Andy Zhu

Supporting Users and the Human Side of Being an MSP

There’s an actual person on the other end of that helpdesk ticket. We all know it, but that fact often gets lost over time. And it shouldn’t.

Many MSPs place their focus on the tools and technology that make being an MSP possible.  Terms like “multi-tenancy”, “remote”, and “automation” get MSPs excited, but if you were to try to sell a customer on the basis of the functionality and benefits these terms imply, would you make the sale? I doubt it, as most customers aren’t looking for an MSP to come in and install a bunch of tools; they are looking for someone who wants to partner with them to ensure their employees are secure and productive, making the business successful.

To accomplish this, you need to focus on providing your services in a way that specifically takes the “human factor” into consideration. You can certainly create a streamlined business process that is the most efficient, productive, and profitable. But, does it take into consideration whether interacting with your helpdesk and your techs is a pleasant experience for the customer’s employees? Do your methods of problem resolution have the user’s productivity in mind?  If it doesn’t, you may find your customers seeking assistance with a competitor.

The goal for each and every opened helpdesk ticket isn’t just to fix it and close the ticket. It should be about the employee having a pleasant experience throughout what I’m going to call the “problem lifecycle”. From the moment the employee reaches out to let you know they are having a problem, to the time and method taken to fix the issue, to when the issue is resolved and ticket closed – designing a process that keeps the human on the other end in mind will improve customer satisfaction.

There are four areas I see that highlight the human factor in servicing your customers:

  1. Make it easy for customers to report problems – The employee having an issue doesn’t want to tie up their day opening a helpdesk ticket.  You need the ticket; they just need the problem solved. Having a way for tickets to be submitted very easily that include the needed problem detail.  The only standard of calling a helpdesk and opening a ticket is over; there are lots of ways integrated into RMM solutions that can automate this process directly from the employee’s machine.
  2. Empower Self-Service – We’re working in the generation after Shadow IT. That means you have some very tech-savvy users that may not necessarily need your techs to address an issue but do need some help pointing them in the right direction to solve it themselves quickly. Having a knowledgebase, or easy-to-execute ready-made scripts lying in wait for savvy users to leverage may be a great way to speed up the resolution process while actually lowering the cost of supporting that user. Everyone wins.
  3. Respond to customer issues quickly – Assuming you have an ability to be made aware of a problem almost in real-time, you need to be able to address the problem, in context, within as short a period as possible. Using integrated solutions (such as your RMM, PSA, and ticketing) means your team not only is made aware of the problem, but has supporting detail, and a direct means to remotely connect to and support the machine of the user in question. With the technology available today, your goal is to be able to be notified and begin connecting to the user’s machine within double-digit seconds. It doesn’t mean your business has (or needs) a sub-one-minute SLA; just that you want the technology in place that facilitates this level of responsiveness should you need it.
  4. Allow the customer to keep working – The use of remote screen-share sessions as a means to address an issue usually means the user is unproductive. Sure, in some cases, it’s absolutely necessary to take complete control and work in the context of the user having the problem. But, in many cases, issues can be addressed via alternate RDP sessions, or even completely in the background using other means like remote command line, remote process management, etc. Including the use of alternative support methods as part of your resolution process allows the customer to remain productive to a greater extent than them sitting watching your tech fix a problem.

 

Getting “Human” With Your Service

Shifting the way you deliver user-facing services requires a change in process and, for some of you, a change in the technology used. At a minimum, start with the processes.  Consider whether your current standardized means of support is best for the user. Talk to your customer and inquire whether users are happy with service. Ask your customer how they think you could change your service delivery to make their users more productive.

Take a fresh look at the technology you use, from the lens of user productivity.  Are there uninstalled or unused options that empower user self-service? Simplified ticket creation? Remote management rather than screen share? And, if your current tech simply doesn’t have user-centric features, it may be time to look for something new to elevate your user support business.

User expectation has become a driving force dictating what applications and services internal IT teams need to provide and support. This same expectation has made its way to outsourced IT, with users wanting easier ways to interact with their technology partner. Users want their problems solved in a way that meets their needs.  So, this need to add the human factor into your services isn’t just a good idea; it’s a necessary part of service delivery that you’re going to want to get in front of.

