Ditch the quarterly business reviews!
I have never been a fan of the term “quarterly business review” (QBR) for a bunch of reasons. For one, I don’t think you can do a proper business review in a single meeting. The term QBR implies you will review the service that was delivered, analyze metrics, identify problems or challenges, come up with solutions, and somehow talk about the strategy for the future. This is impossible!
I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to have a conversation about strategy for the future and building a roadmap, but this is out of the question after having a meeting reviewing day-to-day operations. The people in an operations meeting are not the ones who should be in a strategy meeting. When we have an operations meeting with our clients, it’s lead by the service manager. On the client side, our daily contact is in the meeting. It is never the person who takes big decisions or signed our contract. So, this doesn’t work.
Another issue is the term “quarterly.” Some smaller clients don’t necessarily need QBRs—and many don’t generate enough margin for it to make sense to have quarterly meetings. It sounds bad to have QBRs if you are not doing them on a quarterly basis!
We use strategic planning and strategic planning meetings. We conduct an annual strategy planning meeting and follow-up meetings throughout the year. From the name of the meeting, it’s clear that operational issues will not be discussed: it will be a higher-level meeting with higher-level people. This way, everyone is looking forward to building a plan. This is a much better approach!
That said, we make sure to have an operational meeting within the month so that we don’t get blindsided or pulled off track by an unaddressed operational issue.
We always insist that the ultimate IT decision maker attend the strategy meeting as well as the person who signed our agreement. Some of our clients even have an IT committee participate! On our side, it’s our vCIO and account manager that attend. It is understood by all that it’s the vCIO’s meeting.
In a nutshell: ditch the QBRs. Get the right people in the room and build a strategic plan with your client!
Simon is the President of S3 Technologies, a leading Canadian MSP he co-founded in 2003. He built and scaled the vCIO team which eventually lead to him co-founding Propel Your MSP in 2018 to help MSPs with their vCIO services.