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Break Fix to MSP 3 - MSP Tools

Rising Star III
Rising Star III

3. Let’s Talk About Tools

Welcome back to this short series about transitioning your business from a break-fix company to becoming an MSP. 

Today I wanted to discuss the main two tools MSPs use and a little reasoning behind them. It may seem a little like putting the horse before the cart but it will all, hopefully, make sense.

Professional Services Automation (PSA)

In the world of MSPs, time really is money. Because of the fixed fee nature of the agreements it’s vital that the MSP understands how much time is being spent on each client. This is where the PSA solution comes in and can help out. 

Obviously functionality varies by PSA but the most common features are:


The bread and butter of a PSA is ticketing, this is where all of the work the Service Desk carries out is recorded. Tickets can come from a variety of different sources such as:

  • Manually entered
  • Client entered via ticketing portal
  • Automatically created via RMM (see below)
  • Automatically created via email
  • From within the PSA itself for automation purposes.

One of the main differences between ticketing in a PSA solution and a dedicated enterprise solution is that time is more of a concern. This is because in PSA solutions labor times can be attributed a monetary value and in turn this allows the MSP to understand the profitability of each client. We will delve into this further in a future post.

Contract Management

PSAs also handle contract management, this is again so the MSP can understand things such as profitability. As an example, an MSP may take on a 50 user engineering company and they sign a Fixed Fee contract to support their users, servers and cloud applications. Having this agreement within the PSA ensures that the engineers know what is within the agreement and perhaps more importantly, what isn’t. If a user calls in with a problem with their personal tablet, they wouldn’t generally be part of the contract so any work on this would be invoiced separately.


MSPs generally generate their client invoices through their PSA solution. There is also the need for an accountancy package also, but these don’t have to be MSP specific.Project Management

Most PSA solutions have Project Management capabilities. These are generally used for larger jobs that require multiple resources within the MSP.

Documentation Management

Knowing details about the clients sites, such as IP addresses, serial numbers etc is vital in the day to day operations of an MSP. This is why most PSA solutions have functionality for this built in.

Examples of PSA solutions include :

  • Autotask PSA 
  • ConnectWise Manage
  • Kaseya BSM
  • N-able MSP Manager 
  • Syncro (Combined PSA/RMM)
  • Atera (Combined PSA/RMM)

Remote Monitoring & Management (RMM)

After the PSA, the RMM solution is the next tool that most MSPs will use. They of course vary in functionality, but they are generally attempting to assist the MSP with several tasks.


One of the primary purposes of an RMM is monitoring, this could be as simple as monitoring if a service fails or checking that disk space isn’t too low. It could also be more involved around checking for problems within applications. These monitors can check indicators of things that may be about to cause an issue before they do, this allows the team to be proactive and resolve it before the end user is aware.


If something isn’t right it’s important that the RMM alerts the MSP about the issue. This is where the alerting comes in and it can be done in several ways. Firstly, all the RMM solutions will have some kind of dashboard where alerts will be highlighted, but this relies on someone monitoring these. They all also have the ability to create a support ticket from the alert. This means that when something goes wrong it will automatically appear in the task list for the Service Desk team.


Automation is a key part of an RMMs functionality. It varies of course depending on the platform in use, but they will all have the capability to restart services that have stopped and initiate routines to clean up temporary files etc when the disk is getting full.

Patch Management

This is a very time consuming task for MSPs and one that most RMMs can automate. This ensures that client machines are using the latest software and in turn this should reduce the amount of support tickets being generated.

Remote Assist

If something does go wrong, then it’s common for the MSP to need to connect remotely to the clients PC or server. Most have built in remote assist capabilities to help with this, and there are several third party solutions also. 

Examples of PSA solutions include :

  • Datto RMM
  • ConnectWise Automate
  • N-able N-central
  • N-able RMM
  • Kaseya VSA
  • Syncro (Combined PSA/RMM)

So, with a PSA and RMM solution in place the MSP has the foundations to become successful. There are obviously a lot more tools that are used within the MSP and also the client, but we will come to those in another update. There is no right or wrong PSA/RMM combination, speak to successful MSPs and see what works for them, trial several solutions and see what works best for you in your new MSP.

Next time we will tackle that age old dilemma - how to price your services. 

Until then, have a great week.