In this guide you’ll discover the other meaning of DOA and why as the owner of an MSP you really need to implement it to grow your business
Part three: Q1 What more can you delegate?
Part four: Q2 What can you outsource?
Part five: Q3 How many tasks do you do that are repeated?
Part one: What is DOA?
No, not “dead on arrival”. In this case, DOA stands for something entirely different.
DOA = Delegate, Outsource, Automate.
DOA is the only way to run an MSP these days. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a one-man band or have 100 staff, the advice is the same: DOA
I meet MSP owners every week who are still trying to do everything in their business.
Even when they have a team working for them, they still get involved with everything they did before they had that team. They can’t seem to let go.
But the thing is, this way of working is leading to their hassle bucket to overflow.
Part two: The hassle bucket
Hassle bucket…what’s that?
We all have a hassle bucket inside our heads…
Every one of us.
Some of us have very deep buckets – these people can take lots of stress before their bucket spills over.
Some of us have shallow buckets and it doesn’t take much stress before we overflow.
But when it does overflow, you suddenly become unable to deal with it all.
As business owners, we have deep hassle buckets. We take an enormous amount of hassle at any one time. It’s the early years of business that teach us that. But though deep, our buckets are also always at least 80% full. And that’s why DOA is so important.
I mean, just think about all the responsibilities you take on as a business owner: cash flow, staff, finding new business, keeping existing clients happy…
And then there are the personal things: paying bills, seeing partners, keeping children happy and cared for, seeing friends, social occasions, looking after pets…
These lists could go on and on and on.
So, how full would you say your hassle bucket is right at this very moment?
I’m going to be bold and assume the percentage is pretty high if you’re anything like the other MSP owners I both speak to and work with. But the good news is, it’s not that difficult to remove some of that hassle.
I’ll give you the same advice I give to those other MSP owners, which is to ask yourself three questions…
Q1: What more can you delegate?
That’s to say, what in your day are you still doing that a member of your team could be doing instead?
It’s not always easy to think off the top of your head what you do each day. What I recommend is tracking your time. There’s a great app called Toggl that you can use to help you do this. Try it for a week or so and you should build up a good picture of what you actually do each day/week.
Perhaps you’ll find you’re spending too much time on the technical work. Maybe you still do all the invoicing. Maybe you’re using a lot of your time calling prospective clients.
There will usually be someone else in your business who’d love to take on extra tasks. This could be a future manager, for example, who’d enjoy doing some of their future tasks today. Don’t be surprised, but they might actually even get excited about it!
But here’s a very important point before you take any action: delegate the task, not the responsibility. Make sure you follow up with them to make sure the task is being done.
You can use task management software to keep track of due dates and progress, but I always think regular meetings (daily, weekly, monthly) can be a very effective way of tracking progression and adding some accountability into the mix.
Ideally, you should develop a reputation for being ruthless when it comes to chasing deadlines. A few months of doing this will make the message stick and ensure you never have tasks that get missed or put to one side.
When it comes to delegating tasks, you should remember this: You should only do what only you can do.
What is it that only you can do in your business?
Probably the high level technical work? If so, you need to be working towards never answering the phone again (and no, that’s not an excuse to ignore calls from your mum, I mean support calls!). You should also avoid dealing with low level support tickets too. There are so many more important things you could and should be doing.
Q2: What can you outsource?
Outsourcing is a good option for when the tasks you want to delegate fall outside of the realm of what others in your business have the time or skillset to do.
There are two really great sites you can use to find freelancers to outsource jobs to, if you don’t already know anyone to fit the bill. Fiverr.com is good for quick jobs, and peopleperhour.com for the more serious stuff.
Obviously, you’ll have additional expense when you outsource some of your tasks, but it’s a false economy not to hire someone who’s an expert and can do the job in half the time, right?
At this point I really must add that if it’s marketing help you need, my MSP Marketing Edge is extremely popular and also extremely good value for money, even if I do say so myself (clients will back me up on this fact too!)!
A lot of the jobs you need doing can be easily outsourced. Consider finding a Virtual Assistant for your admin and just getting things done. Then there are people on fiverr and People Per Hour that can handle marketing, writing, videos, design, data scraping… the list goes on. Basically, whatever it is you find yourself needing, there will be someone out there willing to do it for you. Probably faster and better than you can do it yourself, too.
Of course, it can be a little hit and miss finding a good fit on occasion. One trick I like to use is to give the exact same job to three different people.
Not only does this allow me to see how the quality varies between the work delivered, but it also allows me to compare output, ease of working with each person, and how good (or bad) the communication is as well.
The key to successful outsourcing is to be as specific as you can be.
