First Fridays with Raj: SOP Culture – ConnectWise Project Board – Secret to KILLER Proposals and MASSIVE Profitability
December 4, 2015 at 10:00AM
In this engaging presentation, Raj Goel demonstrates how Brainlink uses the ConnectWise PROJECT BOARD to increase revenues dramatically.
Did you know that ConnectWise has an *AMAZING* Project Management feature built-in? Most MSPs don’t!
Did you know that the Project Board is a hidden treasure waiting to be tapped? Most people don’t!
In this interactive, engaging presentation, fellow MSP and Compliance Expert Raj Goel, CISSP will show you how Brainlink uses the Project Board to proactively sell high-revenue, high-profit projects. He will also show you a stress-free way to generate killer proposals that lead to increased client happiness, increased MSP staff happiness and increased profits!
About Brainlink International
Founded in 1994, Brainlink International has been profiled in numerous media including the New York Times, Entrepreneur, PBS, andWPIX11. I am very, very passionate about Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Standard Service Templates (SOTs),process, profitability, and ConnectWise.
SmartCEO Magazine recognized us as the top culture in New York for SOP Culture. Does that mean SOP’s work? Absolutely. Does the SOP Culture work? Absolutely. We were vetted along with numerous other businesses, but it was our SOP Culture that won us the award.
I’m sharing it with you, and I hope you take that as one more reason why you should invest in SOP’s, SOT’s, Project Boards, and processes in your business and in your life. The better you get at this stuff, the more profitable you’re going to be.
The ConnectWise Project Board
Over the last two years or so I’ve spoken to about 2,000 MSP’s worldwide, and I did an informal survey of the ConnectWise users. Out of the 150 MSP’s that I recall speaking to, only 20 knew about the Project Board.
Here’s a question for you:Do you actually know about the Project Board, and do you actually use it? While most know about it, very few actually use it, often due to a lack of operational maturity. Using the Project Board requires some level of maturity as a business owner, as a technician, and as a manager; if you’re a one-man shop and you’re too busy fighting fires, this may not be the right tool for you. However, as you get bigger, you’ll have employees, you’ll have a staff, and you’ll have complicated projects, at which point, using the Project Board will be absolutely critical.
Furthermore, I found that the 10%-12% who actually use the Project Board were doing so reactively; the sales rep would go out, sell the project, only after which you would build a project plan. Here’s another question for you:Do you use a project plan in the reactionary mode (meaning you build the plan after selling the project)? While it’s good that you’re using the Project Board, the fact is that you’re using ineffectively.
Why should you use a ConnectWise Project Board?
Here’s our true story: Until November 1, 2013, Brainlink International never used a Project Board. For the first 10 months of 2013, I billed my clients 250 hours for project work, and I paid my guys for 1,287 hours of project work. Every project we did we were running into 80% to 90% losses, because guesswork just doesn’t work. If we screwed up the planning, it’s not the client’s fault, so it’s not like they would just give us more money to cover the unplanned hours.
This was a painful place to be; losing money in every project did not make me or my staff happy. So, from November 1, 2013 onwards we started using Project Board, learning it in bits and pieces. In 2014 every project we did was profitable at a rate of 20% – 80%. That alone should be reason enough to use Project Boards.
What is SOP and SOT Culture?
SOPs are your way to document any given process in your business’ operation, from macro tasks like budget development, to daily rudimentary duties like sales pitches. By documenting every single possible aspect of your business, you develop a culture of SOPs that will minimize your time and money invested in a given action, and maximize the quality, and therefore, profit.
Once you have your SOP’s, the next thing you should have are your SOT’s. An SOP for us might be something that is 57 steps on how to set-up a desktop, and from there we’ll tease out the more critical checkpoints that we consider as tasks in our ConnectWise tickets. This particular SOT comes out of a firewall configuration; when we set-up a Cyberoam firewall for a client, the SOP is about 150 pages long, because we actually do about 12 different SOP’s to complete the project.
However, the task list isn’t 150 steps long; it’s not even 50 steps long. It’s just 19 steps, because these are the 19 critical things that we need to do to have a successful roll-out. While the unboxing, registering the center, and set-upis one check box in ConnectWise on the task board, it’s actually a full SOP in our SOP list. By planning your work out using the Project Board, the task list, and Standard Service Templates will help you avoid most types of launch failures. You can find these by going to the set-up tables and service templates list, wherein you can create a template or look at existing templates.
We both know that once you perform a task for a client, it’s likely you’ll be doing it again somewhere down the line. That’s why you need to build an SOP and a checklist right off the bat. When you do it the second time, work off the checklist, work off the SOP’s, and update as need be. Remember, these are not static documents.
ConnectWise is great because you can add tasks and reorganize them fairly effectively. We have seen our own task list for desktop set-up expand from 14 steps to 57 steps in less than a quarter. We’ve seen our SOP’s go from 15 pages to 97 pages,because we got better at our job. As we repeated the process, we learned more about the special configurations that only apply in specific situations.
It’s also vital that you make your task lists as comprehensive as you can. Then, when you attach them to a ticket, delete whatever tasks that are unnecessary. We do this forfirewall projects all the time, comingfrom a very large client where we did multiple Cyberoam HA clusters at two different sites. First, we put everything into our master project, and then we copy the project template over and delete what we don’t need because not everybody needs to have HA clusters, or VPN users, etc.
What is a Project Template?
Project templates allow you to either proactively create a dummy project and use it to create future projects, or take an existing project that you built organically and convert it into a project template. If you have a project that you’ve already done, make it into a template. Next time, with just a few clicks, you import the existing project template to create all tickets and work phases immediately.
One of the things we do — whether it’s setting up a new firewall or setting up a new desktop –is create our master project template, fork it off into a new project, and then delete whatever we don’t need to do for that client.We also use Project Boardsto standardize our staff training. Do you actually track your staff training to the point that you could tell me where each one of your staff members is right now in their training life cycle?
I take our new hire template, and we fork it off for every new employee at Brainlink International. Day 1, hour 1: did we get all the paperwork? Did we make them an employment offer? Did they sign the NDA? That paperwork is the first five tickets of my Project Board for that employee, and that’s just the first hour.
Project templates work because they help you plan proactively. Before Project Boards, service templates, and SOP’s, it would take us 20 man hours per server(with errors and screw-ups) to on-board a client, because we were re-inventing the wheel every single time. Now, with properly built project templates, we’ve laid out everything that we’re going to do, all the network discovery, all the machine on-boarding, etc. Thiscut our time delivery from 20 hours per server (with plenty of expensive mistakes), to six hours per server with zero failures.
I invite you, in fact, I challenge you, togive Project Boards a try.
The Brainlink International SOP Library Can Be Yours
Brainlink International currently has over 900 SOP’s in our library, and over 400 are available for licensing to any other IT provider or company on the planet. The rates are:
There is an additional $599 fee for one-time set up, which includes:
If you’re interested in building your own SOP culture, winning awards, and gaining greater productivity and profitability, reach out to Brainlink International today at (347) 460-2238 or firstname.lastname@example.org.