How can your IT business optimize its operations? One important step is syncing data between your key apps. Learn how to create a strong data management strategy in this post by Richard Tubb, one of the top experts in the global IT Managed Service Provider (MSP) community.
How many cloud-based apps do you use in your IT solution provider or managed service provider (MSP) business? Five? Ten? Fifty? You probably use more apps than you realize.
As the former owner of an MSP business myself, the most important apps in our stack were:
- A customer relationship management (CRM) tool
- A professional services automation (PSA) tool
- An accounting package
Each tool was super important to our business. We needed to track our prospects (marketing), turn them into clients (sales), provide services to those clients (service delivery) and bill those clients for the work we’d done (accounting).
If that process was to work efficiently, each app needed accurate data from the other apps we used. This is easier said than done!
Many IT businesses I work with spend an inordinate amount of time manually moving data from one app to another - often bringing along the typos and mistakes that come with manual input. This leads to inefficiency at best and costly mistakes at worst.
“What’s the first sign of madness? Keeping multiple bits of the same data in different applications and updating it (manually) on different systems”, says Chris Timm of Sondela Consulting, a business consultant for MSPs.
So just how can you successfully link your IT business's cloud-based applications so that they are serving you? Let’s take a look.
Why you need to sync data between apps
If you want to avoid manually uploading data between the multitude of cloud-based apps you use, you need to make sure those apps talk to each other. This means syncing data between them.
This is sometimes done via a manual process, or exporting data from one app and importing into another. But it’s best if you look for automatic processes: systems where changes in one app are automatically synchronized with another.
“It's important to ensure that data is synced across different platforms to maintain consistency and data integrity. It makes you more efficient as you only have to update it in one place and the other systems are updated accordingly” – Chris Timm of Sondela Consulting
Think of the relationship between your Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) tool and your PSA tool.
If you had to manually add each new workstation and printer to your PSA configuration, you could spend a long, long time keeping data between your RMM and PSA up to date.
Yet this is what many IT businesses spend their time doing.
When we spoke about this painful scenario, Chris Timm shared with me: “Not keeping data synced (automatically) across applications is like re-inventing the wheel every time you work”.
The most progressive MSP businesses don’t handle their app data in silos. They understand the value of automatically sharing it between apps.
Synced data makes you more efficient
Syncing data between apps make your staff more efficient by keeping everything up-to-date at all times.
If your MSP business has linked its RMM and PSA tools and a client adds a new workstation, then your RMM tool discovers it and automatically adds that workstation configuration to your PSA tool.
The PSA tool then makes that data available to Service Delivery, avoiding the embarrassing scenario of a client calling your helpdesk, only to be told: “Oh, we didn’t know about that PC...”
Very importantly, once your PSA tool knows about a workstation, it can then tell your accounting package to bill for work effectively.
This is hugely important. In my work with IT businesses I see an enormous amount of lost revenue where MSPs are simply not billing for workstations they are supporting for their clients.
For me, this is the number one reason that IT companies need to sync data between their cloud apps - to increase their billable revenue.
Keeping every department in sync
Setting up automatic synchronization between different apps means that every department in your business is aware of the latest data.
“When you sync data across multiple applications, it keeps every department of your company up to date by ensuring that data is never duplicated across teams” – Chris Timm of Sondela Consulting
Within my business, we use Nimble CRM to track sales opportunities and leads.
Thanks to PieSync, any new contacts we enter into Nimble automatically get synchronized into Google Contacts - and any contacts we enter into Google Contacts are synchronized to Nimble CRM too. It’s a two-way process!
Once a prospect has been converted into a client, there’s no retyping data. The new client's info is automatically available to the PSA tool, ConnectWise, thanks to data synchronization.
When you’re ready to bill that new client, the accounts package, Xero, automatically has all the information it needs, thanks again to data synchronization.
No missed billing. No mistyped data. Just a set of applications that work together. It’s so simple, yet so effective.
A strong tech stack is a connected stack
Take five minutes to do a quick audit of your IT businesses. List the cloud-based apps you use to manage your business on a day-to-day basis.
How many of these apps are synchronizing their valuable data to the other apps you use?
If you’re not synchronizing data, and instead are relying on manual methods, then you should expect to lose time and miss revenue opportunities.
Instead, realize that this data is the lifeblood of your business and needs to be freed from the silo it is currently trapped in.
Synchronize your data and watch the efficiency of your business rise, along with your profits!