Overcoming The Toughest Hurdles Of IT Staffing for MSPs

By |Published On: April 1st, 2024|

From talent shortages to maintaining cultural alignment, MSPs encounter multifaceted hurdles in recruiting and retaining top-tier professionals. Typically the primary challenge lies in sourcing candidates with the precise blend of technical expertise, soft skills, and cultural fit essential for succeeding in MSP staffing. But there’s much more beyond the surface.

Our team at Scaled has worked very closely with many MSPs, driving their success together – and we know everything about their biggest struggles. In this article, we’ll dissect the key challenges MSPs typically face and provide practical solutions. And in the end, we’ll also show how partnering with a top IT staffing agency can also help alleviate most of them.

Introduction to IT Staffing Challenges for MSPs

IT staffing for MSPs poses multifaceted challenges – one primary hurdle is the perpetual struggle to find and retain top-tier talent in a highly competitive market. This encompasses sourcing candidates with the right technical expertise, soft skills, and cultural fit for the MSP environment. Moreover, the rapid evolution of technology demands constant upskilling and reskilling of staff, adding another layer of complexity to recruitment efforts.

Beyond talent acquisition, MSPs grapple with the intricacies of workforce management, including optimizing resource allocation and balancing workload distribution. Scalability presents another significant challenge, as MSPs must adapt their staffing strategies to accommodate fluctuating client demands and project scopes.

Lastly, cultural alignment between the MSP and its staff is crucial for fostering a cohesive, productive work environment. Ensuring that employees share the organization’s values and ethos can enhance team cohesion, client satisfaction, and overall business success. However, achieving this alignment often requires careful screening, onboarding, and ongoing support initiatives.

Identifying the Key Hurdles in MSP Staffing

Talent Shortage

  • Challenge: In today’s competitive job market, MSPs often struggle to find candidates with the right mix of technical skills, industry knowledge, and soft skills. This shortage of qualified talent can significantly hamper an MSP’s ability to deliver high-quality services and support to clients.
  • Solution: To overcome this challenge, they need to adopt a multifaceted approach to MSP recruiting. Firstly, they should leverage online job boards, professional networking platforms, and industry-specific forums to reach potential candidates. Additionally, attending job fairs, industry conferences, and local meetups can provide valuable opportunities for networking and recruiting talent. Collaborating with educational institutions and participating in internship programs can also help MSPs identify and nurture emerging talent. Furthermore, offering competitive salaries, comprehensive benefits packages, and opportunities for professional growth and development is crucial for attracting and retaining top talent in a competitive market.

Skills Mismatch

  • Challenge: MSPs frequently encounter situations where the skills possessed by potential hires do not align perfectly with the requirements of client projects. This skills mismatch can lead to inefficiencies, delays, and dissatisfaction among clients.
  • Solution: To address this challenge, MSPs should implement robust skills assessment processes during the recruitment phase. This involves conducting thorough technical interviews, practical assessments, and scenario-based evaluations to gauge candidates’ proficiency and problem-solving abilities accurately. Moreover, investing in ongoing training and development programs enables existing staff to upskill and acquire new competencies to meet evolving client demands effectively. Collaboration with training providers and certification programs can also bridge skills gaps and ensure that the workforce remains agile and adaptable to changing industry trends and client requirements.

High Turnover Rates

  • Challenge: Employee turnover can disrupt MSP recruiting, impact client satisfaction, and incur significant costs associated with recruiting and training. High turnover rates are often indicative of underlying issues such as poor management, lack of career development opportunities, or dissatisfaction with company culture.
  • Solution: For strong talent management, MSPs must prioritize employee engagement and retention initiatives. This includes fostering a positive work culture that values diversity, inclusion, and work-life balance. Providing opportunities for career advancement, skill development, and recognition can enhance job satisfaction and loyalty among employees. Additionally, offering competitive compensation packages, including performance-based incentives and benefits such as healthcare and wellness programs, demonstrates a commitment to employee well-being and contributes to long-term retention. Conducting regular employee feedback surveys and exit interviews can also provide valuable insights into the underlying causes of turnover and inform targeted retention strategies.

