For the past number of years, I’ve worked with the owners of IT solution providers and managed service providers (MSPs) all across the globe.
All of these MSPs face different challenges on a day-to-day basis, based on their size, their drive, and even their geography.But if there’s one challenge that’s universal to all MSPs, I think it’s this:
How can I effectively educate my clients to help themselves?
Why helping clients to help themselves is important
Whether it be security, efficiency, business continuity, or any number of other areas, there’s only so much we, the MSP, can do to help our clients if they don’t learn to help themselves.
As a former MSP owner myself, I’ve experienced the frustration of knowing what the client needs to be learn to help themselves, but seeing them unwilling or unable to learn it.
Of course, even after we’ve tried to educate our clients, if they don’t listen and the inevitable problem occurs, guess who’s responsible for picking up the pieces? That’s right. We are.
With that in mind, I went to Twitter and asked the MSP community a hypothetical question. If you could put a message on a giant billboard that your clients would see and learn from every day, what would your message be?
Here’s what they said.James Eades is the managing director of Systemagic, an MSP based in Bath, UK. James’ billboard would say:
Change your password today.
How many of your clients have been hit by security breaches, struck by ransomware, or have had confidential data stolen because of one simple, easily avoided mistake: They had the same, weak password for too long?
There are many password management tools that make changing passwords a simple and automatic function, so there’s no longer any excuse.
Setting the clients’ internal password policy to force a password change every few weeks is enough to improve security.
Passwords are the key to the castle that is your clients’ IT infrastructure. The sooner clients learn this lesson, the less we’ll have to clean up after them.
Train your users, they are your weakest link.
If there’s a key lesson that would help clients with every aspect of their business, it’s probably this idea from Terry.
Without training, end users get frustrated. At best, they’re constantly asking for help. At worst, they try to overcome simple obstacles themselves and cause hellish problems for their MSP.
IT needs to be taught. Nobody would sit somebody in a car, and, without any training, let them drive. So why is IT training treated as a nice-to-do rather than a necessity?Along those same lines, Mark Lis of Objective IT Services offers up what his billboard would look like.
Train your users: Don’t blindly click!
They say great minds think alike, so it’s no surprise that Betrand Ellen-Prevot of ESII in Montpellier, France, had something similar in mind for his billboard.
To click or not to click? Ask us the question.
I absolutely love this advice and Bertrand’s catchy billboard phrase.
While we can implement tools such as web filtering, anti-virus, and anti-spyware protection, at the end of the day, we can’t prevent users from foolishly clicking malicious links.
Educating people to err on the side of caution when faced with such links is the only way we can help clients help themselves.
Finally, Basic Business Systems in Ruddington, England would use their billboard to emphasize the importance of backing up your data.
Get backup so you can get back up!
Florida-based CompuSys had a similar idea for their billboard.
Make sure to have 3 copies of your data, 2 of which are local and 1 offsite.
Both Basic and CompuSys make great points with their billboards. Even when your clients change their passwords regularly… even when your client trains their staff to use IT properly… despite knowing not to click on dodgy links… the unforeseen can and does happen.
One backup is no longer enough—yet many clients don’t have even a single copy in place.
Data should be backed up locally (for speedy restores) and offsite (for business continuity). The alternative is too scary to think about and can spell the end of a business.
Clients need to understand that today, IT is their business. Without it, they simply don’t have a business that can compete effectively. Backing up their data is imperative.
Thanks to all of our contributors for their IT billboard suggestions.
The next time you drive past an advertising billboard on your way to the office, ask yourself: What would my billboard message to my clients be?