disaster Recovery Plan development
  • Disaster Recovery Plan implementation
  • Disaster Recovery Plan audits

IT security best practices implementation

Implement the best practices that can help to drive a smoother, safer, and more secure environment. This involves both systems and people.

  • Corporate Information Security policy and regulation implementation
  • Corporate Information Security guidelines, education & implementation
  • User role and Lifecycle management implementation
  • BYOD management implementation
  • Password management implementation
  • Risk management implementation
  • Ethical hacking testing services
  • Physical IT Security protection implementation
  • IT Security, policies and procedures implementation
  • IT Security governance implementation

Basic IT security management implementation

Implement some very basic tools to increase the protection of the IT environment, devices, storage and systems.

  • Mobile Device Management implementation
  • Encryption management implementation
  • Access management implementation
  • Onsite data access management implementation
  • Online access management implementation

 

2. Competent:Services for a more Efficient and Professional IT Ecosystem   

Managed Service Implementation
Create the most advanced and efficient IT service environment. The infrastructure management is a core functionality and has to be done in a very professional manner. Using the latest automation and management tools, centralized services, and monitoring key to success.

  • RMM Service Implementation
  • PSA Implementation for Ticketing, Project Management, and Asset Management
  • Knowledge Base implementation
  • NOC service Implementation
  • Disaster Recovery Plan Implementation
  • Asset Management Implementation

 

Proactive Services Implementation

Achieve high level proactivity. IT is here to maximize overall productivity, but often even if we have the latest software in place, the client team is not aware of the advances and can get frustrated when the interface moves buttons. There is no shortage of personal productivity tools around but they are losing their potential business impact when the team is not shown how to use them to create a personal operation system with to-dos, calendars, and emails.

  • Proactive End User Training Program Implementation
  • Proactive Internal Self Service Knowledge Base Implementation
  • Proactive Personal Effectiveness Program Implementation
  • Proactive Business Process - IT Alignment Practices Implementation
  • Proactive System Integration Practice Implementation

 

Uptime Extension Services Implementation

Create and generate as high tenancy as possible for the given budget. You could influence the uptime of the overall systems with the professional services. Most of the job is proactive maintenance, standardized infrastructure, and redundancy. Discipline is the watchword here.

  • Redundant Infrastructure Implementation
  • Standardized Infrastructure Implementation
  • Server Side Patch Management Implementation
  • Desktop side Patch management implementation
  • Life-cycle, Recycle Management Implementation


Virtual CIO Services Implementation

Manage the IT ecosystem at the most professional level possible. Most IT management jobs are done by one of the C-level executives with an internal admin assistant and perhaps a third party MSP. These three roles don’t cover the needed management capacity. A Virtual CIO and a third party IT consultant need to be in place for the following activities.

  • vCIO Role implementation for IT Strategy Development, and Leadership
  • vCIO Role Implementation for IT Strategy Execution, and Leadership
  • vCIO Role Implementation for General IT Leadership
  • vCIO Role Implementation for IT Infrastructure Management
  • vCIO Role Implementation for IT Security and Risk Management
  • vCIO Role Implementation for IT Consultancy, and Representation

 

3. Charge: Services to Increase the Level of IT Service Maturity

vCIO toolkit - IT Service Maturity

Managed Service Implementation
Implement Managed Services not just for the professionalism but to maintain responsibility as well. That means creating a service offering around the overall responsibility and accountability of IT using tools, policies, systems, and best practices to make sure nothing falls through the cracks and customer expectations are always met through assured alignment.

  • Ticketing System Implementation
  • Disaster Recovery Plan Implementation
  • SLA and Ticketing System Implementation
  • Dedicated Service Manager Implementation
  • SLA for Overtime Implementation
  • SLA for Special Device Implementation

 

Proactive Services Implementation

Create all the necessary proactive services to prevent problems or fix them as soon as possible. Monitor, optimize, and remediate if required. This is not just related to the infrastructure but for the business processes as well. 

  • Proactive Maintenance Practice Implementation
  • Proactive End User Training Program Implementation
  • Proactive Optimization Practice Implementation
  • Proactive Onsite Support and User Feedback Implementation
  • Quarterly Business Analysis and Reviews Implementation

 

Responsibility Matrix Implementation

Manage the responsibility and accountability of many internal, external , and third party resources and vendors. On average a "Virtual IT Department" consists of at least 15 parties (ISP, Software Companies, Consultants, Hardware Vendors, and Service Providers etc.). Who is the boss? Who is responsible for what? The issue here for the CEO is that if no one is responsible then ultimately he/her is responsible. These workshops are a great tool to align and organize the team.