Workforce Scalability

  • Challenge: MSPs often face fluctuating demand for IT services, requiring agile workforce scalability to meet client needs effectively. However, achieving optimal workforce scalability involves balancing MSP staffing levels with project requirements while minimizing costs and maximizing efficiency.
  • Solution: Implementing flexible staffing models is essential to accommodate changing workloads and project requirements. MSPs can leverage a combination of full-time employees, part-time contractors, and contingent workers to scale their workforce up or down as needed. Partnering with staffing agencies specializing in IT recruiting can provide access to a diverse talent pool and streamline the hiring process during peak demand periods. Additionally, investing in cross-training initiatives and developing a talent pipeline ensures readiness to deploy resources quickly and efficiently to address client needs. By adopting a proactive approach to workforce planning and resource allocation, MSPs can optimize operational efficiency and responsiveness while maintaining cost-effectiveness.

Cultural Fit

  • Challenge: Establishing a cohesive company culture and aligning with client cultures is essential for fostering strong relationships and driving successful outcomes. However, cultural mismatches can lead to communication breakdowns, misunderstandings, and conflicts that undermine collaboration and productivity.
  • Solution: MSPs must prioritize cultural compatibility alongside technical proficiency when evaluating candidates. This involves assessing candidates’ values, communication styles, and work preferences during the MSP recruiting process. Additionally, conducting cultural assessments and team-building activities can help integrate new hires seamlessly into the organization and client environments. MSPs should foster an inclusive and supportive work environment that celebrates diversity, promotes collaboration, and values mutual respect and integrity. By cultivating a culture of trust and transparency, MSPs can strengthen internal cohesion and enhance client satisfaction. Regularly soliciting feedback from employees and clients can also help identify and address cultural issues proactively to foster a positive and harmonious work environment.

Remote Work Challenges

  • Challenge: The shift towards remote work presents unique challenges for MSP staffing, including communication barriers, productivity concerns, and cybersecurity risks. Ensuring effective collaboration, maintaining productivity, and safeguarding data integrity are critical considerations in remote work environments.
  • Solution: To address these challenges, MSPs must implement robust communication and collaboration tools to facilitate remote teamwork and maintain productivity. This includes leveraging video conferencing platforms, instant messaging applications, and project management software to keep remote teams connected and engaged. Moreover, establishing clear performance metrics, goals, and accountability mechanisms ensures transparency and accountability in remote work environments. MSPs should also prioritize cybersecurity measures to safeguard sensitive client data and protect against potential threats and vulnerabilities associated with remote access. By addressing these challenges proactively, MSPs can capitalize on the benefits of remote work while ensuring operational resilience and data security. Regular training and awareness programs can also educate employees about best practices for remote work and cybersecurity to mitigate risks effectively.

Retention of Specialized Talent

  • Challenge: MSPs often require specialized skills and expertise to support clients’ unique IT environments and industry-specific requirements. However, retaining employees with specialized knowledge and experience can be challenging due to competitive job markets and evolving technology landscapes.
  • Solution: To retain specialized talent, MSPs should offer targeted professional development opportunities, certifications, and training programs to enhance employees’ skills and expertise in niche areas. Providing opportunities for challenging and meaningful work assignments that leverage employees’ specialized knowledge and talents can increase job satisfaction and retention. Moreover, creating a supportive and collaborative work environment where employees feel valued and recognized for their contributions can foster loyalty and commitment. Offering competitive compensation packages, including salary adjustments, bonuses, and incentives, can also incentivize specialized talent to stay with the organization long-term.

Collaborating with Strategic MSP Recruiting Partners

Benefits of Partnering with Specialized IT Staffing Agencies

  • Access to Specialized Talent: These providers have extensive networks and resources to identify and attract candidates with the specific technical skills and expertise required for MSP projects. This access to specialized talent ensures that MSPs can quickly find the right candidates to meet their project needs. For example, when an MSP needs cybersecurity experts for a client’s project, a specialized MSP staffing agency can tap into its network of qualified candidates with relevant certifications and experience in cybersecurity.
  • Time and Cost Savings: By outsourcing the MSP recruiting process to IT staffing providers, MSPs can save time and resources that would otherwise be spent on sourcing, screening, and interviewing candidates. The agencies handle the entire process, from candidate sourcing to onboarding – and they know all the recruitment best practices as well. For instance, instead of spending hours reviewing resumes and conducting interviews, MSPs can rely on staffing providers to present pre-screened candidates who meet their criteria, saving valuable time and effort.
  • Flexibility and Scalability: IT staffing agencies offer flexibility in staffing solutions, allowing MSPs to scale their teams up or down based on project demands. Whether MSPs need short-term contractors for specific projects or long-term placements for ongoing support, staffing agencies can tailor their solutions to meet these requirements. For example, if an MSP secures a large project that requires additional IT support, a staffing agency can quickly provide qualified contractors to augment the MSP’s team for the duration of the project, ensuring scalability without the need for long-term commitments.

