Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Five Best Decisions I've Made In My Business: #5

I've been pondering some of the decisions I've made over the years and considering whether I'd make those same decisions again. Some decisions are very high on the list.

Indisputably, these are decisions I would not change if I revisited them.

Now, I could list ten great decisions, 15 great decisions, or maybe even 25. I did list more. But there really is a clear top five. So I'll look at each of those.

What makes a "top five" decision? First, it has an impact on many areas of my business/success. It's not like picking the right paint color. But it's a broad-reaching decision that affects the business for years!

Second, the decision has a clear positive impact on profit. Not necessarily revenue, but profit. That profit might come from additional sales, efficiencies in the system, new opportunities, increased knowledge, or any number of things.

Third, the decision resulted in dramatic changes to the way I run my business. This is related to the first item above, but is more specific. The decision resulted in changes to my business that I would also not want to reverse. And when I consider whether I wish to continue down a certain path, I need to keep in mind what got me here.

Note that these are decisions only. At some point I will do the same for actions, processes, and procedures that I've adopted. For now, these are just major positive business decisions.

I'll start the countdown with #5 and proceed from there to #1. Note, however, that the exact order is not very exact at all. In fact, it is subject to change as the months and years roll on. But today this is the order.

#5 Best Decision I've Made In My Business: Adopting Kaseya and Zenith Infotech

I guess it was five or six years ago that I signed up for Kaseya. I had looked at a few alternatives. But at the time, Kaseya was the most robust. In addition to patch management, it had amazing scripting. Prior to this point, I had done a "roll your own" RMM (remote monitoring and management) offering with the tools built into Small Business Server and the Windows desktop O.S.

RMM changed my business forever because it allowed me to manage a huge number of machines at the same time. It allowed me to expand my offering to more clients with only a relatively small increase in marginal cost per client. In other words, it allowed me to take on more clients without dramatic increases in staff.

After awhile I added Zenith to the mix because they had a support component that Kaseya lacked. Now, if something went wrong with a server I could just assign the job to Zenith and not worry about it. I used both Kaseya and Zenith on all servers for more than a year before I decided to make the switch to 100% Zenith Infotech.

It was critical to me that I know that all "issues" were caught by the RMM tool. So I didn't make the switch until I had verified that Zenith caught every single issue that Kaseya caught for a full year. Once I had that confidence, I was willing to drop Kaseya and go 100% with Zenith. But I hope you read between the lines and see how completely I was relying on Kaseya at this point. I was very reluctant to make the change because Kaseya had worked so well.

Zenith has been an excellent choice for us. For several years now we have only used Zenith on all desktops and servers. I cannot imagine being in tech support today without Zenith Infotech.

Because we have been able to turn over major issues to Zenith, they have made us more profitable by handling more and more issues remotely - and without hiring more staff. For some problems, Zenith is able to handle things so efficiently that we never take on those jobs in-house any more. For example, when there's a blue screen issue with a client's server, we assign the ticket to Zenith right away. They have teams of people who deal with blue screens all day. We get two a year. So they are clearly more experienced than we are at analyzing blue screens/memory dumps.

Three years ago I wrote about how horrible the tech support from Microsoft had become (see This Blog Post). At that time, we stopped calling Microsoft for tech support. Now we call Zenith Infotech.

How did Zenith change my business? Well, we use it every day. Every technician and every client touches it. It has to interact with our PSA system. We consider Zenith to be part of our team. Thanks to them we could take on several more clients than we have today without having to hire another technician.

- - - - -


Kaseya helped us move to the world of RMM.
(for more info, see http://www.kaseya.com/)

Zenith helped us reach "the next level" of RMM.
(for more info, see http://www.zenithinfotech.com/)

Comments welcome.



  1. 1. So, from the time you started with Kaseya, how long did it take to you configure it to catch all of the "issues"?

    2. How long did it take to configure Zenith to catch all of the "issues"?

    3. What criteria did you use when you decided to use a 3rd party (Zenith) for certain support issues?

    4. How many techs do you employ and what are their responsibilities with Zenith in the mix?

  2. Well . . .

    1. There's a learning curve with any of the RMM/patch management tools. It has been many years, but I think we got the basics of Kaseya in place within a month. Probably took us a year to dig in and make it do everything it should be doing.

    2. Zenith was about the same, although I think the basic setup and configuration was closer to a week instead of a month. Two reasons for this. First, we had done it all before with a different tool. Second, we didn't have to build a server, install SQL, configure everything, and manage the system. As a cloud-based service, Zenith's initial setup is super fast.

    As I mentioned, we ran them both for more than a year before we made the switch. At that point, the server hardware was three years old and we were looking at building another server for Kaseya, plus all the maintenance licenses. The total outlay was a big bump in the road.

    3. We were quite resistant to letting a third party take over some of the actual maintenance. We tip-toed into this for a few months. But we had great support. I've blogged before about our experiences here. See http://blog.smallbizthoughts.com/search/label/Zenith%20Infotech

    4. As for techs, we have varied between three and five over the last few years. The mix of duties with Zenith is a separate blog post. But, basically, Zenith handles most of the maintenance and we have very little to do.

    Note on using tools: My friend and business coach Josh Peterson from Taylor Business Groups was just telling me the other day that the manage service tools (including Kaseya and Zenith) are VERY under-utilized by technical consultants. It's like Microsoft Word. We each use about 10% of what they're really capable of doing. Imagine how much we could do if we slowed down and learned more about the capabilities of the toolset!

  3. Interesting stuff Karl, I look forward to numbers 4 to 1.

    We've enjoyed working with Zenith much more than Kaseya, having knowledgable techs at the end of a chat session 24/7 is a real asset. Still looking forward to your blog post / webinar on getting the best utilisation out of Zenith ;-)

    That 10% stat is so true. The scripting side of Zenith has a lot to offer, but I'm finding it a steeper learning curve than Kaseya was. We have just managed to get the agents working for our new customer audits though.


  4. I totally agree with Karl's opinion about Zeinth. It is an amazing tool that will make your lives more easy and your business more profitable. I would recommend that you get one person in your company to learn it from A-Z. I mean have this person dig so deep that they are telling Zeinth how things work. If you do this you could probably, I say probably because I don't have any data yet to support this, decrease your work load by around 65%, allowing your time to be spent focusing on the more profitable, BILLABALE TIME.

    Think about that for just a second 65% of a normal work day is 5.8 hours. If you could fill only 2 hours of that time, with billable time and you charge a rate at (low ball) $100 an hour. You will make $200 a day, $1000 a week, and $52,000 extra a year (per technician). This would leave you 988 hours a year to; focus on other aspects of your business, spend time with your family, or generally enjoy life more. I don’t know about you but that’s worth WAY more than what it costs to have Zeinth.

  5. Karl,

    Some great thoughts and I believe you are right in saying that no matter which tool you decide to go with reference RMM it will always be a learning curve, especially as tools become more intuitive and broad.

    I'm not sure if you have seen the community site http://www.MSPcomparison.com the members could really benefit from your insight and choices if you are willing to share.


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