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Smaller MSPs: Tier Your Time to Stay on Task

One of the most common things MSPs want to talk about as they grow is how to structure their teams. For many of you, especially those just starting out, you don’t have teams to structure. So how do you get everything done? Start by treating time like people—divide up your time to cover different tasks just like you would divide up a team to handle tasks.

Here are the key areas to consider and how to prioritize them:

1. Technical work

Just like you divide your helpdesk and NOC into tiers, you need to dedicate a certain amount of time to each during the day. The biggest danger is making a mistake during a complex job because you were interrupted by a tier one task. If you need to spend an hour on a tier three task, turn off notifications or put your phone on “do not disturb” so you can focus on the important work.

To facilitate this on a day-to-day basis, try to schedule your tier three tasks and nonurgent tier one and two tasks in blocks of two hours. That way, you’ll only go a maximum of two hours without responding to a new ticket. You can also accomplish this in a PSA by having a “morning bucket” and an “afternoon bucket.” These are queues or boards you can put tickets in after the initial response. You can then block time to work those batches in the morning or afternoon. The key is to work on the right things at the right time.

There will always be emergencies, so no advanced planning will ever be perfect. But if it works 80% of the time, it will help you get your tickets resolved efficiently and in the right priority.

2. Back office work

Back office work is important, but not urgent, as there will always be client issues that seem more important. For some of us, there is always a need to empty the never-ending ticket queue. We can’t help it. However, the consequences for not billing, not paying bills, and ignoring things like tax returns can have a devastating effect on your business too.

Many of us say we’ll use downtime to work on these things. The problem is downtime doesn’t seem to come on most days. So again, you have to set yourself up for success by scheduling this time and protecting it. Another option taken by many entrepreneurs is to schedule this type of work outside of the 9-to-5 workday.

Notice, I still said you should schedule it. It’s too easy to move to the recliner after dinner and ignore nonurgent tasks in favor of watching the latest episode of your favorite tv show. Fortunately, unlike the technical work above, you can outsource a lot of this work to a bookkeeper or accountant.

3. Marketing and sales

Another important, nonurgent job many MSPs dread is getting new customers. If you want to grow your business, this task isn’t optional. Most MSPs are good at closing a sale if they can just get in front of customers. Therefore, marketing is the piece we stumble on most. This is mainly because we don’t put consistent effort into it.

I recommend taking one whole day, once every quarter to plan your marketing for the next quarter. Put it on a calendar and execute according to that calendar. Many things like email campaigns and social media posts can be setup in a few hours once a month and scheduled to run over the course of the month. You could get this done on one Saturday per month.

Conclusion

Most of the strategy comes down to being intentional about scheduling your time and then protecting it. Build systems around your RMM and PSA tools to help group your tickets into buckets that make sense for your workflow. In addition, try to move critical but non-urgent tasks outside of the 9-to-5 workday to avoid the inevitable interruptions. Most importantly, if you allocate time to doing something, make sure you do it.

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