Every Managed Service Provider (MSP) offers very different services, so the onboarding process for new clients will be different for each MSP. The aim with any client is to build trust, though. And one of the best ways to start on the right path is to ensure your onboarding practices are efficient.
Of course, they must also be effective. If you have to keep returning to ask questions you should already have answers to — your client is going to get very nervous about the quality of your service!
Having a comprehensive onboarding checklist can be a huge help for MSPs because it streamlines the entire process and helps make sure nothing important or otherwise is overlooked.
Experienced MSPs know that every client is unique, so it is important that you get to know each other. This will help you understand what they’re looking for from an MSP, their IT structure, and the right MSP solutions to use. This also helps to avoid important information being missed and prevent unwelcome surprises later.
It can be helpful to send potential clients a questionnaire before your first meeting, giving them a chance to make sure they have all the information you need available. This questionnaire doesn’t have to be static.
You can and should update it regularly, especially when you find yourself needing updates on the same things all the time.
A network assessment is a comprehensive analysis and report of your potential client’s existing IT infrastructure, management systems, security vulnerabilities, processes, and overall performance. The purpose of this is to identify where improvements need to be made and to get a detailed overview of the existing network’s current state.
It is crucial to undertake this assessment before putting together the SLA, as it allows you to understand your customers’ entire network and operations, identify potential future problems and accommodate them, and establish what your actual scope of work will be.
Again, a questionnaire is helpful in this stage. But if your client is not tech-savvy, they may not include all the pertinent information you require.
The two steps before this are essential to creating your Managed Services Contract or SLA. Remember that every single client will invariably have different needs, and you shouldn’t be using the same contract for all of them. It is also best if your MSC/SLA is drawn up by a legal professional who can make sure that both you and your client are protected in the future.
Your project manager will be the point of contact for your clients, so they need to be extremely knowledgeable, capable, and strong leaders who can guide both your team and clients through any problems that may arise. With a single point of contact, the communication process for your client is streamlined as they always know who to go to with questions and queries.
It also establishes an air of professionalism when there is a single person reporting on the progress of their project, as well as informing them of any disruptions. However, you should introduce your clients to any team members who will be working closely on their projects.
It can be helpful to provide a custom welcome booklet that lays out the exact services you will be providing and the type of communication the client can expect from you in the future. Including some of your best customer testimonials and links to helpful articles doesn’t hurt either, especially for clients who have never worked with an MSP before.
Having a detailed blueprint for every task involved in going live with your services will help you get it done smoothly and efficiently. Include details for each task, such as its expected deadline and who is responsible for getting it done. You will need to get approval from your client to go ahead with the plan, so make sure it is comprehensive but still easy to understand.
This step can take some time, as your client may be uncomfortable with some parts of your blueprint. You may get provisional approval or have to go back to the drawing board and rework the entire plan. Be patient, though — this is a big step for your client, and trying to rush them into it will only end badly for everyone.
Communication is the foundation of any project, but especially one where someone is handing over control of an essential business process. Your customers need to feel that you value their input, and your team needs to feel that they haven’t been left in the dark on important details. So a relationship built on trust is important — and communication builds trust.
Be careful to manage expectations at every stage — don’t promise the moon unless you’re positive you can deliver it! You’ll have created a detailed schedule for your team during the blueprint phase, and it is your project leader’s job to delegate efficiently, keep them on task, and keep your customer updated on its progress.
Once you have installed your Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) system, cyber security software, and any other software needed, it is time to test that everything is working as it should. Only once you are positive that all systems are up and running properly should you start training your client and their employees on how to interact with your system.
Building a relationship with the employees is an important step, as they are going to be the ones working with the new technology you’re implementing, and it is crucial that they feel supported through this transition. The final and possibly most important step of an MSP new client onboarding checklist is to document absolutely everything.
The more information you have gathered through every step of the onboarding and launch phases, the more prepared you will be for any problems that may crop up in the future.
