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Updated Jun 27, 2024

What Is Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM)?

As more people work from home, business owners need to monitor and manage their company’s network from a distance. The right tools ensure data security and productivity.

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Sean Peek, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Ownership
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Over 36 million Americans, or 22 percent of the workforce, will work from home by 2025, according to an Upwork report. That’s why business owners need the right tools to manage their employees and monitor their networks’ security from afar.

Remote monitoring and management (RMM) is a type of IT software that allows managed service providers (MSPs) to monitor a workforce’s devices, endpoints and networks. For any business owner overseeing a remote workforce, these features are important to ensure their employees’ and customers’ data security.

How does RMM work?

An RMM system can include one or more types of software that help MSPs identify, report and fix any problems within a company’s network. The software is installed on any device or application that the client business uses, including laptops, desktop computers, tablets and mobile devices.

Typically, the software identifies the problem, and then the MSPs manually go in and fix the issue. This system can also help businesses maintain their networks by updating their operating systems, adding antivirus definitions, and keeping hard disks clean and efficient.

RMMs monitor a network’s entire remote system. This helps MSPs maintain all of the devices used within a business’s system. RMMs can collect and organize usage data, generate reports for MSPs, and automate any system maintenance. The specific features included depend on which software is used and how the client business customizes its features. [Read related: How to Effectively Implement Employee Monitoring Software]

What are the benefits of having remote monitoring and management?

RMMs can save money for your business and time for your IT support team by automating certain processes and monitoring your network’s devices and applications.

Real-time monitoring and alerts management

One of the biggest wastes of time is when an employee has a technical issue and needs to wait for your IT team to identify and fix the problem. This can cost your team hours of productivity, especially if the issue is affecting multiple employees at once.

Editor’s note: Looking for employee monitoring software for your business? Complete the questionnaire below to have our vendor partners contact you with free information.

The best way to solve a technical issue is to prevent it from happening. RMM software monitors all devices on your network and the applications your team uses for any potential problems. If any warnings or issues come up, the software will alert the MSP, who can monitor the issue more closely or take remote control of the device and fix the problem before it becomes a major issue. [Read related article: Why You Should Tell Your Employees You’re Monitoring Them]

IT automation and scripting

Many users put off maintenance of their devices or software because it’s too time-consuming. They’ll mute an update notification until the next day, only to keep postponing the update indefinitely. RMMs monitor all your company-owned devices and can automate these tedious tasks. This frees up your IT experts to work on more important issues and allows your employees to maintain their devices without cutting into their work time.

These are some of the tasks an RMM can automate:

  • Creating system restore points
  • Deleting temporary files
  • Deleting internet history
  • Rebooting a device
  • Shutting down a device
  • Running a disk check
  • Running scripts

Patch management

When an application or software needs to be fixed or has an update, the vendor will send out a patch so the user can update it. Patch management functions in RMMs allow your system to download patches automatically and update the program while the user is offline. An RMM that automates and monitors these patch updates gives your IT team more time to handle more pressing tasks. Your MSP can monitor the implementation of these patches and how they’re running on your system at any time.

FYIDid you know
RMM software offers many benefits — including automation, real-time monitoring, alerts, IT desk automation, patch management and detailed reporting — that can enhance the efficiency and productivity of your business operations.

Reporting and analytics

RMMs not only monitor all these tasks, but can also collect all the data from those processes and turn it into an analytical report. Your IT team and managers can easily read these reports and use them to monitor projects and make larger decisions for the organization. These reports can be generated automatically through a scheduling system or on demand.

Below are some of the report types that RMM software can generate:

  • System health
  • Device health
  • User health
  • Audit of the system’s inventory
  • Licensing
  • Software inventory
  • Patch feedback

What features are included in RMM software?

RMM software can include many features. Here are the four most beneficial features to look for when you research these tools.

1. Patch management

One of an MSP’s main responsibilities is maintaining an organization’s security. The best way to secure a system is to make sure that all of its patches are up to date. RMMs can report and install any patches from operating system updates and third-party software. They can also report on the quality of the patch and how the devices and software are responding to it. The RMM will document these findings in a report or send the information directly to your MSP if there’s an urgent issue.

TipBottom line
If you want to enhance your RMM software’s patch management feature, you can streamline workflow by assigning risk levels, implementing a repeatable routine and reviewing patch data at the end of each cycle.

