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The MooCrew went to CCF: Here’s what we learned

The channel’s most engaged members gathered in Chicago to discuss everything from AI to upskilling. Here is the Moovila team’s project management take on the event. 


Moovila at CompTIA Communities & Councils Forum (CCF)

In early March our team went to the CompTIA Communities & Councils Forum (CCF) to learn from and talk to channel members about their challenges and goals for the channel. While we were there, we helped pack 15,000 meals for the Greater Chicago Food Depository, met some fascinating women who are focused on Advancing Women in Technology (AWIT), and heard the word “AI” (what felt like) over a million times. We indulged in interesting conversations about everything from profit margins to upskilling to the challenges and opportunities around cybersecurity. 


We loved meeting people in the channel and saw many ways in which  project management fits into these challenges and opportunities.  


Projects are our obsession. Here’s our take on how projects fit into some of the popular event narratives. 



Is that AI or Automation? 


Everyone is talking about AI. But these conversations get awkward when people aren’t talking about the same thing. Granted, AI is evolving as we speak. But artificial intelligence isn’t the same thing as automation. And sometimes people toss that term around when discussing technologies that aren’t even automated. “AI washing! Everywhere!” said Seth Robinson, Vice President, Industry Research, CompTIA in the Fireside Chat. We agree. 


We get it, though. AI is thrilling. It is also creating opportunities for MSPs as companies grapple with how to implement it. According to the CompTIA State of the Channel 2024 research report, “there is almost certainly going to be ripe revenue opportunity for MSPs and other tech channel providers.” You may be currently only in the tinkering stage of this process, but we believe that clarity around the terminology is a good place to start.


We define the automations and artificially intelligent monitoring in our smart project management tool Perfect Project, for example, as Autonomous Project Monitoring and Management (APMM) because it is artificially intelligent, monitors autonomously, and assists with project management. But it is very different from a generative AI like GPT-4 or Gemini



Opportunities in work clothes 


MSPs are discovering that as technology gets more complex, there is a greater need for their services. Cybersecurity – ever complex – is still the top selling service, though, at least according to those who participated in the State of the Channel 2024 survey. Historically, MSPs have focused their cybersecurity efforts on antivirus, firewall, path management and other managed services. But, as cybersecurity – and software deployment in general – become more mature, there are opportunities here to expand beyond those basics. 


With maturity in all areas of technology – from AI to cybersecurity – governance becomes an issue. 


From our perspective, tapping into these opportunities will require a level of organization that goes beyond tickets. Managing a client’s complex security needs, meeting compliance deadlines, and never dropping the ball are all jobs that call for high-level project management tools that end the confusion without saddling someone with constantly updating tasks and statuses.  



Overcoming obstacles  


A related challenge we heard, is that MSPs are doubling down on selling cloud software but are struggling to create a good model for charging for the work. And, since MSPs are in a constant state of worry when it comes to profitability, this is a pain point.  


This is, again, an issue that can be solved with advanced project management tools and practices. A cloud migration is not a service you can sell as an ongoing managed service.  


“If you do digital transformation for your customers, its important you give them guideposts and check-ins along the way,” said Carloyn April, Vice President, Industry Research at CompTIA, in the Fireside Chat. This means you need tools that can control a complex project. 


Those tools need to be precise enough to easily track the time spent, predict how much time specific resources will spend on a project, and create accurate estimates around milestones and completion dates. This is essential not only for ensuring you deliver the project as promised but also for pricing it. You can’t know what to charge – or demonstrate to a client how you came up with that price – without this granular level of insight into the work. 



Better KPIs 


According to a stat from Gartner shared by CompTIA’s April, worldwide IT spending is expected to grow 6.8 percent in 2024 to a total of $5 trillion, with $1.5 trillion of that in IT services. Growth is inevitable for MSPs. How do you manage that growth?  



Worldwide IT spending is expected to grow 6.8% in 2024 to a total of $5 trillion



We found this conversation in the Fireside Chat fascinating because this comes down to, as someone in that discussion pointed out, KPIs. If you don’t know the end result (KPI) you are looking for, you can’t achieve it. For example, if you are looking to improve productivity, you must have a baseline and a way to track what direction you take from that baseline. Otherwise, you have no idea if you are achieving your goals or failing miserably. 


We love to discuss, measure, and build better ways to measure KPIs. We recommend starting with one or two KPIs (check here for a good list of project related ones), finding a way to monitor them, and iterating toward improvement on each one. 



Upskilling and the talent search 


We sat in on a chat around upskilling where we heard people’s journeys through the MSP organization. One technician told a story about coming in as a level one support technician, moving up from there, and transitioning – with the help of some certifications – up to managing projects. 



More than half of the channel companies surveyed said that they are experiencing a shortage of workers

Upskilling the people on your team to take on larger roles is a smart solution to a challenging problem.and have a challenge finding job candidates with the cybersecurity skills their organization currently needs.” 


Upskilling from an entry level position to a skilled specialist is a progression we love to see. Many of these growth opportunities no longer require a four-year degree and, especially given the talent shortage around technology and project management, can be accomplished with some on-the-job experience and certifications.  


This solution is good for people’s careers and for MSPs. When an MSP grows to the point where it needs project managers to keep the work on track, growing that talent from a team that knows your people and processes can save time and money. When that time comes, we recommend sending those people outside your organization to learn project management best practices and get some certifications. 

 


All-in-all the team had a fantastic time at Moovila’s first CCF event, and we are looking forward to seeing everyone again at ChannelCon July 30th-August 1st in Atlanta! 

 

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