While most businesses had continuity plans in place at the start of 2020, the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic caught the majority of business owners by surprise. It wasn’t a power outage or a flood, but a new kind of crisis that many didn’t see coming.
Some SMBs were able to marshal effective responses to changes in business conditions, but many didn’t have the resources to stay open because they hadn’t taken sufficient preemptive steps to remain operational.
A Goldman Sachs survey of 1,500 small businesses found that more than 50 percent believed that they couldn’t stay open more than three months amid conditions caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
The response across the business community has been urgent. Seventy-six percent of leaders surveyed by McKinsey say that they are considering implementing changes in their use of technology and systems in order to stay afloat.
Business leaders should note, however, that none of this was inevitable. Many business owners still feel helpless, but there actually are ways for businesses to adapt to the new normal.
Here are some ways that your business should have been prepared, and how you can still change your systems to help your company weather the pandemic.
Ready Remote Solutions
Before the crisis, managed services providers should have readied remote solutions so that employees could continue to work from home with uninterrupted access to company networks. Firms that already had secure and reliable systems were able to keep operations going when their offices shut. What’s more, they could move people onto the cloud reasonably quickly, since the majority of systems to do so were already in place.
Unfortunately, not all MSPs saw the strategic advantage of providing their business clients with flexible IT options. The notion that employees wouldn’t be able to assemble in a central location appeared unlikely, so they didn’t prepare for it. In hindsight, that was a grave error.
In some cases, firms didn’t have remote systems ready to go immediately but their managed IT services made it easy to set up, once remote work became necessary. The firms that really struggled were those who didn’t have flexible cloud solutions at all before the crisis.
From the beginning of the pandemic, many MSPs realized that remote working would have ramifications for network security. As employees went remote at the start of COVID-19, cyberattacks rose as cybercriminals tried to take advantage of the chaos.
Quality MSPs saw this potential threat on the horizon and put in place active measures to mitigate them. 24/7 active network monitoring, for instance, helped to reduce the incidence of breaches and maintain system integrity, even as workers started using their laptops from home and connecting to company resources via the cloud.
Experienced MSPs also offered their clients encryption, keeping data secure as it traveled between networks. Plus, they organized security-orientated staff training to prevent workers from falling prey to tactics like phishing, which is becoming more frequent.
In short, protective measures should have already been in place before the crisis. There shouldn’t have been a last-minute scramble to find IT professionals to configure systems for remote work and personal device use. Those protocols should have been in place regardless of a pandemic.
Switching to working from home was a significant transition for many employees, especially those who went from large desktops at the office to small laptops at home.
MSPs should have prepared workers for this kind of change, offering various tools to make the transition easier.
Employees, for instance, aren’t going to be productive using old, slow laptops and devices. MSPs should have provided them with new tools that fulfilled their needs. Furthermore, once workers went remote, there was a real need for enhanced communication tools.
Firms needed software that would replace real-time, in-person communications. Relying on email was too clunky. Therefore, MSPs should have provided video conferencing and chat services via the cloud or integrated with existing business portals.
Switching companies to distributed computing platforms was also crucial at the start of the crisis. If workers were out of the office, they couldn’t use on-prem servers to get their work done. They needed resources they could access from home. Here again, migrating to the cloud helped by providing access to critical files, folders, and apps from any location.
Finally, MSPs should have given companies faster internet connections to deal with increased traffic from off-site workers. Bottlenecks risked slowing performance and creating frustration for users at home.
In summary, an experienced and knowledgeable MSP should have prepared your business for the pandemic. If your MSP didn’t hit these key indicators, it might be time to consider switching your managed services provider.