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MSPs must automate manual processes or fail to scale 

Andy Venables, CTO at POPX discusses how a lack of automation will stall an MSP’s success and explores how holistic service management can unlock growth potential 

Manual processes are prone to human error and the lack of a Configuration Management Database (CMDB) as a central store of customer information means there is no single source of truth when it comes to data. The combination of these two factors can be an MSP’s worst nightmare in terms of providing the best customer experience. Some of this comes from agents ‘swivel chairing’ between different screens and having to manually input the same customer information into each screen, for the want of any level of service automation. It’s not unusual for the same information to then be emailed to another colleague in a different team who then manually enters the same data into other systems and tools. The scope for a lack of data integrity is huge, not to mention the negative impact this will have on the customer experience. Operational issues at any MSP, by their nature, tend to be complex and hard to fix but there is a process that can help eradicate these issues. Let’s explore the situation in more detail.  

What causes a lack of data integrity?      

Human error 

When a task is handled manually and by multiple teams, this increases the risk of discrepancies at the point of data entry. Take the simple task of emailing client information to different teams in your organisation. Unless the employee entering the data adheres to company-wide data standards and has an eye for detail, then mistakes will happen, and incorrect data can cause an array of issues that directly impact the customer experience. 

A simple error, that may seem small, has the potential to cause great frustration to the paying customer, who may have been provisioned with the wrong service and now must explain to their leadership team why there will be a lack of productivity. In October 2020, nearly 16,000 Covid-19 cases went unreported due to an Excel error made by Public Health England (PHE). The problem, according to the BBC, was that PHE’s own developers picked an old file format to work with, known as XLS. A ‘human error’ that cut out rows of data, leading to thousands of cases going unreported. Human error is one thing; however, this begs the question of whether this was the mistake of an individual, a group or if this was a systemic shortcoming. 

Multiple and obsolete software tools 

As we learned from Citi bank’s $900 billion dollar “clerical error”, legacy systems create exposure, leading to regulatory and legal risks. This level of risk has increased over recent years due to the number of software applications used by businesses and as the world changed dramatically in March 2020, so did the use of apps.

According to research by Okta Inc., in October 2020 the average number of applications per company was 175. When you consider that technology is the business of an MSP, it’s easy to see how the number of applications they use can quickly outpace the average organisation and it’s not uncommon to have multiple tools doing the same thing. This puts pressure on the internal operations of every tech service provider in terms of their underlying architecture and processes.  

How to eradicate tech service provider errors 

Taking a holistic approach to service management is the path through complexity for MSPs. Setting standards by adopting a single service management platform will help MSPs to achieve balance; delivering process automation that brings the speed, accuracy, and cost controls that all service providers seek. In this way, they can deliver high-quality employee and customer experiences while adding value to an MSP’s business. So, what are the benefits of a single service management platform?  

·       Consolidate your tools and applications to drive real cost savings. For example, research has shown that MSPs could save an estimated $230k by consolidating their cybersecurity services.   


·       Integrate your internal, third party and supplier systems, so that data can be unified in one CMDB.  


·       Automate your repetitive manual tasks and end-to-end processes to help relieve stress on overworked staff and deliver high quality customer experiences. 

Adapt to evolve 

The combined trends of digital transformation, post-Covid work-from-home and increased security, depend on tech services from MSPs. Together, they will help drive the MSP market, which is set to grow to $757 Billion by 2030. However, MSPs that are dysfunctional from an architectural point of view, allowing each department to continue to arbitrarily adopt new software applications, will wreak havoc on an already disorganised operation. MSPs should look to future-proof their infrastructure by adopting a single service management platform, allowing them to track and analyse information, create dashboards, and reports, and share this information with customers, which relies on removing unnecessary complexity, and cost, once and for all.   

The process of consolidation, integration and service automation will liberate new sales opportunities for MSPs, allowing them to serve customers via one customer portal that contains the full product catalogue, allowing clients to self-serve quickly, accurately and cost effectively. All this works to drive faster growth with better profitability at a time when the MSP market is consolidating, while MSP owners and investors are preoccupied with achieving target company valuations. 

About POPX 

POPX is a fully managed and integrated MSP Platform that transforms operations, service and business management functions with a fraction of the time and risk it would take a service provider to do themselves. By re-engineering the customer experience, Smart MSPs deliver comprehensive cloud services more efficiently and profitably.  

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