Guest Column | July 18, 2022

Why Joining An IT Industry Peer Group Needs To Be On Your To-Do List

By Gary Pica, TruMethods, a Kaseya company

Businesspeople With Digital Tablet Having Meeting-iStock-177859116

The MSP industry is up against challenges that are hampering scalability — from a rapidly expanding cybersecurity landscape to increased levels of competition. As technologies and processes shift across the MSP space, customer needs follow suit.

To weather rapid changes, MSPs must prioritize agility and embrace learning — and that’s where IT industry peer groups come into play. By joining a peer group and tapping into perspectives beyond their own organization, MSPs leaders can adopt industry best practices, learn how to navigate upcoming challenges, and turn major obstacles into growth opportunities.

What Is An IT Industry Peer Group?                               

An IT industry peer group can be either an informal gathering of MSP business leaders or a more formal meeting facilitated by channel industry organizations. Peer groups can be organized by all sorts of firmographic options, including annual revenue, verticals, location, and size. Whatever the approach, peer groups offer valuable opportunities for decision makers at MSPs to network, share knowledge and provide industry accountability.

Learning is essential to scaling an MSP — and peer groups can help accelerate this process. For example, many peer groups offer modules, webinars, projects, and office hours to learn and discuss with fellow peer members. These resources help counter common challenges among MSPs, like addressing global regulations, developing new business plans, and managing large amounts of customer data. With a peer group, an MSP can discover how to close sales, maximize efficiency and boost client retention.

Peer groups do require a time commitment and they may charge a membership fee, but they can be a worthwhile investment that enables unparalleled opportunities for learning and business growth.

4 Ways A Peer Group Can Strengthen An MSP

Peer groups can help MSPs identify areas of the business that need improvement and offer solutions to get there. They play an essential role in helping MSP leaders scale the business and become trusted advisors to their customers.

Here are several ways joining a peer group can benefit an MSP:

  1. Knowledge sharing and goal setting

A peer group offers access to individuals who have relevant industry experiences and may be navigating similar challenges. Peer groups can include competitors, too — and while this may be alarming at first, it’s a golden opportunity. This direct line of insight into industry leaders is an effective way for MSPs to compare their organizations to peers and evaluate how they stack up (and how they might differentiate and improve).

To identify a peer group that’s the right fit, MSPs should find members with proven experience in the areas they want to learn and grow. Measurable outcomes need to be considered throughout the peer group process — they are not merely to socialize or have fun. And after some time in the group, MSPs should reflect on the progress and the effectiveness of the peer group. It’s okay to find and add new teams to a roster as needs and goals evolve.

  1. Accountability and feedback

Peer groups layer more accountability into an organization’s work. When business leaders share objectives with a larger group, it holds the team accountable for achieving those goals and allows others to get invested in the MSP’s progress.

Joining a peer group inevitably invites constructive criticism about the business. But MSPs shouldn’t shy away from critical feedback — instead, they should take criticism as an opportunity to improve. And MSPs get to share input with others, too. Accountability is a two-way street, and in supporting others in achieving their goals, new skills can be learned and opportunities uncovered for the business.

  1. Brainstorming and a sounding board

Since peer groups often include both new and experienced IT industry members, they’re a great space for brainstorming ideas and can be used as a sounding board for new strategies. MSPs can access perspectives and experiences that may not exist within their own organization — including tried-and-true methods from legacy decision makers, as well as new approaches and systems from more junior participants.

In particular, peer groups offer space and resources to tackle future issues more proactively. Getting ahead of problems ensures a consistent customer experience, and MSPs can learn how others have overcome similar obstacles. For example, peer groups are a great place to discuss strategies for staying compliant when it comes to customer data. MSPs can get a gut check on how peers are doing this and compare it to their own strategy.

  1. Collaboration and time-saving solutions

Peer groups unlock opportunities for collaboration — and these cooperative efforts can be tailored based on the formality of a peer group.

Collaboration should always extend back to the team, too. Learning and ideas generated in peer groups should be shared with employees, so they have a clear understanding of how their role is important and factors into the organization's progress. This builds both excitement and buy-in around improvements.

Become A Better Partner To Customers

Joining a peer group provides MSPs with a network of professionals to learn from and opportunities to brainstorm new solutions and raise accountability. A peer group is a helpful step to take in addition to any independent learning (e.g., reading books, attending webinars, training) and can turn routine education into concrete, measurable actions. Ultimately, the right peer group can help MSPs create long-lasting professional relationships, better strategize, improve business processes and become a more trusted partner to customers.

About The Author

Gary Pica is a pioneer in the managed services field. He has already built two top-performing MSPs. Today, Gary is the President of TruMethods, a Kaseya company, which offers MSP training, peer groups, and software aimed at helping IT solutions providers reach their full potential as MSPs. Managed Services Providers around the world utilize the TruMethods programs to transform their business results. Gary is considered the go-to expert for building a high-performing MSP.