kaseyaScott, I think you need to get out of the hourly game. Put a fee on services. The whole point of automation and managed services is to reduce the amount of time needed to do things. The value of what gets done doesn't change and in fact should go up since you can do a better job, more timely, better customer response, satisfaction, etc. etc.
boudjIn regards to your example with the backup software being problematic... In all of my Managed Services contracts I make sure that it states the client is responsible for maintaining contracts with their primary software vendors that they expect us to support. This especially includes Backup software. And if the client has a service contract, you'd be able to upgrade (and hopefully fix) their issue. If they do not, then you can draw the line in the sand and tell them the next step is for them to get the maint beforeyou can move forward.
jtiptonPlease remember this is my position on this.
I will not do an all inclusive service contact on just the server without having all workstations and servers on a service program (even if at a lower level). Basically I look at it this way, it could take you 4 hours to find out a workstation is causing an issue on the server, and even though the server was not the issue, you were looking in the server. So in the customer’s eye this should not be billable because the server has unlimited service.
Remember this is just like an insurance policy. If it is not listed on the policy it is not covered. This is where all the damn fine print comes into play. If they are not willing to follow your recommendations to fix an issue, then you have the right to terminate the contract. But you have to be a bit careful not to use that just to get rid of a client. Except for attorneys, I would not put them on a program like this.
shickeyWell, initially, I was kinda leary on the Kaseya product. Spent 6 months pouring thru LPI, and all the others. Kaseya seemed to be the best approach for SMB market and more in line on the pricing vs an enterprise product costing $xxx,xxx.oo. Not too thrilled with it at first, but, it has come around to where I am more confident in it. The next release is what I am really waiting for. So, now maintaining desktops is much better, while there are still questions and concerns on server monitoring. So the insurance policy example is more of what I am looking at these days. But, have not considered the "All or nothing" approach. Have to give that some thought.
Ok,,,,,,,thought about. You may have something there. The $199/$299 or what every approach for server only is loosing potentially $xxxx.oo of hourly bill time. Why play around with the $300 a month when more profit is available on an hourly basis. Good point. Worth giving this more thought.
rudiOur clients must satisfy pre-requisites before signing all you can eat agreement, for example:
All equipment must be compliant with our standards (like on site warranty, no white boxes,etc)
They must pay initial audit and also set up fee to bring site in comliance with standards
SOE is billed separetly
For now it works well.
CeruleanBlueLike many others here we have certain standards/requirements that must be in place before we deploy agents. Things like up to date maintenance contracts on all software, warrantied hardware, etc.
Where we differ it seems is how we price/quote and how exactly anal we are in with our clients. We don't price by machine count at all, nor do we have different levels of SLA's (Gold, Bronze, etc.). We do a complete flat-rate "covers everything" quote. Charging $30 per desktop or $299 per server doesn't make sense to us, and leads to clients picking and choosing what they want managed or not. You have to remember, that many of your clients have no idea what they actually need in terms of their IT. We do.
We also do not compete on pricing. If a potential client comes back to us and says company X can do it for Y cheaper. We say go with them. If they are only looking for the best deal, they aren't looking for the best service, and won't be a good client to have. Instead, they will be hesitant to upgrade something or purchase something that they may need.
Using the example with the backup in the original post, if we had a client that refused to purchase an upgrade to FIX the problem, we'd drop them. Fast. It may seem harsh, but we want clients that will understand that we know IT, they don't, and what we recommend is the best for their company and network.
Now, the time issue is one that we also had a tough time dealing with early on. The unlimited support issue was scary at first for the very reasons listed. However, with requiring maintenance agreements time isn't that much of an worry anymore. We will call support for the clients software/hardware and make them fix it if an issue is taking too long, that's what maintenance & support agreements are for. Escalate the issue to someone that can fix the issue quickly and correctly the first time.
To be perfectly honest though, we rarely have to call the vendor support. There is a wealth of knowledge just a Google away. If the common solution (on the first or second page of results) to the problem is "upgrade to version X", well....
I guess all this really depends on what your definition of Managed Services is. Our definition is to bring our clients' networks up to a high level where problems rarely exist and charge a monthly fee to maintain that level. You really have to break free from hourly break/fix altogether. Both in how you think about service, and how you practice it.
Do you provide the "Unlimited Support" or how do you limit the labor?
The client has an issue with thier backup software on a server and you provide remote support to resolve the issue, but, the issue continues to exist. You spend hours on the issue and have determined that an upgrade would possibly fix the problem.
The maintenance contracts is an issue we are dealing with on basically keeping track of all of them for all the client products. IF the OEM agreement was up to date, it would have been a different issue. But, since it was not, the nasty bugger started up, thusly resulting the post here.