Shared Context and its key role in MSP Task Priority

Shared Context and its key role in MSP Task Priority

In any relationship, there will likely (always?) be some angst around the priority a given task is assigned.  From first-hand experience, a parent has a far different expectation of “in a minute” than most children understand!

How do we effectively manage this in the complex Managed Service Provision and Outsourced IT arrangements?

Despite what is written in most consulting literature, experience has shown that there is no single all-encompassing correct answer - for every consulting “simple” flow chart and decision matrix, there will be a set of real-world circumstances that just don’t fit the intended delivery outcome - often this is tackled by increasing the level of complexity to manage the “edge case" better.

There is a better way to approach this - with some contextual understanding, we can all arrive at the intended destination without getting bogged down.

Shared Context and its Impact on Prioritisation

In Microsolve’s experience, the most critical component in successful task prioritisation is establishing a shared context between client and provider - we need to understand your language. Conversely, we need to educate you in ours.

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While much of a shared context is often established in the sales and account management spheres, its value is most often realised in Operational Service Delivery, where frontline MSP techs benefit most from the contextual insights.  Establishing a formal “relationship onboarding” process is an excellent way of effectively managing shared context when the parties' inevitable change of personnel/responsibility occurs.

In our experience, having a well-managed “Shared Context” is foundational to establishing the proper priority of any request.

Defining Task Priority

Once we have “shared context” in place, the mechanics of accurately assessing the priority of any requested task become much more straightforward.  In essence, four pieces of information are all that is required for this:

  • WHO is impacted

  • WHAT is impacted

  • HOW bad is the impact

  • When is this needed by

Using responses to the above (and pre-determined metrics based on shared context), the relative priority of any reported task can be determined, tracked, and reported on.  More importantly, the relative importance of a set of functions will ensure that the MOST important one (not necessarily the most CRITICAL) will be given the highest priority and support team attention!

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