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CompTIA’s Latest Channel Standard Raises the Bar for MSPs
By Miles Jobgen, Director of Education at CompTIA

Ideals are basically end goals done to perfection. They may be related to the processes and best practices of your organization, or detail specific performance measures you expect your business to achieve at a certain point in time (whether that be in 12 months or three to five years). We typically measure our ultimate success or failure based on some sort of ideals ̶ and that’s no different in the managed services space.


In most industries, the “bar” upon which success is measured if typically set by its trade associations or other neutral parties. Who is better equipped to gather best practices and information from a broad base of contributors? A neutral industry association can leverage all the resources at its disposal, create a positive environment for collaboration, and find consensus on critical issues.            

That’s exactly what CompTIA has done with our recently introduced Channel Standards for Managed IT Solution Providers. These are the industry best practices and baseline business measures designed in great part by your peers; those who have built successful managed services practices. Along with a number of other subject matter experts (SMEs), they compiled a list of essential business activities, tools and customer-oriented practices. We collaboratively ranked issues and opportunities for providers based on their unique perspective and experience, and documented each step and process that would help both new and established providers be successful.    

Set Realistic Goals Based on Industry Standards
Do you consider yourself a successful MSP already? Use the CompTIA Channel Standards as a guide for continual future improvements. After all, no channel organization can remain stagnant if the owners want it to succeed. Technology and customers’ needs change almost every day. Your clients constantly encounter new innovations and typically deal with myriad regulations and rule changes every year that affect their businesses (not to mention all the new ones). MSPs need to alter their offerings and support services to address those issues. You simply have to keep ahead of the game to win today.

Think of your business as a sports team. Maybe you’re at the top of your game, like the Pittsburgh Penguins. Or maybe you’re an upstart, shocking the world like Leicester City. They didn’t get to their respective places by smashing the same strategy against the wall. If they did, chances are their rivals would eat their lunch, studying their habits and figuring out how to counter every play and player. Fans would likely get bored, causing attendance numbers to take a hit. Not a positive outcome.       

That’s why coaches create new options for their playbooks and draft and trade for higher caliber players as often as possible. They focus on continual improvement not just for the sake of change, but to move forward and instill a winning attitude throughout the organizations. And, while there may be times when that those improvements have to slow down a bit, like when you can’t hire quality people fast enough, good businesses find a way to push ahead and build the momentum.

That’s where all the CompTIA Channel Standards come into play. The foundational version (for IT Solution Providers) was released earlier this year for those looking to advance their general business acumen and instill sound channel-proven processes into their organization. We’ll introduce two other versions this summer that set the bar for those delivering managed print services and IT security solutions and support. Together with the Channel Standards for Managed IT Solution Providers, they form a formidable catalog of ideas for making a good business better.

These ideals can help you build and adapt your business and operations plans based on proven industry standards. Just download and review the documents (one outlining the purpose and controls, the other a workbook to chart your adherence) and start working through the details. The standards provide intelligent business practices for the core operational, management, and delivery functions of a managed IT services firm. These combined materials will serve as a purpose built “business playbook” for MSPs, a reference and guidebook to help your team identify current or future organizational gaps (skills, tools, operational). The workbook is a great place to document the standard you meet and need, and detail the improvements you make along the way.   

By pairing the Managed Services Channel Standard with the CompTIA Channel Standard for IT Solution Providers, you can get a full picture of your organization’s functional best practices in several key categories, including:

  • Business Generation
  • Delivery & Operations
  • Customer Relations
  • Business Management
  • Business Direction

Do you have goals in place that ensure your managed services organization will remain competitive in the future? Or do you need a more structured process for improving your service capabilities to meet the challenges ahead? Then be sure to download and review all the current CompTIA Channel Standards today, and check back in a few weeks for the next chapters in managed print and security.