The Importance of Successful Onboarding When Choosing An MSP
The Onboarding Process Is Hypercritical to A Successful Outcome
For enterprises considering a partner for the management of any aspect of their IT organization, the importance of successful onboarding when choosing an MSP is hypercritical to a successful partnership. A BCG study found that onboarding has one of the greatest impacts on company profitability and profit margin, and that includes outsourced partners. Over the past five years, the MSP market has almost doubled in value from 2014, rising from $107 billion to $193 billion today. Many organizations are looking to outsource, but the importance of successful onboarding is often overlooked.
MSPs need to focus on customer experience from the beginning to build customers’ trust and demonstrate value by avoiding wasted time. There are many things an organization and the MSP need to be aware of when entering a partnership. Brian DeVault and Mike Cromwell discuss the importance of onboarding in NETRIO’s weekly series, Whiteboard Wednesdays.
Mike CromwellHi, my name is Mike Cromwell, evangelist and advisor with NETRIO.
Brian DeVaultMy name is Brian DeVault, chief technology officer with NETRIO.
Mike Cromwell...And on Whiteboard Wednesday we're going to be talking about use cases, new technology, trends, and our goal is to provide insights for enterprise customers trying to solve complex problems using technology, as well as to help our channel partners.
Mike CromwellSo for our first Whiteboard Wednesday, today, we're going to be talking about the importance of onboarding, because that's something that oftentimes once companies get to the point where they realize they need to, they're going to outsource the management of their I.T. They've got to put through due diligence. They've talked about it strategically and now they want to pivot and choose the right provider.
Mike CromwellThere's a lot of questions that they should be asking because the onboarding process is hypercritical to a successful outcome. For a first episode today, what should the process look like? What types of questions should both customers that are considering outsourcing, as well as the partners that they work with, what types of things do they need to be aware of entering this type of engagement?
Brian DeVaultIf you're thinking about how to choose a provider, how to select a provider, you can ask a lot of these questions about their onboarding process.
Brian DeVaultFor instance, what is a project kickoff call include? What is your process for establishing points of contact both internally and externally? Signatures, terms, start dates, subscriptions that you're going to subscribe to from their various portfolio of services... The next steps should look something like this diagram behind me.
Mike CromwellHow important is it to get that contract as accurate as possible relative to the outcomes that you're engineering to?
Brian DeVaultSo it's important to get the attributes that are going to structure the relationship correct. So you're start and end dates, your terms, how do you interact. So expect some change, expect some flexibility in there and some agility by your service provider to be able to subscribe you up or down based on what your current demands are. So what I've got outlined here are the next essentially four steps and there are three steps in the process. And so what you can expect after you after you get your contract executed, after all those things are out of the way, you should expect to be contacted by their project management office.
Brian DeVaultBut what you're looking for are things like a project plan, something that they didn't create for you. This should be a templated process, something that's repeatable and something that this organization has executed multiple times. Us as a service provider, NETRIO is a service provider, needs to understand what the client's organization looks like, not necessarily from an org chart perspective, but who the stakeholders are and what their roles and responsibilities are within the execution of the project framework.
Mike CromwellAnd what's the impact that you are missing one of these contacts or that it's the wrong person?
Brian DeVaultIt can interfere with any of those timelines around gathering the right information and getting it in the right hands. You got to know who, what, why and where, and all of these these contacts on both sides of the organization, both internal and external. So this would be service provider versus customer. So getting those right is critical up front, and having that person that was engaged with you as your primary point of contact during all of these discussions is critical to have them engaged at this level in the project. So you should be able to establish a go live date within the first week of the project execution.
Brian DeVaultWhat you're really looking for here is a mutually agreeable time between both parties that works well for their organization and works well for you as a service provider to make sure that we're going to make a change and we're not going to disrupt any of their critical business functions. From that point you're looking for documents that help you distribute the information to your end user community. So for us, we have a template that we send out or our clients use to say this is the day we're changing our IT support.
Brian DeVaultThis is how you're going to go about requesting support in the future. Here's your points of escalation and everything that you need moving forward to get the I.T. support that you need for your organization.
Mike CromwellWhat percentage of the time does an organization not have some of the things that you're providing and that actually adds value in this process?
Brian DeVaultI'd say almost one hundred percent. So typically we're very involved in the delivery of the templates, the customization of those templates. Sometimes they want us to brand them with their internal branding. We have the ability to do all of that since we produce them all internally. And of course, we customize them slightly based on how they want to communicate with their end users. It's a good sign of the maturity of an organization when you enter into an engagement or even up front asking them for examples of templates they've used in the past for successful projects.
