Thursday, February 18, 2010

What Service Providers Can Learn From the Industrial Age

By: Bob Godgart, Founder, Chairman, and Chief Visionary Officer

The word "efficiency" was born out of the manufacturing age as a concept for increasing the output of factories. In its simplest form, the idea is to get more coming out of the factory from the components and raw materials you bring in. This is done by optimizing the manufacturing process, and often times bringing in new tools to speed up and/or automate those process.

The same concept holds true for an IT services organization… but in this case, increasing efficiency means doing more and billing more for the products and services you deliver with the same staff. And this is accomplished by optimizing the processes you use to sell, implement, deliver and bill your products and services, and bringing in new tools to speed up and/or automate those processes.

Not long ago, only the largest and most sophisticated service providers could afford to purchase and customize these service automation tools. You'd have to spend six figures, or more, to buy an ERP system - like Oracle or SAP - and invest a year or more to customize it to fit your business. That left most independents and smaller shops to manage their businesses with a variety of stand-alone applications or home-grown solutions.

But, even the smallest IT businesses have an enormous amount of complexity to manage - multiple clients, business models, vendors, technologies and systems. And, while you may think you're doing okay today managing your business that way, may be surprised at how inefficient some of your processes are.

Does it take you hours - or days - just to gather up the information you need to bill your clients? Do you have a regular pipeline of new leads coming through the door and do you regularly maintain contact with every one of them until they buy from you? Can you quickly and easily onboard new clients and get them up and running with your new solutions? Can you manage your services so that the most important work is handled first, and you never miss a service delivery goal? Are you leaking hours that should have been billed, or working on assets that are not included under your managed service contracts? These are just a few of the areas where improving efficiency equates to increasing profits and more satisfied customers.

Fortunately, price is no longer a barrier to taking advantage of powerhouse solutions that can finally bring control and organization to an IT services business - no matter how big or small, whether you are a traditional VAR moving a lot of hardware, or a pure play MSP.

When we introduced Autotask to the IT services industry nearly a decade ago, it was one of the first commercially available hosted applications available, and priced starting at just about $200 per month. Since then, Autotask has become the #1, hosted IT business management software in the world and available starting at just $29 per month!

The software combines everything you need in a single, hosted application with regular updates delivered seamlessly in the background, with no downloads. And, because it's 100% cloud-based, the Autotask platform helps you easily connect your entire IT ecosystem together - your clients, your partners, your techs, your tools and your systems - so that you can sell, implement, manage and bill all of your services from anywhere you can hop onto the Internet.

Is your IT business operating at peak efficiency? I encourage you to take an hour to see how a purpose-built IT business management solution like Autotask can directly improve your bottom line. Request a one-on-one demo, over the web at your convenience, and we'll walk you through a personalized ROI calculator.

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