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How to review and improve managed service projects in the New Year

Expert tips for cleaning up your MSP's project management in 2024


By Louis Bagdonas, Senior Program Manager – MSPs, Moovila


Expert tips for cleaning up your MSP's project management in 2024

I love the fresh start of a new year. It is an opportunity to use the past to improve the future.  

 

Once the celebrations are over and projects of the past year are put to bed, I like to sit down with data and examine what happened. I can use the lessons last year taught me to make a better plan and work on goals for next year. 

 

As a program manager at Moovila, I also help MSPs develop a strategy for improving their processes. You can gain so much insight from the data you’ve collected all year. Don’t squander it! Use it to bring process improvement, profits, and growth to the new year. As J.P. Morgan put it,



“The first step to getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are.” 


 

Here are my four actionable New Year’s resolutions for MSPs:

 

1. Review your current professional service offerings


All year, you helped clients secure their data, streamline their processes, and keep their technology humming. Along the way, you perfected some of your own work processes, too.  

 

Look at the work you’ve done, across your portfolio. Have you repeated a project this year that you could turn into a standard service offering for next year?  

 

Maybe you found yourself frequently explaining to clients why they needed to migrate to the cloud, upgrade their network, or improve their cybersecurity.  

 

Can you turn any of those repeated projects into new standardized service offerings? Make a list of those offerings, templatize the work plan, and start offering it to clients and prospects.  

 


2. Start building and setting KPIs 


Amid the successes of last year, there were probably mistakes, projects that went off the rails, and lessons learned. Now is the time to document what you learned from those challenging projects as well. Capture what went wrong, identify the root cause, and start to put processes in place to identify those challenges earlier.  

 

It can be difficult to collect pertinent data around how projects unfold, especially if there is scope creep. But there is no time like the present to start collecting it.  

  • Do you know what percentage of projects were completed on time against the due date?  

  • What was your professional services margin? Are you able to review that margin by project? 

  • Have you set a budget for the year? Do you have a target revenue in mind? 

 

Starting with these simple questions – and more – can help you increase margins, lower your overhead, and make smarter strategic decisions around hiring and pricing. 

 

If you are missing any of this data, today is the great time to start collecting it. Maybe your first goal for 2024 is to start gathering KPIs. You don’t have to do it all at once. Focus on the data points that are most important to you.  

 

If you aren’t sure where to begin, I suggest starting with your margin, since it most affects your cash flow – especially depending on how you bill your projects.  

 

Then, since mistakes are excellent teachers, I suggest focusing some effort on projects that didn’t go well. Is there a type of project that consistently takes longer than you anticipated or that comes in with a lower-than-expected margin? Add this to your list to review, to see if better processes could minimize the duration or make the project type more profitable this year. 

 


3. Update–or create–project templates 


Now you have a list of services that need new–or improved–templates. 

 

A project template is a document or system that captures every step of a specific job in detail. And when I say ‘detail,’ I mean it. I am constantly imploring MSPs to get granular with the details that go into delivering a service. Look at every step! This is how you tighten up your processes and create repeatable work systems.  

 

Here are some details to think about: 

  • Start with duration. How many days do you estimate it will take someone to complete each step?

  • Next move on to your work estimate by step. How many hours will it take a resource (and what type of resource) to complete the step? 

  • What type of dependencies are between all of those steps?  

  • What skills does each step require? Who on your team has those skills? 

 

Once you have a list of steps and some estimates around time and order to go with them, you can lay each project out on a timeline so you can see how long each service takes – from start to finish.  That timeline can empower you to tell a client how long a project could take?   

 

Knowing how long each step takes, how much time to allot each engineer to do it, and what you pay each of those people will also let you come up with your budget. Once you have that, you will know precisely how much each job costs you. And, if you know your overhead – and what you need your margins to be – you can accurately price any project. 

 

This knowledge helps you see when you need to raise prices and offers an easy way to justify those fees. It is the secret to making complex projects profitable. And it can show you where you can offer discounts, which can help acquire new clients.  

 


4. Adopt new processes and technologies 


Creating detailed project plans will show you the value of project management, which you may not be charging for. Knowing how much time it takes to effectively manage a project and the hourly cost of that time might convince you to start billing for project management. 

 

That knowledge will also help you see the value of using technology to handle the labor of project management. Autonomous Project Monitoring and Management (APMM) lifts much of the spreadsheet scrutiny, emailing, and scheduling off your plate. And, since that work is done by a machine that never needs to sleep or think about anything else, it will do the job of keeping a project on track more efficiently than any human can.  

 


If you’re looking for other opportunities to improve your project management this year, watch our webinar “2023 Insights, 2024 Vision: Project Management Mastery for MSPs” on demand to dive deeper into some of these trends and best practices. 



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Louis Bagdonas is the Senior Program Manager overseeing MSP experience at Moovila. Having spent extensive hours onboarding managed service providers to Perfect Project, he understands the unique challenges Service Delivery & Project Management Leaders face. Louis is dedicated to collaborating with our Partners to ensure project management best practices are embedded not only in the tools they use, but also across their business, to ensure profitable and repeatable project outcomes. 

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