Brian DeVaultWe always set the stage to be - it's going to take us four to six weeks to onboard. If it's closer to that four week timeline, then that means the client has a high degree of documentation already completed about their environment. And that some of those steps are going to go much more quickly than others.
Mike CromwellHow long does it take to go from contract execution through to the end of step four?
Brian DeVaultThis should be week one.
Mike CromwellWeek one is right here.
Brian DeVaultBe prepared to answer these questions. If your MSP doesn't ask you these questions, be cautious.
Mike CromwellAnd almost like how you build the house - you don't build that on a shaky foundation, build a strong foundation. So what we're talking about here, these steps here set the foundation for the onboarding process. The onboarding process sets the foundation for getting to that successful outcome.
Brian DeVaultThat's right. So next episode, we're going to talk about the onboarding process in detail. So that's going to talk through assets and the various types of assets, users, groups, infrastructure, servers, data centers, SaaS providers, all of the workloads within the client's environment, hyper-converged infrastructure, desktops... Everything under the umbrella of the support subscriptions that are outlined in the contract execution and then anything that changes as part of our discovery, our network discovery and assessment. We're going to talk about other emerging technology in the industry and how it has the ability to change the way you do business and opportunities to improve the way that your workers work remotely, improve their productivity.
Mike CromwellIt's a complex journey to navigate. And so part of what we hope to deliver is insights around what kinds of questions to ask, what types of things to consider.
When it’s decided it’s time to seek an outsourced MSP or a Channel Partner is looking to find the right MSP for a client, the first step in successful onboarding of an MSP is getting the contract executed. This will include:
- Start Dates
- Scope of work
It will also be helpful when selecting a service provider to ask in-depth questions. For example:
- What does a project kickoff call include?
- What is the process for establishing points of contact both internally and externally?
- Signatures, terms, start dates, & subscriptions that you’re going to subscribe to from their various portfolio of services.
- How do they outline milestones and dependencies?
- How do they review and report?
Getting the contract executed is one of the easiest steps of outsourcing an MSP. Once that step is complete, the real fun starts!
As soon as the contract is signed, it is important to lock in the attributes that are going to structure the relationship. Including but not limited to, the starting and end dates, the terms, and gaining access to the systems. Even when the attributes have been mapped out, expect some change and flexibility within the contract. The MSP will be able to subscribe you up or down based on what your current demands are. Next, there are centrally three steps in the process to ensure a successful onboarding experience.
Expect to be contacted by their project management office. The MSP should send you a project plan or something similar. This document would not be something created specifically for your organization, but more so a templated process that is repeatable and that this MSP has executed multiple times. NETRIO as a service provider always strives to understand what the client’s organization looks like. The MSP will be looking for information including who the stakeholders are and what their roles and responsibilities are within the execution of the project framework.
Obtaining this information is a critical step in the onboarding process. If this information is missed, it can interfere with timelines and communication. It is imperative to know who, what, when, where and why. In order for the onboarding to be a success, both the MSP and the organization should understand who the stakeholders are, and effective communication should be set in place. Choosing a primary point of contact on both sides can ensure proper communication and avoid delays in the set timeline. At the end of this first step, ideally the MSP and organization would agree upon a go-live date.
Agree Upon Go-Live Date
After the first week of project execution, a go-live date should be set. This should be a mutually agreed upon timeline that works well for the organization and the MSP and will avoid disrupting any critical business functions. The organization can expect the go-live date to be anywhere between four to six weeks from the start date. From that point, you’re looking for documents that help you distribute the information to your end user community. At NETRIO, we have a template that we send out to our clients that map out the day we’re changing our I.T. support. This template is also how we would streamline requesting support in the future. It should outline your points of escalation and everything that you need moving forward to get the I.T. support that you need for your organization.
Tune In Next Week
This may seem like a lot of information, and it is only the beginning of the onboarding process. Contract execution, kick-off calls, go-live date and establishing internal and external points of contact should all happen within the first week you start your partnership with an MSP. In order to truly have a successful onboarding process, the foundation needs to be strong. These are the stepping stones to setting the foundation for the onboarding process and the onboarding process sets the foundation for a successful partnership.
Follow along on Linkedin and YouTube each week as Brian and Mike chat about use cases, new technology and trends. The goal is to provide insights for enterprise customers and channel partners, trying to solve complex problems using technology.