Lisa Harshman

Event Recap: Webroot & NinjaRMM Cybersecurity Brew & Learn Series

Three cities, threw breweries, three days!

Last week, NinjaRMM and Webroot partnered to present a Brew & Learn series to local MSP’s in Atlanta, Tampa, and Miami. We focused on discussing the cybersecurity issues faced by MSPs in today’s challenging IT environment and how to be prepared to deal with these incidents. The presenters were:

Tyler Moffitt, Senior Threat Research Analyst, Webroot

Brian Coffey, Senior Channel Account Manager, Webroot

Armando Najera, Vice President of Business Development, NinjaRMM

Each day was full of beers, networking, and discussions about today’s Threat Landscape and solutions MSP’s can take to protect their businesses and clients.

Everyone that attended brought fantastic questions to the table and swapped thoughts on their favorite beers of the day.

Popular beers included:

Atlanta – Wrecking Bar Brewpub: OG Bitter & Boyzen the Yard Milkshake IPA

Tampa – Coppertail Brewing Company: Free Dive & Captain Jack’s Stone Crab Stout

Miami – Titanic Brewing Company: Captain Smith’s Rye & Britannic Best Bitter

Added Bonus:

Not only did we offer free beer, but we also gave away one Amazon Echo in each city!

If you’re curious to learn more, the presentation slides can be found here. Feel free to reach out to sales@ninjarmm.com with any questions!

Andy Zhu
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2.17 Release – RAID Controller, TeamViewer 13, and more!

Wondering what types of features are available in our latest 2.17 release of NinjaRMM? We have you covered with this recorded webinar from the NinjaRMM product team.

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Lisa Harshman

NinjaRMM + Webroot: Security Awareness Training

According to the latest Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, human error was directly involved in 65%* of successful breaches in the last year, proving cybersecurity isn’t just a technology issue. End users are the first line of defense against cyber threats, so educating them should be a major priority.

Check out this recording from NinjaRMM and Webroot to find out more about cyber security around end users including:
– Common issues caused by end users and their behavior
– Best practices for preventing cyberattacks
– How MSPs can help reduce the risk of cyberattacks for their customers

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Derek Li

Choosing the Right Tools – Best of Breed, Best in Class, or Best of Both?

The challenge for any Managed Service Provider (MSP) working to add a new offering is which solution (relative to that offering) to choose. The solution selected can materially impact your business’ efficiency, productivity, and profitability, as it defines the very way by which you do business. With so many vendors vying for your attention claiming they’re “best of breed” or “best in class”, selecting the right tool for the job involves a lot more confusion than clarity.

 

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Andy Zhu

Achieving Predictability in RMM

The key to any MSP’s growth is predictability – that business nirvana where you know how much time your techs are going to spend, exactly how they’ll address issues, how much revenue you’ll bring in, and how much profit you’ll make. But to get there, as mature and successful MSPs know, the concept of predictability needs to first extend down into every facet of your business. Why? Because it’s right there in the phrase predictable business – the entire business needs to be predictable.

 

This concept of every facet being predictable should find its way down to the very solutions your techs use to accomplish their work. After all, without a solution providing predictable results, your techs would be manually performing tasks according to step-by-step lists (and nobody wants that!).

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Adam Bertram

Guest Blog: Introverts at Conferences

Today I nearly watched someone die because the awkward feeling of standing next to a group of people at a crosswalk was too much. It was during the early morning walk to the Microsoft Ignite conference. Myself and a group of other attendees were waiting for the all-clear to cross a highway when I saw someone join our group briefly. This guy quickly eyed our group nervously and then immediately begin to cross the road with a definite degree of determination. As he crossed the four-lane highway, I couldn’t help but think about his choice to sprint across a busy road risking his life rather than waiting a couple of minutes. Was it because he was, in fact, too uncomfortable to stand amongst strangers or was he simply in a hurry to get to an early morning session? The way he was acting led me to believe he simply didn’t want to feel awkward standing around with a bunch of strangers for just a few minutes in silence. Are you the introverted daredevil in this story? If so, read on. As an introvert myself, I struggle with many of the same anxiety-provoking situations that all introverts sometimes do; schmoozing, awkward silence, direct eye contact, etc. but it’s something I’ve managed to overcome to a degree. Tech conferences mainly used to be one of the most anxiety-fueled experiences I dealt with especially when I would attend by myself. Familiar coworkers were my crutch. They were my safe-place amongst the crowd of strangers that I would stick to like glue the entire time. But, it’s not like this anymore. Tech conferences typically consist of three main components:

