The goal of an MSP is for that progression to trend upward in terms of value-add and profit for both the MSP and its clients.
A key factor in that upward progression is the evolution of the QBR or quarterly business review (which we at Lifecycle Insights like to call a Strategic Business Review). The evolution of a QBR does not follow the same linear path. It should follow the cycle of continuous improvement. And that looks more like this:
The amount of time it takes to complete the cycle depends on the relationship and cadence of each client. However, each cycle should provide incremental value to the business and that relationship. So let’s talk about the cycle itself.
Continuous Improvement Cycle for QBRS
The first step in the cycle is assess. What is it we need to assess? Great question – with a lot of potential answers – here’s a start:
If your company is in the developing stages of giving QBRs or are evolving from a break-fix shop, your initial assessment may be around basic process reviews:
- Ticket resolution
- Service SLAs
- Customer satisfaction (CSAT)
- Supported user reconciliation
- Asset Warranty and End of Life management
As the MSP evolves its QBR process, some of those items should fall in the “status update” category. Anything in that category should be an email not a meeting and especially not an agenda item on a strategic QBR. As an MSP develops a mature process for handling tickets and SLAs, CSAT should be consistently high. If this is not the case, intervention must start here.
For the sake of argument (which is easy to win in a blog post when you can’t argue back), let’s say those items are moving along, then what do you need to assess?
- Risk and Exposure
- Asset Lifecycle Health
- Alignment to supported technology
- Changes in the client’s business and industry to learn where technology may be beneficial
- + Other standards based on industry specific needs such as:
Whether you manually check off items on a list or score the assessment in a platform, it is critical to get a baseline score and rate your client. Doing this will allow you to move through the cycle to plan.
Plan has 2 stages: planning to work with your client and the making of a plan with your client. Planning to work with your client is the time when the MSP reviews the assessment internally to look for largest areas of risk, prioritize needs, and align sales opportunities. This type of planning can be summarized as building a remediation plan in the form of a project. Planning with your client is part of your QBR process. The client should be presented a summary of their assessment and details that will need to be addressed. This phase is presenting and getting buy-in and permission ($$$$) to execute.
Having an assessment identifies the pain the business is feeling. Creating a project to eliminate that pain provides instant value in elevating the partnership with the client. Aligning budget items – in terms of asset replacement needs, new materials, and labor – to these pain points connect the dots for clients. So you project is a documented plan showing your client that these upcoming budget expenses ease specific business risks/exposure/pain.
Using the assessment as a tool in the planning stage does a few things:
- It shows your client that you understand their business.
- Not only do you know their needs, but you have found potential risks and want to help protect them.
- It aligns the technology with the business need.
- You have used the information to provide a budget forecast so that they can prioritize their needs and finances.
- If delivered properly, they see you as a strategic partner.
If your QBRs focus on these elements, you will leave with a plan, a sales order and homework. But your client will leave with homework too. They will have work to do on other items from the assessments.
Now it is time to execute. And execute you must! You have a seat at the table as a strategic business partner so to keep it you must do your homework and ensure that you didn’t end your meeting before scheduling the next QBR.
….. WORK HAPPENS HERE…..
That work will entail implementing a remediation plan and following up on that homework.
Your next conversation starts with a review of your action items. The timing of follow-up depends on the depth and breadth of the projects that are in play. This is the time for status updates. Any deadlines that were set in the QBR should be met and email notification should be sent as the tasks are finished. If there are projects with a large scope that will carry over into the next QBR, then the MSP should add them to the agenda to show accountability and progress monitoring. In this way, the review should lead right into the next assessment.
Now, you have new data to compare to your baseline. Your client should see progress. And clients love seeing their assessment scores improve as they “get the red out” and have more assessment areas “go green.” This then allows for new priorities and the cycle starts again.
No matter where your business is in terms of its evolution or how seasoned your QBR process is or isn’t, this cycle is the key. If you are new to QBRs, start small and assess 2 or 3 focus areas around which you have supporting data and a solid plan and solution. Your assessment and your review process can grow with you.
If you have a very mature model in place, look at each step in the cycle and see if there are opportunities for automation to save time and improve efficiencies. Several key components are to make sure that you have automated data and process for insights around:
- Assessment results (flexible and opportunities for a variety of assessments)
- QBR scheduler
- Asset lifecycle and user management
- Projects connecting assets and assessments
Also consider additional services or standards you could help your client address.
QBRs are indeed a sales tool but done effectively they are a strategic relationship building tool – A tool that doesn’t appear “sales” but consultative. Both the MSP and its clients will grow in profitability with a strong QBR process of continuous improvement.
If you would like us to talk to you about how you could evolve your QBRs, please drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org We would love to help!