Why & How to Measure Your MSP Business

When we first started running our MSP business, we weren’t very focused on key performance indicators and measuring the business. We set up shop, went to work finding clients, provided them with technology services and just kept moving forward.

If we had a hiccup here or there, we worked through it. We measured our success by how many clients we had and how much revenue we collected each month. It was a pretty simple approach; that is until our client-base tripled in size and we had to add more techs, set-up different rates, invest in more tools and pay extra attention to managing cash flow.

Suddenly we found ourselves spending hours looking at spreadsheets to try and figure out if our business was thriving or just surviving. We realized pretty quickly that our business needed to be closely and carefully managed to ensure its success. The problem was, none of us were great at that, nor did we enjoy it.

We read books, watched videos and even reached out to other business owners hoping to find some simple approach to monitoring and measuring our business. A lot of what we read and heard seemed a bit complex for our MSP model and some of the technology that was suggested to help us was going to give us more work.

Deciding what we wanted to measure is what finally got us over the hump.

We identified what we felt were the four things that would tell us how we were doing. Our list included the following:

  • Service Desk Performance
  • Tech Performance
  • Client Revenue Growth
  • New Business

Once we had the list, we spent time deciding how we could measure it in a meaningful and simple way. Remember, we are not fans of spreadsheets and piles of numbers. It took a little tweaking, but within about three months we were able to measure month-over-month performance in each of our selected categories and get some visibility into the business.

If you’re not monitoring, measuring and reviewing the key aspects of your business, you’re missing the opportunity to make improvements in customer retention, growth, and profitability.

Not sure how to get started? Check out our infographic, “How to Measure Your MSP Business.” In it we share the areas we keep a close eye on and tell you how we measure it. It might not be perfect for your business, but it’s a great jumping off point.

How to Measure Your MSP Business_SherpaDesk

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Building the Perfect Invoicing Process

When we first started out, we were just some recent college grads who needed to go to work. The idea of creating a company to help folks with IT issues seemed a no-brainer. After all, we had been “dabbling” in that a bit while were in school to ensure we had beer money.

However, “dabbling” is very different from building a business, especially a profitable one. We understood how to make technology work for our clients, but we were pretty fuzzy on the core tasks of running a business day-to-day.

The greatest hurdles we faced were tracking time, invoicing customers and most importantly, getting paid. At the end of every month, we would pour over spreadsheets to figure out what to invoice and what to pay our technicians. Even after we got the invoices out, we often still had to battle to get our money because of miscommunication with the clients.

It became a huge pain point for us.

After a while, we realized that the only way we were going to relieve the pain of it all was to build an invoicing process and an engine to power it. The engine, of course, became SherpaDesk, and the process was developed around some time-proven ideas and solid advice we received from more “seasoned” business owners.

Honestly, it was the process of writing down what we needed to consider and then documenting the steps we would take to do a better job tracking billable and non-billable hours, and setting expectations and improving communication with our clients. We tried not to overcomplicate it and just focused on making it easy for the companies and us.

The infographic below highlights what is important to consider in building the perfect invoicing process. We believe by sharing these ideas in an infographic and providing free access to SherpaDesk we can make the job of running a business a little easier for you.

Let us know how it all comes together for you.


Building the Perfect Invoicing Process_SherpaDesk

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Customer Spotlight: Matt Cabanas – A Team of One

Matt Cabanas - SherpaDesk CustomerMatt Cabanas
IT Manager
The Link Companies
Atlanta, GA

Favorite Movie: Tommy Boy
Favorite Music: Classic rock, techno, video game tracks

There’s a continuous hum from the three servers lining the shelf in Matt Cabanas’ office. The background noise is comforting for him as he checks the images streaming across the two monitors on his desk.

As a team of one, Matt supports 25 in-house users and 80 remote users as the IT Manager for The Link Companies based in Atlanta. His employer is a trusted conduit between manufacturers and retailers.  Matt’s job is to make sure that the corporate staff, territory managers, websites, marketplaces and showrooms have the technology needed to keep customers happy and the business profitable.

“I do everything from help desk to networking to servers to printers to infrastructure and wireless. There’s never really a typical day for me,” he says. “It’s always more like what am I going to run into today and what plans and tasks do I have.”

Growing up as the son of career-military parents, Matt was exposed to various cultures and a variety of career choices. “I didn’t plan on working in IT,” he notes. “My background is actually in the service industry. I don’t have any formal training as far as IT goes. For me, it has definitely been learn as you go.”