• Conference sessions (large keynote and smaller breakout sessions)
• Shared meals in large halls
• After-parties in the evenings

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Adam Bertram

Three Ways to Keep Active Directory Clean

Active Directory is one of those products that tend to get bloated. It’s a product where lots of people are making changes every day to and ultimately ends up being this enormous pile of stuff that somehow still works. Even the most well-intentioned IT department always seems to end up with an Active Directory environment that’s got lots of user accounts no longer needed, GPOs attached to OUs people didn’t even know existed and computer accounts that represented computers long gone. This state seems to creep up on people. One day, someone sits down in front of Active Directory Users and Computers (ADUC) and has that moment where they go, “Wow! This needs cleaned up.”.

Once someone in your organization has that moment, it’s probably going to be a daunting and overwhelming task. You may start a project to “clean up stuff” but you’ll soon find that right-clicking and deleting isn’t going to cut it. There are lots of ways to make this project a success with the first task being to define what exactly “clean up” means. For this article, we’re going to focus on unused user accounts. More specifically, we’re going to focus on three attributes that a user account might have that would deem it “deletable.” Those attributes are disabled accounts, accounts that haven’t been used in X days and accounts with expired passwords.

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Adam Bertram

Syncing a CSV with Active Directory

This series of PowerShell tips and tricks is an on-going collaboration between NinjaRMM and Adam Bertram, Microsoft MVP.

One of the most common applications of PowerShell that I see IT professional is syncing information with Active Directory (AD). It seems like everyone has some external data source that correlates to some employees that we need to get into AD. This is to be expected because AD typically is the most used IT service in an organization and provides an excellent feature not just as authentication but as a repository of employee information.

Whether you’ve got data stored in a custom SQL database or some fancy HR system, it sucks to have to check two spots if you need information like employee department, groups that employee should be a member of and so on. When you do begin to sync that data, the source system may change its schema, may change APIs, servers and so on which means a code rework. To ensure the data source you’re syncing from always stays the same and can easily be created from any number of systems, it’s a good idea to get that data into a CSV file.

A simple CSV file can be exported from just about any software or database and when in this format, gives the administrator a copy that can be tweaked as well as necessary foregoing the requests from another team to change up a database somewhere.

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AJ Singh

The Smart Way to Defeat Today’s Sophisticated Security Threats

Today’s IT security landscape is increasingly sophisticated and elusive, and many IT administrators see traditional network security defenses becoming less effective in protecting their businesses. A major culprit is malware signatures that are evolving more quickly than security vendors’ abilities to create patches. According to research from Cisco, antivirus vendors have created protection for more than 20 million known viruses, but hackers are estimated to have created more than 100 million — and that number grows each year.

One of the most insidious threats companies face is ransomware, which infiltrates companies’ networks oftentimes through emails containing links/attachments from seemingly legitimate senders (e.g., FedEx, the IRS, UPS). Once the user clicks the infected email link or attachment, the malware begins encrypting files on the user’s machine as well as any additional files the machine has access to via the network. Shortly afterward, users receive pop-up messages on their screens notifying them that their data is being held ransom, and they must pay a fee — typically $700 to $1,000 — to obtain the decryption key.

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Derek Li

Avoid the RMM Shelfware Trap

Buying IT applications as a suite has become a common business practice, illustrated by Microsoft Office, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, and Access in one packaged offering. Microsoft’s SaaS offerings, such as Office 365 Business Premium, adds Exchange Online, OneDrive for Business, Skype for Business, and Microsoft Teams to the list.

