Don’t Learn These the Hard Way: 3 Lessons for Today’s MSPs

While the pandemic ramifications are still unfolding, MSPs around the world are hoping for a fast recovery. They are keeping one eye firmly on the ‘here and now’ but also cautiously looking ahead to what’s shaping up as a great reset.

To discuss what MSPs should learn from the current managed IT trends, I spoke with Rob Rae, Datto’s Senior Vice President of Business Development, two weeks ahead of our annual MSP conference, Build IT Live, where we will have him as a key educator. Rob and I discussed the need for hyper-focusing on cybersecurity plus the do’s and don’ts of outsourcing this particular capability.

Co-manage security to extend your influence

In today’s increasingly disruptive threat landscape, it’s essential for MSPs to embrace cyber resilience so they can mitigate disruption. If your critical systems or customer data were suddenly inaccessible due to phishing, ransomware, or distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, how soon would you be able to get back up and running? That’s a question that should be on every MSP leader’s mind today.

A big piece of the cyber resilience puzzle is collaboration. There’s no threat management approach that can guarantee the protection of an MSP’s IT infrastructure. It really does take a village to protect against today’s socially engineered cyber-attacks. If it’s on your mind, then it’s most likely on your customers’ minds as well. By partnering with a cybersecurity expert, you can offer a customizable set of solutions as part of their SLAs, including endpoint protection, ongoing end-user training, threat intelligence, and backup/recovery

Scale effectively and strategically

Don’t get too ambitious and go overboard while scaling up in the current economy. For mindful expansion, split your MSP business offerings into two categories, namely ‘core’ and ‘exploratory.’ List out everything that concerns your usual line of business under ‘core.’ For ‘exploratory’, identify all products or services you had to launch to tackle event-led, unexpected demand. As a strategy, continue hiring full-time for your ‘core’ work and outsource for the ‘exploratory’ line of business. This way, if the cyclicality fades out in the future, you will be able to scale down accordingly and therefore keep your operational cost in check.

Outsource desired capabilities without overdoing it

What many of us don’t realize is that small-scale MSPs can use technology more effectively compared to industry giants. For instance, small MSP practices can quickly test out shelf solutions for fit and replace them quickly if they don’t work, with minimal impact on their business. Make the most of this ability. While outsourcing a capability, try to limit excessive customization. Instead, identify the process(s) that can be automated or further optimized for operational efficiency.

Final Thought: The current MSP landscape is changing at a rapid and unpredictable pace today. Interestingly, this is the time to address the deep changes needed in this new environment to stay relevant and support growth. To adapt and thrive in such business dynamics, MSPs must become resilient and agile, from all perspectives—operations, technology, and people.