As the modern workforce continues to become increasingly remote, managed services providers (MSPs) are likely encountering service challenges they haven’t faced before. Maintaining business continuity as well as continuity of service whilst implementing new work from home (WFH) policies isn’t easy. This guide will aim to walk you through the various issues associated with having your techs work from home—and will highlight specific tools that can help you establish a dependable IT service continuity plan to ensure you can still effectively support your customers.
The challenges associated with working from home
Among a variety of other potential setbacks, you’re likely to encounter the following challenges as the workforce becomes increasingly remote. Many of these are technology-based, but some relate to factors associated with the general WFH environment, such as accountability and reduced supervision.
This is perhaps the most important WFH challenge, especially regarding business continuity. An organization’s operations can’t continue remotely without the appropriate security measures in place. This is particularly true for MSPs, who’ll be responsible for the security of not just their own systems, but their customers’ systems as well.
Working from home can give rise to a number of security risks on-premises office environments don’t experience as often. Password insecurity is a good example. While writing your password on a post-it note and sticking it to your screen isn’t an acceptable practice in an office space, it’s difficult to prevent someone from doing this in their own home. This threat is exacerbated by the fact there is no way for companies to monitor who is coming in and out of an employee’s home. As such, if a staff member is reckless with their password security, and an individual with malicious intent manages to gain access to sensitive credentials, it could seriously impact your MSP’s ability to protect customer data.
Other security issues might include endpoint vulnerabilities, increased susceptibility to viruses, and poor documentation management. Overseeing these critical aspects of your company’s security becomes very challenging when staff are working from home. This is in part because there are no supervisors or managers to deliver regular training updates and flag any issues they might have with an employee’s everyday business security practices.
To help protect your company and customers from security risks and breaches, you should utilize an IT security tool that is designed for MSPs and compatible with remote working. N-able offers two all-in-one remote monitoring and management tools which offer robust security features—N-able® N-central® and N-able Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) .
While RMM and N-central both offer comprehensive capabilities that allow you to confidently serve customers from a single dashboard, they’re best suited to different types of IT services providers. RMM is best for providers who want to equip their technicians with the tools they need to hit the ground running and grow from there. N-central, on the other hand, is best for providers who likely already have customers with diverse and complex networks—they simply want to expand and offer more robust customization and efficiency.
However, N-central and RMM are similar in that they both include endpoint detection and response capabilities. This includes automated rollback, policy-driven automation, near real-time file analysis, behavioral artificial intelligence engines, forensic analysis, autonomous threat response, and offline endpoint protection capabilities. Managed antivirus is also included in both tools. A 30-day free trial of N-central is available here and you can access a trial of RMM here.
Additionally, if you’re looking for a password and documentation management solution that can help you achieve MSP business continuity and password security with a remote workforce, then N-able Passportal and IT Documentation Manager comes highly recommended. Passportal makes it easy to implement password management best practices, helping staff secure their passwords even when working from home. Credentials and knowledge are stored in an encrypted password vault, designed to be secured by role-based permissions and multifactor authentication.
Human error can happen in the office or at home, but you could argue human error is more likely to occur when working from home simply because the environment is more solitary. Without other team members around to notice mistakes, or supervisors to oversee operations, human error may sometimes slip by unnoticed in a remote workforce.
The most critical of these mistakes is the deletion of important data, which can have a potentially devastating impact on your business. It can damage your reputation, lead to customer dissatisfaction, a loss of revenue, and—in some cases—make your company liable if you’re somehow responsible for data loss. Data loss is especially concerning if it’s been stolen and exploited for malicious purposes, particularly if a cybercriminal uses it to launch an attack on your customers. For example, a cybercriminal could hold the data for ransom. You have a responsibility to protect your customers’ data security—and that job becomes easier with the right tools.
N-able Backup is an IT business continuity and disaster recovery tool that helps you streamline backup and recovery practices. N-able Backup delivers everything you need to achieve MSP business continuity through a single, easy-to-use console. This tool is built to help you speed up backups and restores with cloud storage-optimized technology, reduce hardware costs with storage in a private cloud, and restore files quickly and easily with flexible recovery options. It manages backups for virtual and physical servers, business documents, workstations, and Microsoft 365 email. If you’re interested in learning more, you can start a free 30-day trial.
Many employers are concerned the increased need for remote working practices makes it difficult to establish robust management and supervision practices. This raises some accountability challenges. To help keep staff focused and accountable, N-able MSP Manager offers a range of ticketing capabilities, such as time tracking and ticket prioritization.
Time tracking ensures that an engineer can activate a built-in timer when working on a ticket. This will track the amount of time spent resolving the problem. Once work is finished, the system calculates and updates billing information according to recorded time and the associated service rate. Not only does this help an organization track technician time appropriately during WFH, it also provides powerful insight into the types of issues that take the longest amount of time to resolve.
The dashboard view helps engineers prioritize their work appropriately, allowing them to view their assigned tickets and tickets that are overdue all in one place. A 14-day free trial of MSP Manager is available.
The need for remote access tools
As the workforce becomes increasingly remote, companies will need to find and implement appropriate remote access tools as quickly as possible to help ensure business operations are not disrupted. Remote access tools allow MSPs to assist their customers from afar, which is especially important under current circumstances. N-able MSP Manager, Take Control, RMM, and N-central all feature advanced remote access capabilities that can offer unique support during a largely WFH era.
For instance, N-able Take Control is a highly cost-effective remote support solution built to help IT service providers support more customers via fast, intuitive remote support to almost any platform. Take Control gives you access to deep diagnostics from one dashboard and can connect to devices in a matter of seconds. You can get started with Take Control very quickly and configure it to support your needs. It offers custom branding, so you can keep your business at the forefront of your customers’ minds.
When back in the office, the RMM and N-central ticketing capabilities will continue to allow you to create tickets and dramatically simplify billing. These tools include ticket and task management, contract and SLA management, billing management, time tracking, asset and inventory management, and much more.
Choosing the right MSP business continuity tools in a WFH era
Our workforce is changing to adapt to the current circumstances—but the tide of remote work is likely to continue rising regardless. To keep pace with these changes, it’s important to have access to tools that can facilitate business continuity in the face of a remote workforce. And while the tools mentioned above are especially important and useful at this time, MSPs can benefit from making the most of these solutions and processes when they return to the office. By streamlining business operations with these tools, your work can become even more powerful—both in remote locations and in the office.