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MSPs: You can’t manage what you can’t see

By Contributor
Mon 18 Jul 2022

Article by ConnectWise chief technology officer Steve Cochran.

IT asset discovery and management remains a critical foundational function for any managed service provider (MSP). When MSPs lack effective IT asset management tools and processes, they risk losing visibility and governance control over their client's IT environment. MSPs must understand the limitations of their current processes before improving security posture. The bottom line: you can't manage what you can't see. However, that's not the only challenge.

If MSPs want to optimise costs, service, performance and sustainability for their clients - and do it in a truly coordinated way - then IT asset discovery and management is absolutely critical.

Understanding IT asset discovery is rewarding

IT asset discovery is the process of determining the full scope of all devices connected to a client's network, from laptops and mobile devices to printers, servers and more.

When assets are left on the network without being accounted for, substantial operational and security problems can arise. Unmanaged and unpatched laptops, for example, can lead to gaps in patch management that open the door for hackers to infiltrate the network and allow malware such as ransomware to self-install.

Because MSPs can only manage assets they are aware of, proper asset discovery is critical for every client engagement. When asset discovery is complete, attention can be turned to IT asset management, which should include the full menu of MSP services needed to manage those assets throughout their lifecycle.

IT asset discovery and IT asset management are symbiotic, and together, they form a core pillar of any successful MSP-client relationship. They're also an ongoing endeavour, and MSPs need to view them as a continuous process in order to keep up with all of the new technologies that customers are constantly adding to their solution toolbox. Unfortunately, they also involve a lot of tedious, costly tasks that can take up a lot of technician hours.

Below are two ways MSPs can significantly reduce the burden on technicians while ensuring adequate protection and management across devices.

1. Automate Network Scans and Agents

MSPs should initiate regular network scans via a remote monitoring and management (RMM) solution that enables them to rapidly locate new assets, determine their location, and then begin the tracking and managing process.

Not only this, automation helps with enabling simple, repeatable processes to find, account for, and reconcile every device in need of monitoring. Installing agents on new devices eliminates any need for technicians to constantly undertake configuration tasks while making it easy to stay aware of every device that needs to be monitored and managed.
With agents on every asset, MSPs will be able to automate routine maintenance tasks like patching and recoup time and resources when undertaking these essential tasks on behalf of clients.

2. Create a Centralised View

A single, centralised view of the IT estate makes it possible for MSPs to deliver improved service and better security. Connecting multiple IT management functions into a single dashboard view allows MSPs to see the big picture and open a clear view to see when assets are having ongoing performance issues and potential assets that pose a security threat.

This allows for more informed discussions with clients, so MSPs can explain which devices need to be upgraded or replaced and why. This should be a win-win situation for everyone because clients' IT systems perform better when they replace outdated assets with higher-quality modern technology. MSPs will have less of an uphill struggle in terms of service delivery costs as a result of the improved overall performance of the IT estate.

Keep clients Secure

Unknown, unpatched, and unprotected IT assets pose a cybersecurity risk, and MSPs are well aware that many of their clients lack comprehensive endpoint or network security.

Knowing their assets also allows MSPs to make technology stack suggestions. Not supporting every device type or technology is one of the primary drivers of operational maturity. The more you can narrow that group, the more you can spend with the vendor and/or invest in your colleagues' certifications and education, resulting in higher long-term satisfaction and retention.

Ultimately, automating IT asset discovery and management will result in a better service for clients. By turning IT asset discovery and management into a powerhouse for future success, MSPs can free up the bandwidth and resources they will need to pursue new fast-growing commercial opportunities like the demand for cybersecurity services.

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