He has been working in IT for three years now, starting out as an IT contractor to a variety of companies before becoming an IT Manager. He enjoys the fast-paced environment and the opportunity to problem solve, “I’ve always been a tinkerer, so it’s never a problem to learn something and figure it out.”

When he can’t, he gets a little support from his peers in the Spiceworks community. As a Spicehead, Matt says he turns to the community for answers when he can’t figure something out on his own. “Even if it’s the first time you’ve seen the issue, I guarantee someone else has already seen it and dealt with it.”

Matt Cabanas Talks About SherpaDesk  

     Want to hear directly from Matt about his work and thoughts on SherpaDesk?

     Check out this two-minute video.



In addition to being a problem solver, Matt’s experience in the service industry also helps him be a better IT professional. “A lot of tech guys don’t know how to deal with people. But that’s a big part of what you have to do, dealing with end users and helping them solve issues in a nice way.”

Like most IT professionals, Matt says having the right set of tools – SherpaDesk being one of them – is key to his success at The Link Companies.

“SherpaDesk is great. I’ve tried many different ticketing solutions and SherpaDesk works best for me.”

Matt used SherpaDesk at his previous IT company where they serviced a variety of clients. “I knew it was very easy to set up, very easy to use. I can have a new instance up and running in 10 minutes.” He says the solution’s flexibility is another reason for choosing it in his new role. “You have the flexibility of using all of its functionality or just parts based upon your needs.”

Matt also makes use of SherpaDesk’s reporting functionality. It helps him identify opportunities to provide specific users with additional training, as well as accounting for his time with his boss. “The reports paint a picture of what I do with my day and what issues or users claim the biggest chunk of time.”

Although he is “the IT guy” 24 hours a day, seven days a week, he says he still finds time to escape. “When I’m not working on computers, I try to stay away from them. I like the outdoors so I might go hiking, go to a music festival or just hang out with my puppy. I try to stay pretty active.”

We’re thankful to count Matt as a customer and glad that SherpaDesk is helping guys like Matt get the job done.

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6 Ways to Build a Winning Help Desk

Customer needs are always changing, especially when it comes to keeping up with managing and servicing their technology. But one thing that remains consistent is the level of service customers expect (and often demand) when they connect with your help desk. Your help desk is the face and voice of your business for customers in distress. It is the first and often the only opportunity you and your team have to interact with customers.

Let’s face it, when it comes right down to it, customers don’t necessarily care how much you do for them. It is their perception of what you are doing for them and how quickly. That’s why maintaining a superior help desk is central to the success of your IT business. If your help desk is consistently providing quality service, your relationship with your customers and your retention of those customers will easily become the most important driver of business growth.

So as a partner in your growth and success, we’ve pulled together six tips that have allowed us to create a winning help desk for our SherpaDesk clients to share with you. Check it out and feel free to share some of the things you’re doing that keep your customers happy.

6 Ways to Build a Winning Help Desk_SherpaDesk


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We’ve Updated Our Knowledgebase Portal

If you use our knowledgebase (if you’re not, you should), you’ll notice some big changes we made recently.

Hey! Why did you do that?

Well one word really summarizes the change – responsiveness.  Our old portal design was a fixed width that did not allow for multiple device uses. We also freshened up some of the design elements.  You’ll notice updates to icons, the search bar and the right side bar.  We’ve made tweaks to the articles too.  All this is all an effort to help you connect with your customers where they are, whether that’s on a desktop, a tablet, or mobile device.

Bootstrap… huh?

In an effort to make as easy as possible to customize your header and footers, we’ve based this update on the popular bootstrap v3 front end framework. This well document framework makes it really easy to create responsive headers and footers.  We used their CSS grid system as well as several of the other elements. Check out http://getbootstrap.com/ to find out more.

Coming Soon… Even more!

Here’s a peak at one of the big things we’re working on:



The New Default Portal look



Great Example from Hotspot International



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SherpaDesk Chrome Extension Gets a New Look

We updated our Chrome Extension this week to reflect our mobile application.  If your not familiar with this tool open this link in Chrome and check it out.

New Chrome Extension, Same Code Base

This is the coolest part about the release.  One of the things I touched on when we released the mobile app is that it was built in HTML5 and javascript.  This means as a tool set, it’s pretty portable.  I was able to deploy this update to the extension with only a couple of minor file tweaks, but essentially the same code.  And it took only a few minuets to push to the store.

All the same tools as the mobile app

That means you get all the same tools in the chrome extension as you have in the mobile app.  It also means that as we update the mobile app, you should see updates come to this extension too.

