The Truth About MSP Onboarding (A Checklist for Success)


December 2, 2020


Not All MSP Onboardings Are Designed Equal

If you’re reading this article about onboarding, you probably need someone with experience to empathize with your fears and provide clarity where there is confusion.
I’ve been in the managed services business for over 17 years and know exactly how you feel. Let me share a personal anecdote from a prior employer as a brief study in contrasts.

The Night Part of the Story

I got my start working for a VoIP provider who offered very reliable, high-touch hosted telephony and Internet service. VoIP was red hot back in 2003. Our success in this area inspired an expansion into managed IT.
Awesome, right? Not really.
While we had no struggles turning up microbusinesses with five to ten people, larger entities were problematic. Regrettably, since I was the one who sold the deals, I ended up getting a Ph.D. in apologies and letting clients out of the IT portion of their service.
A clumsy onboarding can tarnish a relationship for years. In some cases, a shoddily managed transition creates operating problems the MSP can never fix.

The Day Part of the Story

Situations like this, along with my declining interest in VoIP (which was rapidly becoming commoditized), inspired me to join Integris in late 2014. I now provide educational content on all facets of Managed IT, Cybersecurity, and Cloud solutions, tailored to larger SMBs interested in growing and using standards-based IT as a strategic lever.
The following new client testimonial sums up one of the many reasons I made the right career choice:

“Our Atlanta based organization just recently moved to Integris to be our Managed Service Provider. The onboarding process was easy and seamless, with zero downtime. Integris was diligent in getting information and keeping us updated on the process and making sure that they were prepared for any potential issues that may come up unexpectedly. Every employee or representative, I have had the pleasure of working with has been professional, friendly, informative, and willing to help in any manner that I may have needed. The transition from our former MSP over to Integris has been the smoothest and easiest transition I have experienced to date. We are excited about our future and partnership with Integris and look forward to all the things we can accomplish together.”

Donna R.
Senior Accountant
Distribution Industry

Are you wondering what Integris did to make an impression like this?
Here’s a quick summary of key onboarding activities, followed by a deep dive into one singularly unique part of our process that will give your organization operating leverage for years to come.

Key Onboarding Highlights

  • To guarantee quality control, Integris onboards a maximum of two clients per month.
  • Every client gets a dedicated Onboarding Project Manager.
  • The transition includes an executive kick-off meeting with several site visits and client interviews.
  • Engineers and project managers handle everything: coordinate the transition with your existing vendors, document all IT systems and users, create new hire/exit checklists, deploy management tools, migrate data and mailboxes, conduct a security assessment, and implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA).
  • The Integris Account Team will conduct user orientation to introduce the service and demonstrate the four different ways to request support.
  • The entire onboarding process takes 60 to 120 hours and spans 60-90 days.

There’s one pivotal detail in this process that many providers overlook: the transfer, capture, and creation of comprehensive IT system documentation.
Come on! That’s the big reveal? Yes! This is our homage to Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid.
Assembling this single source of truth (Wax On, Wax Off!) is a simple idea that produces exponential benefits:

  • Uptime
  • Quality of service
  • Operating maturity
  • Growth
  • Risk reduction
  • Lower liability
  • Business continuity
  • Transferable records if you ever want to sell the business or change IT providers

While we love the idea of having you as a forever client, we strive to keep your digital assets so well-documented, future IT providers or owners will say, “Wow, these guys have some tight systems in place!”
Integris incorporates 102 different data points for the following six categories to create our version of secure Electronic Medical Records for your technology stack:

1 – Business Information

  • Business entity legal name
  • Additional DBAs
  • Primary web address
  • Tax exemption classification
  • Location details
  • Floor plans and drawings
  • Organizational chart(s)
  • Authorization form
  • Core business systems
  • User List
  • Regulations
  • Pending litigation
  • Ongoing and pending initiatives

