The role of MSPs during challenging times

George Anderson, director of product marketing at Webroot, an OpenText company discusses why MSPs are uniquely positioned to act as trusted advisors for SMBs.

The global coronavirus crisis is continuously creating new challenges for businesses around the world. Simultaneously, the landscape of digital security is rapidly shifting. To operate in a highly competitive environment and to stay cyber secure; businesses should lean on MSPs to run smoothly and efficiently.

MSPs as ‘an ideal partner’

Over the past few months, businesses have been forced to change traditional office-based operations and deploy remote work for all. While not without challenges, this presents an opportunity for MSPs to become “an ideal partner” to the small-and-medium size businesses (SMBs) they often serve. Their integrated security solutions within remote monitoring and management (RMM) and professional service automation (PSA) platforms helps businesses efficiently manage increasingly dispersed clients, while granting users the access they need outside the physical office.

Moving forward, MSPs will continue to provide IT support as new processes are implemented and systems are improved. And as they tailor support to each individual client, MSPs need to stand out in an industry with typically tight margins. They must review clients’ current processes and find opportunities to enhance business performance. They can also identify liabilities and challenges within operations that could be improved.

It’s also important to remember that there’s no stock solution for “bouncing back” as a business, as every client is unique. But there are five key areas MSPs can focus on to position themselves as ideal partners now, to establish and maintain success years down the road:

  1. An honest conversation: Set-up a virtual meeting to discuss their situation, about the state of the business and what obstacles stand on the way for getting back to business as usual.
  2. Devise an agenda: This will be based on the services you provide today, the associated costs, client’s challenges (or lack thereof), what is affordable and what can maybe be minimized, if there’s a change in the business direction. Many SMBs may look to pivot considering COVID-19.
  3. Aim to be flexible: Be accommodating (while remaining profitable) during the period between their business restarting and establishing a new normal. MSPs may need to take a slight hit in monthly income or margins as an acceptable sacrifice in order to help and keep a potential long-term client afloat.
  4. Recovery Plan: Work along with a client to draw up a joint “Recovery Plan” with a timeline for scaling back up work and assist with recovery. This may involve stressing the costliness of a data breach, downtime, and other ways services help the clients’ bottom line.
  5. Client account reviews: Schedule regular client account reviews to monitor technology-related pain points and assist with addressing them as reasonably as possible.

An MSP’s success depends on the success of the industries and clients they serve. Uncertain times create a new opportunity for MSPs to strengthen their relationships and prove their value to clients. Putting in the extra effort to establish a trusted and strong business advisor relationship during these times can contribute to collaborative success and long-term growth.

With security being a primary concern for MSPs, and cybercriminals continuing to target SMBs, the first step is to ensure a strong foundational security strategy. The cyber risks associated with cloud infrastructure generally reflect the same risks that have been facing businesses online for many years. Therefore, all infrastructure components within the business network must be properly protected and maintained, as attacks are increasingly advanced that significant damage can be done in a short time. By focusing on cyber resilience, businesses can prioritise protecting their most valuable assets – their data.

As such, MSPs need to offer a comprehensive set of security solutions, from ongoing security awareness training to endpoint security and DNS protection at the network layer, to keep businesses secure as they continue to move more functions to the cloud.

It’s a fact that economic recovery for small businesses will undoubtedly entail some tough decisions. But doing everything you can as an MSP to assist with that recovery, by establishing and implementing a plan, will lead to more robust business in the long run. Not to mention setting you as a trusted business advisor for the life of the relationship. So, take advantage of the opportunity.

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