Editor’s note: This blog post was written by Richard Tubb
How many cloud-based applications do you use within your IT Solution Provider or Managed Service Provider (MSP) business? Three? Five? Ten?
Go ahead and count them – I’ll bet you use more apps than you realise!
As the former owner of a MSP business myself, we used to have at least three very important cloud-based apps, including:-
- 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 client’s (sales), provide service to those clients (service delivery) and then bill those clients for the work we’d done (accounting).
If that process was to work efficiently, each app needed to be given accurate data from the other apps we used.
This is surprisingly easier said than done!
Many IT businesses I work with still spend an inordinate amount of time manually moving data from one app to another – often bringing along the typing mistakes that human input brings.
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 businesses 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 having to “re-type” data between the multitude of cloud-based apps that you use, then you need to make sure those apps talk to each other – synchronise their data.
This is sometimes done via a manual process (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 synchronised to 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” says Timm.
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, then 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 synched (automatically) across applications is like re-inventing the wheel every time you work”.
The most progressive MSP businesses don’t treat their app data as in a silo. They understand the value of automatically sharing it between apps.
Synced Data makes you more efficient
Synching data between apps make your staff more efficient by keeping everything up to date at all times.
In our previously mentioned scenario, if your MSP business has its RMM and PSA tools linked, 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 to raise helpdesk tickets against, 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, as in my work with IT businesses I see an enormous amount of lost revenue where MSPs are simply not billing for workstations that they are supporting for their client’s.
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 synchronisation between different apps means that every department in your business is aware of the latest data.
“When you synch data across multiple applications, it keeps every department of your company up to date by ensuring that data is never duplicated across teams” shares Chris Timm.
Within my business, we use Nimble CRM to track sales opportunities and leads.
Thanks to a tool like PieSync, any new contacts we enter into Nimble automatically get synchronised into Google Contacts – oh, and any contacts we enter into Google Contacts are synchronised 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 synchronisation.
When you’re ready to bill that new client, the accounts package, Xero, automatically has all the information it needs, thanks again to data synchronisation.
No missed billing. No mistyped data. Just a set of applications that work together.
It’s so simple, yet so effective.
Take 5-mins to do a quick audit of your IT businesses. List out the cloud-based apps you use to manage your business on a day-to-day basis.
How many of these apps are synchronising their valuable data to the other apps you use?
If you’re not synchronising data, and instead are relying on manual methods, then you should expect to lose time and miss revenue opportunities.
Instead, realise that this data is the life-blood of your business and needs to be freed from the silo it is currently trapped in.
Synchronise your data and watch the efficiency of your business rise, along with your profits!