If there’s one thing I’ve learned over these years being in IT – developers all try to link you to the best MSP tools. It is staggering the number of options you have out there to run your business with. Even more staggering are how often the question is asked in IT business owner forums, chats, and conventions – who has the best MSP tools?
We in the technology realm are quite adept at searching the web to research just about any question we can think of. Marketers that work for software development companies are keenly aware of that and provide no end of resources to you in order to sell you on what might be the best MSP tools out there. Are they really?
Reviews Are Little Help
Yep, I said it, the reviews are of little help. If you spend a good hour or two pulling up forum, blog, and review posts, you’ll find plenty of opinions. You will find several kinds of posts out there, but the majority seem to fall into a few categories.
The company wronged the writer, and they are out for vengeance. They tell huge stories of many words, detailing every harm committed. The simplest features of the product don’t work. Surprise fees are added to the monthly bill.
They are ignored by salespeople. Days pass without a support response. Billing departments charge them late or early termination fees. I’ve even seen them share recordings of conversations. Love has not only been lost, it’s been beaten, chopped up, burned, the ashes scattered to the four winds.
This person is going to reveal the pricing, the names of individuals and probably write stuff that a lawyer would advise against.
On another side of the spectrum, we have a very enthusiastic proponent of a particular product. There’s nothing wrong with it; in fact, the product is so amazing, it does things unimaginable. They may claim that pricing was better than anticipated, and it delivered features they never thought they needed.
Everyone they work with is a perfect angel and this writer will happily connect you.
This one is a bit harder to find fault with. For all appearances, they will tell you a well-balanced story. We know nothing can be perfect and this is likely a person who never gives 5 stars because “perfection is impossible”. The product works most of the time. The price is too much (it always is too much to a business owner who is cost-conscious). It wasn’t quite easy enough but does the job.
They’ve had to call support and get good support sometimes, and bad in other times. They might share some challenges with salespeople, or other company representatives, but they generally had a decent experience.
This one is entertaining because they can move between the two extremes. They are just never happy with what they have. There’s ALWAYS a better feature that some other product has that the current one doesn’t. They might be cost-conscious and look for the best deal.
At first glance you can’t really tell who this is, you may have to look at a little post history to learn they have swapped out their RMM every two years. In the last 5 years of business, they’ve changed the ticketing system 3 times.
The first thing we need to do when evaluating these tools is to determine what problems we’re trying to solve – IN OUR OWN WORDS. Marketing typically tries to add some low hanging fruit that is unspecific, such as “improve time of resolution”, or “easily document” which we can probably all agree with at a high level, but then add in things you now might THINK you need like a performance dashboard that no client will see, or a report your customers simply throw away because they don’t understand it.
One of the worst things you can do is have someone else tell you what your problems are, and then also sell you the solution. Many of those vigilantes are the ones who have been duped by salespeople who do a great job presenting a new reality for your business that you might not even need. When things start to go wrong, you find you weren’t invested in the problems they thought you had, and now you have entirely new problems.
What things do you really need? Do you want to be able to bill clients through your ticketing system? How about tracking your employee’s hours for W2 payroll? Do you need your Remote Management tool to manage Windows updates? At what point does a prospect become a client, and how does that information move between your systems?
You should already have business processes in place to deal with all the aspects of your business. Tools should enhance those processes by reducing costs, increasing value to your clients, and enabling you to expand your service offerings.
Now with all this knowledge about what you have going on, we can go back to that research.
Research Reviews in Detail
Now that you have some ideas of what you really need, now look at the reviews. See who might be most like you, in terms of needs, business size, types of clients, and other factors. Did the person make a bad choice in choosing that tool because they weren’t ready for it?
These vendors are typically larger organizations and there can be a bad salesperson, horrible support tech, or some other awful experience. How the reviewer handles this has almost as much to say about themselves as it does the company. Did they at least try to give the vendor the benefit of the doubt? Did they escalate when things weren’t going well, or did they simply sit and stew?
Not all problems are caused by vendors. Read them in detail when offered. Ask yourself “What problems could have been avoided by asking better questions during the sales process?”
Make Sales Work for You
Ask questions. Lots of them. What customers like you do they have? Similar size? How about the types of customers you have – do their customers share similar verticals? You might not get answers to these, but they will help you decide. Sometimes choosing between two vendors can come down to some rather slight differences.
Ask them to provide you demonstrations. Make time for those demonstrations and give them your full attention. Delegating the demonstration to someone who might not fully understand the systems you have could lead to some uncomfortable conversations down the road.
Those pricing and surprise billing tricks? Ask for a sample bill that you can expect to receive in the future. Ask questions about each line item. Make sure you completely understand and if you have details of shenanigans, ask directly. You don’t have to ask, “Why did you rip Bob off?” but perhaps “I’ve read about this billing issue – how can I work with you to avoid that?”
Getting a new tool to manage your business is very exciting. It might be easy to look at everything through the rose-colored glasses that sales are overjoyed to lend you. The road between here and where they think you’ll end up is one you’ll be solo on for big stretches. Sales won’t answer the gripes from your customers, and oftentimes won’t train your people on new systems.
If you would like some help on how to document your existing processes so you can see what needs to change more clearly, let us know!
We can also help cut through nonsense, so you make good decisions on what tools to get.