Does Your MSP Business Need Employee Monitoring Software?

It’s hard to keep track of how employees are spending their time, especially if they’re working remotely. Is having that visibility valuable — or could it hurt your work culture?

I came across a question on the MSP subreddit about whether managed services provider companies are using employee monitoring software. The responses in the comments section seemed to indicate the decision to use these solutions hinge on whether you trust your employees or maybe if you’re attempting to build a case to let one of them go — even though the original question mentioned using it to track billable hours.

Scrolling down through the 181 comments the post received, mostly from MSPs’ employees, it’s obvious the topic hit a nerve. Even though it may be an unpopular idea, it begs the question, should MSPs use software to monitor what their teams are doing?

What Employee Monitoring Software Does

According to Teramind, an employee monitoring software provider, this type of solution enables employee computer activity monitoring. It tracks which websites they’re visiting, which apps they’re using, and their email activity. Top employee monitoring solutions also can detect insider threats, prevent data loss, and help enforce regulatory or corporate policy compliance.

Browsing through several employee monitoring software vendors’ websites, I found that they focus much more on carrot than stick. Their value propositions, including providing insights into how people work, helping managers focus on where to improve productivity, and monitor and generate compliance reports. Additionally, employee monitoring software often works with tools that optimize productivity, track time and facilitate project management.

Employee Monitoring Software vs. PSA Tool

If you use professional services automation (PSA) in your MSP business, you may be wondering if an employee monitoring tool is the same thing under a different name. Features and functionality do overlap, so if your goal is to track time more accurately or manage projects and resources more effectively, you can probably accomplish those goals by leveraging your PSA.

But employee monitoring software isn’t developed purely for the IT services space. Use cases include healthcare, government, finance, legal, and other verticals where what employees do on company computers and company time can have serious repercussions. More than just tracking billable time, businesses and organizations in those verticals use it primarily to watch what their employees are doing and intervene when they detect nonproductive or risky behavior.

With your clients’ networks, data, and security in the balance, risky behaviors also have serious repercussions for your business. Some comments in the Reddit string pointed out that MSPs may already have some of the monitoring and control capabilities they need; however, such as Active Directory, event logging, content filters, intrusion prevention and detection or a security information and event management (SIEM) system.

Is This a Remote Work Issue?

Current inspiration to deploy an employee monitoring software solution may come from the need to shift operations to remote work in 2020. MSP managers may have lost visibility into how their teams are spending their days, and they may see a decrease in billable hours. The purpose behind deploying a solution that monitors their activity may have been to restore some visibility so managers can intervene if they discover issues. After all, you need an accurate account of what your team is doing so you can bill for the work they’re doing. That’s not a trust issue. It’s a profitability issue.

If it does come down to distrust or building a case for a dismissal, employee monitoring software could be of benefit. Before you go that route, however, carefully consider the impact it could have on your overall company culture. Check out the comments on the Reddit if you have any doubt.