The Foundations of IT Services Automation

When you are in the managed IT services business, automation is the only way to become insanely profitable. The whole basis of managed services is to guarantee that your clients’ network will operate at an acceptable level for a fixed fee. The way to profitability deliver managed services is by automating your workload. Otherwise, you are just doing a lot of work for nothing.
From my experience, you should be able to automate roughly 80% of your duties, leaving the other 20% for more complex and custom work.

The first step to IT services automation is self-service. You are probably already using self-service to some degree, like having a web portal for your clients to submit ticket requests. A self-service help desk is easy to set up and saves a ton of time on the phone. To successfully implement self-service programs, take a good look into operations that your users can do, that you don’t need to. Tasks like self-service password resets and new user account creation are the first things that come to my mind.
Take a look at your IT service tickets over time and find out what operation creates the most requests and takes up the most time. If your clients constantly need operating system reinstalls, automate this as much as possible. I try to set aside a few hours every month to review my service tickets and work on automating what will save me the most time. After a few months, you would be amazed at the time savings you have built into your business.

Business processes are what add real value to your business. The more independently your MSP firm can run from you, the more likely you will be able to sell it. Another area to investigate would be your business processes. Simple things like integrating your PSA software with your billing /invoicing software will save you precious hours each week. If possible, set up recurring credit card payments with your clients and stop going to the bank altogether.
Your Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) software has endless possibilities of tasks to automate. Everything from restarting services, to managing anti-virus and backups. I also install hardware in some of my client’s sites to reboot specific hardware if there is a problem, so I don’t have to go down there.

A very important thing to keep in mind when you are automating your business is that standardization is the key. Writing scripts isn’t very efficient if you have to write a new one for each client. Make sure your scripts and processes work for all (or most) of your clients.