Quarterly Business Reviews are tricky. Some clients are not engaged with your QBRs and require a different approach, some clients don't justify the time spent on a QBR every quarter, and some clients are more mature and need different reports, even some demanding complete technology roadmaps and updates...do you need a custom QBR template for each client?! If there's no one fit-for-all QBR process or template it seems that scaling Account Management and vCIO is going to be near impossible, since every client is different.

In this article we show you a method to assess the complexity of your QBR needs and the time you can afford to run those meetings. Then we introduce three different types of QBRs with all the major agenda points, and we'll show you how those QBRs look in an example.

So you'd like to get set up and running quickly with your QBRs to generate client engagement and opportunities with Project Roadmaps?

The vast amount of selection of report templates, widgets and software functions can be overwhelming when you start. We put together a quick guide to let you choose not only the templates but the best approach and software functions as well.

STRUCTURE, MANAGE AND AUTOMATE YOUR ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT AND VCIO PROCESESS

 

Prerequisites:

Before we jump in, just a reminder of the four roles of Client Engagement. If you have not yet read the article you might start there. The four roles that make you a high value business partner

A quick refresher: The idea is that there are four critical roles your company needs in order to engage a client. These roles are distributed among Strategic/Tactical and Business/Technology domains. The challenges is to make sure you command all domains and communicate priorities with clients. This is a basis of planning and designing a QBR.

Client Engagement Responsabilities

With respect to the four roles in your QBR there are communication agenda items for each:

What we are going to address here is which role and which agenda should be covered with the different types of clients and circumstances.

 

Walkthrough:

In this video we are going through the 3 steps that will find you the best template for your QBR.

  1. How to do a quick self assessment - now you know what approaches you might need
  2. How to choose from the three approaches - now you know what the different approaches do
  3. How to perform each approach - now you know what topics are covered and how

 

Step 1: Self Assessment

Not all QBRs are created equal. Each MSP has their own way to interact with clients based on their current situation.

To choose the right template for your QBR you must first assess your current situation to determine the best course of action.

 

Typical QBR Approaches

 

Assess the Complexity Scale

You should decide whether you have small, medium or high complexity in regard to QBRs.

We often see MSPs develop the wrong type of QBR process for their current complexity. When considering the complexity of your report, keep in mind how many people will be reviewing it and what roles they fill at your clients' offices. This will help you tailor the content to the appropriate audience for maximum relevant value.

Average Client Size

    • Large client 75+ seats (high)
    • Mid size client 25-75 seats (medium)
    • Small client 25- seats (low)

The larger your clients are the more complex their business and IT environments can be. This requires assembling more complex reports delivered to different stakeholders.

Your Team Size:

    • A Team delivers QBRs (high)
    • A single Account Manager or vCIO delivers (medium)
    • The MSP Owner delivers (low)

The bigger your team is the more communication, alignment and internal documentation is needed to stay productive.

Audience:

    • Business Focus and Technical focus with multiple stakeholders (high)
    • Mostly Business Focus with Executives (medium)
    • Mostly Office Managers or IT Coordinators (low)

The more people involved throughout the QBR process the more alignment, communication and documentation is needed to get ideas and approvals across.

Decide the Complexity: High / Medium / Low

Considering your answers decide whether you need a Small / Medium or High Complexity approach.

 

Assess the Effort Scale

You should decide how much time you would like to allocate on the development and the maintenance of the QBRs. This helps to make sure that the process is conducted efficiently and won't be wasted effort.

We have seen small, less mature MSPs trying to jump too high on the maturity scale and then either not be able to develop the process they wanted or unequipped to sustain the QBRs.

Time for learning and implementation

    • Less than 3 hours of initial implementation time (low effort)
    • 3-7 hours of initial development time (medium effort)
    • 7-10 hours of initial development time (high effort)

While it is possible to edit and customize the templates, we recommend you start by using the templates as provided. Once you've learned the basics, then, if you have the time and or resources, spend time on customization. 

Preparing a client report:

    • Less than 30 minutes per QBR (low effort)
    • 1 hour per QBR (medium effort)
    • Up to 2 hours per QBR (high effort)

The more time you can dedicate to a QBR the more widgets you can use and the more software functions you can leverage to generate more engaging processes with clients.

Maturity of the current processes:

    • You have a current process in place with automation (low effort)
    • You have a process but need better automation (medium effort)
    • You do not have a current process / best practice (high effort)

The more mature your current QBR process the less time you need to develop your processes and deliver them.

