Managing an MSP: 5 ways to improve effectiveness during a crisis

By SolarWinds on May 6, 2021


Effective MSP management is never more crucial than during a time of crisis—find out what you can do to improve effectiveness when disaster strikes.

Since the coronavirus pandemic struck, businesses have been forced to adopt new working practices and management approaches to safeguard their business and the services they deliver to their customers. The continued impact of the pandemic on businesses has highlighted the importance of optimizing workflow and improving overall effectiveness in the event of a crisis. This is perhaps even more important for managed services provider businesses, which are likely managing assets and systems for multiple customers. If MSPs fail to preserve not only their own effectiveness, but also their customers’ productivity during a time of crisis, the consequences could be disastrous—and may even risk the MSP’s survival. Customers must feel secure in the knowledge that their chosen service provider is capable of effectively managing a crisis. To help offer their customers this assurance, this article will outline five ways that MSPs can improve their effectiveness during a crisis.

MSP management best practices in times of crisis

Even when disaster strikes, businesses need to have plans in place that help them optimize their workflows and improve business performance. These management best practices will help you safeguard business security, business continuity, and quality of service during a crisis.

1. Prioritize time management

Because of increased support requests, additional strain on resources, and other similar factors, a crisis can have a significant effect on an MSP’s ability to manage time appropriately. Prioritizing time management from the offset—and ensuring that you have the appropriate measures and tools in place to safeguard successful time management in the event of a crisis—can play an important role in maintaining effectiveness.

To assure your customers your time management approach will remain intact when disaster occurs, consider establishing a crisis plan. In your business continuity and disaster recovery plans, you should list which aspects of your business are considered “critical” and should take precedence in a crisis.

When creating this list, consider which operations are essential to your operations and which are most likely to be impacted by a crisis. This will help you prioritize the most important aspects of your business at times when your resources and time are stretched thin. When choosing what to prioritize, always keep in mind that your customers’ business operations are likely to be affected based on your ability to manage time effectively during a crisis. Your approach to time management (and your ability to preserve it) can also be improved upon by using the right tools—such as PSA and scheduling tools. N-able ® MSP Manager is a PSA tool that offers scheduling features, allowing you to easily schedule recurring tickets and appointments, manage the details of appointments, and track billable time. Other MSP Manager capabilities include ticketing, customer and knowledge management, and much more. By keeping your daily activities organized, these functionalities can help strengthen time management and reduce the likelihood of being compromised in a crisis. A 14-day free trial of MSP Manager is available.

2. Consolidate and centralize MSP management tools

In increasingly digital working environments, MSPs and other businesses are inevitably using multiple tools to support their operations. There are, however, several issues associated with maintaining multiple solutions, especially during a crisis. Firstly, ensuring employees have a robust knowledge of how to use each of your tools can pose a challenge—and ensuring that trained individuals are available and able to use these tools in the event of a disaster is significantly more difficult if your company uses a large number of tools.

Maintaining multiple tools during a crisis can also be a challenge. For example, if a crisis impacts your company financially, the cost associated with maintaining several tools simultaneously could prove unmanageable. The solution to these issues is to consolidate and centralize your tools into a single solution wherever possible. Using all-in-one management tools—particularly cloud-based tools accessible from a web console—can be significantly more cost-effective than using multiple tools. It’s also easier to manage one vendor with a single avenue of support.

To consolidate your MSP management activities, we recommend N-able RMM or N-able N-central®. These all-in-one software options providing out-of-the-box monitoring templates, fast remote access, patch management, web protection, managed antivirus, backup and recovery, and much more. A 30-day free trial of N-able RMM or N-central is available for MSPs interested in finding out how they can consolidate their tools.

3. Allocate resources for an influx of support requests

When a crisis occurs, your MSP help desk team will likely experience an influx of support requests. To manage and respond to these requests quickly and efficiently, it’s crucial that you allocate resources appropriately. With the help of the right tools, you should be confident that your team is able to accommodate a spike in requests.

During a spike in support requests, your approach to providing support should be organized and robust. This will help reduce the likelihood of overlooked support requests, dissatisfied customers, and overwhelmed support technicians. Alongside a PSA tool that helps you manage tickets as mentioned above, we also recommend investing in a powerful remote support tool.

To resolve tickets rapidly and from a distance, being able to provide unattended support will be more important than ever. To establish secure and efficient remote connections, N-able Take Control is the tool you need. This software offers both attended and unattended support, allowing you to establish connections typically in under eight seconds and get straight to troubleshooting. Crystal-clear visibility allows you to see exactly what’s going on with your customers’ devices, whether you’re dealing with multi-monitor set-ups or a mobile screen. To learn more, access a 14-day free trial here.

4. Prepare for a shift towards a remote working environment

As we’ve seen during the ongoing pandemic, a crisis may well result in your team (and your customers’ teams) working from home. To safeguard your business in the event of a switch to remote work, modern MSPs must take steps to ensure they are able to access and manage important systems while working from home.

One of the challenges of working from home is that it can make company passwords more vulnerable to being compromised. For instance, work-from-home employees might be more likely to reuse passwords used on their personal accounts, or they may allow other members of the household to use their company computer. To help ensure that your company passwords are safe and that employees can securely access company systems even when working remotely, a password manager can make all the difference. An enterprise-grade password management system can store your passwords for you in an encrypted vault, help you implement granular access controls, and auto-generate strong passwords for you.

N-able Passportal is a cloud-based password management system that can help you implement and enforce password management best practices. You can request a demo of N-able Passportal.

5. Increase email security

One of the key services to protect in a disaster is email. Modern business communications still largely occur via email, and your customers need access to email services in order to continue conducting business. Hackers will take any chance they can get to infiltrate your company’s systems, targeting email users can be a worthwhile pursuit for them. To help employees recognize email scams, during normal business operations and in the event of a crisis, consider providing your team with additional training on how to identify email-borne threats. Another way to help prevent email scams from compromising business security is to implement an email security solution. N-able Mail Assure offers a range of features designed to keep your business email safe, even when your team is working remotely. With an Intelligent Protection and Filtering Engine built on collective threat intelligence, Mail Assure can help you protect your MSP and its customers against even emerging email threats—with 99.999% filtering accuracy. And if disaster does strike, Mail Assure provides 24/7 email continuity helping to ensure that emails are still accessible via a web-based console. Long-term email archiving with an unlimited retention period also helps prevent data loss. A 30-day free trial of Mail Assure is available today.

Preparing for potential crises

While it may be impossible for MSPs to predict when disaster will strike, it’s important for them to stay prepared at all times. The tips and tools mentioned in this guide can help your business prepare for a rainy day, ensuring that business security, quality of service, and continuity is preserved even when disaster strikes. With appropriate management, you can assure your customers that you are capable of serving their needs—even in a crisis.

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