22 Critical Metrics and KPIs for MSPs

In the MSP world, there are tens of dozens of possible metrics you can adapt. Try and do so, though, and you’ll spend all your time measuring and precious little driving growth. The trick is to choose those metrics that work for your business and management style.

MSP consultancy Taylor Business Group (TBG) is focused on helping clients drive profit, and it has 10 metrics it says are the most important metrics to keep MSPs on track to achieve their goals. We took TBG’s 10 and added a dozen more metrics of our own.

It’s important to note that the first step to take before you start implementing any new metrics, is to ask what kind of company you own or work for. There are MSPs that are “lifestyle businesses.”  The owner knows and loves technology, enjoys working with a small close group of clients, makes a good living, and is perfectly happy running the business this way. In this case, the intense discipline of tight metric tracking may not be critical to this business’ success.

Metrics are made for growth-oriented businesses, argues TBG’s John Christophersen. These businesses are entrepreneurial, have a vision, believe in a high-horsepower sales engine, invest profits back into company development, and manage by numbers and metrics.

With that caveat out of the way, let’s look at the metrics, starting with A and ending in T.

1. Administrative Expense

Administration is critical, but doesn’t directly build the business the way sales and technical development can. As a result, these expenses should be controlled – and be less than 20% of revenue.

These expenses include administrative salaries, benefits, related taxes, internal IT costs, and building and office expenses.  While TBG doesn’t point this out directly, administrative expenses also include all IT systems which support the business, such as billing, CRM, finance, project management, etc.

On a related front, TBG stresses that MSPs should “eliminate or minimize all non-strategic costs!” And yes, the exclamation point came from TBG.

2. Agreement Profitability

This measures how much an MSP makes per client agreement.

3. Average Response Time

This key metric tracks how fast your techs respond to a problem.

4. Billing Resource Utilization

This is a bit like how partners in a law firm are judged – by billable hours. By measuring the ratio of billable- to wasted-hours, you can see how efficiently your staff is deployed. And by calculating their hourly rate, you can see how much money is lost when they are not working on billable jobs.

5. Client Contribution (CC)

This refers to how much an MSP earns from each client, less the cost of obtaining this revenue. The client revenue includes sales of products, fixed fees and services. The related costs include what the MSP spends to acquire the revenue (such as marketing and sales costs) and the labor costs of providing them.

6. Client Effective Rate (CER)

This metric measures how much you make from each client based on time spent servicing them. It is the monthly fixed fees you charge divided by how many hours you spent with that client. This will produce a revenue-per-hour result.


‘Earnings before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization’ is a key measure if you are looking to sell your MSP operation. If your other vitals, such as Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR), are good, you can, in some cases, expect a 10x multiple of your EBITDA when you sell your company.

8. First-Time Fix Percentage

This calculation measures the percentage of client problems that are resolved with only one contact to your help desk.  It can help you track the efficiency and training levels of your support technicians.

9. Product Margin

Product margin is, to quote Investopedia, “the difference between the cost of the good or service and the retail price; the greater the difference, the higher the margin.”

TBG also uses this basic definition, with ‘product sales revenue’ substituting for the ‘retail price.’

According to TBG, the number to shoot for is over 17.5% margin, with over 20% being preferred. Beyond that, TBG believes that the margin should be at least based in part on product, with some products needing a higher targeted margin than others.

However, calculating the true cost of goods sold can be the trickier for a services provider than a manufacturer. Include direct labor, any service delivery charges (such as transportation costs if there is any travel involved) and sales commissions. Don’t include overhead or operating expenses such as rent, utilities, or salaried positions not directly tied to delivering the service.

10. Hourly Service Rates

This metric is pretty self-explanatory. To use this as a measurement, the MSP should have a service organization structure, with clearly defined service organization structure. This involves clear job descriptions, well-thought-out career planning strategies, and “pre-defined compensation plans.”  Clarity on rates for different staff levels makes calculating this metric easier.

Meanwhile, your services rates should be what you charge before volume or other discounts are applied. That said, the hourly rate an MSP gets should be 4.5 times the “hourly burdened salary rate,” which includes taxes, supplies, insurance and other related worker costs.

11. Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)

This is a key measure for MSPs that refers to the most critical revenue stream — revenue you can count on each and every month. Healthy MSPs make the majority of their money this way.

