For part 3 in our series on building your championship-caliber MSP, we will examine the final component that is needed from a staffing and roster perspective – your ‘coaching’, support and administrative staff.

By now you have established your identity and mapped out who you are going to be as an organization. You’ve made your decision on what traits will be the calling cards of your team so that clients will know you and expect what you plan to deliver. You’ve also filled out your roster with the right kind of talent.

You’ve established roles (positions) for your team and found the top talent available for those positions. It’s now time for you to have the right people guiding your team and helping navigate the many challenges that are sure to come your way as you enter the topsy-turvy world of providing Managed Services!


Keeping with our sports theme, consider what coaches do, even at the elite level. There’s what happens in practice and training, and then there’s what happens on game day.

That is to say a coach is teaching and training during the week, and guiding/directing on game day. In much the same way, your MSP coaches need to be teachers as well as directors.

Today’s IT workforce is diverse – in almost every way: age, origin, experience/tenure, gender.  Your coaches need to be able to relate to all their players and meet them where they’re at so that they can continually teach the processes, techniques, and attitudes needed to win it all.

Naturally there are limitations to the sports analogy and those of us in the managed services game know that every day is game day. That means your coaches have to be able to switch into director mode and can ‘call the plays’ to put the team members into positions to be successful.

Who are your coaches in an MSP? How about a Support Manager? Perhaps a Sales Manager. In the same way it’s common for coaches to wear multiple hats (Offensive Coordinator and Running Backs Coach) – our MSP coaches often do the same. In our company, it’s not uncommon for even some back-office managers to have some direct revenue responsibility as a VCIO or some other capacity.

Help Desk

If you are just getting started or are a smaller company, you may find it daunting to establish a help desk. There have been, and continue to be several companies that offer to fill this function for you on a retainer basis – and we are not here to say those are necessarily bad options. Companies such as IT By Design and even distributors such as Ingram Micro can be “your” team. What we do want to convey to you is that whether you insource or outsource this function (my preference is insourced), that you double-down – scratch that – you triple-down on making sure the quality and consistency are there with that group.

Your helpdesk should be staffed by associates that are personable, conscientious and understand customer services. We have often mentioned to our team, we are *really* in the customer service business more than the IT business. It’s an important mind shift. We know by now you’re probably thinking that IT professionals that are both technically competent and personable are in the same class as unicorns and leprechauns. NOT TRUE! (but darn close!) They are hard to find indeed but do exist. While we have always tried to hire first for the “who” than the “what”, we have put even more emphasis on that idea when hiring for our help desk. We have tried to bridge the gap in technical shortcomings with better processes, documentation and in-house training, and we’ve noticed subtle trends of customer satisfaction and engagement improving, even if our Time to Resolve has degraded slightly. To us, it’s an acceptable trade-off.

To go further, within your helpdesk you *also* have multiple positions. (Just like an outfield has a Left Fielder, Center Fielder, and Right Fielder). In a Help Desk, you may have multiple tiers of associates that handle increasingly complex issues as needed. Traditional help desk structure is an L1-L2-L3 tiering system or perhaps a Triage-Resolution-Escalation. There are also recent trends in building focused groups within your help desk that work with only certain subsets of customers or industries. All models have their merits and you need to choose which one is right for you and your customers.

No matter what you choose, put in the necessary work to have outstanding processes for your help desk to follow so that your customers can experience the consistency we discussed in Part 1, with a personable and positive experience provided by your talented helpdesk team!


Most professional sports teams have a General Manager (GM). They are the ones responsible for assembling the team on the field, the organization behind it and overseeing the whole entity.

Correlating that to our MSP, this would be someone who, depending on the size of your organization, could be a COO-type individual that guides the day to day operation. In the scope of this would be ensuring there is an influx of talent (), and that the coaches are developing that talent (they would represent middle-management) as well as deal with upstream concerns.

Think about how key individuals in professional sports deal with things like contract negotiations, the media, salary cap management, union concerns – much more “business” related duties. In an MSP it would be no different.

Executive Team, Support Staff, Marketing, Etc

Rounding out the organization, we have the key positions of leadership at the executive or ownership level, as well as support staff and outward facing functions to ensure there is accountability, productivity, and proper branding to the community.

In sports, you see this thoroughly as few industries or organizations are marketed more heavily. In an MSP, whether we insource or outsource, having an outbound face to the markets you serve is imperative.

Word of mouth is awesome, but only on rare occasions will that form the kind of business development that will sustain your pipeline as you grow. It’s a part, but not the whole. Your support staff is critical.

These are often your unsung heroes that ensure that processes are followed, services are billed (and properly!), and even the simple things happen to ensure success.

Your positions of leadership must be filled by individuals who can truly lead, but also (in the case of smaller companies) shift into “get it done” mode and manage outcomes. This requires individuals with high emotional intelligence, discipline, and ambition.

While those individuals are driving the business and leading the team, it’s the supporting staff positions like Administrative Assistants, Resource Coordinators, Inside Sales Associates that all help make the magic happen and keep the team on the field (think of the beloved Student Manager for the High School basketball team that makes sure the players have water!)

To keep up to date with the latest articles and practices, pay a visit to our Hornetsecurity blog now.


A top-flight Managed Services operation is more about having the right people (personality, strengths/weaknesses, aptitudes, attitudes) in the right places to ensure the whole, is stronger than the sum of its parts.

If you are the leader of an organization that is still climbing that championship mountain, follow the blueprint we’re providing in this series to take the steps needed for “playoff contention”!

The advice in this series of articles comes from working with hundreds of individuals across 2 decades in the MSP industry however you’re welcome to disagree with my assessment of the best personalities that comprise an effective MSP.


Who are considered the 'coaches' in an MSP?

In an MSP, coaches can be roles like Support Manager or Sales Manager. They teach and guide the team, ensuring processes are followed and team members are successful.

What is the role of a General Manager (GM) in an MSP?

The GM in an MSP is akin to a COO. They oversee daily operations, ensure a steady influx of talent, develop middle management, and handle business-related duties like contract negotiations and financial management.

Why is a support staff important in an MSP?

Support staff ensures that processes are followed, services are billed correctly, and administrative tasks are handled efficiently. They are crucial for the smooth operation and success of the MSP.