Starting a MSSP on a budget can be tough but not impossible if you have the right tech expert and someone who knows the inside out of marketing. Read along as we tell you how to start a MSSP on a budget.
How To Start A MSSP On A Budget? 5 Things To Consider
When starting a Managed Services Solution Provider (MSSP) business there are many considerations that one must consider before taking the plunge. Not to mention, if you’re like most people it’s always easier said than done to take the leap of faith into an endeavor that holds potential for great reward but certainly has its challenges. One thing is certain though, once you start managing clients’ networks, the game changes quickly and your day-to-day existence becomes much more interesting.
Starting MSSP On A Budget
The first thing that you need to do while starting out an MSSP is to determine the costs.
It is easy to jump into this new world of MSSP management without taking the time to truly understand your costs. Most importantly, you need to know what it takes financially for you to get started.
Here are some of the discrete costs that may go towards getting you up and running,
- Hardware Costs for Network Management Appliances (NMA) or Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) appliances.
- Software Costs for port licensing, software licensing, operating systems & support.
- Administrative Expenses including legal council fees, formation fees, accounting costs, etc.
- Staffing / Labor costs to train your internal teams or hire new staff.
- External Service Costs for equipment installation and/or maintenance costs to the piece of hardware that you are managing for your client. This can include router diagnostics & installation charges, switch upgrades or even external security scanning.
- General / Overhead costs such as travel expenses, office space and light bills.
- Storage Costs for backup and archival purposes (if applicable).
- Licensing Costs for any software you plan on implementing which require formal licensing agreements such as firewalls, penetration testing tools or anti-virus software solutions.
For most companies these numbers can range greatly depending on many factors but ultimately if you have too much excess capacity built into your costs it will be difficult to operate profitably. You must always be working towards driving down these costs in order to improve your profit margins.
Plan Your Operations
The next critical step is that you must plan out how you will be operating day-to-day. Here, along with cost considerations, it’s important to factor in the personnel involved and the number of hours they will work on average per week. You’ll need to make sure that you staff enough employees (or find outside contractors) who understand the technologies you are managing for your clients.
If some team members don’t have the experience or knowledge then they won’t have any new insights into what’s going on at client sites which could lead them to spend more time “re-inventing the wheel” while trying to troubleshoot new issues that crop up.
On the planning side, it is very important that you establish your processes and procedures up-front with the initial teams involved in providing this managed services environment for your clients.
For example, how will new service requests be added to the ticketing system? How do you want these tickets opened initially? How old should tickets be before they are closed? What is the minimum level of logs or traffic required to watch for before you escalate an issue to another resource or your client? When does escalation occur? How do you document all of this for compliance purposes (if applicable)?
These are just some of many questions that need to be answered during planning stages if you expect things to run smoothly when dealing with customers day-to-day.
Like anything else, it is much easier to find good help when you have a little bit of money. When your company first starts out there may not be a large enough client base or revenue stream yet so you’ll need to take the time and train some new recruits on the job. This can prove quite costly as well but you will eventually get past this stage.
Once you have all of these processes clearly established you will then need to make sure that your employees are following them. It is important that each employee has a firm understanding of the process and can perform their functions successfully in order for things to go smoothly when dealing with customers. If your team members aren’t able to do this, it could lead to missed SLAs or poor customer service which can ultimately hurt retention rates.
It’s also important that you plan on being proactive with your client relationships. That is, you need to start thinking about how you can help improve their business operations through technology instead of just thinking of ways for them to spend more money.
If your client’s are spending money on new technologies or increased bandwidth but have no real strategy in place behind it then they are essentially wasting their money. There needs to be a balance between technology and strategy in order for organizations to properly run their business.
If you find yourself dealing primarily with non-technical customers then this could be particularly challenging for you since many times these people really don’t understand the value behind what they are investing into when it comes to technology. You will probably need to do some extra footwork in order to better understand your client’s business needs so that you can identify areas where new or improved technology could help them succeed.
You should also be willing to engage with your clients on multiple levels including attending some of their conference calls/meetings if possible. If they are spending money on IT services then they need to know what is going on with this investment, especially if things like uptime and performance are not meeting their expectations or budget targets.
As you can see, there are several considerations you need to make when Starting As an MSSP in budgeting, staffing, planning and being proactive with your clients. The last thing you would want to do is to plan poorly which can lead to missed SLAs, unhappy customers and eventually the end of your managed services business.
The best advice that I could give at this point in time is to understand how things work in “the real world” before starting an MSSP company so that you are fully prepared for what lies ahead.