In our design of the new Quarterly Business Review tool we wanted to ensure that MSPs can find business opportunities with existing clients, enhance the quality of their engagement, become a business partner and demonstrate the value they provide all at once. Achieving those multiple goals in the midst of commoditization of traditional infrastructure management services requires finding a balance among five different strategies. Let's check those success factors to make sure you deliver timely and engaging QBRs.
We’ve identified several common mistakes managed services providers are making during the QBR process, leading to less and lower quality client engagement, over complicated processes and too much work. We wanted to create a tool that’s straightforward, easy to use, and guides the service provider to optimal client engagement.
1. 360 Degree view of IT
Most MSPs’ QBR is all about the explanation of their services, performance and ‘speeds and feeds’ of the infrastructure, and the motivation is to show they work hard for the money. This is hardly engaging.
Being engaging of course requires the ability to ask questions from the client’s leadership regarding their business priorities, problems they’re facing or opportunities they see or think they could find. It gives you the chance to put your services in their business context. You also need to be able to ask questions of front-line people - struggles they have with applications, processes or any user-related opportunity. This all gives the service provider the ingress to solve real problems and start scoping projects you can deliver. If you can’t focus on 360 degrees of their business with technology, you can’t have a sustainable client engagement process, so we designed the tool to gather variegated input from several distinct sources in preparation for the QBR, where you’ll have a more comprehensive, holistic view through the meeting.
2. Balance the business and technology
MSPs are often the victims of their own aptitude. When they start working with a client, that client is usually dealing with a suite of frustrations and confusion...nothing seems to be working. We can’t let them set the conversation in this miserable frame. It has to elevate from the technology issues to finding solutions to business problems in order to deliver visible business value.
It’s always a good idea to keep your target audience entertained, and for us that’s the various opportunities they can leverage with their technology. When you stay relevant you’ll generate visible value persistently. To this end we designed a specific thought-provoking mini questionnaire for the leadership team that you can run prior to the meeting, giving you the opportunity to understand their business related issues, problems and goals. Once they feel understood, your suggestions and advice will be more on target, more easily adopted and more valued by your customer. Just focus on their goals rather than your agenda and you’ll sell them new projects.
3. Nurture maturity
Many MSP client has just started their journey with you and many are your clients for years. Many client of yours have pretty big complex business models many of them has very small and simple operations. That diversity creates a wide range of IT maturity which need to be managed.
Our philosophy is this maturity needs to be nurtured all the time. If your client has a super low maturity you need a tool not to overwhelm them, however if they have a pretty mature IT you still should nurture it further. We designed the QBR tool to be modular. If there is a super small client you do not cover everything. You might just focus on the IT metrics first then quarter by quarter introduce new aspects such as the business goals or applications. However, if their maturity is high enough you can involve more people to the conversation, focus on different line of business applications or offer additional vCIO services with more IT strategy and execution.
4. Cadence of Accountability
Many MSPs do Quarterly Business Reviews once or twice a year, either because they cannot allocate the time or believe there’s no need for quarterly interactions. There is no real cadence to communication, just occasional meetings.
We believe that having a strict quarterly rhythm of the process is crucial. We even designed the report in a way that incentives regular completion - it feels awkward if a Quarter is missing. We wanted to make sure the process becomes an easy routine for the team, not a one-off. Some items in the QBR report relate to only the current quarter, while others display their progress across them. For example the latter shows the trend of fixing business problems better than just a snapshot of current issues, while for technical details we need to work on current issues with a narrower focus.
5. The right level of details
One popular strategy among managed services providers is creating standards to which all clients must comply. While this is a great initiative to simplify processes, it can create too much work and misalignment with clients at the same time.
We’ve designed service standards with enough flexibility for you to evaluate and implement alongside your processes and best practices, to increase your efficiency. It doesn’t make sense to create detailed standards nobody feels are relevant, or have the time to follow. We let you define standards for each infrastructure or application category so you aren’t bombarding clients with detailed standards they don’t even comprehend. We give you a 1-100 scale to evaluate their performance against a standard, so you can best approach the balance of compliance and effectiveness. For example one level of performance can get a lower score for a more mature or bigger organization than a small simple one. Maybe focusing on that area doesn’t deliver tangible value to a small organization, but for a mature corporation it’s a necessity. You’re able to stay relevant to your clients while implementing your skillfully crafted standards that deliver value to them and you.
Implementing a professional, relevant and engaging Quarterly Business Review process is a must theses days. The success of this process can literally make or break your relationship with your clients. Let's learn from other MSPs and improve your chances to stay relevant to clients in years to come!