In order to do that I use three methods…
These are great when you want your outsourced help to make decisions for you. And when you want things done in a very specific way,]
Let’s take my VA for example. She’s very intelligent and capable. But I want her to first understand how I think before she makes any decisions.
Now, we get a huge number of people requesting physical copies of my free book, ‘Updating servers doesn’t grow your business’. But that means a lot of people who are outside of the UK or people who don’t actually own or run an MSP (tsk tsk).
My VA now has to manually check each request before a book is sent, to avoid the wastage that automation would create. To help her decide who can have a copy she has this flow chart:
It makes life simple for her. In fact, once she’s used it a few times she won’t even need to refer back to it unless she’s taken time off.
Don’t we often find it’s lower level minor stuff our teams get wrong, too? And how often have you noticed human error after a holiday or break? How often have you had to fix a new server because someone somewhere forgot to tick a box in a setting?
Create a system for every job and document it. It’s great advice for all of the jobs in your business, whether you’re relying on employees or freelancers to get it done.
Whenever you have a repeatable job, create a checklist for it.
The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande is a great book to help you see how a simple checklist can revolutionise the way you do things.
It explains how it’s always the small things that get forgotten. Atul Gawande says surgeons can perform hours of complicated surgery without checklists or training manuals and make it perfect every time. But things like patient aftercare and making sure people receive their life-saving drugs 20 minute post-op often get forgotten.
By putting together checklists and standard operation procedures for everything, you can negate a lot of this.
Systems like IT Glue and IT Boost are excellent for helping with this.
The challenge isn’t creating the checklists themselves, but getting your people engaged with them. If they’re not engaged, it simply won’t work.
Fortunately, when you’re outsourcing this isn’t something you need to worry about so much. If your freelancers aren’t engaged, they don’t do the work, and you don’t pay them. Move on to the next one.
If I need to brief someone, 9 times out of 10 I’ll create a video brief.
It’s the most effective way to show someone:
- What I want them to do, and
- Exactly how I want them to do it
Yes, I’m a control freak, but show me a business owner who isn’t. I’ll wait…
The other thing about video briefs is they’re time saving, which is really all part of the goal isn’t it? Compare creating a quick video guide to writing a long-winded brief which then means you have 20 questions come back to you about it. It’s no contest.
The point of DOA is giving this kind of stuff to other people to do the work, so that you don’t have to. Right? So for this to work you need to be 100% focused on what you want.
Before I film a brief I always sit and try to figure out the job beforehand.
You should put your face on screen too. I know it’s only for one or two people to see, but if they see your face, they’re more likely to connect with you and do a good job.
What we achieve with these three things is a very high level of specific instruction for your outsourced help. But you can do this for your employees as well. It all helps to achieve a consistent and high level of quality and engagement.
Business owners are often guilty of not telling people exactly what we want, and then getting annoyed because they haven’t done things the way we want them to. It’s mad!
Making a very clear brief not only makes life easier and less stressful for you, but it makes things easier for your staff too.
Q3: How many tasks do you do that are repeated?
How many tasks are you doing each day/week/month that are repeated?
Probably quite a few, right?
So the question is, why don’t you automate them?
We’re living in a time where software can do so many things for us. Especially with SaaS. The tools are amazing.
You’re probably already using Autotask or some other software to handle ticketing and projects. What automated function does it have? Maybe it could automatically follow up you clients to ask them the Net Promoter Score questions?
Could it assemble KPIs for you? That could save a lot of time. And that’s the key here remember, saving time.
So now think about other tasks in your business. What else could be automated?
You likely already have access to some awesome tools via Microsoft 365. Use them! PowerApps is particularly good for a business like yours.
You can also look at APIs that can help your apps talk to each other and cut out the middleman (that’s you!) for lots of tasks.
And when you really get automation down for the tasks in your business that are taking up a lot of your time, you start to see the power of automation for other functions of your business too, like your marketing campaigns.
It can be very powerful when used in the right way.
As you can see, DOA has the potential to create a very positive impact on not only your business, but on you, too.
It allows you to achieve a whole lot more for your business, while having a lot less stress. It stops you from getting home exhausted each evening. That’s not fun for you and it’s not fair on your family.
DOA allows you to remove the hassle and free up your time – not for more hassle, but for looking at the bigger picture.
Imagine spending an hour or two every day working ON your business. Imagine taking a real lunchbreak. Imagine – GASP – taking an afternoon to go to the cinema or play golf or go shopping.
Doing things like this every so often isn’t slacking off. It’s actually good for business, believe it or not. It helps you to refocus your mind and take it away from the everyday hassles that are constantly whirring around in your head.
As a business owner that’s exactly what you need to be doing.