About a year ago, one of my favorite media sites, “MSPMentor”, posted an article featuring highlights of a blog I wrote discussing why bundling PSA (professional services automation)  and RMM (remote monitoring and management) software was a good deal for the vendors, but not such a great deal for customers.

The blog was based on a conversation I’d had with an IT solution provider who had recently purchased a PSA/RMM bundle and was kind enough to share their ‘real-world’ experience.

I’m going to share that article with you now. At the end, I am going to highlight some pretty significant industry changes that have taken place over the past year, and tell you whether or not I’ve changed my opinion.

Here is the article:

Are professional services automation (PSA) and remote monitoring and management (RMM) bundles really a good deal for customers?|

Maybe not, according to a new blog post by Jim Barnet, head of sales and marketing for Toronto-based Promys Inc.

Full disclosure: Promys is a developer of standalone PSA software for domestic and international providers of IT solutions and managed services.

But in making his argument, Barnet cites the case study of Nathanial Baumsteiger, a veteran MSP and principal at NSB Consulting, who described his experience after purchasing a PSA/RMM bundle for his firm.

You can read the full blog for yourself, but following are excerpts from Baumsteiger’s account.


NB: “After implementing our RMM , we started evaluating the same vendor’s bundled PSA. The key advantage promised was seamless PSA/RMM integration. Their ‘seamless integration’ may not have any seams, but it sure does have lots of folds and wrinkles. We spent hours pouring over technical documentation, going back-and-forth with support technicians at both companies who constantly finger-pointed at each other. We still manually enter data that was promised to flow between the bundled PSA and RMM seamlessly. The data generated in the PSA from the RMM became so verbose that it was essentially useless. As a result, the PSA flooded our technicians’ e-mail inboxes with so much unnecessary chatter that we began missing actual client service requests. It’s not that there were no useful integration points between the bundled PSA/RMM, it’s just that the integration benefits were completely over-sold.”


NB: “I was sold the PSA/RMM bundle concept, only to find out after the iron-clad contract was signed that there were a lot of ‘oh..by the way’ charges:”

– ‘Oh…you want this feature, function or module…that’s going to cost extra.’

– ‘Oh…you want a full-service, working solution out of the box…that’s going to cost extra.’

– ‘Oh…you want your team to learn how to use the everyday functions of those modules/services…that’s going to cost extra.’

“Additional fees for added functionality are expected. But these fees should have been spelled out upfront and – most importantly – the basic promises made in the sales process by the PSA/RMM bundled vendor should have been met before asking for more money.”

Did the product fit customer requirements

NB: “The truth is, the bundled vendor’s RMM solution was adequate, and with appropriate setup and training could have been a staple in our organization, but their PSA was barely ‘OK’. The level of actual useful integration between the two products, it turns out, is not much different than any of the independent PSA and RMM solutions that we’re now evaluating. All of this flies in the face of what I was originally promised.”

A few things have changed in the year since this article was posted.

1) There are fewer pure play MSP’s now.  A year ago there were a lot more MSPs who only provided Managed Services. But as customer acceptance of Managed Services grew, customers wanted the “one-stop shop” model they’ve always preferred; having one solution provider provide Managed Services, along with Project-based solutions and break-fix services. In order to respond, MSPs either expanded their offerings to include Project solutions and break-fix services, or were acquired by traditional Channel partners looking to break into the Managed Services market. The kind of business software that was adequate to manage a single-line-of-business MSP (just Managed Services) is not typically an ideal fit for the complexities of a multi-line-of-business IT solution provider (Managed Services, Project solutions and break-fix).

2) Traditional Channel Partners now offer Managed Services.  A year ago Managed Services was a very strong trend; today it’s indisputably the direction the world is going in. Subsequently, legacy Channel Partners have either already rolled out Managed Services offerings or are in the process of doing so.  The business software required to automate recurring billing and other Managed Services requirements is different than traditional Project or break-fix automation software.

3) Managed Services is appearing in non-IT verticals. With the transition from proprietary hardware to standard  IP/Network-based devices in the Audio Visual, Physical Security and other industries, the lines between IT, AV and Physical Security providers is blurring. Subsequently Managed Services are also starting to appear in non-IT vertical markets, so the business software for those verticals is having to adapt as well.

Despite marketing buzz to the contrary, what hasn’t changed are the facts shared by this PSA/RMM bundle customer.  PSA/RMM bundles do not in fact provide one unified solution. They have different sales teams and support personnel, and sometimes even different licensing models. And according to the PSA/RMM bundle customer feedback in this article, the ‘hype’ does not live up to the real-world experience.

Providing customers with the flexibility to select the “best of breed” PSA software along with the “best of breed” RMM software ensures they end up with the best business software combination for their particular requirements. No square pegs, no round holes.  This is also important as businesses evolve and pivot, because this approach provides more flexibility to adapt and change as their business grows and their software requirements evolve.

Trying to find one unified solution that can effectively handle both issues makes for great marketing but, according to at least one real-world customer, still appears to be unrealistic.

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J Barnet

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