Decide on the Effort: High / Medium / Low

Based on your answers decide whether you have a Small, Medium or High Effort approach.

 

2. Three Approaches of QBRs

Based on the Complexity / Effort scales, choose which template you'd like to start with.  

The reports mentioned are additive, so you can start with a simpler approach then gradually add more components making your report more mature. You will not have to recreate existing reports as they can be updated as you go.

3 QBR templates

Features Included in the Template Basic Advanced Expert 
Instructions      
How to use the template X X X
How to use the report tool X X X
Change Log Checklist - X X
       
Quarterly Business Review      
Cover Page X X X
Meeting Agenda - X X
       
Strategy and Directions      
Strategy Business Overview - X X
What's New - X X
Technology Landscape - X X
Scorecard Summary - - X
       
Technology Roadmap      
Technology Health: Overview X X X
Technology Health: Categories X X X
Technology Roadmap X X X
Technology Project Details X X X
Technology Health: Detailed Assessment X X X
       
Technology Operations      
Technology Operations Tasks - - X
Technology Operations Scorecard - - X
Technology Operations Monthly Call Notes - - X
Technology Operations Ticket Board - X X
Technology Operations Critical Systems - X X
Technology Operations Warranty Report - X X
       
Technology Services      
Technology Services Customer Satisfaction - X X
Technology Services Reviews - - X
Technology Services Team Scorecard - - X
Client Scorecard - - X
Technology Services Master Service Agreement - - X
Technology Services Selector - - X
       
Tools      
Client Engagement Roles Explainer - X X
Next QBR Scheduler - - X
Cost of Downtime Calculator - - X
Office Productivity Calculator - - X
Return on Investment Calculator - - X

 

Basic QBR

If the effort is medium or low and the complexity is medium or low we suggest you use the Basic QBR.

The process uses a simple IT Infrastructure Audit with a generic MSP IT Infrastructure Health Assessment. It helps to quickly assess a client, prepare the report, farm projects and handle all tactical elements ad-hoc.

Basic QBR agenda

  • Simple and ideal for ad-hoc meetings
  • Very quick adoption time (2-3 hours)
  • Great for technical related conversations
  • Can be done irregularly once or twice a year
  • Farming projects to a roadmap
  • Very quick preparation time (~30 minute)

 

Advanced QBR

If both the effort and the complexity sit in the middle we suggest the QBR report template and simply removing or hiding most of the widgets.

The process uses more content widgets to make recurring meetings possible such as meeting agenda, executive overview, what's new, technology landscape and widgets with embedded technology reports such as Brightgauge.

This can leverage the tool's Snapshot feature to show progress over time.

 

Advanced QBR agenda

  • Add a regular cadence
  • Clarity on progress and value
  • Accountability with logging the meetings

 

Expert QBR Approach

If your team is large and your clients are demanding or you are offering this process as a part of a paid engagement we suggest to go all-in. The modular report builder is going to give you many options and functions to use. Again, you can start small and add functions along the way.

Scorecards can be used for getting insights from internal resources, users or their executive team through simple questionnaires, and pushed into scorecards. 

Service Review widget is a way that you can associate service bundles to your clients and review the offered services one-by-one. This is a great way to officially review your services with high maturity and demanding clients.

 

Expert QBR agenda

  • Very versatile approach for handling very complex use cases
  • Can be branded to your organization for use as an internal report (for internal IT teams)
  • High level of PSA integrations allows you to develop very efficient workflows
  • The report can be version controlled by an admin and lower permission users can only complete reports
  • Combining with the Client Engagement Software overall Client Engagement Scores can be generated

 

Conclusion

Finding the right way to craft and effectively deliver your QBR requires the following:

  • Understanding your Client Engagement roles
  • Understanding the QBR agenda for each role
  • Understanding what level of complexity in QBRs your clients require
  • Understanding how much effort you can put behind a QBR
  • Choice of an approach (or multiple if needed)
  • Designing the agenda items
  • Building a dynamic report that reflects the required outcomes

It might be intimidating but for Managed Services Clients you just need to go through the decision making process and pick our pre-built templates. Customize what you need but always consider the required time of development and delivery implications of those developments.

 

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Denes Purnhauser

Written by Denes Purnhauser

Denes has grown his MSP from a 5-persons staff to a 20-persons staff in less than a year by implementing business problem focused sales processes with vCIOs. As a result, he has transformed the client engagement processes for hundreds of MSPs.