There is nothing I hate more than spending time preparing a great roadmap and budget that addresses all the business objectives as well as gaps in the client’s infrastructure, having a great meeting where the client is completely onboard with the plan, and then hearing: “this is great, but budgets got approved last month and we don’t have any room this year for more initiatives, but I’ll make sure I put this in next year’s budget.” This is the worst! —and I’m sure I’m not the only one that has heard this more than once.
This is why we added a step to our new client onboarding plan to discuss budgeting with them. The first things we document is when their fiscal year starts and when budgets are approved. We talk with our point of contact when would be a good time to meet to ensure we have enough time to discuss and get projects/services in the budget. This is exactly why we designed Propel Your MSP: to capture the fiscal year start and build the vCIO process around it!
We intentionally work backwards from the start of each client’s financial year. Let’s say a client tells us their financial year starts on July 1st and that they must get their budgets in by May 15th. Well, we know we need to present our roadmap and budget a month ahead to have time to adjust it or to reschedule if ever the client must cancel for whatever reason. We also know our vCIOs will need about three weeks to prepare for the meeting. Not that it takes three weeks at all but just to be 100% sure that an emergency doesn’t derail things and we can’t prepare adequately. Next, we also know that to prepare for the meeting, an audit report has to be available for our vCIO to identify the gaps in the client’s infrastructure. We like to plan this three weeks in advance as well to ensure this also gets done on time.
By working backwards, this is the timeline:
- July 1st: Fiscal year starts
- May 15th: Budget submitted
- April 15th: Strategic IT meeting with client to present the roadmap and budget
- March 25th: vCIO starts preparing plan / Audit must be finished
- March 1st: Audit starts
Planning this out has helped us ensure we are getting in front of the client at the right time so that we can move forward with the plan!
We’ve built the vCIO process into Propel Your MSP from our experience to manage exactly this challenge!
I strongly encourage to have a process around the scheduling of the strategic meetings.
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.