Guest Column | September 30, 2015

4 Best Practices For Better VAR, MSP Time Management

By Mike Salem, CEO and Founder, Vorex

If time is money, then most managed service providers (MSPs) and value added resellers (VARs) are probably pinching pennies. With ever increasing demands on their time as the industry continues to grow and customers expect better service, IT service providers have to re-examine how they’re spending their time and energy managing their businesses.

The MSP industry is poised for big growth; a recent report predicts the market will expand from $107 billion in 2014 to $193 billion by 2019. Unfortunately, many MSPs are slated to miss the boat on this growth spurt due to poor time and project management.

Fortunately, simplifying and streamlining all aspects of an MSP’s business doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some top tips for better time management that will help give you back your time — and sanity.

  1. Keep everything in one place. Did you know 29 percent of workers use three or more devices on a regular basis at their job to perform daily tasks? People waste so much time toggling between various platforms and apps when they could be working on higher value tasks like relationship building with clients or long-term strategizing. If your business tools and analytics are spread out across too many platforms, you need to bring them under one roof with a platform that can meet all of your individual business needs.
  2. Focus on the important, not the urgent. Some of the most treasured rules of excellent time management come from Steven Covey’s classic, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This business success bible has one simple concept that will help you regain time and help your business grow if implemented correctly. Covey’s time management grid suggests that you stop letting yourself be ruled by things that are time-pressured and urgent, and focus more on tasks that will deliver more long-term value and growth. By assessing where you spend most of your time and categorize activities in Covey’s grid, you’ll make smarter decisions about how you respond to outside requests and will subsequently manage your time better.
  3. Automate what you can. Automating certain recurring operational tasks will help you achieve tip number two above. Managing your time can get a bit out of control when you’re constantly distracted by urgent things that need to get done and that come up on a regular basis. Repeatedly going through the same motions of doing things like paying bills and tracking time can become an unnecessary time suck when they aren’t systematized. Making an effort to figure out a system to reduce the manual labor associated with such tasks will make you less likely to fall into the trap of responding to last-minute, urgent items that will derail your well-intentioned time management efforts.
  4. Don’t actually do the work. Of course, we don’t mean for you to completely take your hands off the reins at work and leave all the work to others. What we do encourage you to do, however, is delegate, relinquish control and maintain a supervisory role over projects and important tasks. This might sound obvious to any project or business manager worth his or her salt, but honestly examine your working hours and you’ll see how easy it is to get sucked into the nitty gritty details of things.

While these four tips aren’t a panacea for all your time management struggles, they’re four steps in the right direction to regaining control over your time and decisions. In a limited view, some hours wasted here and there might not seem like a big deal, but consistent bad habits will have a negative impact on your long-term success. Whatever your business situation is, it’s imperative to get a better handle on good time management so you can concentrate on doing what only you do best — moving the business forward.