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5 Critical Managed Services Onboarding Components

Client onboarding is one of the MSP’s most important tasks. It’s during the onboarding process that expectations are set with the client, when even a seemingly minor misstep can set wrong tone for the relationship. Since the goal is a long-term engagement, MSPs should take every step to ensure trouble-free onboarding.

MSPs should have repeatable process in place with predictable steps that are easy to explain to the client. Keep in mind onboarding actually starts from the first contact with the client, not when contracts are signed. As soon you get your foot in the door, everything that follows should be prescribed by your onboarding plan.

Here are five essential components of successful onboarding:

1. Proper Scoping
To properly scope out the client engagement, you must get to know the client. That means asking questions. Prepare a reusable questionnaire that assesses the client’s needs and goals for a managed services engagement. Then conduct an assessment of the client’s entire infrastructure to get an understanding of the network, identify assets and determine what type of services the client needs. For instance, if the client wants to move to the cloud, the assessment will uncover whether some workflows should remain on premise as part of a hybrid infrastructure, or if a complete “lift and shift” is warranted. The next step is preparing a transition plan that takes into account all relevant compliance and security requirements, accompanied by a checklist to ensure every step is completed.

2. Detailed Statement of Work
After the scoping phase, you need to present the client with a statement of work (SOW) describing all services, deliverables and timetables to which you are committing. Specificity and clarity are crucial in this step. Here is where you highlight what you discovered in the scoping process and explain all the procedures, practices and steps involved in setting up and managing the services you will provide – in short, how everything works. The SOW sets expectations, giving the client a chance to understand your service offering.

3. Onboarding and Transition
The actual onboarding part of the entire process – when you plug in the client’s environment to your services – should be fully understood by the time it starts. Whether the transition involves migrating to AWS or Azure, or moving a few workloads with the intent of doing more later, it should occur without disrupting the client’s business. It should be seamless, and that might mean scheduling migrations outside of business hours or turning on new services before shutting off existing ones. The goal is to avoid impacting the client’s productivity with unplanned downtime.

4. Weekly and Monthly Task Orientation
Once the client is plugged in to your services, it’s important to maintain communication to show the client the work you are doing. There are weekly and monthly tasks to complete, and the client needs to be informed of them. Everything from server and infrastructure patching to network monitoring to application performance to bandwidth consumption should be documented and reported to the customer, be it through weekly or monthly reports. Reporting keeps you accountable and shows whether you are meeting Service Level Agreements (SLA). Make reports part of your service; don’t make the customer ask for them.

5. Quarterly Business Review
In line with weekly and monthly reports, having quarterly reviews with the client are essential to a healthy long-term relationship. During the reviews, you can go over performance, discuss cloud consumption metrics and address the need for any changes. Perhaps the client has signed up for more capacity than needed or the time has come for an upgrade. Whatever the recommendations, make sure they are clear and delivered with an eye to improving service and controlling costs.

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of a properly defined and executed onboarding process. Be open to refining it as needed. If you need help with your onboarding process, contact us here.