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Auditing an environment

Before you can negotiate a MSP contract with a new prospective customer, you need to both be fully agreed upon what devices in their network you are monitoring and what level of service you are providing for these devices. The Network Assessment Report is document that forms the basis for this.

The Network Assessment report is a thorough hardware and software inventory of the customer's network. Before it can be created you must install agents on all the appropriate devices in the customer's network. You also need to ensure that SNMP is configured on all network devices and printers to obtain complete information.

For a large network, you can pre-filter to avoid cluttering the report with software you are not interested in. These will be listed in the report configuration.

Once the report has been created, you should go through it with your customer to determine exactly which devices are to be monitored. N-central lets you ignore devices that you are unable or unwilling to provide support for. At this point you can also advise the customer on upgrading devices that have out-of-date or dubious software. You can also introduce them to N-central's Patch Management and ability to remotely install and patch third party software so that they will never be out of date again.

The report is pure data, unlike The Executive Summary report, it does not give a grade or score to their network. Prospective customers do not want to be judged and graded, so you can simply use this report to show them what their current situation is, and advise them on how you can manage, maintain and improve it. If you print out the report as a PDF and use the Actionable Finding sections to record you discussion, the customer will see that you are listening to what they want and need, not simply providing a boilerplate one-size-fits-all service.

When going through the report with the customer, pay particular attention to:

The Asset overview: Use this section to show the devices you are unable to or feel uncomfortable in managing, and explain why. Are devices that cannot be fully managed, Linux or Mac machines or devices running outdated software. You will need to agree whether you will provide limited service on these devices, upgrade the software on them, or ignore them.

Warranties: Bring up any that need or will soon need to be upgraded.

Patch Status: Show them how many patches they are missing, and explain the advantage of signing up for a managed patch contract.

AntiVirus: Show them the deficiencies in their current system if they are unprotected.

Capacity planning: this shows CPU, disk and memory usage over last ten days, and can show any trends or imminent problems that will need to be dealt with immediately. This is a great way of showing the immediate value of your MSP offering!