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Build a Better MSP - Blog

4 min read

Where the MSP serving software industry is going

By Denes Purnhauser on Sep 2, 2016

All our accolades to the development people in the Connectwise Team and the super beta users; after three months of development we’re happy to announce the Connectwise integration is live.

I know integration is a boring subject and I don’t intend to explain the details of the features here. But the development process and the results have been prompting many to wonder where the software industry and specifically the MSP servicing software industry is going.

Ours was not just a simple data based integration. Our tool is actually running inside Connectwise with customized screens. One doesn’t even need to log in to our native tool to use all the features inside Connectwise, like execute Account Management, vCIO activities and running discovery workshops with prospects.

The question I am raising is: are we actually heading to where we have only one application that runs our MSP, and all the vendors create “modules” for that application?

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6 min read

5 false Myths of Managed Services

By Denes Purnhauser on Aug 26, 2016

As we have been talking with hundreds of Managed Services around the world we have been able to identify several common beliefs, and even myths shaping their thoughts.

The biggest problem here is that these beliefs were valid in the past. The times when the MSP model founded and spread across the world, these concepts were helping people to sell and execute services. However as the market went forward with the tectonic shift of consumerization, cloud, mobile and the overall maturity of IT, these beliefs are no longer valid.

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4 min read

Managing "unrealistic" expectations

By Denes Purnhauser on Jul 25, 2016

I just watched a hilarious 2 minute Youtube video where a comedian recounted the tale of someone righteously indignant over the atrocious inconvenience of the wi-fi breaking up during his trans-Atlantic flight. It made me ponder the trend of setting unrealistic expectations when it comes to technology. We have a short memory for problems fixed, take progress for granted and miss the chance to revel in our achievements.

Then I was thinking that perhaps this reminds you of a type of client of yours who is spoiled by all the progress and never satisfied. Who set these unrealistic expectations? How can we make sure we're not creating the problem ourselves? Check out this quick video and see what we can do to prevent it happening.

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4 min read

Three canvases for MSPs to make communication work with clients

By Denes Purnhauser on Jun 20, 2016

Having been inspired by the business model canvas, we started our own IT Management Canvas almost three years ago. We’re thrilled to see how creatively people adopt the canvas with the related questionnaire and instigate vibrant client engagement. Through our development of vCIO and IT Security related assessments, the new canvases have been born. Let's check out the revision of the original IT management Canvas, the IT Security Canvas and the vCIO Canvas.

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7 min read

6 strategies to make MSP services more tangible

By Denes Purnhauser on Feb 26, 2016

One of the most common and largest hurdles for MSPs is difficulty expressing our value proposition properly, and hence differentiating ourselves.

There are two fundamental aspects of our industry responsible. First is the abstract nature of the proposition. The problems we solve are less tangible, like “competitive edge” or “staying ahead of the curve” rather than “keeping the lights on”. The second is the more managerial and higher level services such as solution selection, and team alignment and integration rather than executable defined processes like device management and remote monitoring. 

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4 min read

Trending Topics in the MSP 2.0 Peer groups

By Denes Purnhauser on Feb 19, 2016

A few months ago we started sessions of real peer groups, to get people together to discuss real issues, problems and challenges we’re all facing and hopefully to come up with some individual plans that boost the accountability of process execution. From these I’ve compiled a list of topics that are front-of-mind among participants. I can report that the discussions dealt with the problems in a very forward looking manner, with creative solutions and not stuck in status-quo thinking. In my opinion these sessions are giving a unique insight into where the industry is going.

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2 min read

Teams vs individuals for IT management roles

By Denes Purnhauser on Feb 11, 2016

Baby boomers, Gen X, Millenials: the different generations in the workplace set some challenges for IT leaders and service providers as well. Who’s best suited for the vCIO role?

I came across an illuminating infographic in the last week that discusses the different strengths and weaknesses involved in these demographics.

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3 min read

Quick calculation formula for vCIO opportunities

By Denes Purnhauser on Feb 5, 2016

The other day I made some calculation with a client about vCIO services. Fortunately it is very easy to calculate your opportunity in creating a profitable and scalable vCIO service offering.

