How to Take Back Your Time as a Managed Service Provider (MSP) Owner

Written by Ashley Gwilliam on June 3, 2022

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There are eight hours in a standard workday. 

But it doesn’t seem that way to Burnt-out Bob.

Bob owns a managed service provider (MSP) and is constantly amazed by how much work gets crammed into his daily schedule. Unfortunately, skipping a proper lunch break to maintain a satisfied client roster has become the norm. 

Today, Bob eats his delivered turkey on rye while updating antivirus software, patching mobile devices, and compiling compliance reports for multiple clients. 

Fast-forward to 5 o’clock, and he can hardly believe it’s time to power down for the day. “How on earth did things get to this point?” Bob wonders. Unfortunately, he isn’t alone. 

Managed Service Providers juggle many different responsibilities on any given day. They must be available at a moment’s notice to support their clients while staying on top of the latest technology trends. Translation: it isn’t easy. 

In addition, entrepreneurial tasks like bookkeeping, marketing, client acquisition, and internal IT also fall on their laps. For these reasons, it’s not uncommon for unchecked stress to cause burnout. The good news? It’s entirely possible for MSPs to take back their time with just a few simple actions. 

 

Our Top 4 Time-Saving Tips for MSPs

The best way to ease being an MSP without compromising productivity is to achieve more by doing less. This means cutting out runaway time and mindless effort on redundant tasks.

Instead, focus on the activities that matter. The core of this approach is managing your tools through a centralized platform. Keep reading to learn more. 

 

MSP time saving tips

 

1. Assess Your Single-Point Tools

Based on his daily conversations with MSPs, Sid Narayan, JumpCloud partner account executive, says most MSPs switch back and forth between a minimum of six different solutions from an identity and device management perspective alone each day. 

Throw in password managers, antivirus software, and directory systems, and you can easily find yourself overseeing 10 different admin consoles to meet client needs. 

Depending on your unique practice, that number could be even higher! This estimate is based on our conversations with numerous professionals in the field each week. So, is it any wonder so many MSPs quietly discuss burnout in online circles? 

A RingCentral report highlighted that 69% of workers waste up to one hour a day navigating between apps, and 68% toggle between apps up to 10 times an hour. Considering that MSPs use commonly used professional apps and then some, it’s no wonder those lunch breaks keep disappearing. 

The easiest way to take back your time is to consolidate your stack into a single platform. Below are the most common candidates for unification:

 

  • Mobile device management (MDM): Mobile device management (MDM) software gives IT administrators the ability to manage, secure, and monitor smartphones, tablets, and laptops. MDM tools typically provide remote locking and device wiping, location tracking, update pushing, policy enforcing, and application management. Buzz-worthy MDM point solutions include Intune (Windows and Android), Jamf (macOS, iOS, and iPadOS), Addigy (macOS, iOS, iPadOS), 
  • Remote desktop management: Remote monitoring and management (RMM) helps MSPs remotely monitor and gather information about client software, hardware, and networks. They also supply MSPs with activity reports and create alerts and tickets when problems arise. ConnectWise and NinjaRMM are common platforms. 
  • Identity management: Identity management systems give users convenient access to the applications and data they need while ensuring that only authorized users can access sensitive information. AzureAD and Active Directory are the most common solutions.
  • Single sign-on: Single sign-on (SSO) is a session and user authentication service to streamline username and password management. It permits users to use a name and password to access multiple applications. The service authenticates the end user for all authorized applications and eliminates future password prompts. Okta and OneLogin are common tools that provide SSO capabilities.
  • Antivirus software: Antivirus software prevents, detects, and removes malware infections on individual computing devices, systems, or networks. As the name implies, antivirus software primarily combats viruses. However, modern antivirus programs also protect against other threats, including spyware, worms, Trojans, rootkits, etc. Crowdstrike, Bitdefender, and SentinelOne are two antivirus software.
  • Password management: Password management tools help users securely store and organize passwords. These tools usually include password encryption, two-factor authentication, and password generation. They can be either desktop applications or cloud-based, and modern managers all have browser extensions. OnePassword and Keeper are full-featured and robust password managers.

