SDI Maturity

To Set the Scene – Air-IT was struggling to handle growth of 25% year-on-year. Like most MSPs, we lacked a method to scale to meet our needs. Some symptoms –

  • Uncertain efficiencies, costs & profits
  • Inconsistent quality
  • Client on-boarding was a hit-and-miss
  • Reactive firefighting
  • No obvious differentiator

Retention of talent became a major problem. We went through 3 Service Desk Managers in a year, never mind skilled analysts.

A sense of stagnation, or worse, really got us down. We had to change.

The shining light – My research showed that there were no Service Desk best practises or standards used by MSPs. But I saw that a structured approach would give us the consistency and scalability that we needed.

I’ve always seen the benefit of vendor events. 4 years ago, I ventured into to ITSM territory (Enterprise Service Desk). I found the Service Desk Institute (SDI).

Though based on ITSM, their published standard aligned with ITIL & ISO 20000 and could be tweaked for MSPs. It was exactly what I was looking for.

The SDI Standard

It’s Open Source, covering 9 concepts –

  • Leadership
  • Policy and Strategy
  • People Management
  • Resources
  • Processes and Procedures
  • Managing Employee Satisfaction
  • Managing the Customer Experience
  • Managing Information and Performance Results
  • Social Responsibility

Audits – I’ve taken part in some seriously challenging audits (e.g. FDA (USA Food and Drugs Administration) approval – 7 years to complete, £5m cost, producing 4 miles of paperwork weighing 297 lbs).





From experience, I know audits can be difficult and take significant commitment and investment. They’re not just a formality, and you want to gain real benefit, being honest with yourself is paramount. When we looked at the standard the concepts all looked embedded already. We were confident we’d achieve 4 stars.

Little did we know!

Ready yet? – Two years into the SDI journey we took a 2-day pre-assessment audit. We failed.  Our score was 2.25. The minimum for certification is 2.5. We had 9 months to get our house in order.

A stretch – It’s in our DNA to aim for operational perfection. I told the team I expected 4 stars in the real assessment.

I kept it to myself that I knew 3 stars would be a stretch.

The right team – We’d recruited Paige Smith. She came with huge experience gained working for an enterprise provider of business services. Paige took on the Project Lead role for the SDI Certification.

Jamie Hissitt fine-tuned our SD culture, and built our employee engagement programme.

Together, and with commitment and input from everyone in the business, they lead us on the path to success.

The certification audit – With some trepidation, we were prepared for the full 4-day audit – 450 interview questions from 130 categories, together with complete evidence of practise.

Good news – Air IT achieved 3 stars with a score of 3.13.


We are one of just three MSPs, worldwide, to come in with 3 stars. We believe we’re the only SMB MSP to do it. Established ITSM Service Desks who do get certified usually achieve 2 stars. 3 stars is a major achievement.

With great pride I can say Well done everyone in Team Air IT!

Moving forward

  • We’re going for 4 stars next year.
  • SDI Certification is just beginning for us.
  • With CSI fully embedded we’re ahead of competition.

My thoughts – Four years ago when i first looked at SDI, the MSP market was buoyant today our market is saturated with tech companies claiming to be MSPs. We are becoming clones – Being a trusted adviser is not enough to differentiate yourself from the crowd. I believe that adopting SDI best practice is more important than ever if MSPs are not to be dragged into commoditisation of support services. I also believe that we have a duty as a true MSP to make sure we provide desk and RMM services as part of an internal effort and we should not look to outsource pieces that should be delivered directly.

You can do it yourself but you will need direction and support. The SDI standard works in MSP world and is instrumental if you want to turn your help desk into a high performing mature service desk that is capable of delivering a consistent quality service.


                                                           Air IT are proof that it can be done!

You should do it too

With help you can achieve certification too. Air-MSP is the only UK MSP consultancy with a live service desk (Air-IT) to share proven operational successes. We all love sharing experience.

Our 12-month COESD programme is endorsed by SDI and covers the 9 concepts. Places fill quickly.

If you want to know more contact me through LinkedIn