  • Responsibility Matrix - Including the CIO Role Implementation
  • Responsibility Matrix - Main Categories Implementation
  • Responsibility Matrix - Education Implementation
  • Responsibility Matrix - Main Categories Implementation with Ticketing System Aligned
  • Responsibility matrix - Attached to the Contracts

 

4. Conscious: Services to increase the level of strategic IT focus

vCIO toolkit - IT Strategy

IT Strategy Planning Retreat
Create a rock solid IT strategy in a very short timeframe. Executives’ time can’t be wasted sitting and talking for days. What is the best practice for spending 4-16 hours of work to create a very solid IT concept, roadmap, or strategy? The answer includes processes, best practices, efficient data collecting, and decision making techniques.

  • IT Strategy, External Review, SWOT Session
  • IT Strategy, Internal Review, SWOT Session
  • IT Strategy, IT Ecosystem, Infrastructure Audit Session
  • IT Strategy, Business Modelling Session
  • IT Strategy, Virtual IT Department Evaluation Session
  • IT Strategy, Business Functions Mapping Session
  • IT Strategy, Business Processes Mapping Session
  • IT Strategy, IT Functions Planning Session
  • IT Strategy, Strategic Initiatives Planning Session
  • IT Strategy, Development Roadmap Session

IT Operational Planning

Create detailed guidance for the execution of the strategy. This should be a year long plan with all the deliverables, initiatives, projects, priorities, and responsibilities necessary for flawless execution. Most small businesses do not have these plans in place. They often see it as too much work to create them, so the cost/benefit ratio precludes it. Again the keys are the processes, templates, and best practices to do the work in the very small amount of time.

  • IT Operational Plan, Budgeting Session
  • IT Operational Plan, Capacity Planning Session
  • IT Operational Plan, Priority Setting Session
  • IT Operational Plan, Resource Redistribution Session
  • IT Operational Plan Finalizing Session

 

IT Strategy Execution Management Implementation

Execute the plans adeptly. The agile methodology helps to create closed loop systematic rhythms around the execution. The key is to foster alignment on the deliverables and set expectations on time and budget. The most often overlooked factor is the personal time capacity planning. You have to set aside time for managing and doing all the project related work.

  • Quarterly IT Execution Plan Implementation
  • Monthly IT Execution Cycle Implementation
  • Weekly IT Execution Cycle Implementation
  • Project Execution System Implementation
  • Quarterly Performance Management Implementation

 

5. Controlled: Services to ensure a robust IT Ecosystem with Agile IT Governance  Virtual CIO Toolkit - IT Performance

IT Performance Management Best Practices Implementation
The goal here is to maximize reliability through implemented best practices. Quarterly and monthly target setting measures performance and creating action plans drives costs down and increases efficiency.

  • IT Performance Management Framework Implementation
  • IT Infrastructure Planning and Monitoring
  • IT Management Planning and Monitoring
  • IT Strategy Planning and Monitoring
  • IT Vendor Planning and Monitoring
  • IT User Development Best Practices Implementation

 

Strategy Execution Best Practices Implementation

While it’s great to think big-picture during the IT strategy session and develop fancy projects we need to reach our goals, we have to use specific IT related project and program management best practices to make sure that we are not just dreaming, but executing flawlessly.

  • Key IT Initiatives Management Best Practices Implementation
  • Key Project Budget, Risk Management Best Practices Implementation
  • Key Project Visualization, Planning Best Practices Implementation
  • Key Project Change Management, Communication Best Practices Implementation
  • Key Project close Best Practices Implementation

 

IT Audits Implementation

Ensure everything is safe and sound and works as we think it should be working. The various types of audits not only let us sleep better, but also keep up awareness of specific areas. To create such internal compliance requires a higher operational maturity.

  • Independent Auditor Service Implementation
  • IT Audit Process Design Based on Best Practices
  • Data Security Audit, Disaster Recovery Audit, Data Backup Audit implementation
  • Server Management Audit, Network Audit, Server Room Audit, IT Services Audit Implementation
  • IT Management Audit Implementation

IT Organization Best Practices Implementation

Organize the IT Ecosystem. This is a virtual department with 20 to 30 different vendors. Who is the boss? Who is working together? Who needs what information? How do we assist communication? It is worth the effort to establish order to get maximum value from our vendors and internal resources.

  • IT Operation Process Best Practices, IT Operation Policies Best Practices Implementation
  • IT Operation Manual Best Practices Implementation (Knowledge Base, Administrator's Guide, Responsibility Areas)
  • Collaboration Platform Implementation, Ticketing, Project, Yearly, Quarterly Planning, Alignment
  • IT Organizational Chart Design
  • Competence Management and Personal Growth Plans

 

6: Clear: Services to maintain transparency of the IT ecosystem 

 
IT Reporting Practice implementation
Develop the necessary reports to be able to measure the performance of all departments and groups. What we can't measure, we can’t manage. This is not an exercise in flooding the C level with reports. It means delivering critical weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly metrics of business performance.