2 – Policies and Processes

  • Acceptable use policy
  • Employee-owned device policy
  • Information security policy
  • Cybersecurity policy
  • Data retention policy
  • Incident response policy
  • Social media policy
  • System patch policy
  • Change management policy
  • Document management policy
  • Communications policy
  • Remote access policy
  • User training processes
  • Incident management processes
  • Vendor management policy
  • Business continuity plan
  • Disaster recovery plan
  • Risk assessment processes
  • User management processes
  • Procurement processes
  • Data protection processes
  • Network security processes
  • Asset management processes
  • Auditing processes

3 – Forms and Standards

  • Change request forms
  • User provisioning forms
  • Hardware standards
  • Device provisioning forms
  • User naming conventions
  • Device naming conventions
  • IP addressing conventions
  • Maintenance windows
  • Outage handling rules
  • Role-based user/system standards
  • Backup requirements
  • Uptime requirements

4 – Reports

  • Risk assessments
  • Impact analyses
  • Regulatory compliance audits
  • Asset reports
  • Warranty reports
  • License compliance audits
  • Disaster recovery test results
  • Ticket history reports
  • Project history reports
  • Knowledge base exports
  • WiFi signal spectrum reports

5 – Vendor Information

  • Telephony vendors
  • Internet service providers
  • Power company
  • HVAC vendor
  • Datacenter providers
  • Cloud services providers
  • Facilities support
  • Printer/copier vendors
  • Software OEM and support vendors
  • Audio/visual vendors
  • Security vendors
  • Website design vendors
  • Website hosting vendors
  • Domain registrars
  • SSL certificate authorities
  • Auditing vendors
  • Hardware support vendors

6 – Technical Information

  • Hardware technical specifications
  • Network diagrams
  • Lights out management
  • Site and equipment photos
  • Active Directory domain detail
  • VLAN definitions
  • Network port mappings
  • WiFi networks
  • WAN circuit details
  • Site to site VPN information
  • Group policy and active scripts
  • Scheduled tasks
  • File replication
  • Disk encryption
  • Email protection systems
  • LAN structure and routing
  • Backup systems
  • Monitoring systems
  • Line of business applications
  • SaaS applications
  • Ticketing systems
  • End-user how-to documentation
  • Application support documentation
  • Application licensing
  • Credentials

I know you’re probably thinking, “WOW! that’s a lot of data to capture. If only there were a simplified way to track all of it.” You’re in luck.

Integris SYNC

Integris makes the electronic document collection process safe and easy by giving you access to a secure onboarding documentation portal known as Integris SYNC.
You simply log in and enter information directly into the Client Onboarding Documentation Worksheet. This collaboration-friendly checklist tracks each piece of required information through every step of the process.
Documents can also be uploaded directly.
This information is carefully reviewed and assimilated into our information management system. It’s okay if you don’t have all of these details at your fingertips. Most companies don’t.
It’s a team effort. We’ll work diligently with your team to fill in any remaining gaps via automated, manual, remote, and on-site collection methods.

What’s Next?

Let’s face it, MSP onboardings can be about as much fun as trying to untangle Christmas Tree lights. That’s why so many of them don’t go well.
Your business is too important to allow an MSP to simply take over everything, open up the phones, and see what happens.
Project management of overlapping IT services is critical. Don’t abruptly pull the plug on your existing provider when you decide to make a change. Hot cuts are almost always a bad idea.
A 4-week overlap is recommended. This allows for a smooth transition. It also gives your current provider an incentive to cooperate with a competitor. And you avoid surprises.
Full disclosure: Integris can’t force your team to participate. However, we have a proven framework that makes it easier for your team to engage.
By streamlining the process to ensure the completeness and accuracy of your documentation, we invest the time and effort to keep everyone organized.
The quality of your service depends on it.
Do you have any other questions about harmonizing and tightening your migration to a new provider?

Jed is a Solution Advisor at Integris who has specialized in MSP solution development, sales, and marketing communications since 2003.

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