Looking back, I can see at least three different New Year’s resolutions that I totaled failed, but for an MSP, failure really isn’t an option. Your failure often means your client’s failure, and they’ve got no tolerance for that. In order to avoid failure, it’s always best to plan ahead and the beginning of a new year is one of the best times to do so.
Let’s look at a few things MSP should make a priority in 2014—many of these can totally save you or your clients from a variety of problems.
Train client employees for security
Many problems an admin deals with are somehow related to the user—especially where cyber-security is concerned. The best way to avoid some of these problems is to make sure users know how to avoid them. This means they shouldn’t be visiting nefarious websites (you should probably be blocking these anyway), and they should all have some sort of idea of what to look for when it comes to email because many attacks can sneak past firewalls and spam filters and into a user’s inbox. The last thing you want is to deal with a problem because a user opened something he or she shouldn’t have. It can be tough to find time, but if you can put together a thirty minute presentation and get together with your client’s employees for training, you can save yourself a lot of time in the end. Take a look at this article to learn more about how to educate users on cyber-security.
Test your backup and recovery plans
This needs to go beyond just verifying backups. You and your clients need to know what to do and what to expect should the unforeseen occur. Take some time on a weekend and go over your disaster recovery plans with your client. As we discussed in a recent ebook, “Making Disaster Recovery Easy,” your clients might push back when you tell them you need to do some tests on a weekend. The thing to do is help them understand that you need to test the plan or you can’t guarantee a speedy recovery, which is absolutely true. Testing is essential because you need to verify that everything works the way you expect it and that you and your clients know what to do. Practice makes perfect.
Ditch Windows XP
Most companies have started migrating, but for those that haven’t, it’s time to do it. You really don’t want your clients running a software program that isn’t getting new security updates, which will be the case for XP after April, 8th 2014. It’s tough to explain to a client that they need to upgrade, especially when XP was such an excellent OS, but not updating systems now could mean you and your client end up in a world of hacker trouble. Take a look at our article on how to make migrating to a new OS easy so you can mark this somewhat daunting task off your New Year to-do list.
You might find it easy to get caught up in your client’s business, but let’s not forget that as an MSP, you run a company as well. Take the list we made above and apply it to your own organization. Have you thought about what types of training you may want to send your admins to? Have you looked at your own backup and recovery plan? Have you talked about the latest security threats or have you considered what types of changes you should expect in 2014 that you might want to prepare for? What happened in 2013 that needs improvement? What are your upgrade or migration needs? Take some time as an organization to think about what will need to happen in 2014. Planning for everything now will certainly make it easier to get it done—there’s no need to wait until you’re staring down the barrel of the IT gun to get started on 2014 projects. It’s also beneficial to open the floor and let your team fill you in on needs and concerns so you’ve got a good inventory of what went right and wrong in 2013.
There’s plenty to plan for and your admins can certainly help you with their own unique ideas and perspectives. After you’ve talked it all out, write it up and make sure everyone has access to the 2014 plans, disaster or otherwise.