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7 min read

The Fall of the Era of Free IT Advice

By Denes Purnhauser on Jan 21, 2016

 Many IT managed services providers (MSPs) and internet telephony service providers (ITPs) are suffering the challenges of charging for IT consultation. The IT industry has taught its customers that we sell big expensive boxed packages that come with free consultation, placing the value in the big boxes and none in the advice. There are no big expensive boxes anymore, but still the advice remains free. However a systemic shift is taking shape finally reversing this conundrum. It is about offering low-cost SaaS applications and solutions with high-grade consultation fees, placing more value in the advice rather than the tool.

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10 min read

7 requirements for a scalable vCIO offering

By Denes Purnhauser on Jan 11, 2016


The MSP 2.0 model is catching fire around the world. Many MSPs have already started to design, sell and deliver vCIO services. Adding $2.000 - $4000 of vCIO monthly recurring revenue (MRR) to a current 40 seat $5000 MSP MRR is now doable but requires some preparation. We’re going to take a look at the requirements (which can be easily overlooked) of the delivery to make sure we make it profitable.

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1 min read

Transform your MSP sales approach

By Denes Purnhauser on Dec 8, 2015

Branden Baker, President of Integration Technologies from Hawaii is a modern Tom Selleck. He shares a story about the transformation of his sales approach.

His team had not been able to close any MSP deals for more than a year. But he got involved in the vCIO conversation and after only a few weeks he landed his first monster six-figure deal.

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1 min read

Closing 11 Virtual CIO contracts in 3 weeks

By Denes Purnhauser on Nov 20, 2015

Greg Tanner from Denver is a maverick, no question about it. His “Technology Quarterback™” slogan has become a meme among the MSP 2.0 community. We spoke the other day and I am still speechless. He started crafting this vCIO offering back in June, piece by piece, and started selling it in early October. Since then he’s closed 11 virtual CIO contracts with over 20K MRR! In this video, Greg shares the secrets to these amazing results. Be aware, he has very strong opinions about MSP 2.0. (Even stronger than me - Haha!)

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10 min read

12 mistakes most MSPs make with their Virtual CIO services

By Denes Purnhauser on Nov 19, 2015

 

The Virtual CIO phenomenon is not new, yet the promises of the role have not been realized across the industry. Some mature MSPs who believe they have a functioning Virtual CIO practice, on closer inspection, still show challenges with delivery, scalability and profitability.

While we could go in depth to identify the root of these problems, instead here we'll highlight the twelve most common mistakes MSPs make with their vCIO. At the end of this article there is a questionnaire where you can measure yourself against other MSPs.

#update - We released this blog a year ago. This is an updated version covering the latest developments. It seems that the MSP 2.0 community was able to solve most of the issues during the last year. These mistakes now can be prevented. It has been a long year, for sure... :-)

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4 min read

10 ways MSPs are leaving money on the table

By Denes Purnhauser on Oct 15, 2015

Keeping up the margins for IT managed services providers is getting harder and harder. The competition is catching up and while needs of the clients keeps growing, the price still seems to be dropping - and many IT companies are making a practice of leaving money on the table. Let's look at 10 things you can fix to prevent losing money every day.

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1 min read

Increase revenue with process related Virtual CIO services

By Denes Purnhauser on Oct 8, 2015

Ryan Williams is a superstar CEO of the ProcessPlan SaaS application. He really knows the MSP arena well, as he is also VP of Business Development for the MSP Nexxtep

I was intrigued to have an interview with him because of my belief that IT companies are specialists in process. Clients need process management experts, but that’s usually seen as a management role, and not a tech discipline. Ryan has changed this with his tool: ProcessPlan is awesome software that can be used for planning and managing processes. It makes the process problems tech problems, so the IT managed services providers can leverage them to sell process related Virtual CIO services to their clients.

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4 min read

5 ways MSPs can leverage Business Model Canvas 

By Denes Purnhauser on Sep 24, 2015

Business Model Canvas has been a very hot management tool recently. Personally I have created 100+ Business Models over the last couple years for clients and for our companies. One of our companies is even a "Use Case" in the Hungarian edition of the Business Model Generation Book. We have developed different ways for IT managed services providers to use the tool for different reasons. Let's take a look at 5 practical ways to leverage this tool.

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1 min read

Implementation of the Virtual CIO Services with Rich Anderson

By Denes Purnhauser on Sep 17, 2015

 
Implementing vCIO services can be a challenge. New ways of thinking, new lines of services, pricing and packaging, and service delivery all abound. Rich Anderson, CEO of Imagine IT has been working on this for a couple of months now. I asked him about his experiences, challenges, solutions and results. If you are thinking on implementing Virtual CIO services, or if you have been working on that already, let’s pick his brain. He’ a smart guy and explains everything very clearly with tons of hints and tips. Enjoy!

