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CRN | Pax8 Academy Delivers Learning, Coaching To Optimize An MSP’s Business



‘We’re built on education, that’s foundationally part of our DNA. That’s how we got here, through enablement and education. But we wanted more, we wanted to do more for this community, for this channel,’ says Craig Donovan, vice president of partner solutions for Pax8.

By C.J. Fairfield
CRN
October 26, 2021

Pax8 Academy is the latest offering from the Denver-based distributor to help MSPs scale their operations and optimize their business.

From courses to peer groups to one-on-one coaching, Pax8 Academy empowers MSPs to learn and grow in the way that best suits them.

“We want to deliver whatever you want to learn, whatever your techs want to learn, whatever your financing wants to learn,” said Craig Donovan, vice president of partner solutions for Pax8. “But most importantly, how you want to consume it.”

Donovan and Rex Frank, vice president of academy for Pax8, spoke at the NexGen+ 2021 conference in Anaheim, Calif., this week to inform partners about how Pax8 Academy can educate their teams. NexGen+ is being hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company.

Frank is also the founder and CEO of Sea-level Operations, which was acquired by Pax8 earlier this year. Sea-Level Operations provides consulting and coaching to MSPs through operations planning.

Seven instructor-led Pax8 Academy courses are available today with more added every month, Donovan said. The academy helps partners identify their biggest pain points, where their immediate growth opportunities lie and more.

It also offers value creation coaching, where the coach will have a partner pick a date down the road and look to where they want to grow their business and lay out a plan to get there.

“Every business is unique,” Frank said. “Through coaching hundreds of MSPs through their operational journeys we’ve defined four basic growth stages.”

In stage one, everybody reports to the owner and the owner makes all the decisions. In stage two, it’s typically the owner and a service manager making the decisions together. In stage three, it’s typically a leadership team that’s running the business. In stage four, the owner transitions to primarily sharing wisdom with the team.

“We’ve defined more than 100 operational focuses and we’ve broken them up into 10 categories,” Frank said.

Those focuses are PSA configuration, life of a ticket, measure your KPIs, service team HR, leveraging your tools, getting account systems in order, client-facing systems, getting ready to grow, marketing processes and sales processes.

“In stages one through six we’re primarily working with you on your business from your perspective,” Frank said. ”But as we move into stage seven, client-facing systems, we’re working with you on your business from your client’s perspective.

“There’s a galaxy of operational focuses you can work on,” he added. ”What we found through our coaching processes is we work with you differently depending on which stage you’re moving to on that topic.”

Sea-Level also created the five phases of operational excellence–-understand the best practice, make it your way, get buy-in from your team, implement the changes and inspect what you expect.

“Most of us skip phase one through three altogether and go straight to phase four,” Frank said. “Most of us never do phase five at all. This is actually where we get the most traction, but nobody ever does it.”

Frank then went on to tell a story.

“One day, I was doing my favorite thing to do on a Monday afternoon, closing tickets,” he said. ”I even rationalized with myself. I had a staff meeting in the morning, I can quickly document it. I’ll talk to [Jack] about it in the morning and I went ahead and created the status and updated a ticket.”

No more than 20 minutes later Frank heard from Jack about how dissatisfied he was as he said, “They’re always changing stuff around here and nobody ever tells us anything.”

“I had to own that I had just created all of that employee dissatisfaction,” Frank said. ”And that’s when I promised myself I would never skip phases again.” 

Donovan said Pax8 Academy represents a pivot for Pax8 in its educational effort.

“We’re built on education, that’s foundationally part of our DNA,” he said. ”That’s how we got here, through enablement and education. But we wanted more, we wanted to do more for this community, for this channel.”

Mike Ransom, CIO of Daystar, a Newington, N.H., solution provider, had already emailed his CEO before Pax8’s presentation was over.

“I said [to the CEO] that we need to look at Pax8,” he said. “I think it would be great not only for escalations for our teams, but then they brought in Sea-Level and how Sea-Level really integrates into your organization to help it grow and analyze your current processes. Being at 23 people now our processes do need help, and I think it would be a great benefit to have [Pax8] take a look at us.”

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