10 Essential Steps to Effective Client Onboarding

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Proper client onboarding is vital to the success of a managed services engagement. It requires careful planning, in-depth discussions to learn client needs and set proper expectations, and meticulous execution.

Skip an important step when onboarding a client, and you could be starting off on the wrong foot. It could lead to a future disagreement – even a premature end to the relationship.

To complete the process successfully, it’s important to recognize onboarding actually starts before the client signs on the dotted line, so you should go into every potential deal with that in mind. And you also need to explain to the client how everything will work before you pull the lever to avoid any surprises.

Every MSP should prepare a comprehensive onboarding checklist. How long the list should be really depends on the processes you have in place, but it should contain at least these 10 crucial steps:

1. Explain the service to the client, how it will work, and how it will change the business’ day-today operations.

2. Set expectations for end users, going over any and all changes to applications, authentication methods, security practices and data backup protocols.

3. Train end users on new applications and procedures to ensure productivity from the “go live” day.

4. Set up your new client’s account in your service-delivery tools, including RMM (remote monitoring and management), PSA (professional services automation), identity management and patch management.

5. Conduct a discovery process with your RMM solution to identify all connected devices, applications and systems in your client’s environment.

6. Document all information gathered through discovery for accuracy and reference purposes.

7. Inform the client of any assets identified in the discovery process that the client may not realize are there. Make a determination on whether to update or – if they have become obsolescent – remove those assets.

8. Before pushing the “start” button, run all necessary tests to ensure reliable service, including scripts, system alerts and the helpdesk ticketing process.

9. Set a “go live” date, turn on all systems on that designated date, and stand by ready to respond in case something doesn’t go as planned.

10. Keep an open line of communication with the client the day you go live to address questions and concerns.

Use this list as a template for your onboarding procedures. As you hone your process, you’ll likely want to make some adjustments and even create sub-lists for specific steps.

Remember that onboarding is just the beginning of the client relationship. You should follow up with the client periodically to gauge satisfaction with your service and whether you need to make any adjustments. Communication is just as essential to a successful managed services engagement is onboarding is.

Want to learn even more about best practices in managed services? Download our free guide, MSP Matters: A Roadmap to Enduring Business Success. 

For more on client onboarding, check these links:

Five Common-Sense Fails for Onboarding New Clients

eBook: Achieving Client Satisfaction in the First 30 Days

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