MSP: Do You Need RMM, PSA or Both?

PSA (Professional Services Automation) and RMM (Remote Monitoring and Management) tools are both created to boost a service provider’s business, but they are aimed at different spheres.

Using PSA can help build business processes, whilst RMM is all about the ‘fine tuning’ of an internal technical support. In this article, we are going to help you choose the right tool first.

When You Need PSA

PSA is software, allowing you to improve your business productivity: better client handling, fewer errors, automated billing, and reports, etc. You can avoid rapid staff growth or go even deeper, by integrating your existing business process into your PSA tool. So, you can think about PSA as a monitoring and alerting system for your business, allowing you to:

  • Track several triggers, e.g. new customer accounts created.
  • Alert responsible persons – sending an e-mail to the accounting department regarding new accounts.
  • Run pre-configured actions, like assigning a billing plan to the new account.

Many companies use PSA, even as a part of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, saving information about client representatives and products assigned. More importantly, is the fact that you can get notified in case of key SLA breaches or missed replies on customer requests. PSA here works as an extension for a helpdesk tracking system that can automatically open, track and close accidents.

PSA tools get a lot of data from company systems, so you will discover things about your business, that you otherwise may not have known. For instance, the amount of time your customers require from your staff, weekly and how fast your technicians resolve support tickets.

Without a PSA you can use different tools to get similar features: one tool for service ticketing, another for CRM, a separate billing and invoicing systems and another for e-mail customer communication. The worst thing here being, that those tools are not integrated with each other, therefore you cannot manage all of these aspects from a single place.

Implementation of a PSA tool is a good idea if most of these situations are familiar to you:

  • Cash-flow problems because of complex and irregular invoicing.
  • Problems with recurring revenue (e.g. service plan is not billed properly because of lack of update on new services added).
  • Experiencing emergency situations due to missed in-time alerts.
  • A lot of repetitive small tasks with accounts or resources (security updates checking, basic configuration, etc).

When choosing the right solution for your business, take a look at solutions which do not require long and complex installation procedures, this can save you on technician training and get minimally viable solutions, faster.

When You Should Look at RMM

RMM tools typically refer to the technical side of client support. It enables you monitoring and remote management capabilities, such as:

  • Collecting inventory and health data from infrastructure servers and client systems.
  • Getting performance data and log entries from your resources, including application installation, configuration and patching areas.
  • Executing management tasks, such as configuration changes, updates implementation, and running scripts.
  • Establishing remote support (remote screen) sessions, allowing to solve customer issues faster.

As an additional benefit, most RMM systems have centralized dashboards with a resources map and its status.

It is better to think of RMM tools as a business enhancement. It means that you should first streamline basic business processing and interactions with a client, using PSA software. Once top-level issues are solved, it is time to go deeper and improve internal technical processes with RMM, allowing MSPs to keep labor costs down. This solution is handy in situations, wherein:

  • You have hybrid infrastructure, including cloud systems, virtualized and on-premises servers. Using RMM you can get all of these systems’ data in one place.
  • Your technicians have a lot of small routine tasks of data collecting, configuration or patching areas.
  • You need to cut operational costs by integrating existing PSA tools with all of your hybrid infrastructures. You will most likely need a ‘medium’ here, such as an RMM solution.

By connecting RMM tools with a client’s server you can get notified of crucial system statuses (low disk space, mail system can’t send external emails, etc.) and proactively make changes before your client even notices that something has gone wrong.

Using RMM tools you can highlight maintenance work that is needed to minimise potential downtime. Customers will see value in mitigating risks to their most critical business systems, and be prepared to pay for this value.

But this tool is not a ‘silver bullet’, so it is important to have enough technicians with strong skills, available to implement RMM successfully. Please also note, that RMM systems can render you with less profit if you run a homogeneous infrastructure since many virtualized and cloud solutions have built-in implementations of remote monitoring and management features. In such cases, it would be better to first, evaluate one’s existing features.

Both are Better

Since the strongest point of any PSA or RMM tool is its ability to integrate with each other, you will probably want to implement both solutions. A combined solution will give you centralized information about your clients, products delivered, and with all related functionality and health statuses. Thus, you will not have to move between screens to get information.

Furthermore, you have additional tracking information functionalities: whenever there’s a change in a system’s status or support ticket information, RMM and PSA will automatically update the relevant data.

If you are only at the beginning of your business optimisation journey, then initially look at PSA functionality, since it allows you to keep business SLAs and have satisfied users. After that, try to improve internal IT processes with an RMM system.