If you spent any time during the pandemic binging Netflix, you’ve probably heard of Marie Kondo. The organizational guru is known for her method of reducing peoples’ possessions by forcing them to answer one question about everything they own: Does it spark joy?
As an MSP juggling the changing needs of clients in a remote environment, if your current tech stack doesn’t spark joy, you’re not alone. The pandemic forced many historically brick-and-mortar businesses to go digital for the first time, leading to correspondingly more complex tech needs. Even if your stack doesn’t spark joy, it certainly shouldn’t cause pain.
IT tool sprawl is just one of the many unintended consequences of the new remote-first workforce. But now, as we settle into our third year (!) of pandemic-forced cloud environments, it may be time to do a little Marie Kondoing of your own.
IT consolidation has many benefits for MSPs and their clients, including cost savings, a streamlined user (and management) experience, and an increase in client trust. In this article, we’ll detail some of the benefits of consolidation, and offer a simple, three-step process to building your consolidation strategy.
Working with multiple tech platforms or companies complicates your stack offerings for your team to manage, and your clients to use. It also adds a layer of complexity to operations, with issues like billing and troubleshooting. Consolidation gives you the chance to proactively manage and monitor your clients’ tech with fewer providers. It decreases your monthly expenditures without sacrificing efficiency or usability, and frees you up to spend more time helping your clients reach their goals.
Increased Available Funds
Reducing the amount of service providers you work with increases your available spend with your remaining vendors.
This extra windfall means you can provide your clients more sophisticated offerings through these providers. It also gives you the opportunity to increase your bottom line, since you are offering the same services but at a reduced cost. Either way, it positions you as a valued MSP and smart business owner, who is constantly looking for ways to improve your clients’ business and leading by example.
Streamlined Vendor Management
Fewer vendors also means less companies and services for you to juggle. A study by TechRepublic found that the average MSP manages more than 10 separate vendor relationships, and 57% said they spend more time managing vendor relationships now than they did pre-pandemic. Managing these relationships on top of relationships with your SMBs can be overwhelming and lead to employee burnout.
The time savings from reducing the number of discrete products in your tech stack can be used to build stronger relationships with your existing clients and to forge new connections with potential clients.
Simplified User Experience
IT consolidation can also lead to a smoother, more efficient user experience, both for your clients and your customer service team.
Let’s go back to our Marie Kondo analogy. If you wanted to declutter your house, would you rather call one organizational expert who could handle everything or would you rather manage relationships with a kitchen organizer, a closet organizer, a cleaning team, and a storage unit provider?
Complex stacks can feel a lot like the second example. When there’s different providers for internet, security protection, single sign-on (SSO), cloud storage, collaboration, and accounting, you as the MSP have to make six separate calls to resolve any issues. Clients choose MSPs over doing their own IT management for the one-stop shop convenience you offer. You should seek the same benefits from your vendors.
How to Consolidate
Clearly, benefits of IT consolidation abound — for both you and your SMBs. But actually implementing a consolidation strategy can be a tricky process. It means learning new technologies and managing a potentially messy transition period for you as the MSP. For the easiest consolidation strategy, follow these three key steps.
Identify Your Stack’s Current Gaps
Before you can propose an IT consolidation, you need to take stock of how consolidating could help. Begin with an audit of your current tech offerings, and look for any gaps in coverage. If any of your clients have mentioned an interest in a functionality or feature you don’t currently offer, take note of those.
Identifying gaps doesn’t necessarily mean your current tech stack is lacking; rather, it speaks to today’s constantly evolving state of security and remote work needs. A bundle that was plug-and-play in 2019 won’t necessarily have aged well in 2020, let alone 2022 and beyond. When these new needs arose in 2020, it probably made sense to simply add another one-off vendor to cover the spread. But now that it’s clear that remote work is here to stay, instead of simply adding another vendor, hang onto that list of identified gaps for the next step.
See Where a New Platform Can Fit In
Once you have a complete list of current gaps, you can begin searching for multifunctional platforms that fill in multiple holes.
Say that with the move to cloud-based transactions and collaboration, you begin recommending that your clients use SSO and multi-factor authentication (MFA), but your current tech stack doesn’t cover those options. There’s two ways to approach this gap. You could either get two more independent vendors, thus increasing your vendor management load and introducing two more platforms into your clients’ workflows. Or, you could look for a cloud directory platform like JumpCloud that offers both features — along with a slew of others.
Finding the right multifunctional platform (or platforms) for your MSP business is going to come down to which one can replace the most one-off vendors, while integrating seamlessly with those you plan to keep. The goal in this step isn’t to completely revamp your offerings overnight; it’s just to identify how your vendors can be consolidated.
Eliminate the Redundancies
For your clients, a complete tech stack transition can be scary. It means having to reorient themselves and their workflows to potentially unknown new software. That’s why we recommend that you add the new platform first — then go back retroactively to strategically and surgically eliminate redundancies.
Let’s say for example that you decide to use JumpCloud in your consolidation strategy. The uncertainty of abandoning known systems for an entirely new platform could overwhelm your clients. Instead of taking away from their stack, first, add in JumpCloud. This gives you time to train your clients on the new tech, and gives them time to get used to the improved efficiencies and workflows.
Once they’re using the new platform regularly, it will begin to feel inconvenient to use MFA from a third-party vendor when JumpCloud has that capability, for example. This is when you can convert MFA usage to JumpCloud, and eliminate the redundant tech. In this way, you’re streamlining your client’s user experience, bringing security management into a single pane, and eliminating the use of multiple vendors.
Consolidate Your Tech Stack with JumpCloud
IT consolidation optimizes your offerings, decreases your management workload, and levels up your clients’ tech game. Choosing an all-in-one platform like JumpCloud offers all the functionality, at a fraction of the time and cost of multiple providers.
Modern cloud directory platforms combine directory services, privileged account management, directory extensions, web app SSO, and MFA into one streamlined solution. They offer centralized privileged identities instantly mapped to IT resources like devices, applications, and networks, regardless of platform, provider, location, or protocol. They also leverage multiple protocols such as LDAP, RADIUS, SAML, and SCIM so IT admins can seamlessly provision and deprovision, while users have secure, frictionless access to their resources.
If you’re interested in learning more about implementing JumpCloud as part of your IT consolidation strategy, drop us a note. We’d love to chat about how you can use JumpCloud. Or, you can try it yourself by signing up for a free account. Your first 10 users and 10 systems are free. If you have any questions, access our in-app chat 24×7 during the first 10 days and a customer success engineer will be there to help.