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6 min read

Starting vCIO projects the right way

By Denes Purnhauser on Sep 11, 2015

Many IT managed services providers see opportunities with their clients that aren’t related to the existing infrastructure. Clients are instead looking for help deciding which CRM they should use; how they should migrate their many Excel spreadsheets to a Process Management application or with something else that needs IT management expertise. You want to help them, of course; you are the trusted advisor, even a dedicated vCIO. The main question is: how do you start a project AND start charging for your project management duties from day one?

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3 min read

Leveraging the IT Quarterly Business Reviews

By Denes Purnhauser on Aug 21, 2015


Many IT managed services providers are doing some type of Quarterly Business Reviews (QBR) and most have trouble delivering it with the right cadence and voice.  It’s too technical and fails to shows business value to the executive team. Introducing QBRs poorly can backfire and land the MSP into a more technical role. Let's take a look at some cool techniques to engage clients with Quarterly Business Reviews.

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1 min read

Calculating the utilization and profitability of a vCIO

By Myles Olson on Aug 20, 2015

How many clients can a vCIO viably service, and what is the utilization rate? How much revenue does a virtual CIO need to generate? What is the W2 goal rate for a vCIO? Many questions like these need to be examined if we want to structure our vCIO services successfully. Let's use the vCIO calculation sheet to figure it out!

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1 min read

How to transition from the server room to the boardroom

By Myles Olson on Jul 29, 2015

This week's question: How do I become a virtual CIO when I'm “just a tech?”  This week Denes and Myles discuss a path to transition to the vCIO role. You may be more comfortable in the server room, but now you're needed in the boardroom.

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1 min read

Preparation for a vCIO budgeting meeting

By Denes Purnhauser on Jul 17, 2015

This week Denes talks about how to manage other vendors during the vCIO budgeting session. This small template can help you manage the discussion.

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2 min read

Defining vCIOs from around the world: Part 4 - United States

By Péter Torbágyi on Jul 17, 2015

After Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, we take a look at vCIOs in the United States.  70% of all registered Virtual CIOs operate in the USA. Because of this dominance the US vCIO trends are often difficult to separate from the international scene. When we talk about US trends, we are talking about the international trends at the same time.

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2 min read

Defining vCIOs from around the world: Part 3 - Australia

By Péter Torbágyi on Jul 10, 2015

As part of our work with companies in the process of implementing virtual CIO services we are interested in the general vCIO movement worldwide. So we’ve created a series of research discussions country by country.

Although the largest vCIO movement is resident in the U.S.A., we also observe distinct trends in other countries where the movement is under way. Having looked now at Canada and New Zealand, let's travel to Australia and see where the vCIOs reside down under.

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2 min read

Defining vCIOs from around the world: Part 2 - New Zealand

By Péter Torbágyi on Jul 2, 2015

As part of our work with companies in the process of implementing vCIO services we are interested in the general virtual CIO movement worldwide. So we’ve created a series of research discussions country by country.

Although the largest virtual CIO movement is driven by the US, we think it’s important to have a global perspective so we try to present trends of other countries where the movement is visible. After Canada, let's travel to New Zealand and see how the kiwi vCIOs live.

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1 min read

How to handle out of scope/specialty requests from clients

By Myles Olson on Jun 25, 2015

This week Denes and Myles discuss how to professionally handle client requests that don’t fall into specific projects or pre-defined services, and some that fall far outside the traditional MSP service repertoire.  What do you do with unconventional questions and requests?  Watch and find out.

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2 min read

Defining vCIOs from around the world: Part 1- Canada

By Péter Torbágyi on Jun 22, 2015

We work with a variety of companies that are implementing vCIO services, and think it’s important to have a perspective on the general vCIO movement worldwide. We have thus created a series of research country by country.

Although the largest vCIO movement is driven by the US, we are starting this series of analysis on our home soil. So let’s see how the Virtual CIO movement is doing in Canada.

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4 min read

The secret to making money for IT consultation

By Denes Purnhauser on Jun 19, 2015

We have been using a very basic management tool called the 10 Point Exercise, where the goal is to channel client issues into a defined consulting "product" rather than just having discussions pro-bono….getting people together to ask specific questions, getting everything out on the table and developing a plan. It’s easy to learn and it turns IT tech guys into business advisors in 20 minutes.  Most importantly though it let them charge for their knowledge instead of giving it away. Let's see how...