Although it might seem that other MSPs set up the service agreement and get everything locked down before the contract period starts, things don’t really work like that in reality.
The service agreement process takes months to refine and requires precise definitions of requirements, such as the number of devices and users to support. Right at the beginning of the bidding process, the client doesn’t always have that information available. So, the first step in setting up onboarding procedures is to get a list of all of the devices at the client site and their functions.
Your RMM will support your service agreement setting process by providing you with a network discovery function. This will detect all devices connected to the client’s network, and list them in an inventory, naming their types and their functions.
Next, the customer needs to list all of the software that it wants each user to have access to and how it should be delivered. The RMM can search each endpoint and server, listing all of the installed software.
With all of the documentation on current usage of the system and the total number of users with account for source material, the client needs to work out a series of roles.
The users of the system fall naturally into groups. For example, account clerks don’t use the same software or applications as web designers or production engineers.
The account creation screens in the RMM should enable the creation of user groups. These equate to the roles listed by the client contact. Each role needs access to a subsection of the entire client system. These group profiles need to be recorded in the RMM software.
Agree with the client contact which software packages each user group should have access to. The RMM records created at this time are notes. You won’t be creating accounts on the RMM system, rather preparing a list of equipment and software to which each user group needs access.
Not every RMM system is identical and they have different procedures for user set ups. In some, cases, you allocate the list of software packages directly to the group. In other cases, you create roles in a sperate screen, allocate the software to the role and then associate a role with a user group. In some systems, user groups are called roles and roles are called profiles.
Now, when you set up users, you just allocate a group to that user in order to get the correct set of software associated with the account. Finally, you need to create access rights for that user on specific endpoints and systems.
Hopefully, your RMM will be able to integrate with Active Directory. In which case, setting up the user accounts can be executed automatically through the RMM interface. If that isn’t possible, then you will need a password manager, which hopefully can share data with the RMM. If that data sharing isn’t possible, then you want to at least be able to export your user list from the RMM and import it into your password manager. If you can’t do that or if you don’t use a password manager, you will need to enter your new user account directly into the access rights management system of the client’s site.
A Good Example for a RMM that integrates Active Directory is XEOX.
The other aspect of onboarding is to set up the endpoints with the suite of software that has been authorized for the designated user.
When you install a new RMM and endpoint management system, you already have installed software to track. In this case, you need to compose lists of installed instances and check that the number does not exceed the number of licenses that the client has for that software.
When the client is a new company, you need to total up the software requirements and get the client to buy the appropriate number of licenses.
Moving forward, when you are established as the systems administrator for a client, the endpoint creation process can be automated, with all software being installed and configured as a batch job, launched from the RMM.
During the course of the service contract, the MSP will be responsible for monitoring the performance of the endpoints and servers in the client’s system and maintaining the software installed on them. This stable, ongoing phase of the service requires that any new endpoints are automatically included in the monitoring and management functions of the RMM suite.
If your RMM software isn’t able to complete all of the tasks needed in order to onboard new users and set up endpoints, try to make sure that the extra software that you need to buy in to carry out tasks such as access rights management, is able to fully integrate with the RMM so that you can reduce the need for manual steps and remove the risk of human error.
XEOX is a cloud based modern remote monitoring and management software solution for IT teams and professionals to gain better visibility and control over all critical assets in their company’s or customer’s IT environment. This advanced RMM tool allows to manage various IT assets automatically and remotely from a central location using any device.
The software is equipped with tools that streamline repetitive IT support and management tasks. It enables automated deployment and installation of software packages to endpoints, computers and users without causing disruption. XEOX simplifies patch management processes with instant endpoint scanning, patch distribution and patch compliance reporting capabilities.
IT teams and professionals gain a complete and clear view of their entire network. They can monitor the activity of users and devices connecting to VLAN networks and receive notifications about switch port status and availability. Efficient endpoint management also allows them to detect and fix problems on their Windows endpoints immediately. XEOX also has a mobile app that allows them to track and troubleshoot issues, perform tasks, and access important alerts anywhere.