It is often said when everybody is held responsible for something, no one is actually responsible. This is true in many aspects of life including IT. An MSP company that fails to assign responsibilities to particular individuals will have an accountability crisis. Specific employees must bear responsibility for certain aspects or the entirety of clients’ networks.
The Problem with Responsibility as a Whole
An MSP company that accepts responsibility as a whole for clients’ IT architecture will inevitably overlook important aspects. These mistakes will negatively impact client service. Individual employees must be assigned to exact tasks for each particular client. Otherwise, items will be forgotten, glazed over, or ignored. The buck has to stop somewhere. If it stops with the entire organization, clients will inevitably suffer. When clients suffer, the service provider’s retention rate decreases.
Key in on Client Documentation
The best IT service providers document clients’ IT infrastructures. Everything from DHCP ranges to Wi-Fi access points, Active Directory, and firewalls must be documented in detail. If specific employees are not charged with updating such documentation, everyone will assume their co-workers are performing this vitally important task. So don’t leave it up in the air and assume someone on the help desk or service delivery team will step up and perform client documentation. Furthermore, employees tasked with client documentation should also be made aware that updating outdated information is a part of their responsibility.
When one or several team members handle client documentation and regularly check to verify asset registers and configurations are updated, engineers enjoy access to accurate information at all times. In some instances, it is the engineers themselves who should be tasked with client documentation as these professionals who have unique insight into the nuances of specific clients.
Maintenance and Monitoring
The typical IT service provider conducts frequent maintenance and monitoring on client networks. They pinpoint issues the help desk should key in on. Certain issues require remedial action while others need updates. In some instances, client systems require patching. If an urgent matter arises that necessitates immediate attention, the help desk tends to the problem in as rapid of a manner as possible. Unfortunately, procrastination tends to occur. If this waiting game plays out long enough, the matter eventually becomes quite urgent. An example is a gradual depletion of disk space. The solution is to put one staff member in charge of maintaining an overarching view of specific preventive actions that can be taken to prevent problems. If these actions are performed in a timely manner, the number of urgent matters that arise will be significantly reduced.
License and Service Renewals
Consider the number of times an anti-virus subscription has reached its end point or an SSL certificate has expired on an important server. If someone on your team had tracked these looming expiration dates, they could have prevented the expiration and prevented numerous problems.
In some instances, one department simply assumes it is the responsibility of another department to stay on the ball. Every client renewal should be recorded as assets or configurations within the customer relationship management (CRM) system or the professional services automation (PSA). Track renewals ranging from anti-virus licenses to SSL certificates, domain registrations, care packs, warranties, and web hosting. Be sure to specifically pinpoint one leader on each team to be responsible for such tracking. He must alert others when it is time to renew.
This does not mean the individual assigned to this duty has to actually process the renewals. Someone from another team can alert the proper individual to comply with the renewal requirement. However, one person must stay on top of all the renewals and escalate those that are nearing their expiration date.
The Buck has to Stop Somewhere
The moral of this story is that assigning responsibility to specific people rather than an entire team will spur timely action. There should be positive reinforcement for this individual’s compliance with his/her responsibilities. There should also be a negative reinforcement if he/she fails to meet your MSP company’s standards. This way, important client issues and other matters will be taken care of early on before they become urgent matters that demand immediate attention.