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MSPs who plan ahead and position their businesses for future success will find new opportunities in helping to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.
May 19, 2020
Sponsored by Barracuda MSP
The impact of COVID-19 has upended the global supply chain, and regional stay-at-home orders have severely curtailed economic activity. Many companies across all sectors are taking a significant revenue hit, and that includes MSPs. Some clients will have difficulty maintaining services because of the cash crunch. Others may go out of business. In either case, MSPs should brace themselves for at least some client losses. But the right strategy can help minimize the damage.
MSPs, by their very nature, offer support and services that will be increasingly in demand both as clients struggle with remote work infrastructure issues and as they plan to ramp up their operations when restrictions are lifted. MSPs who plan ahead and position their businesses for future success will find new opportunities, both short and long-term, among the many challenges this crisis has produced.
Here are five things MSPs can do to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19.
Maintain support services. While business is down for many clients right now, the need for support is increasing. Employees are working from home, and, in many cases, they don’t have robust infrastructures in place to support this shift. MSPs should be prepared to provide the help these clients need to ensure business continuity during the shutdown. We’ve heard a lot about “essential” businesses during the pandemic, but there are also countless businesses that are “non-essential” that MSPs are tasked with securing and serving during this time. They are keeping these clients working by helping to enable their remote-work operations.
While there may not be revenue directly attached to some of this assistance, the goodwill that a helping hand can generate is an investment in future business as these companies eventually get back to work.
Make security a priority for existing clients. Part of the impact of COVID-19 is that cybercriminals are taking advantage of the pandemic to step up attacks. MSPs should proactively offer security services and tools that can help shore up their defenses even as their workforce has been scattered outside the firewall. Monitoring tools that leverage artificial intelligence to spot strange behavior on the network can help identify new attacks. Also, refresher training on phishing scams can remind employees that while they may be working from home, they still need to maintain proper security protocols.
This is also an excellent time to revisit backup and data recovery services and protocols with your clients.
Additionally, many of your clients may be dealing with a dynamically changing workforce. Make sure you’re helping those companies with employee credential and access management–this is a perfect opportunity to show off these types of centralized capabilities. Clients may also need help cataloging the hardware that went home with their employees at the start of the shutdown, as well as data or files that may exist locally on those machines.
Prioritize automation. As part of the impact of COVID-19, many clients will find themselves struggling to keep up with the IT support demands of their newly remote workforce. MSPs can help augment those services by automating as much of that work as possible. Leveraging advanced remote monitoring and management (RMM) tools and security solutions with automation capabilities can help MSPs (who also may be short-handed) reduce their clients’ IT burdens during an already stressful situation.
Invest in redundancy. MSPs often preach the value of redundancy to their clients, but it’s an essential internal practice, as well. MSPs may have to re-arrange responsibilities on the fly. Staff may become ill, or they may have limited availability because of homeschooling or childcare responsibilities. There shouldn’t be any single points of failure within your staff; there should be a backup plan in place when key employees aren’t available. Additionally, your staff should be cross-trained so that they can work with clients they may not have interacted with previously.
Make sure your client support is seamless, regardless of your internal staffing situation. That level of reliability will be a vital part of maintaining your existing clients during this challenging time.
Establish new relationships. Just because so many companies are struggling doesn’t mean that there aren’t potential clients looking for help. Many companies have been caught flat-footed when it comes to work-from-home capabilities or cloud-based application access. MSPs can provide consulting, guidance and solutions for companies that lack in-house expertise for remote networking and application access. They may not have a VPN; they may need assistance with credential provisioning or launching virtual servers. They have zero experience with cloud computing.
Companies that have not considered working with an MSP in the past may be more receptive now that they’ve been forced into this unfamiliar scenario. Be prepared with solutions that can help.
It’s still unclear just how severe the economic impact of COVID-19 will be. MSPs can mitigate some of those effects by providing seamless support for existing clients and being prepared to take advantage of unexpected opportunities.
Brian Babineau is Senior Vice President and General Manager for Barracuda MSP. In this role, he is responsible for the company’s managed services business, a dedicated team focused on enabling partners to easily deliver affordable IT solutions to customers.
This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.
Read more about:MSPs
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