5 Pandemic Lessons for MSPs

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic was eye-opening for some MSPs. Now, it’s time to close the gaps.

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Most managed services providers (MSPs) went back to work after the New Year’s holiday looking forward to a great year. Then, murmurs of a pandemic turned into a full-blown closure of the economy just weeks later. Optimistically, the worst of coronavirus is now over, giving you the chance to reflect on the impact it has had on business the first half of the year. More importantly, it gives you the chance to make changes based on the pandemic lessons you learned better positioning your business for whatever the rest of 2020, and beyond, will bring.

What actionable insights have you gained from these pandemic lessons?

1Most remotely delivered services continued through the shutdown.

A survey by the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA), found that more than two-thirds of respondents report on-site IT services decreased in Q1 2020 compared to the same quarter the year before. However, less than one-third of remotely delivered services declined in Q1. Moreover, the demand for remote services increased for more than half of the MSPs who responded to the survey. Evaluate the mix of services you provide — and will provide — moving forward.

2 Your clients could consider you more valuable during a crisis.

TSIA also found that the challenges MSPs could help their clients overcome during stay-at-home and business closures enhanced their value propositions. This set the stage for marketing and sales teams to double down on communicating the message that you had solutions that could help businesses in your market continue to operate.

3 You need to diversify your client portfolio.

If you provided services to certain, very narrowly defined markets, you felt the impact of the shutdowns much more strongly than other MSPs. True, there are distinct advantages to specializing in a market or niche to more thoroughly understand your clients, standardize your solutions, and streamline processes. But if your focus is table service restaurants, transportation, or entertainment, your business probably took more of a hit. The mission is to find a balance within your area of expertise. The Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA), for example, reports that providers with clients in restaurants, grocery, convenience store and retail experienced less of a negative impact than those that served restaurants alone.

4 Communication with clients is never optional, regardless of circumstances.

Your clients’ perception during a crisis may be worse than out of sight, out of mind. They may think if you’re out of sight, you’re out of business.  Normal modes of communication may have been disrupted by the shutdowns, but you still had the opportunity to send emails and maintain a presence on social media.

Another pandemic lesson that MSPs learned is that it’s vital to communicate the right message in the right way. The current crisis is a time for compassion and helpfulness, and probably not trying to add to stress or fear. Your focus should always be on building relationships.

5 Flexibility equals survival.

Some of your staff may have had coronavirus or cared for family members. Some may have been unable to work regular hours, and many may have been forced to stay home and work remotely, if possible. Professional service automation (PSA) solution, remote monitoring and management tool, IT documentation software or other automation tools were invaluable for keeping all members of your team informed and able to jump in, close tickets and provide the services your clients needed with efficiency and professionalism.

Although it may have been all hands on deck in your organization, clearly defining responsibilities and making sure nothing fell through the cracks was also crucial. Flexibility doesn’t excuse disorganization.

Will You Be Prepared Next Time?

A broader pandemic lesson is that MSPs need to recognize that the economy, demand, and even how you work can change on a dime. You may help your clients develop business continuity plans and provide them with the technology they need to stay in business, come what may. Have you done the same for your company?

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The former owner of a software development company and having more than a decade of experience writing for B2B IT solution providers, Mike is co-founder of XaaS Journal and DevPro Journal.