It’s just one more way to make incorporating SherpaDesk into your everyday workflow.

Be sure to tell us what you think in the comments below.


SherpaDesk Chrome Extension 1

SherpaDesk Chrome Extension

SherpaDesk Chrome Extension 3

SherpaDesk Chrome Extension 4



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SherpaDesk Mobile Help Desk Tote is Here!

The Mobile Help Desk Tote

Well, it was bound to happen sometime.  The world has gone mobile and we have followed suit.  This is the v1 edition of our mobile help desk app and I have to say, as a completely unbiased key member of the development team, I’m really happy with how this worked out (I’ll try not to break my arm as I pat myself on the back).  That being said let’s dig into it a little shall we.

HTML5 is all the rage. It’s what all the cool kids are doing.

At the very beginning of the process, we had to decide whether or not to develop an app based around a device (native), or to think broader and include the other 60% of the country that wasn’t on an iPhone.  It was a short lived discussion.  Barring the fact we couldn’t afford to hire an army of new developers specifically for this task, and knowing the long lead times for developing native apps, the decision was pretty simple.  However, simply building an HTML5 app comes with its own set of challenges, chief among them was getting info in and out.

API? Why bring monkeys into this?

As we we’re in the initial phases of rough mockups for the app and workflow, our engineers were hard at work creating an API that everyone could use.  This meant that it had to be useful beyond just the capabilities of our mobile app.  It had to perform fast, easy to understand and be well documented (that last one is still in the works).

Enough of that, tell me how it works.

I’m glad you asked, let’s dig in.

#1 – Point your browser to http://m.sherpadesk.com. “But Ben” you say, “Why don’t I have to  download this to my phone through iTunes or through Google Play store or whatever other store there is?”.  Great question. Well, you see, that’s the great part of it being an HTML5 solution.  No matter what type of device you have, you can access the same app from anywhere.

#2 – Bookmark the site to your home screen.  This will help you find it again later on.

SherpaDesk Mobile Help DeskWhen you open that app and login, you’ll be taken to the ticket work list as shown here. From here you can browse your open tickets as a user, as a tech or as an alt tech. The search feature allows you to SherpaDesk Mobile Help DeskFilter down your list From here you can add comments and time to each individual ticket, or directly into the ticket overview.




To get to a ticket detail, tap on the body of the ticket in the list. There you will see the  full ticket conversation. From here you will be able to add time, contribute to the conversation, pick up a ticket (if its not yours), transfer to another tech or queue, or close a ticket. Tap the info button on the top right hand side to reveal addition info regarding this ticket.

Ok, ok. What else?

Well for one, you can jump straight to a ticket from any screen. Simply tap the menu button to reveal the side menu bar and at the top and you’ll see the input field. Just tap in the field and input your ticket number and hit enter to be taken to any ticket, closed, open, or on hold.

You can also create tickets on the fly. From the ticket list, tap the “+” button on the top right hand side and voila! Enjoy that because that is as much French as I know.

There’s plenty more to come for this app. In the future look for the addition of projects, account details, plus much much more.

As it grows be sure to give us your feedback at yeti@sherpadesk.com and let us know what you like. Everything else will be reviewed and tossed :)

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New SherpaDesk Chrome Extension

Introducing our latest free product offering:

The SherpaDesk Chrome Extension.

First off, let me say that I am biased on this a bit because I’m the one that built it, but this is the coolest thing since President Bush Sr. threw up on the Emperor of Japan! (Yeah – that happened)

Let’s go over it a bit and see how this works.

How to install

  1. Make sure you have a SherpaDesk Account – as if I have to ask :)
  2. Open Chrome and navigate to the Chrome Store – or click this link: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/sherpadesk/hhfpmfhdaokfgnecalgnogganpjiehkb
  3. Install the extension from the Chrome store
  4. Go to the Options page and put in your API key -> you can learn more about your key here: https://support.sherpadesk.com/article/106jnf/what-is-my-authentication-token-api-and-where-can-i-get-it

More about what it does.

Here’s what you’ll see when you first get started.




Click the “Click Here” link to go to the options page and this is where you’ll put in your API KEY.




Now you should be able to see your tickets.  You’ll even be able to see them sort based on your role in the ticket (i.e. Technician, Alternate Tech, or User).



 You’ll be able to view comments for each ticket by clicking the comments icon on the right.



You’ll even be able to add your comments to the ticket from the drop down.


All this was made through our growing public API, more on that coming in the future.

See, I told you that it was cool.

BP out…  [mic drops, exit stage left]

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