Buying bundles is good if you use all of the products, or at least if you’re not stuck paying extra for the products you don’t use. But business-to-business software bundles are the exception to the rule.

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Natan Ovadia

3 Reasons It’s the Right Time to Become an MSSP

Your customers have already bought into the as-a-service business model; why not take the next step and deliver the security services they need, too?

Companies are finally realizing that cybersecurity threats aren’t just a passing fad — they’re here to stay, and they must be taken seriously. And, research from MarketsandMarkets suggests they’re doing just that. In its 2016 Managed Security Service Market report, the firm revealed the managed security service market size is estimated to grow from about $17 billion in 2016 to nearly $34 billion by 2021, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.6 percent during the forecast period.

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AJ Singh

MSPs: Use RMM to Gain a Competitive Advantage

RMM CAPABILITY GIVES MSPS A COMPETITIVE EDGE

Every Managed Service Provider (MSP) is looking for a way to stand out in the marketplace. Competition is getting fierce, and companies with the most outstanding customer service will achieve a competitive advantage. The use of Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) software is critical to establishing market dominance because its capabilities allow you to collaborate with your customers to keep their systems running well.

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Natan Ovadia

March Madness, the MSP, and the Network: the Quick Guide to Survival

With March Madness underway, MSPs will need to address the associated increases in web traffic and potential bottlenecks to networks. As with any predictable spike in web traffic, MSPs are best advised to work in advance of potential problems.

Stay Ahead

Rather than simply jumping in to solve problems as they arise (“putting out fires”), MSPs should identify which clients are more susceptible to problems associated with high web traffic related to the basketball tournament. Read more

AJ Singh

Deliver Ongoing IT Services and Network Monitoring Beyond Break/Fix

Recently, we here at Ninja have had many conversations with Ninja customers and prospects. In most cases, the topic of conversation shifts to business development, revenue cycle and ways to use Ninja to better service customers. It’s interesting to see at the industry trade shows, MSPs tend to spend more time at sessions that focus on growing their business and revenue.  Less time seems to spent evaluating the software and solution vendors that are at these events. Perhaps the simplest recommendation those in the industry have offered is that MSPs shift away from the traditional ‘Break/Fix’ model to a professional IT services model of billing and service delivery.

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Natan Ovadia

The Importance of Communities to MSPs

During the Thanksgiving Holiday, we all think about what we are thankful for. Family, friends, health are always at the top of the list.  What we have also found and heard, especially during this recent time of uncertainty, that community is also on the list of what people are thankful for.  Whether personal or business, we seek out communities to help us learn, stay motivated, share ideas and grow.

Due to the fact that Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are located all around the world,  and that they all have unique details and needs, sharing common knowledge with other MSPs is key to growing their busiess.  They strive to a learn from one another.  Community.

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Natan Ovadia

Two Guaranteed Security Trends for 2017

A New Year means new expectations, resolutions, and a newly resolved outlook for your business. Unfortunately, that also means that the threats to your network and security will be changing with the times as well. However, it’s not like these are entirely unknown threats. Cyber attacks, DDoS, malware, and password phishing are probably the things that come to mind the most, but here are two largely overlooked threats to your security that have seen more usage lately:

Social Engineering Attacks

These are way harder to deal with than a simple brute force attack or a DDoS case because these rely on psychological manipulation and human to human interaction. Simply put, it’s applying hacking to real life. While it’s certainly not new, but it has seen a recent spike and resurgence within the last year. Many companies, YouTubers, and other prominent figures were hacked because of a few phone calls to some unsuspecting customer support representatives. All it takes is the right tone of voice, a few phone calls, and the right questions for vital information to be leaked and exposed.

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Natan Ovadia

Three Important Areas of Focus for MSPs in 2017

Today’s office systems and office places have become more and more complex to manage. For that reason, MSPs have a big task and responsibility to their clients to monitor network activities and provide security. As today’s web threats continue to evolve and resist traditional methods of protection like firewalls, malware removal, and anti-viruses, MSPs face a challenge of finding solutions that integrate effectiveness, efficiency, and service delivery systems to monitor and secure clients’ networks.

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