Guest Column | April 8, 2021

Why MSPs Need A Professional Services Capability

By Beverly Crisler, Logically

msp question block

Even the best engineers have their limitations. A Managed Services Provider (MSP)’s technical expertise is often focused on remote monitoring and management in maintaining IT infrastructure. Though dedicated MSPs typically recommend new hardware or software refreshes, they may lack the specialized skills to tackle unusual or highly technical problems. When these issues arise, it may be appropriate for the MSP to advocate on behalf of their customer to bring a Professional Services expert or team on board.

An MSP can benefit tremendously by partnering with or offering professional service capabilities. While unique entities, MSPs, and professional service teams are codependent in many ways. The expectations of MSPs are uptime, responsiveness, and making sure that everything is being done within the confines of contractual agreements. In contrast, Professional Services focus on completing stand-alone projects and initiatives from beginning to end. Professional Services are especially useful for getting companies past blockades or pain points and creating the momentum to get tasks done. When a problem seems intractable, professional service providers can bridge the gap by offering expertise an MSP may lack.

How Professional Service Capabilities Work With Businesses

There are a variety of professional service teams and specialties on the market today. Moving systems to the cloud, designing and deploying a new network, and advanced troubleshooting are just a few examples of the areas where professional service teams shine. Our firm offers a dedicated cloud services team. Unlike some technical services, professional service teams are attuned to listening for a company’s true objectives. The goal of the Professional Services team is to uncover a company’s thought process so they can create a solution that satisfies both the business and technology initiatives.

When an MSP and a Professional Services team work together, the result is better than what either could achieve alone. MSPs maintain existing infrastructures, which means they often inherit environments that they had no role in creating. MSPs that feature a professional service arm don’t face this problem. Their partnership with a professional services team can allow an MSP to gain more insight into how the system it is tasked with maintaining was created. Additionally, a Professional Service team’s effectiveness is enhanced by partnering with an MSP. Once the Professional Services team implements a robust solution, they can trust that the MSP it is handed off to will be able to maintain it.

The Limitations Faced By Smaller MSPs

Ultimately, if you have extensive needs, going with a smaller MSP can be limiting. Smaller MSPs often lack the professional services arm that larger MSPs can afford to offer. A larger MSP can often provide the services of network engineers, cloud engineers, storage engineers, and telecommunication engineers, among others. One of the primary advantages of a Professional Services team is expertise. The engineers tend to have a minimum of 10 years’ experience and are often cross trained, meaning they are all tier 3 engineers, with tier 3 exclamation points in their specialty. For businesses that require extensive technical support or specialization, a larger MSP with a professional services capability is usually the better choice.

If a business has basic or minimal needs, a smaller MSP might suit them just fine. However, smaller MSPs often lack an advanced skillset, or resources, to handle more complex problems, like those related to security and compliance. Engineers on MSPs with fewer than 10 people often compensate by wearing multiple hats, which means that they may lack the depth of experience that specialized team members in larger organizations might have. Though resourcefulness is an asset, good engineers at these smaller MSPs should be self aware by acknowledging the limitations of their expertise. When they do, these smaller companies may opt to partner with a security partner to cover a skillset that is not part of their core competency.

Actionable Takeaways

MSPs with professional service capabilities can offer a more complete service to their clients. Professional Service teams provide a higher level of expertise, allowing businesses to achieve better and faster results than they otherwise thought possible. Smaller MSPs benefit from acknowledging their limitations and pairing up with professional service teams who can manage technical problems that are outside of their wheelhouse. Ultimately, the ability to acknowledge an engineering team's limitations is essential to providing excellent service. Though some teams may feel threatened by the advanced skillset of a professional services capability, this type of mindset is limiting. Having more skilled people can create more ideas that you haven’t even thought of that can positively impact your business. If you are an MSP and you bring in an expert, you are still a trusted advisor, providing an added level of experience to benefit your client.

About The Author

Beverly Crisler is Vice President of Professional Services for Logically.