12. Net Operating Income

TBG is a huge fan of Net Operating Income, which is a metric that pretty much sums up the current health of an MSP business.

Operating income is similar to EBITDA, except that EBITDA also considers amortization and depreciation. Net operating income is more commonly used because it is a bit easier to calculate than EBITDA.

According to TBG, your net operating income should be a least 10%. At the same time, TBG likesfor services to be more than 60% of total income. And when it comes to service revenue, Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) should be more than 60% of the total.

13. Outstanding Issues

How many issues are still unresolved on a weekly, monthly and quarterly basis? If the number is too high, you need better processes, more automation, or more employees.  In fact, keeping track of outstanding issues is one of the recommended ways to identify processes ripe for automation.

14. Revenue/Compensation (RpC)

This is a simple measure of employee productivity. Essentially, you divide the revenue from each employee by how much they make. Of course, not all employees are equally involved in driving revenue, but it can be a good measure of which employees are moving the company forward.

15. Sales Compensation

You should invest in sales and compensate properly, including offering a base salary, commission, and bonuses. At the same time, you shouldn’t spend more than a third of your gross profits on sales.

16. Sales Expense

Building on the topic of sales spending, TBG believes that no more than 10% of your total revenue should be spent on sales. That expense should be fully loaded with salary, commission, and bonuses. It should also include sales training expenses, advertising and marketing spending, and miscellaneous sales expenses.

17. Service Department Profitability

In general, you don’t want to spend more than 55% of your gross profits on service. Similar to Product Margin, you calculate this by adding up all your services revenues and subtracting the cost of goods sold – or cost of services sold.  Calculate the salary expense that is directly related to delivering services, training or travel expenses, sales commissions, and any transaction fees associated with annuity revenues. Again, overhead costs such as rent and utilities, and any salaried expenses not directly related to delivering services is not including in the cost of goods sold.

So, an MSP that received $1.2 million in services revenue and had $540K in expenses tied to delivering these services would reach a minimum of 55% gross profit on services.

MSPs must keep a close eye on pricing and expenses to make their goal.

18. Service Level Agreement (SLA) response times

This refers to how fast an MSP responds to service level performance issues.  Not actively managing this metric could result in an SLA penalty for the MSP. Even if you don’t support guaranteed SLAs, understanding response times is the first step toward improving processes and service delivery

19. Service Salaries

Service roles and titles can include help desk, NOC technicians and engineers, service managers, overall engineers and technicians, and service coordinators. The salaries of these staffers should be no more than a third of overall service revenues.

To make service efficient, TBG recommends clearly defining the structure of the service organization. This involves clear job descriptions, well-thought-out career planning strategies, and “pre-defined compensation plans.” The company also recommends hiring entry-level workers, and then promoting from within. By doing this, you can train new employees to your specific work processes (and not have to retrain technicians used to doing processes another way).  But, more importantly, by providing a career path – and actively promoting from within – you increase morale and employee retention rates.

20. Service Utilization

First, let’s define service utilization. According to TBG, it is the “percentage of service inventory time that is billable per technician.”

In this case, the MSP judges staff efficiency by calculating the ratio of billable- to wasted-hours. If you add in your tech’s hourly rate, you’ll discover how much money is lost when techs are not working on billable jobs.

21. SLA Compliance

This metric rates how well you satisfy your client SLAs and what (if any) penalties you incurred as a result of not meeting these SLAs.  Tracking this metric can provide insight into how well you are setting SLAs versus your business’ ability to meet them; whether some individual clients or services are more challenging in terms of meeting SLAs; or whether penalties incurred would be capital better invested in better systems, solutions and training programs.

22. Tickets Opened vs. Tickets Closed

This measures how efficient your organization is at resolving problems, and can also highlight areas where your team’s technical skills need improvement.

Looking to reduce your administrative expenses and increase efficiency?

Looking to reduce your administrative expenses and increase efficiency?  Request a demo of Kaseya BMS – a next-generation business management solution that was built specifically to help MSPs spend more time selling and delivering services, and less time on non-revenue-generating tasks like billing and project management.

Posted by Doug Barney
Doug Barney was the founding editor of Redmond Magazine, Redmond Channel Partner, Redmond Developer News and Virtualization Review. Doug also served as Executive Editor of Network World, Editor in Chief of AmigaWorld, and Editor in Chief of Network Computing.

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