Once you’ve taken stock of your tools, you’re ready to identify opportunities for consolidation. 

 

2. Unify Tools with JumpCloud 

As previously mentioned, MSPs use several different IT tools to manage devices, networks, and policies effectively. Each tool is essential in its own right, but this inevitably creates additional work when switching between multiple interfaces.

The JumpCloud Directory Platform consolidates at least four of these disparate tools into a single platform, simplifying client management and saving time. Many MSPs don’t realize that JumpCloud, synonymous with Zero Trust security and identity management in cybersecurity circles, is also an elegant device management solution.

 

MSP device management platform
JumpCloud admin console

 

It offers a 100% cloud-based identity and access management platform that provides MSPs with all the tools to securely manage their client identities, devices, and networks from a single, centralized console.

With JumpCloud, MSPs can quickly provision and deprovision users, manage user permissions and passwords, control access to apps and data, and monitor activity for compliance purposes.

What’s more, JumpCloud integrates with popular services like Active Directory, Google Workspace, and Microsoft 365, making it easy for MSPs to provide a unified experience for their clients.

 

Opportunities for Consolidation with JumpCloud

MSPs who switch to JumpCloud can consolidate several tools into a single console, providing the following opportunities:

  • Single Sign-On capability: MSPs no longer have to switch between apps, such as Okta and OneLogin. End users can use one set of login credentials to access various applications during a session.
  • Device management: With JumpCloud, MSPs no longer need macOS MDM systems such as Jamf, as they can now effectively manage the company’s devices and employees’ bring-your-own-devices (BYOD). Also, with JumpCloud’s sophisticated system of separating work data from personal data, they can avoid being confronted with the dilemma of protecting organizational assets while risking invasion of employee privacy.
  • LDAP and RADIUS management: JumpCloud provides a cost-effective and user-friendly solution for managing LDAP and RADIUS protocols. Its inclusion makes it a better alternative to standalone tools such as Intune. Don’t have a server to deploy? No problem; JumpCloud will provide a RADIUS server on your behalf. 
  • Streamlined license management: Managing licenses for various software products can be a significant headache. Consolidating stacks reduces the number of license fees to maintain and saves money you would have otherwise spent across different software platforms. 
  • Collaboration Authorization: JumpCloud can replace two different aspects of Google and Microsoft.

It’s worth mentioning that while JumpCloud offers many features, it does not provide an alternative for RMM (remote monitoring and management) at this time. 

With that said, many MSPs choose to use JumpCloud in tandem with their existing RMM. The platform overlaps with many core RMM functions, like binding users to devices, pushing policies, and installing software.

But it also allows for employee onboarding, device wiping, patching, password management, and SSO. In addition, JumpCloud collects, audits, tracks, and logs all data associated with resources managed within System Insights and ensures compliance. 

Translation: organizations can quickly demonstrate proof of safeguarding sensitive data during audits for GDPR, PCI DSS, HIPAA, and more. 

The bottom line: JumpCloud’s multiple and robust capabilities make it a better alternative to standalone MSP tools that perform only one function.

 

3. Set Boundaries with Clients and Higher Minimum Hours in Managed Service Agreements

Managed service agreements (MSAs) are written contracts between an IT service provider and a customer which outline the specifics of the services the MSP will provide. Typically, MSAs include:

  • Information on the services covered.
  • The frequency of service.
  • The price of services.
  • The SLA (Service Level Agreement).
  • Pricing for services not managed by the agreement.
  • Any other relevant details.

It’s essential to set boundaries at the beginning of client relationships to establish reasonable expectations that don’t have you eating lunch at your desk every day. 