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1 min read

Escape the free-advice MSP trap once and for all

By Myles Olson on Jun 19, 2015

Have you ever been asked for IT advice with the expectation that it comes free of charge, and even takes time away from your paying work? Of course you have. The moment it’s discovered that you know about technology you become the go-to guy for reliable “free” advice.
 
Worse, this isn’t limited to friends and family. Your clients are doing it too, and you let them because you’re a kind person who’s passionate about helping people and savvy with technology, and the people asking aren’t consciously trying to steal your time. The problem is once you’ve set this precedent with your clients it becomes difficult to shed the expectation you’ll help for free.
 
You may also be needed to give advice on IT you know works and should be implemented, but aren’t the expert on. How do you charge for advice about something you can’t explain like the engineer who made it? The vCIO 10 point exercise is your solution! Find it here and take part in the video Q&A for more information.
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4 min read

Get out of the MSP commoditization trap

By Denes Purnhauser on Jun 12, 2015


One of the more common problems we see IT managed services providers suffer is increasing difficulty with the commoditization of services and differentiation within the industry. There are three factors involved here that we need to understand and manage to solve these problems. 

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4 min read

Proactive Customer Development: Leverage your QBRs

By Denes Purnhauser on May 5, 2015

Most IT managed services providers are quite proud of how proactive they are, especially in terms of technical services like maintenance, antivirus, warranty, etc. However, if we look at their client's IT savvy, operational maturity, and  IT enablement, this is less true. Here are four easy tips to leverage Quarterly Business Reviews and implement the proactive mindset on a higher level.

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6 min read

The 6 Reasons MSPs Tend to Over-Deliver

By Denes Purnhauser on Apr 22, 2015

One of the most common laments we hear from IT managed services providers is over-delivery of too many different services. They feel they serve their clients more than needed and the services go unused by the clients. Account managers end up doing more IT consulting than they should, demands for IT consultation are unlimited, and the IT company invests time on IT projects that never start. Here we delve into the root of the problems and learn what to do about them!

Clients will start with questions like “What is the best application for this problem? Why are people not productive? How do we manage various IT related vendors?”, etc. However most IT companies do not have the right model for IT consultancy, and try to address those needs without a viable revenue model.

The result of over-delivery is diminished return on service investment. Not only do we do too much but at the same time we set unreasonable expectations with the client. We teach them that we do it for free, or that any request is covered already, and that blocks our ability to implement a profit model, if we even have one.

Let's quickly see the six causes of over-delivery and review a solution.

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5 min read

The 5 Levels of vCIO Operational Maturity

By Denes Purnhauser on Jan 30, 2015

The Operational Maturity segmentation makes a lot of sense when trying to understand where to go with vCIO services and which next possible steps to take.
It demonstrates the current maturity of services in a descriptive way, explains the differences, and provides hints and tips toward the next step.This article demonstrates how to proceed as a virtual CIO with respect to levels of operational maturity.

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2 min read

Build your MSP with the help of virtual CIO services

By Myles Olson on Jan 14, 2015

Colin Knox is a true entrepreneur in the managed services provider industry. He’s been operating a very mature and well-polished boutique managed services provider in Calgary, Canada.

He’s also been recognized by Penton Technology Group in the ‘MSP Mentor 250’ which lists the best of the best managed service provider executives, entrepreneurs, experts, coaches and community leaders.

Colin’s service philosophy involves helping people grow and to that end giving them a chance to learn and develop into virtual CIOs. His business growth focuses on high level services.

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2 min read

What is the one business skill MSP leaders can teach their clients?

By Denes Purnhauser on Dec 23, 2014

Transitioning into the role of trusted advisor can be difficult even to get started. Most MSP leaders are more comfortable discussing technology rather than business. That’s part of the reason we work in IT in the first place. But it’s time to step out of that technology comfort zone.
 
There must be a way “tech” people can engage in business conversations with non-technical prospects and clients. There is vast opportunity for MSP leaders to leverage their natural business acumen and become trusted advisors, in some specific areas.
 
One of these often overlooked areas is how to ship or deliver their products and services in a profitable way. Imagine that?! One of the most important yet overlooked aspects of a business is one that defines profitability.
 
But why is an MSP leader always better here than most of his clients?
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