The 11 Best Hacks the Best IT/MSP Shops are Doing to be More Effective

Business can be complicated. And Stressful. And rewarding.

It’s why so many IT/MSP providers work in the field they do. As one technician placed it, “I am being PAID to go PLAY with electronic Legos, what's not to like?”

At the same time, within IT Support and MSP there is a unique problem that has arrived. IT Support shops, most notably, break-and-fix shops, have too much business. With young adults flocking into more flashy industries, there is a limited supply for the guys who keep these machines running.

Demand is high, supply is low. IT Support Shops face the difficulty of dealing with spotty clients who seek the one and done solution then move on.

That’s not a consistent business model.

That is stressful and makes future income and stability uncertain.

IT guys are just trying to play with their electronic legos in peace.

The desire for locking down contracts as an MSP Provider and working through a RMM system is quite high, to say the least. At SherpaDesk, we don’t have all of the answers for that specific transition just yet, we hope to be a resource for that one day, but we did want to help out where we could.

IT Shops and MSP providers are weighed down by inconsistency in business and mundane tasks. Dealing with the little crappy random tasks that just rule the day. We wanted to pool together hacks to see what we could do, to make business more simple and grant IT techs more time for relationships and loving what they do.

We reached out to our favorite community over at Spiceworks.

We ran a contest for some VISA Gift Cards. Lame prize I know, we will get more creative, give us time. For the contest, we asked Spiceheads to fill us in on their top business hacks to make their jobs more effective, efficient and less stressful.


Over 50 replies later, this is what we have got.

The Top 11 Hacks for a More Effective IT Technician


ONE: Labels

  • “Labels. Lots and lots of labels … When I come stumbling in at 2AM because something's not working, I'd better not have to guess what server, switch, or workstation I'm looking at...”  - Robert5205
  • “Put a label on printers; IP address, or AD name. It makes it easier for people to connect to the right one, especially if they are mobile workers.” - Bottman
  • Labels was a hot topic as you can see. Thanks, fellas. I think this just about covers it. Labels. You heard it here.


TWO: Air Gap your backups

  • “Air gap your backups. “ - Denis Kelley

  • Thanks, Denis. I honestly don’t know what this is, but it had a ton of upvotes on Spiceworks. So it is either a funny joke or a masterful hack, either way, I think we can all appreciate it. Go Denis.

THREE: Stick to the policy

  • “If there's a policy, stick to it. The moment you go off-policy, those exceptions will be come the expectation.” - Steve9603
  • Thanks, Steve, you rule follower, you. We at SherpaDesk 100% agree. There is a famous quote out there, you give them an inch, they take a foot. By sticking to policy, you don’t have to be a mean grinch telling people no sometimes, if you say it every time, you can at least cheekily say.. “Sorry! It’s policy!” … and who doesn’t want to say things cheekily?

FOUR: Invest into strange tools

  • Swiss Army Knife

    • “ALWAYS carry a utility knife or a multi-tool on you when possible. Even if you're not doing hardware work, you would be surprised how often a blade/screwdriver is useful.” - MrBadguy

  • A hangar

    • “Always, always keep a wire clothes hanger with you. It's as essential a tool as any other that you keep in your office or trunk ... With a little twisting and bending, that hanger can take any form that you want.” - xplummerx

  • A stool

    • “Stools are the future, I know because of my back” - JKool

  • Whiteboard walls

    • “We threw away our whiteboards and replace them with a white board paint on the walls. It’s really cool and made meetings more interesting” JKool

  • Tape

    • “I used duct tape to hold my laptop screen together in order to keep it alive until devices were purchased for the new year.” - surfcasting

  • Thanks for sharing, guys. And @Surfcasting, bud, I don’t know what to say, but I am glad things worked out.


FIVE: Don’t plan out your Mondays

    1. “Try to plan as little as possible on Mondays... Users tend to slack on Fridays, and this includes not reporting issues that immediately become critical Monday morning.” - MrBadguy
    2. Thanks, MrBadGuy. We thought this one was pretty wise.


SIX: Read-Only Friday.

  • It sounds stupid and seems like you would lose lots of productive time, but it truly saves a lot instead. Make NO system changes on a Friday that aren't absolutely critical. This reduces the amount of stupid mistakes that get made as people are in a rush to get out the door. Instead, spend the time documenting the system. The documentation will help more than you think.” - mattburakowski
  • Just like the one above, this was a rocking hack.

 SEVEN: Say no

  • “Easiest life hack of all...Learn to say NO.” - Derek_A
  • “We work in sprints...This methodology gives us the power to say no as we strictly follow our project guideline.  At this point, it's become so well known that we rarely ever have to say no anymore.” - Chris7262

  • Working in sprints is going to be a lot like following policy. Have your ways and stick to ‘em!

EIGHT: Go remote

  • “Work hack: try to do everything remotely so I don't get caught by an endless list of "quick questions" from nearby users. Productivity improves greatly” - Daryl3550

  • I think even rookies know going remote is where the land of stress free living resides. But we thought this was a great little hidden benefit of being remote!


NINE: Wait before responding to a call

  • “Always wait before calling users back because issues have a way of fixing themselves a lot of times.” - CspizzS

    • Have you tried turning it on or off?

    • Thanks for sharing, CspizzS (what on earth is this username). I loved this hack. It’s super easy and simple, but can save so much time fixing little, mundane and straightforward items. Considering there is an entire Subreddit for IT horror stories, this could help diminish the frequency of those… even though they are great lunchtime reading materials.


TEN: Document all of the things

  • “Document everything. Even when I am told that it will probably never come up again so I am wasting my time.” - Loren2391

    • Our buddy Loren didn’t elaborate more than that, but I can stand by this, tracking and documentation important. That’s like giving someone life advice to “be happy,” though. Let’s see others’ thoughts on the subject.

  • “Use Greenshot for screenshots - always communicate in email with SS of errors or configs, trust me.  You'll go back one day to reference it.  I just did from 7-months ago.  saved my bacon.” - Mitch9637

    • Go Mitch. My hero. Let’s close it out.

  • “Document everything via email/ticket and force end users to do it (ie the no ticket no laundry approach) … without proof, you get the grief of the manager or director who calls you out on why something was done.” - troberts2

    • Boom.


ELEVEN: Make other people do the hard stuff

  • “My co-worker thinks I speak highly of him because I respect him. Totally wrong. I tell everyone how amazing he is, so they call and ask for him specifically, and plus he's more apt to do things I don't want to in order to live up to all the hype.” - 626c61636b7279616e393939

  • “ Send all outside calls to the help desk (wink)” - JKool

    • How to make other people do your job 101.

That just about does it folks.

The first of many killer collaborations from your friends at SherpaDesk and the IT masterminds of the Spiceworks forums.

If you found this article in effective in making your job easier or your day brighter. Good. That’s what I was hired for. To educate and entertain. I am working on being more funny, though, so stay tuned.

P.S. if you read this and want to share a sweet hack that won’t get you fired or put in jail, let us know. We will be happy to add it and give you all of the internet karma.

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Andrew Frawley
By Andrew Frawley

Writing stuff that helps people grow their business