Establishing Long-Term Relationships and Partnerships

  • Consistency and Reliability: Long-term partnerships with staffing agencies provide MSPs with consistent access to high-quality talent. By developing a deep understanding of MSPs’ needs and preferences, staffing agencies can consistently deliver candidates who are the right fit for the job. For instance, a staffing agency that has worked with an MSP for several years will have a thorough understanding of the MSP’s culture, project requirements, and desired skill sets, enabling them to consistently provide candidates who align with these criteria.
  • Preferred Access to Talent: Through long-term relationships, MSPs can gain preferred access to top talent in the industry. Staffing agencies prioritize their long-term partners when sourcing candidates, ensuring that MSPs have access to the best candidates available. For example, when a staffing provider receives a job order from a long-standing MSP partner, they may reach out to their network of top candidates before posting the job publicly, giving the MSP early access to high-quality talent.
  • Strategic Collaboration: Long-term partnerships foster strategic collaboration between MSPs and staffing providers. By working closely together, both parties can align their goals, share insights, and continuously improve their MSP recruitment processes to better meet the needs of the client. For instance, MSPs can provide feedback to staffing agencies on the performance of placed candidates, allowing the providers to refine their candidate selection process and better match candidates with MSP requirements in the future.

Communicating Clear Expectations and Objectives

  • Alignment of Expectations: MSPs must clearly communicate their project requirements, timelines, and performance expectations to staffing agencies. This ensures that both parties are on the same page and working towards common goals. For example, an MSP should clearly outline the technical skills, certifications, and experience required for a project, as well as the expected deliverables and deadlines, to ensure that the MSP staffing provider understands the project requirements and can source suitable candidates accordingly.
  • Regular Feedback and Updates: Maintaining open and transparent communication channels allows MSPs and IT staff augmentation services providers to give regular feedback and updates throughout the recruitment process. This enables them to address any issues or concerns promptly and make adjustments as needed to ensure successful outcomes. For instance, if an MSP is not satisfied with the quality of candidates presented by the staffing provider, they should provide constructive feedback to help the agency refine their candidate sourcing strategy and improve the quality of future submissions.
  • Collaborative Problem-Solving: When challenges arise, effective communication allows MSPs and staffing agencies to collaborate on finding solutions. By working together to overcome obstacles, both parties can strengthen their partnership and drive greater success in MSP recruitment efforts. For example, if a staffing provider encounters difficulties sourcing candidates with a specific skill set, they can work closely with the MSP to explore alternative sourcing strategies, such as targeting passive candidates or leveraging niche job boards, to find qualified candidates who meet the MSP’s requirements.


While challenges like talent shortages and skills mismatches persist, MSPs can proactively tackle these hurdles by adopting innovative recruitment strategies and investing in continuous skills development for their teams. Moreover, fostering a supportive work culture that values diversity, inclusion, and work-life balance is paramount for retaining top talent and driving long-term success.

On top of that, partnering with specialized IT staff augmentation services providers like Scaled can give MSPs invaluable access to niche talent pools, saving time and resources while ensuring the quality of hires. These partnerships also facilitate ongoing collaboration and strategic alignment, enabling both parties to adapt swiftly to industry shifts and client demands.

By prioritizing transparent communication, regular feedback, and collaborative problem-solving, MSPs can strengthen their relationships with IT staffing partners and optimize their recruitment processes.

About the Author: Michael Nelson

Michael Nelson
Michael started his MSP, TLC Tech, in 2004 and has steadily grown and developed the company in the near two decades since. Currently employing 31 employees (including seven from South Africa), he understands the unique challenges faced by MSPs. As a founder of Scaled Inc., Michael works to assist his peers in the MSP world by streamlining the process of adding talent technicians to their teams. Connect with Michael on LinkedIn to discover how Scaled can place technical talent at your MSP.

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