  • Reporting Framework Implementation
  • IT Infrastructure Reporting Implementation
  • IT Management Reporting Implementation
  • IT Strategy Reporting Implementation
  • IT Vendor Reporting Implementation
  • IT User Reporting Implementation
Responsibility Matrix Implementation

Establish clear aligned definition of who is doing what. Going through the 200+ responsibility areas, from checking on the backup to aligning the technology with the business needs is going to raise a lots of questions. Who should do what to make sure nothing is ignored or forgotten. Again the takeaway for the CEO is that if no one is responsible for an element of the matrix, ultimately the CEO is. It is better to know who does what before you need them to. 

  • Responsibility Matrix Audit, Interviews and Workshop
  • Responsibility Matrix Management Implementation
  • Team Dependency and Risk Analysis


Internal SLA Implementation

The goal is to create the Service Level Agreement (SLA) internally. That means identifying all the necessary services the company need, make decisions on the needed quality, speed, cost, and create alignment on this. The internal audits could make sure the agreement is not just a paper on the shelf.

  • Internal SLA Creation based on Template
  • Internal SLA Enforcement


Efficient IT Management Tools Implementation

Use the most efficient tools as possible in IT management. If IT wants to make the company more competitive, it first needs to be competitive itself. Using the latest and best efficiency tools is key to drive costs down.

  • Execution Management Tool Implementation
  • IT Maturity Management Measurement Tool Implementation
  • IT Document Management Tool Implementation
  • Password Management Tool Implementation
  • Budget Management Tool Implementation

 

Vendor Management Implementation

Make clear that the client is in the driver's seat and not the vendor. Vendor management means yearly negotiations on prices and services, switches if needed, mediation on tough problems, and enforcement of the service level agreement. Make sure they are creating the value we agreed on.

  • ERP Vendor Management Implementation
  • Telco Vendor Management Implementation
  • Cloud Vendor Management Implementation
  • General Vendor Management Implementation
  • Printer Management Implementation

 

7. Cost Effective: Services to minimize the costs of the IT ecosystem 

 

IT Budget Management Services Implementation
Create and manage the most cost-effective IT budget. What is included in the budget needs to be strictly defined because everyone has to be on the same page when we’re talking about costs, expenses, budgets, targets, etc. Setting a budget is incomplete without proper governance, reconciliation, reporting, and solid decision making.

  • IT Budget Planning
  • IT Budget Controls Implementation
  • IT Budget Reports Implementation

 

Operation Efficiency Services Implementation

Analyse all the IT related processes in the organization. Are there any new tools we could use? Is education required to use the current systems? Is there any integration that could be done to make their processes leaner? A service offering encompassing these topic is a great tangible source of continuous improvement and total quality management.

  • Continuous Process Improvement Implementation

 

7C IT Management Framework and a vCIO Role Implementation

Manage every aspect of IT in a lean and straightforward framework. We create and implement the 7C Framework based on the 7C methodology.  We must understand that the vCIO is a high level IT Executive and can be a third party. The framework he/she implements, manages, and further develops is based on;

  • 7C Methodology Implementation
  • 7C Certified vCIO Implementation
  • 7C vCIO Toolkit Software Package Implementation
  • 7C vCIO Community, Continuous Education Implementation

 

IT Procurement Management Implementation

Manage all IT expenditures of a company and keep them as low as possible. Set up rules around purchasing, and create standards to achieve a homogeneous environment including managing all software subscriptions - key to keeping the costs down.

  • Purchase Policy Implementation
  • Standardized Device Policy Implementation
  • Software License, Subscription Service Implementation
  • Purchase Process Policy Implementation

 

Conclusion

The services discussed here are not new. What is new is the perspective. We can see the goal, see what the different services are about, and how to frame the services so that the client understands their value. It is an alignment tool to help clients understand their situation and to help them make informed choices.

You are able to help your clients without having capacity, knowledge, and experience in every service. You are able to be the one and only trusted advisor and vCIO, and outsource the rest of the work, with partners who excel at creating a budget, strategy, or security. That is your value in using the framework: being the big-perspective guide on IT, and ensuring the smooth, natural delivery of a professional trusted advisor.

 

Denes Purnhauser

Written by Denes Purnhauser

Denes has grown his MSP from 5 people to 17 staff in less than a year by implementing business problem focused sales processes with vCIO. He has transformed the client engagement processes of hundreds of MSPs.