If you look through XaaS Journal’s archives, you’ll find plenty of articles that point out common mistakes that value-added resellers (VARs) and managed services providers (MSPs) make when implementing solutions or services. But, this time, we’re suggesting radical change instead of offering tips or ways to tweak solutions. After living through the pandemic and economic shutdown, it’s clear that the industry has been answering the question, “What is a business continuity plan?” wrong. From 2020 forward, providing business continuity solutions with any appreciable value requires looking at these solutions from a whole new perspective.
Business Continuity Plan Changes Your Clients Need Now
It wasn’t long ago that some VARs and MSPs were selling backup and disaster recovery solutions alone as “business continuity.” Although BDR is an important component of a business continuity plan, it’s not all that your clients need to keep running after a fire, a natural disaster – or shut down with little warning due to a pandemic. Other crucial technologies include VPN or software-defined vast area network (SD-WAN) to connect dispersed teams or people working remotely to the business’ network. Your clients should also consider adopting Desktop as a Service (DaaS), video conferencing, collaboration and other cloud solutions to avoid the helpless situation where all of their infrastructure and applications are inside a building they can’t enter.
In 2020, businesses learned they must take the issue of keeping their team connected to the applications and data they need more seriously. For example, when formulating their business continuity plans pre-COVID-19, they may have assumed that during a disaster recovery period, their teams could limp along relying on email and documents or spreadsheets they’ve stored in the cloud. But, during the pandemic, they learned the hard way that their employees and customers may be patient for a while, but they won’t be content to work this way when a shutdown is lengthy, and the goalpost keeps moving.
Other businesses may have answered the what-is-a-business-continuity-plan question with binders full of checklists and detailed action items. You may have clients who named committees, held quarterly reviews and conducted drills to try to prepare for any circumstance. But unfortunately, they probably found that their checklists and practice drills weren’t enough to address all of the disruption and barriers they could – and did – face during the pandemic.
So, What Should a Business Continuity Plan Include?
Erase your concept of business continuity for a moment and consider this: Instead of trying to come up with a plan that allows people to spring into action to immediately adapt after a disaster or shutdown, encourage your clients to build business continuity into their company’s culture and everyday operations.
VARs and MSPs can provide businesses with the infrastructure, solutions and services that aren’t dependent on an office building or other facility. Of course, businesses can use DaaS, cloud solutions, video conferencing and any other solution or service they need when working in the office. But, they can also use the same solutions if and when employees work from home or an alternate location. If disaster strikes, their employees can continue to work, just as they always do.
It’s also time to talk to your clients and prospects about their IT roadmaps, focusing on the advantages of automation, remote control, remote monitoring, and streamlining processes with integration. Those capabilities will make their operations more functional and agile, especially if a decrease in staff complicates a disaster or business disruption.
Taking a continual business continuity posture requires more than the right technology, however. Managers need to be prepared to manage dispersed teams, make sure they have the information and data they need, and keep them accountable and engaged. Business leaders also need to know how to keep lines of communication open with first responders, regulation authorities, and vendors and partners that could be experiencing business disruptions of their own. In a culture of business continuity, however, the responsibilities that fall to managers don’t have to cause delays. Managers will already have the tools they need and familiarity with them because they use them daily.
You may see your primary role as a VAR or MSP as only the business continuity solutions or services provider. As a trusted advisor, however, it’s your responsibility to make sure your clients build an IT environment, practical processes, and the right culture that enables them to keep doing business, come what may. Could you differentiate your business and meet a crucial need by taking a new perspective?