Switching IT providers is a harrowing experience unless your IT provider follows a detailed MSP onboarding checklist.
A lot can go wrong. And I empathize with companies that have cold feet. I’ve been in the managed IT services business for over 19 years and have witnessed several dozen disasters.
This personal anecdote from a prior employer is a case study on “what not to do.”
Best Effort MSP Onboarding
Best effort MSP onboarding is just like it sounds and rarely ends well.
I have first-hand experience with unhappy onboarding projects. In 2003, VoIP was red hot, and I was fortunate to work for a VoIP provider that offered reliable, high-touch hosted telephony and Internet service. Our success with voice, data, and phone system services inspired a consultant to recommend we expand into managed IT.
Here’s the problem. Turning up microbusinesses with five to ten people was easy. However, larger entities with more complex IT footprints were tricky. And unpredictable. Plus, we didn’t follow a repeatable process. Because we didn’t have one. Clients barked orders, and we did our best to respond. Sometimes too impulsively leading to mistakes. We weren’t leading with confidence or expertise.
It was like someone else was flying the plane, and chaos ensued. Even worse, since I sold the IT deals, I earned a Master’s Degree in apologies and a Ph.D. in letting clients out of the IT portion of their service.
I don’t miss those days of winging it. A clumsy MSP onboarding can not only tarnish a relationship for years. A shoddy IT service rollout creates irreparable relationship damage. Most of the time, the MSP never recovers.
After more misses than hits, it was time for a change. VoIP was over-commoditized and I was smitten with cloud services and cybersecurity. So I moved to Integris in 2014.
Best In Class MSP Onboarding
Integris follows proven IT processes based on standards and best practices that extend to MSP onboarding. This plot point is one of the main reasons I made a move.
The following new client testimonial is a constant reminder I made the right 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, keeping us updated on the process, and ensuring they were prepared for any unexpected issues. Everyone I had the pleasure of working with has been professional, friendly, informative, and willing to help in any manner I needed. The transition from our former MSP 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.”
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 a unique part of our process that gives your organization operating leverage for years to come.
Key MSP Onboarding Highlights
- Integris activates a maximum of two clients per month, per location to guarantee quality control.
- Every client gets a dedicated Onboarding Project Manager.
- 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, 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 to 90 days.
One pivotal detail in this process that many providers overlook is the transfer, capture, and creation of comprehensive IT system documentation.
Assembling this single source of truth is a simple idea that produces exponential benefits:
- Quality of service
- Operating maturity
- 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!”
The MSP Onboarding Checklist for Success
Integris incorporates 102 different data points into our onboarding checklist for success.
We use the following six categories to catalog your IT systems. The documentation is like Electronic Medical Records for your technology stack.
#1 – Onboarding 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
- Pending litigation
- Ongoing and pending initiatives
#2 – Onboarding 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 – Onboarding 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 – Onboarding 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
- Wi-Fi signal spectrum reports
5 – Onboarding 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 – Onboarding 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
Don’t Leave Onboarding to Chance.
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 four-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 engaging your team easier.
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.