2. Remote access

More of today’s workforce is working from home, so MSPs must be able to maintain their networks remotely. A good RMM allows MSPs to access a user’s device remotely to troubleshoot and fix issues. They can see any CPU, process, memory and other errors on the device through the RMM, which makes it easier to pinpoint the problem. This reduces overall labor.

3. Alerts

MSPs need to know of any issues or updates to their system in order to maintain and quickly fix any problems. RMMs can send various alerts to your support team. You can set these alerts to go out as frequently and to as many devices as you like. The RMM will alert MSPs to an issue before the client even notices and calls them.

4. Reporting

One of the best RMM features for the long-term health and growth of a business is the reports. These reports can verify that your system is healthy and compile data to help you make future decisions. Types of reports the software may offer include an inventory of your devices and software, a view into the health of your systems, and analytics on your products and customers.

What to consider when looking for remote monitoring and management software

The right RMM can make your employees more productive and ultimately save your business time and money. Every RMM is different, so there are various factors to consider when choosing one for your business. Here are some of the main factors you should look into during your research process:

  • Cost
  • Number of users it can support
  • Security features
  • Customization
  • Remote access to files and devices
  • VPN implementation
  • Compatibility with other software

“When looking for a remote management solution, employers with distributed teams should look for solutions that are simple to use,” said Sahin Boydas, CEO and founder of RemoteTeam.com. “Some tools are just [too] complex, and employers also need to remember that the fact that they have an IT department doesn’t mean they can navigate any computer system.”

You might also want to get your team’s input when you look for a remote management solution.

“Employers should also go with tools that can easily adapt to their distributed teams’ needs,” Boydas said. “The work environment is changing every now and then, and your company’s needs will also keep changing. A solution that can accommodate your team’s workflow and changing environment is the best option when looking for a remote desktop management tool.”

Bottom LineBottom line
When choosing RMM software, you should consider factors like cost, user capacity, security, customization and user-friendliness. Finding tools that can adapt to different needs and workflow is important for remote desktop management.

What is the best RMM software?

Here are a few top RMM software options you should consider for your business. 

RemotePC

For small teams looking for seamless device connectivity, RemotePC is an affordable remote PC access solution — whether it’s at home or in the office. While some competitors require preinstallation, RemotePC is accessible through web browsers with an access ID and personal key for secure remote device connections. [See RemotePC review]

Wrike

If you are searching for collaboration-focused software, Wrike offers a cloud-based platform that empowers remote workers through various collaboration tools. Available on multiple devices, it fosters external and internal teamwork, document sharing, and interactive boards. Two-factor authentication, single sign-on and custom access roles ensure security. Wrike offers a free plan, mobile apps and integrations to benefit small businesses, while Wrike Lightspeed offers unified work management for remote and hybrid setups. 

Zoho Assist Remote PC Access

Zoho Assist offers versatility through free and paid plans. It caters to diverse needs and features compatibility with different types of devices with hassle-free and browser-based connections. Key features of Zoho Assist include multimonitor navigation, two-factor authentication and integrations like Zia, an AI-powered platform for enhanced customer support. [See Zoho Assist review]

Freshdesk

Freshdesk by Freshworks enables businesses to exceed customer support expectations through its AI-powered omnichannel platform in ticket management. The platform includes custom statuses and a shared inbox for seamless communication. Freshdesk supports channels like email, chat and social media and can be integrated with Freshworks CRM to enhance collaboration between support and sales teams. [See Freshworks CRM review]

Lauren Kubiak contributed to this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

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Sean Peek, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Ownership
Sean Peek co-founded and self-funded a small business that's grown to include more than a dozen dedicated team members. Over the years, he's become adept at navigating the intricacies of bootstrapping a new business, overseeing day-to-day operations, utilizing process automation to increase efficiencies and cut costs, and leading a small workforce. This journey has afforded him a profound understanding of the B2B landscape and the critical challenges business owners face as they start and grow their enterprises today. In addition to running his own business, Peek shares his firsthand experiences and vast knowledge to support fellow entrepreneurs, offering guidance on everything from business software to marketing strategies to HR management. In fact, his expertise has been featured in Entrepreneur, Inc. and Forbes and with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
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