IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

The Art of Onboarding and Offboarding

A great onboarding process goes a long way toward retaining happy customers, and a great offboarding process may just bring back those who leave. By Colleen Frye
Reader ROI: 
ONBOARDING new clients is an MSP’s chance to make a good first impression and cement a lasting relationship.
USE YOUR PSA or a project tool to ensure all steps are completed, work with the outgoing MSP if possible, and set expectations.
OFFBOARD graciously by assisting the incoming MSP and providing documentation to the departing customer.
REMEMBER THAT customers may come back if you don’t burn a bridge.

DAVID JAVAHERI was closing three to five new managed services clients a month, and because he knows how critical onboarding is, he completely revamped his process to get it right. “I said, ‘What if I give myself more time?”

The president and CEO of Direct IT, in Waltham, Mass., started requesting that new clients retain their old IT company side by side with his firm for one month—and pay them both. “Nobody said no,” Javaheri says.

He made the analogy of a patient going to a new doctor and expecting to have surgery at the first visit. “The new doctor is going to say, ‘No, I need a month. I need to talk to your old doctor. I need to run some tests. I need to find out what you're allergic to.’ [The doctor is] not going to do a surgery on day one, so don't expect me to come in and rearrange everything on your network on day one.”

On the first day of onboarding Direct IT installs PSA agents and EDR security software. Then during the ensuing month, it collects data from the agents as well as from the client’s personnel, and determines if the current storage, firewall, and so on are appropriate. The entire process, which takes 20-25 days, provides the customer with “the smoothest transition” and may even save them money through rightsizing, Javaheri says.

David Javaheri

As Javaheri and other channel pros know, the first few months after a new customer signs an agreement can go a long way toward determining how long that relationship will last. And how well you offboard departing clients can have just as profound an impact on your reputation and success.

Strategies for Onboarding Success

Dave Wilkeson, CEO of MSP Advisor, says onboarding is “the most important process that you have as a managed service provider.”

It’s when you “set the tone that you're working with a really awesome organization. They've got to feel warm and comforted that you can handle the basic transactions of scheduling, of great communication, and that you're actually going to get it done right,” says Josh Peterson, CEO at Bering McKinley, an MSP consulting firm.

His colleague William Young, a senior application consultant, says MSPs that do a formal assessment during the sales process, before a contract is signed, are the most successful at onboarding, “because now you know what you're walking into.”

The onboarding process itself should be checklist driven, Wilkeson says. “The best MSPs, those top percentile MSPs, have hundreds and hundreds of things on a checklist that they're working through. They're not just going out and running a tool like RapidFire and going, ‘OK, I'm done.’ They're spending time, they're taking pictures and loading [them] into their documentation tools so that their technicians can … see what's going on.”

About the Author

Colleen Frye's picture

Colleen Frye is ChannelPro's managing editor.

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