How to manage your MSP business during the coronavirus pandemic – A step-by-step guide for IT services to be a solid foundation for your clients during crisis mode

“You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” 

– Jeff Bezos

With COVID-19 forcing planet earth to work remotely, there’s now an unprecedented need and demand for MSPs and IT services.

With the infectious nature of COVID-19, virtually every company on earth is now shifting to operate remotely. Which means a sudden influx of highly needed quality IT services.

Every MSP we’ve spoken to in the last week alone, has seen a spike in tickets, client demands and RFPs.

Every managed service provider needs to be on top of their game for their clients, to be able to keep their operation running well during Coronavirus pandemic. Which means that your MSP business itself needs to be set up to be run smoothly in a remote capacity.

Our team invested many hours putting this guide together so you’re well prepared to run your MSP business during Coronavirus pandemic.

While the world is in a state of transition, YOU, the MSP can be the most supportive pillar for your clients, and provide unforgettable service.

First, make sure that you are fully prepared to work remotely.

How to be set up as a 100% “remote MSP”?

If you’re used to being a managed service-provider on-site, it can seem daunting at first to shift to fully remote.

If you’re used to using the old school legacy solutions of yore, you’ll notice 3 core problems right now:

Problem 1 – quarantined MSPs

You as an MSP might be quarantined yourself. If you’re not set up remotely, being quarantined can mean no work at all.

Now is the best time to be set up remotely. So even if you are quarantined, it won’t matter. You can still service your clients like the pro you are.

Which is to say, having a remote monitoring solution is no longer an option or luxury. Every client you have needs to be secured onsite and remotely. Post COVID-19, RMM is a hands down must-have for all MSPs.

Problem 2 – Remote employee connection

If your clients’ employees start working from home on their own PC, there is a host of potential issues that come up (see below).

For one, they’ll need to access their work computer, remotely.

Problem 3 – onsite work

Due to hyper-hygiene sensitivities, too many services might neglect working on-site. While safety is of course first, there are also ways you can do onsite work safely. Now is when your customers need you the most, so it’s an important time to step up.

The fact that your clients work from home and their office is clear gives you the opportunity to perform onsite projects. It’s best to have a clear policy of how you’re managing on-site work.

With that for context, let’s drill down to set YOU up to be fully remote.

4 Steps for MSPs to go 100% remote

When switching to remote, there are several potential client scenarios, including:

  1. Enrolling New Clients
  2. On-Site Clients Become Remote Clients
  3. Onboarding Personal Devices to Business Environment

Either way, like anything, you want to start with the end in mind. Setting up a remote working relationship is a service. That service depends on client volume and client quality.

It’s complicated to set up a home base, because each home is different and therefore, there are many variables. Of course, it’s best to align all devices according to common best practices.

Don’t think about this transition as a “Computer fix-it guy”. Instead, approach this conversation as the clients VCIO/IT Strategist.

STEP 1: client installation

This is where you send your client the link to download the Atera agent. Because you’re setting up each and every home office, every user is a phone call. Which is work and your opportunity, because they need your genius help.

STEP 2: computer lineup

You’ll need to:

  1. Check for viruses
  2. Install a business environment
  3. Set-up Anti-Virus
  4. Scanning
  5. Cleaning
  6. Updates / Driver updates
  7. Update & Patch the OS

… to start with. Understand that this is an extra service.

STEP 3: client report

Here you’ll want to communicate with your client and or their manager, and provide them with a status report.

Since this is a home environment and others may be in the house you need to take into consideration high usage of internet bandwidth resources by IP-TV/game consoles and more, plan ahead, set up ‘quality of service’ (QoS).

You’ll want to recommend an internet upgrade for higher bandwidth per employee. Remember, they’re working from home. So it’s likely they’ll need faster internet and a whole range of potential upgrades.

STEP 4: provide “next steps”

As mentioned above, your opportunity here is beyond “fixing computers”. Your opportunity is guiding and advising your client in this critical and crucial transition.

Most companies have no concept of how much of a shift it is to take their employees from working in an office to working at home.

You do.

You understand how many details, potential problems, needed solutions and future opportunities there are for your client.

Step 4 is where you give your client a roadmap of sorts so they see how the next 30-90 days will progress, step by step.

Secrets for remote-work success

Here are a few extra tips to crush it as a Remote MSP rock star.


