A pessimist would say it will be a year and a half before we are through the horrific Coronavirus Pandemic. An optimist (me) says two weeks. Between the two is the truth.
If we follow President Trump’s lead, the US will reach the virus apex this week or next. Testing will become so widely available and used that we can open up certain parts of the US, and vaccines we already use for other purposes will have been tested and available as Coronavirus treatments.
What does all of this mean? Hopefully, by the end of April, parts of the world will be returning to the new normal, and if the virus dies down like a typical flu virus, we will be through the season by June. My guess is, this may be true for the Northern Hemisphere, but the Southern Hemisphere still has their flu season ahead of them.
Whether it is May, June, or sometime next year, at some point, we will return to a new normal. I have not heard anyone say we will return to the old normal. Too much has changed.
We have been forced to work and live differently, some of which was better, some of which was a direction we were already going (such as moving to remote workers). Essentially, the crisis pushed us to accelerate the timeline.
This begs the question:
If we can see the end in sight, how do we prepare for the return to the new normal?
5 Thoughts on Preparing Your MSP for The “New Normal”
Unparked parked projects:
As we talk with MSPs around the world, we are hearing two things:
- We are in a lull with most Work-at-Home people who have stabilized and are working in the temporary norm. Now we are focused on completing the internal projects we never get to.
- We are planning for the project restarts, making sure we understand where the project was paused, what is left, and re-planning the rest of the project. Re-planning includes: revisiting the Scope of Work and looking for more efficient ways to complete the job, now that we know more about the project.
Help Desk Expectations:
It is hard to predict the new norm. How many temporary Work-From-Home Employees will never return to the building?
From our experience, supporting remote workers is more labor–intensive than when they are co-located. I also have never heard of a different Help Desk pricing model for Co-Located than for remote workers. My guess, and what I am hearing others say, is that we can expect 20-30% of the Temporary Work-From-Homers never to return to a co-location work environment. But no one really knows.
This may mean two things:
- Help Desk staffing may need to be adjusted. Not 20-30% or whatever number never returns, but the increased labor difference shifting 20-30% of the Managed Service Customer base to remote worker support. I have never come across a study on what that difference is. So much has changed, my guess is we will deal with it as it comes and adjust staffing levels based on Service Delivery Forecast reports.
- There will be a lot of post-crisis project work. It is one thing to send people home to work on a temporary basis, and then reengineering the network to support the predominately Work-From-Home workforce. We are already hearing of MSP Customers asking for data migration projects from Server Rooms to the Cloud, and this transition (which started a few years ago) is being accelerated during the crisis, and probably for the next year or so.
Already many MSPs are hearing from their Customers that when we get through this thing, we need to sit down and talk about a DR plan. It is a shame it takes a Pandemic to wake up Business Owners.
Over the course of my career, I have helped several Customers deal with disasters. They were not Pandemics, or even National, State, Regional, or Citywide catastrophes. We all know a fire, broken water pipe, chemical spill, bomb threat, or even a non-life threatening flu can cause major disruptions to any one company, requiring some sort of robust Disaster Recovery plan.
I personally have always enjoyed an afternoon DR tabletop exercise and the adjustments made from the lessons learned. Trust me, it is much better to live through the mock drills than the real-life situations.
Managed Service Upsell Ops:
One silver lining is the number of Managed Service agreements that could have been sold in the first week of the National Emergency. I am unaware of any MSP bumping an existing Customer to sell a new Managed Service Agreement, but that does not mean that once the temporary norm settles in, those conversations are not happening.
For years, MSPs have sold Managed Service agreements based on the value of smoothing out the Customer’s account payables, as well as a better labor rate.
In recent years, selling Managed Service Agreements based on Response Times has gained a better upsell traction. Now Sales has a new tool in their belt. The new tool is a statement like, “If a National or Regional disaster hits, it is the Managed Service Customers that we are staffed to support. Without a Managed Service Agreement, we will get to you as soon as we can” (inferring it may be a week or two).
MSP Response the next time around:
In closing, let me present the data. The week the President of the United States declared a National Emergency, we had many conversations with Owners of MSPs.
We heard two responses:
- We are trying to get out in front of this by communicating how we help through our marketing efforts, and by meeting with our top Customers to prepare them for the Work-From-Home order.
- We are taking a wait-and-see approach and are prepared to help our Managed Service Customers first.
What was interesting to watch was the data coming in. Those MSPs that got out in front of the Ticket Tidal Wave, were in the -5 to 20% Ticket Created uptick compared to the six-week average prior to the announcement. Whereas the Wait-and-See MSPs saw a 30-80% uptick.
I hope you have found this and the last three articles helpful as we navigate this once in a century experience.
FYI: We specialize in helping MSPs using the Autotask software to improve their Service Delivery operations and Customer experience. If there is anything we can help you with, please let us know.