Why MSPs need a PC deployment checklist


A checklist can reduce or eliminate client complaints, follow ups, and return visits.

Check off completed tasks on a to-do list

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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For managed services providers (MSPs), deploying new PCs and performing desktop and laptop migrations are common but dangerous tasks. The adage “you’re only as good as your last performance” certainly applies. An MSP and its technicians can bat a thousand, getting everything right completing a client’s complex cloud migrations, remote work initiatives and proprietary business application upgrades. But make mistakes deploying a single new workstation and, regardless whether it’s fair, those PC errors are the experience the client remembers.

SEE: MSP best practices: PC deployment checklist (TechRepublic Premium)

One reasons new PC deployments and system migrations commonly cause trouble is there’s so much to remember. Typically the new system must be properly connected to a Windows domain, proprietary business and industry-specific applications must be installed, as must utilities and management and monitoring agents. Local data must be migrated, when applicable, and don’t forget printers. I remember reversing course and returning to a client when I once remembered forgetting that step. 

By using a PC deployment checklist, an MSP and its technicians can reduce or eliminate client complaints and remote follow ups or return visits.

Years of field experience taught me the importance of simplification. Make a checklist too difficult, or include too much information, and steps get skipped or technicians cease using the resource altogether. Simple two-column forms, one column with an actual checkbox where you or the technician can check off each step—whether the step reminds the service team to install and record an asset tag, confirm a PC build package or remember to install and test VPN software—and a second column listing individual tasks, usually work best. Don’t overthink it.

In the book Simple, Conquering the Crisis of Complexity, authors Alan Siegel and Irene Etzkorn emphasize managing complexity by breaking difficult challenges into several manageable concrete steps. They know their stuff, having successfully completed simplification projects for such clients as the Internal Revenue Service and Prudential. In fact, Siegel is to thank for the 1040-EZ tax form. So you can have faith trusting a PC deployment checklist to make such MSP projects continually manageable.

SEE: MSP best practices: PC deployment checklist (TechRepublic Premium)

Hopefully technicians are forming genuine, lasting relationships with the end users they support. As part of that process, while waiting for a print driver to load, email to transfer or other steps to complete, it’s natural for a technician and the end user to engage in seeming small talk. But that small talk helps build bonds that can fuel better customer service and satisfaction. Of course, whether asking about one another’s families, hobbies depicted in desktop wallpaper imagery and workspace photos or via regular polite conversation, it’s easy to become distracted. 

The day I had to circle back on the interstate to add that fateful missed printer, I’d enjoyed catching up with the new PC’s user. Instead of resenting having to return to the client site, which would put me smack in the middle of rush hour (for which consultants don’t get paid) later in the afternoon, I truly wanted the customer to enjoy the new computer and fondly remember my work. 

We are, after all, neighbors within the same communities. It was after that experience I created my first deployment checklist, which virtually eliminated the number of callbacks I personally experienced.

As with any checklist, MSPs may need customized versions for specific clients. That’s OK. Simply adjust the PC deployment checklist as necessary the first time you deploy a new system for a client possessing unique requirements or a custom environment, then use that revised checklist as a template for that client’s future deployments. Technicians will thank you when they, too, find the MSP receiving less callbacks, and the client will appreciate the attention to detail.

For more information, check out TechRepublic Premium’s MSP best practices: PC deployment checklist, which provides tips and a customizable checklist. 

SEE: MSP best practices: PC deployment checklist (TechRepublic Premium)



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