How MSPs Make The Client Onboarding Process Easy

Published March 6, 2023
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Evan Pappas

First impressions are everything, and that’s especially true in the MSP industry. The client onboarding process is one of the most important times in an MSP’s relationship with them. When your MSP brings on a new client, you may be setting yourself—and your client—up for failure if you don’t have an onboarding process in place to bring them on properly!

That’s why it’s so important to get the onboarding process right. A large part of long-term success of an MSP’s business relationship can be traced back to a successful onboarding process that led to good communication and expectations throughout their service. 

MSPs that have found success all share a common set of best practices, such as a client onboarding checklist, that they implement when beginning a new service contract. To set up your MSP for onboarding success, let’s break down some of the common tactics used across the industry.

Client onboarding checklist

Understanding the full scope of your client’s IT infrastructure from the very beginning is vital. MSPs never want to be blindsided by unknown assets causing problems in a network, or new hardware that needs to be serviced on short notice. 

When discussing the first steps with a new client, it pays to be thorough in investigating the business’s scope. Depending on the type of service provided, MSPs check the configuration, documentation, and management of backups, servers, workstations, network, and even internal IT policy.

Many ScalePad partners use the Ultimate MSP Client Onboarding Checklist, a full-scale checklist that runs through more than 200 line items that MSPs should check when onboarding a new client. Using a checklist is an easy way to track what has been addressed, and allows the user to sort each line item, by priority and category to get what they need for each client.

Joe Markert, CEO of TransformITive, said that being able to speak with clients to show them what they need to operate with modern IT standards has been able to demonstrate his MSP’s value.

“So we say ‘here’s a baseline for you to be considered a healthy company. These are the things that you should have,’ especially when we’re onboarding. You want to get to some actionable data quickly with the customer you’re onboarding and show your value.”

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Identify asset risks early

Through the information collection process, MSPs get a hands-on look at the state of their new clients IT infrastructure, allowing them to identify any assets that are at risk. Being able to identify old servers, out of warranty workstations, and network problems give your MSP a head start on prioritizing service for the client. 

Alongside the priorities on the onboarding checklist, MSPs can develop a plan to address the critical issues with the client to make meaningful upgrades to their workflow in a way that avoids downtime. Working with the client allows MSPs to plan budgets and timing for upgrades, replacements, and warranty renewals.

By being able to develop and work through a plan for high-priority improvement at the beginning of the service contract will show your clients the value your MSP brings to their business.

Cybersecurity and IT policy evaluation

Aside from the assets themselves, MSPs that have found success in the client onboarding process take the time to evaluate any security, documentation, and policy standards the client may have. 

Security is becoming one of the most important issues that MSPs assist clients with, and understanding how their staff incorporates security measures into their daily workflow is extremely important in how your MSP provides service. If they don’t use simple security measures like two factor authentication, that could be a sign that more significant security measures are also lacking in their business.

Conversely, seeing strong internal documentation and policies in place surrounding technology conduct and security can ease the burden on your MSP and allow your team to begin work on other aspects of the business. 

Ann Westerheim, Founder and President of Ekaru, specializes in cybersecurity for small businesses and works with clients to make sure they have sustainable policies in place. A good cyber security policy just protects client data but allows them to apply for insurance in the event of an attack.

“Some folks will find themselves uninsurable if they aren’t able to positively respond to some basic safeguards in place. Using two factor authentication or a backup. I’ve even seen questions where they want to know what kind of antivirus they use?” she said.

“So insurance doesn’t prevent bad stuff from happening, but it does provide. An important financial safety net to help get out from under that.”

Setting client onboarding expectations

Letting the client know what to expect from the MSP and establishing positive norms of behavior is critical to a successful onboarding experience.

Taking the time to discuss how your MSP best serves the client’s needs can help them understand and meet the standard behavior that is expected of them in order to get the best value. 

By directly setting expectations with your client, both parties can reliably trust in the other to work toward continued progress with unexpected hang-ups that could potentially cause downtime for the client. For some MSPs, expectations around consistent warranty coverage are a proactive way to prevent the need for emergency hardware service that can cost the client a lot of money and potentially lose data.

Long-term service and re-onboarding

With all the steps described above, MSPs will be well positioned to deliver high-quality service for a long time, building trust and likely earning contract renewals in the near future. But steps taken and the lessons learned never stop forever. After shifting into regular service, it may be beneficial to run through a “re-onboarding” process.

As technology demands increase and old processes evolve, re-onboarding allows you to evaluate the client to bring them up to a new baseline requirements. Going through the process will allow you to keep all of your clients up to the same standard, allowing consistent documentation and policies across the board. 

The re-onboarding process is also an opportunity to refresh the relationship with clients and better align them to the new standards.

To get started improving your client onboarding process right now, download ScalePad’s Ultimate MSP Client Onboarding Checklist. See how Lifecycle Manager helps MSPs onboard new clients with automated asset monitoring and in-app warranty renewals. Get started by booking a demo or start with the free edition today.