MSP, Content

Memo to MSPs: Is There A Safe Way to Visit Customer Offices?


Updated March 19, 1:55 a.m. ET: Sometimes in my rush to offer guidance, I type too quickly and think too little. Amid that realization, I've added this new intro to the blog. And the new intro is simply this: Work from home (WFH). Figure out a way to do so.

My earlier advice -- trying to figure out a way to safely offer on-site IT support at customer offices -- was flawed. Instead of risking engineer infections with on-site support, study the math: Keeping your engineers working from home boosts your own long-term business continuity, even if it sacrifices some short-term revenue.

That said, I didn't want to hide from my earlier advice from one day ago (March 18). I've left it intact as a reminder to myself and readers that my own views can change within hours of publishing a blog. 

While MSPs worldwide scramble to set up customers with remote access and work-from-home capabilities, many MSPs and IT consultants must also juggle on-site customer repairs.

To tackle those business challenges and minimize the risk of coronavirus exposure, here are a few suggestions:

  • For on-premises customer work that can't be avoided, shift all non-urgent projects and customer site visits to Sundays.
  • Have customers clean and vacate their offices Friday afternoon.
  • Coordinate Sunday building access with end-customers.
  • Shift a portion of your engineering team to a Sunday-Thursday work schedule, if possible, to ensure engineers who work Sundays remain on five-day work cycles.
  • Whenever possible, address on-site server failures with cloud instances -- rather than on-site server fixes.
  • PS: If it was my business, I'd end all on-site support until the pandemic ends. Protect your people. And protect your customers.
  • Got more tips to minimize on-site exposure risks? Email me: [email protected].

MSP Industry Chatter: Coronavirus Concerns

The background: ChannelE2E has heard from multiple MSP industry sources in recent days. Many MSPs are overwhelmed with service desk tickets -- many of which request those work-from-home capabilities. Others are trying to figure out how to keep their project engineers healthy while visiting customer offices to fix equipment, ConnectWise VP Arlin Sorensen noted in a conversation with ChannelE2E.

While the U.S. federal government emphasizes social distancing, even the best MSPs occasionally need to visit customer locations.

Admittedly, the tips above aren't a universal fit for all MSPs. Many MSPs may need more than a single day per week to visit customer offices. And some customers may still hold fast to on-premises servers or proprietary applications that aren't available in the cloud.

All that said, I'm all ears and welcome more suggestions to share with our readership - [email protected].

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.