I had a few folks asking me to spin up a thread on the Community Forum here so we could further discuss the recent blog post I wrote on why I strongly believe traditional QBRs (Quarterly Business Reviews) are a trash concept. So I’m here doing just that.
I’m looking forward to some lively discussion with you all :).
I think you touch on a lot of good and interesting posts. I too am one that doesn’t focus on providing the numbers of “what I did for you this month, or this quarter or whatever time frame”. Keeping a healthy business relationship with my clients is key, and I’m sure everyone would feel that way. But to the point where I try and actually do some of the same things you talk about in your article. I will meet with the owners, or the POCs, sometimes even just a discussion with a staff member if I happen to see something come across where I feel I could help them with the issue more than just a one time fix.
Always looking for ways to improve their workflow and reduce the amount of hours they might spend on some mundane task that they don’t even realize could be improved. Having good communication with them is a world of difference for being able to discover situations like this and the ability to propose a solution.
Just recently in fact, I was speaking to the wife of one of the owners because of an issue she was having. While talking to her, she asks me to wait while she answers a call from one of her coworkers. The gist of it is, I overhear her talking to her coworker about the “documents” being on some thumb drive that she carries with her and that she would have to get the drive, plug it in, email her the document for her modify, and asked if she could please email it back when done.
Terrible in so many ways lol. Physical drive being carried around, not backed up, not shared so multiple people with permissions could access, etc. So I spoke with her further to understand her workflow and why these documents were not part of their already existing fileserver, etc. The short of it is, I gave her a much better and safer solution to handling, sharing and getting these files backed up and her and her coworker were thrilled with how much easier it was to collaborate on these documents.
So in my book, which I feel you also eluded to, it’s not just random stats and numbers that prove value, but rather the relationships you can build and the ability to communicate and understand the workflows of your customers and come up with quality ways in which to continue to improve their business and workflows where possible. I think of all my customers as a business partner, not just a client or a number.
Excellent written post @Andy
Agree, we have never done reports on x number of alerts, y number of tickets and z number of updates.
In the past we have provided reports on system performance over time, disk space over time and asset/license/software lists etc. These have been useful to start conversations.
Sadly Syncro does neither very well, so we are planning to build our own reporting engine.
As far as keeping customers happy, MSPs have to approach the customer relationship with a Win Win approach. It is an intradependant partnership.
If a client has 8 laptops out of 30 that are hitting RAM limits a dozen times per month over multiple months…lets point out those 8 in a report so we can suggest upgrading the RAM.
Alternatively, some desktops might be maxing out their CPUs on a regular basis for hours on end. So lets point that out and suggest replacing those desktops with high end models.
Both of the above examples obviously need to factor in the warranty expiry and the end of useful life date for those machines. Warranty expiry and end of useful life date should also be reported to ensure proactive management occurs.
Disk usage in servers and NAS boxes.
If disk usage is growing at 5% per month, lets predict months in advance when that disk space will reach 0, and suggest to the customer that we plan new larger disks before that time.
We can do that with HP SDS for the HP printers we manage. Page counts are regularly recorded and a prediction is made in HP SDS when the toner will run out. Therefore we can plan when to send toner to site.
We should be able to do the same with server and NAS disks, that can often be replaced one at a time while the system is running with zero down time.
At the moment there are zero reports in Syncro that show disk usage over time, let alone make a prediction when disk space will run out. Yet, like toner replacement in printers, disk replacements in RAID arrays are easy to do, but even better require multiple visits from a technician while the RAID is rebuilding. This ensures additional labor onsite visits can be charged.
Proactive management is more effective than Crisis management.
I listened in on another webinar that talked about ensuring monthly stats are “tactical” and MBR’s are “strategic”. I think that’s what we are discussing here;
I create monthly tactical numbers for a report, but use those to create strategic direction to ensure coverage and security moving forward.
I don’t do QBR’s right now but have been thinking about it only because it’s an opportunity to talk at a higher level, a quarterly level where I can understand where the company is going and what we need to do technically to support them in that.
Stats by themselves are nothing.
Use them to show you’re an active partner in the relationship.