Over communicate

On-site provides the luxury of spontaneous, continuous conversation. Overcompensate for lack of communication by over-communicating; with your clients and within your team.

In a remote context, your client and team will appreciate the professional level of support and guidance that comes with #overcommunication.


Assign a responsible person to be your own team’s IT pro and gather all internal demands. This person should be available at all times.

With the increase of questions and ‘urgent’ problems, you’ll want the infrastructure set up in advance where you’re not on call 24/7.

Side point:

As the computer fix-it guy, you respond to anything and everything that clients send to you.

That might not be to your advantage.

As the VCIO or IT-Strategist, you must be set up for high-demands to be handled by someone on your team. If that’s not in place, use the money you saved with Atera to hire someone. Part time to start, and as you enroll more clients, they can progress into a full time position.

Ticket first

With a potential dramatic increase in support requests, it’s best to emphasize to your clients the switch to “Ticket First”. This frees you up from being bombarded by SMS, Whatsapp, Email, phone calls, etc.

Leverage the streamlined process of PSA with ticketing, so your time is better spent.

Backup everything

Everything you have must be backed up. Nothing you don’t know here – just a friendly reminder of the IT truth you already know.

Now is the time to check and update your backup policy. With the rise of additional risks, it might be better to shorten the backup and snapshots intervals.

Cover everything with end-point protection

User information and transactional data can all be exposed during online transactions from specific types of threats. Including:

  1. Phishing (How to avoid Coronavirus email scams)
  2. DNS poisoning
  3. Keystroke logging
  4. Screen grabbing
  5. Cookie scraping
  6. Clipboard grabbing
  7. Browser and session hijacking

…all by malicious software mounting man-in-the-browser or man-in–the-middle attacks.

So yeah, you want to cover everything.

Be extra vigilant with phishing

Be proactive, send your customers digests with phishing examples and explain how to identify and avoid attacks in advance.

From SPAM to emails that just look suspicious, you’ll want to be extra cautious about anything potentially “phishy”.

Create policies

When discussing remote-transitions and next steps with clients, the more thorough your approach, the easier the transition will be. Easier for you and your client.

So having your service plan and policies set up in advance will just make your work even more seamless.

In terms of your human contact policy, with COVID-19 in full force, it’s not a time for hugging or “closing on the handshake”.


Be available

During a transition, your client will have questions and urgent problems that pop-up. So whether you have a 24/7 delegated support person in place or you have designated “Office Hours”, ensure you and/or your company is available to handle the potential incoming tickets.

You can work on the go with the Atera RMM mobile app. So whether you’re at home or on mars, you can manage everything from your mobile phone.

Assure Every Device Has an Agent in Place

You can’t serve your clients without them having an agent in place. So make sure that every single device (especially home devices) has an agent installed as soon as you can.

As soon as your clients’ office goes remote, you suddenly have PC’s that need agents. Potentially doubling the number agents you currently have installed. Paying for double the amount of agents at a time that you actually need to save money is a very bad proposition. Naturally, with Atera there is no extra cost for installing additional agents.

As your client demands more agents, ensure you have the foundation to deliver, at no extra cost to you.

Backup Everything + Cover with End-Point

As your clients and their employees work from home, all kinds of scenarios can surface. Your clients, and their employees, are not IT geniuses. So anything and everything must be backed up in advance.

Check and update your backup policy. It’s better to shorten the backup and snapshots intervals.

Be proactive

Don’t wait for clients to approach you, when you have the solution. By being proactive and helpful before your clients ask you to.

Imagine the following scene.

Client: “Oh no! My home internet is slower than a dead turtle, what do I do?!”.

You: “Don’t worry, I already took care of it and ordered you an upgrade.”

Can you see their response? They’ll love you for backing up everything.

Especially during a crisis, it’s best to send your client a daily report of your activities and progress to reflect the scope of your work.

On-site work

Yes, onsite work. Onsite work is not a curse word, as long as you keep the hygiene in place and play it smart.

When working onsite – when offices are empty due to people working from home – there’s a lot that can be done. Empty offices not only mean better hygiene for you, it also means no distractions to get your work done and no interruptions to your client’s daily routine.


Why now Is the time to provide world-class service

Your clients are working remotely. Their employees are working remotely. The quicker you’re able to offer them an irresistible service, the better you’ll position yourself as an excellent service provider and the faster your business will grow.

Make your quality of service unforgettable.

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