If you’re like me you started 2020 or Q1 for that matter with a list of initiatives you need to accomplish in your business. For us, we follow the 3HAG and Gazelles methodologies, so our 3-year initiatives get broken down to our annual goals which become or quarterly priorities.

Somethings these priorities are to support the company, a division, a department or even a specific product or service. Whatever the objective is we always want to make sure that everyone is rowing in the right direction and that the objectives are really moving the company forward.

Do your initiatives really move your MSP forward?

Last week we had a leadership meeting and set out to do just that. See if our rocks in 2019 really “stuck” and made a lasting change in the company. I don’t think it was entirely surprising but most of them didn’t. And that’s what I want to talk to you about today. 10 things you should think about before launching an initiative in your company so that you can have a better chance of really moving your MSP forward.


Defining your Rocks

Of course, I don’t know your planning process but when we decide to move forward with something in the company, we have, in the past, set about it by documenting the priority with the following header type data: Let me give you an example.

The title or subject of the priority: Improve operations and scalability by assessing and improving PSA configurations and processes.

Why is this a top priority?: We are seeing that reactive tickets are taking too long to get resolved and we want to move to a dispatch type process for the helpdesk.

What possible roadblocks do you see?: Techs are used to working from the service board, and now they will be working solely from their calendar. This might be a difficult change.

What are some potential side effects from this?: Clients may not like speaking to a dispatcher since they are used to going direct-to-tech. This might cause some unhappy clients.

From here we flesh out the priority with milestones and indicators of success. This concept of milestones and indicators of success confused me for quite some time but through observations of my own team, I think that right-brain people are better with the indicators of success and left brain (analytical) people with the milestones. So what are milestones and indicators of success?

Milestones: Milestones are points along the way of the project or priority that needs to be accomplished so that the end goal can be met. Think of milestones as the important tasks or events needed to accomplish the project. These are typically assigned to dates so that the priority can be completed within the timeframe.

Indicators of Success: This is how you know you are successful in achieving your goal with the priority. We have indicators of success in the “yellow”, “green” and “super-green” levels. This corresponds loosely to the good, better, best type of achievement for a priority. Start with the end in mind when you think of your indicators of success.

Once we have our priorities, rocks, initiatives defined and an owner assigned, we score them weekly. We score the achievement of the priority as it exists today and our forecasted score for the end of the period. Quarterly if this is a quarterly goal. We score 1 to 4 with 3 being on track and good and 4 being exceeding expectations.

New and Improved for 2020 – The 10 Questions you need to ask before moving forward

This is what we have done for the last several years until last week’s meeting when we reviewed all the priorities from 2019 and realized we had some problems that could be addressed with more clarity before we started the initiative.

That’s when we came up with these 10 questions that need to be answered before we green-light any new priority.

  1. Who is the implementation team? Who will actually get this done? Before we only listed the owner, now we are calling out the whole team. Think internally and externally. The “WHO’s”
  2. What is the meeting rhythm of the team to get this accomplished? Where and how will the team meet? What is the frequency of the meetings? This is different than what we have previously done where the owner would report status to the leadership team. This is the actual meetings to get the work done.
  3. Who do we need to consider when planning this priority? Who will be impacted directly and indirectly? Think internally and externally.
  4. What is the compelling reason behind this priority? Why are we spending time and money on this? What is our clearly defined “Why”?
  5. What best-practices are we trying to instill in the company? What new habits or best practices are going to come out of this priority that will make lasting change in the company.
  6. What likely roadblocks might we encounter? What will be the challenges in accomplishing our priority?
  7. What possible unintended side effect might be caused? How can we minimize them?
  8. How can we 80/20 this? How can we get 80% of the benefits with 20% of the effort? Where is the biggest payoff?
  9. What are the costs associated with this priority? How much money do we need to accomplish this priority and when do we need the money.
  10. How do we make sure there is a lasting change? What do we need to put in place to measure success long-term? Are there new KPI’s we need to keep this change alive and supporting the companies growth.

I encourage you to define the answers to these questions with your group because different people have different viewpoints on each of the questions and we find this really helpful to get an honest, 360-degree view of the work to be done.

That’s what I wanted to share with you today – 10 things you should think about before you embark on a new initiative in your company. The questions are by no means set in stone, use what you like and add your own. Let me know some of the things you think about when planning in your company? I would like to know about your business and what you’re planning for 2020.