For example, while you could be an MSP providing device management and cybersecurity services alone, it would be easy for a client to assume that you manage communication with services like email, telephone networks, etc.

In an industry where time is money, you may find it helpful to set a higher minimum hour for one-off projects when negotiating your MSAs. Clearly establish what is and isn’t included in your monthly set of services to avoid confusion. Any project request that falls outside of your MSA, will fall under your outlined minimum hourly. Whether you set that number at 2 hours, 5 hours, or more is entirely up to you. 

 

MSP tips

 

In addition, a higher minimum helps ensure costs are covered and profits are made. This allows for a more sustainable business model that will reduce stress long term. For example, imagine two MSPs, led by Jackson and Nicole, respectively, negotiating lower minimum hours and higher minimum hours in their typical 40-hour workweek.

Jackson may reasonably attract more clients who seek to take advantage of the lower minimum hourly he offers. However, he has to spend more time with them carrying out non-billable tasks such as meetings, negotiating agreements, and preparing invoices.

On the other hand, Nicole may reasonably attract fewer clients, but she invariably bills for more hours with less effort. While she must carry out the same non-billable tasks as Jackson, she ultimately needs less time to do them. 

Nicole would therefore have even more billable time available to her than Jackson, which she could direct toward client acquisition, administrative tasks, etc. Hence, setting higher minimum hours for billing helps MSPs streamline their efforts and turn a higher revenue.

 

4. Enhance Automation Efforts

Automation matters because it enables MSPs to focus on high-energy projects for extended periods. Resetting a password doesn’t require the same amount of effort as troubleshooting an unexpected performance issue caused by the addition of a random IoT device. Furthermore, automation serves to enhance security deployments. 

One of the most common automation faux pas is failing to distinguish “important” tasks from “urgent” ones. Unfortunately, it often produces a snowball effect of missed deadlines, unhappy clients, and unnecessary stress. The folks at ITPro recommend taking the following actions:

  • Automate responses to frequently reported problems: What are your most commonly occurring client requests that require little expertise? Automate policies via your RMM to handle situations that don’t require experienced technicians on-deck. 
  • Automate responses to repetitive tasks: Database table maintenance, desktop cleanup, and other preventive maintenance tasks are major time-suckers. 
  • Automate onboarding/offboarding: Streamlined onboarding and offboarding means less time spent adding and removing users. But it also enhances security by ensuring no one is left holding credentials they should no longer have. Use the JumpCloud Directory platform or another system that allows you to provision single user identities to systems, cloud servers, WiFi networks, applications, and authentication protocols to streamline the process. 

In short, do everything you can to leave reactive mode behind. Looking to carry out repeat instructions outside of identity and device management? Check out IT automation tools like  ElectroNeek RPA, Ansible, Chef, Autotask, and ConnectWise Manage. Leverage automation to improve operations and provide a higher level of service to clients!

 

Centralize Your MSP Stack with JumpCloud

Keeping track of all the tools you use as an MSP daily can be a challenge, and logging in and out of each one can take up a lot of time. 

The JumpCloud Directory Platform with the MTP (multi-tenant portal) is a centralized platform that combines client management, SSO, device management, policy management, and more behind a single pane of glass. The software integrates with filesharing services and provides advanced reporting options to help MSPs save time, stay organized, and work efficiently.

Oh, and remember Burnt-out Bob? He doesn’t miss lunchtime any more, thanks to JumpCloud. His coworkers are even calling him “Bubbly Bob.”

Want to build professional relationships with peers who understand? 

Join JumpCloud Community — an online watering hole for IT professionals. 

Try JumpCloud today for FREE.

Ashley Gwilliam

Ashley Gwilliam is a Content Writer for JumpCloud. After graduating with a degree in print-journalism, Ashley’s storytelling skills took her from on-camera acting to interviewing NBA basketball players to ghostwriting for CEOs. Today she writes about tech, startups, and remote work. In her analog life, she is on a quest to find the world's best tacos.

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