The Q in QBR should stand for quality, not quarterly. Why?
- Because Data Quality is critical. In order to make a strategic impact, you must provide insights derived from accurate data. Note: If you are new to the notion of QBRs, this article outlines the importance of being strategic versus tactical.
- Because everyone should get one. While having face-to-face executive meetings is the best way to build relationships and partner with your clients, every MSP knows that isn’t scalable when performed quarterly. But a value-add Quality Business Review is, some clients face-to-face and others with some quality reporting.
- Because while everyone should get a QBR, everyone shouldn’t get the same QBR. By segmenting your client bases and automating some manual processes (stop cobbling together spreadsheets! See how at our website here), all of your clients get the insights they need for better business.
And at Lifecycle Insights, we say:
Better data. Better insights. Better business.
We’ve talked to many (maybe even many, many) MSPs about the reports they bring to a QBR and their processes for building these reports. The most mature MSPs are using some combination of the following reports: :
- Asset (warranty and End of Life) data
- User lists
- Budget forecast
- Strategic documents customized to the client’s industry/exposure/situation – based on the above reports, outline recommended projects and needs to align to your MSP solution stack
The most common phrases involved in their processes included:
- Cobbling reports together from multiple systems
- Prep time of 2-6 hours
- Missing or inaccurate data
- Massaging the data
The crux of the problem stems from the fact that the data lives in disparate systems. Between PSAs and RMM tools, Office 365, warranty lookups, Documentation systems, plus multiple other MSP acronyms, lots of data exists, but teams struggle to gather reporting quickly and accurately. These two words: quickly and accurately are the pillars on which Lifecycle Insights was built.
A consistent theme we heard when interviewing MSPs was that the data collection process was very manual – grabbing CSV/XLS files from multiple platforms and merging them, then spending time cleaning up the data. Lifecycle Insights uses integrations and APIs to pull hardware and software warranty and end of life dates as well as user lists. The platform creates a dashboard for each client and the data is synced nightly (or on-demand if an immediate refresh is needed) so that the data is always current and available in one place.
Beyond the dashboard lies a menu of available reports. In addition to the standard warranty status, asset end of life and support user/Office 365 reports, Lifecycle Insights provides customizable budget forecast reports and high level subscription/contract renewal reports.
Accurate – Quality Data:
The biggest issue we learned was that there was often missing data which led to inaccuracies. That right there stopped us in our tracks. Building data reports – necessary – helping MSPs identify and improve their data quality – CRITICAL. As a matter of fact, we believe your data quality is so important that the first two tiles on the dashboard address it.
The missing data tile shows what data fields are missing for a given client. Drill-ins allow you to quickly see the full asset detail around each device. Or a full asset report can be downloaded (CSV or word doc) so that a tier 1 tech could go collect and update the missing data. The data quality score tile provides an overall weighted average for data quality by client. Individual scores provide the percentage of assets with data in each field. As missing data is added and synced, the data quality score improves. The better your data quality the better value your QBR provides for your clients.
Again we say: Better data. Better insights. Better business.
Quality at Scale
Because MSPs were taking 2-6 hours per client to build their QBR reports, a couple things happened:
- They either severely limited the number of clients who got QBRs or they spent too much time in the tactical weeds rather than preparing for strategic conversations.
- These prep hours were typically spent by the MSP owner, one of the finite, non-automated, non-reproducible resources in the company.
Let’s talk about how we can scale a solution based on: automation by integration, easy identification and customization yet scalable standardization.
First automation – Since Lifecycle Insights automatically syncs data, this eliminates the need to re-update reports each quarter. With ease of use and responsive performance a focus, MSPs can customize their reports by:
- Quickly searching by device, user, operating system, and more…
- Swatching by color to filter a list by status on OS, warranty and EOL statuses
- Filtering by location or device type
All of these options happen with a click and the results are downloaded to a client facing exec-friendly report. This increases the speed to success for both the clients and the MSP. That is how process improvements make an impact.
Finally, now that you, the MSP, has access to quick, quality actionable insights, don’t you think all of your clients deserve them too? Since the reports are ready, let’s talk about how QBRs for all could now play out. We suggest segmenting your clients into 3 tiers.
Hyper-growth or high technology dependent companies get a full Strategic Business Review Quarterly (QBR). This is the MSP executive to client executive face-to-face strategic meeting we regularly hear about in the industry. Now that you have automated reporting available, prep time can be spent ensuring that outstanding tickets are addressed ahead of time so that the QBR can focus on using the quality data to provide business insights that help foster the relationship and help grow their business.
This group consists of potentially more commoditized industries or those less dependent on technology. These clients can now get the same information annually or semi-annually. If they typically get an in-person meeting annually, this is now much more automated in terms of reporting so more impactful in terms of discussion.
This tier consists of smaller clients or clients who are not as invested in technology. The goal of a review with these clients is to use the vCIO reports Lifecycle Insights provides as a lure to convince them to invest more in technology and come into alignment with your solution stack. These clients get the automated reports annually delivered electronically.
Your breakdown may differ, but applying these concepts will allow you to scale your vCIO services as your MSP business grows.
Like everything else in your MSP, QBRs have to scale through a documented process. This process needs to be reliable and repeatable. A focus on data quality is paramount. By segmenting your clients into categories and scheduling Quality Business Reviews accordingly, you can actually improve your relationship with your clients by showing them that you understand their business and the unique needs of their industry while simultaneously protecting the most important resources at the top of your organization. Building out this process early on and communicating it to your clients will set you free to focus on other challenges. For you and your clients – Better data means better insights and better business.