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MSP Guide: New Client Onboarding Checklist

December 28, 2021

By Peter Barnett

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. Remember that the onboarding process begins before you even submit a proposal, and we hope this guide will help your new client onboarding go a lot smoother every time.

Checklist for MSP New Client Onboarding

Gather the client’s basic info

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.

Perform a detailed network assessment

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.

Draw up and sign your Service Level Agreement (SLA)

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.

Select a project manager and introduce your team

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.

Put together a detailed blueprint for the provisioning and launch phases

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 key

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.

Document everything

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.

About Action1 for MSP

Action1 is a risk-based patch management software for managed service providers that encompass such remote endpoint tools as endpoint management, software deployment, remote access, reporting, and more.

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