Dxfferent Autotask & MSP Knowledge

The 10 biggest challenges facing MSPs

Since the spring of 2020, when the world changed, the life of the average MSP has started to look quite different. Just working more from home, for example, requires a different way of thinking and therefore acting. The world was paralyzed for a while, but opportunities also arose. And with those opportunities came new challenges. So what are the 10 biggest challenges for MSPs worldwide?

Even before the covid-19 pandemic, Datto started a worldwide survey among 1800 Managed Service Providers to map out their perception of the world. How long has your company existed, how many employees do you have, who are your customers, what is your annual turnover, where do you find your expertise, what developments do you expect from the future … They were really asked about it. When we were well and truly in the middle of the pandemic, a second, shorter, survey followed to see what had changed. Last September Datto published this extensive report, in which the first, but especially the second research results are extensively discussed.

The 10 biggest challenges for MSPs

Datto asked the question, “What do you lie awake at night worrying about? Of course, that changed when corona was around the corner. The report mainly includes the results from the follow-up survey. In addition, the results are broken down into 3 regions:

Americas -> North and South America
APAC -> Asian PACific
EMEA -> Europe, Middle East and Africa

If we confine ourselves to the EMEA region, to which we ourselves belong, we see a top 10 in which a number of points are close together. The bottom 4 in the list scored almost as high:


A pandemic like this undoubtedly has an impact on the economic growth of many companies. Also at ICT service providers. But after the initial shock, opportunities also appeared for MSPs. The first survey showed an average expectation of 17% growth. The follow-up survey indicated that although expectations needed to be adjusted, they still assumed growth. In 11% of the cases the growth was even adjusted upwards. For example, because of an increase in the number of cloud migrations and because more companies are looking for ICT services.

Nevertheless, it remains an exciting issue because it is uncertain how long this situation will continue and what the long-term consequences will be.

Cybersecurity problems for your own company

Because this was a multiple-choice question, it is not clear exactly what concerns there are about one’s own cybersecurity. But one plausible explanation is that MSPs themselves are a popular target for cybercriminals. Not surprising of course when you consider that through an MSP you can enter other companies unseen.

MSPs therefore need to have their own house in order, as well as that of their clients.

Technology or supplier issues

In an uncertain world, it is sometimes exciting to be dependent on others. Are technological developments at risk? Will my supplier be able to deliver?

Compliance or data protection issues.

How do you ensure that the rules in place are always properly followed? After all, they don’t always align with real-world work. As an MSP, how do you keep it workable for your clients, while still having all the protection requirements in place? This is an ongoing issue that is also subject to changing requirements and new technological developments.


Well, the other… How are your competitors doing? Are they going to develop further? Are they betting on new technologies? Many MSPs keep a close eye on their competitors so as not to be left behind themselves.

This was point 6 from the top 10 biggest challenges. This one scored a bit higher than the previous 4. Curious about the top 5? Here it comes!

Top 5 biggest challenges for MSPs

Bring in new customers
How do you get new customers as an MSP? Recommendations and word-of-mouth proved to be the best way for MSPs to bring in new customers. But where in other regions sales calls are a good number two, in EMEA search engines are a very lucrative way to get in the picture with your prospective customer. So investing in SEO is not a wasted effort. Sales calls and supplier referrals are number three.

Internal operations
You ultimately work for your customers, so they always come first. Unfortunately, sometimes at the expense of your own internal affairs. This may go well for a while, but there comes a time when things start to creak for you too. Don’t lose sight of your own business!

Work-life balance
As with any other business, it is also difficult for MSPs to maintain the right work-life balance. Working more from home, but also being available day and night often have a negative effect on that balance.

Cybersecurity at customers
Well, that is of course your core business and if something goes wrong with them in this area, you are responsible. It is logical that this scores high. In the Americas and APAC it is even challenge number 1; it stands head and shoulders above them. But what do the MSPs in our region find even more challenging?

Recruiting the right people
In our EMEA region, this is the biggest challenge for MSPs. But the report does state the following line:

Given the events that occurred after our first survey, recruiting is probably less important than it was the year before.

Finding skilled staff is always a major challenge in this industry.