Adoption of managed IT services is on the rise as businesses look for ways to navigate increasingly complex digital environments without sacrificing speed or performance.
Data makes it clear that managed service providers (MSPs) are making inroads. In fact, 68% of small and midsized business executives say that working with an MSP helps them stay ahead of the competition. The challenge is finding your best-fit provider. Thanks to the rapid adoption of cloud-based services and solutions, the number of potential MSP partners has skyrocketed in recent years — but there are significant differences in how they handle IT solutions, support and service.
To help streamline the selection process, start with onboarding, since this initial phase of IT partnership is a good indicator of long-term compatibility. Not sure what to look for or how to evaluate provider performance? We have you covered with an MSP onboarding process checklist that helps pinpoint potential red flags, highlight solid services and get your partnership off on the right foot.
The MSP Onboarding Checklist
Onboarding is all about getting customers up to speed with MSP services and support. In practice, it’s much like a first impression — providers only get one, and they should endeavor to make it stand out for the right reasons. This isn’t always the case, however. Recent survey data found that 90% of customers say businesses “could do better” when it comes to onboarding.
What does better look like? Our eight-point checklist can point you in the right direction. When it comes to onboarding, MSPs should be:
- Concise and direct: While true onboarding doesn’t happen until after the sale has been made and the contract has been signed, a great MSP should have no problem sharing what that onboarding process looks like and giving you concise and direct answers to any questions you ask. Curious about how network documentation and software deployment work? Wondering about the provider’s response to downtime or outages? Great MSPs have nothing to hide and will prioritize transparency over talking you into a sale.
- Confident about capabilities: MSPs provide a host of capabilities, from software deployment to infrastructure management to security solution integration. The onboarding process should make it clear where providers excel and demonstrate confidence in current capabilities, along with a roadmap to help your business make the most of the solutions being offered to help drive long-term success. In practice, this means that questions from your team should prompt confident answers. If you’re hearing “we’ll get back to you” or “we’ll look into that,” it may indicate that a prospective provider is not a great fit.
- Connected across teams: MSP engagements start with sales, but once details are hammered out and contracts are signed, there’s a natural hand-off to account management teams. A great onboarding process should include smooth transitions between the sales and account management teams. This means sales teams clearly communicating to account managers about what your business needs are and what services are key to your success. Your teams shouldn’t have to start this process over with account managers. It's also critical for sales teams to pass on what they’ve learned about your pain points and potential avenues for remediation using MSP services so account managers can start ASAP on creating a clear roadmap for success.
- Clear about metrics: How does your prospective MSP measure success? What metrics are being used, how are they defined and how often are they measured? Solid onboarding processes include a description of key metrics to help keep MSPs accountable and better ensure they have a way to accurately measure progress toward shared goals. Onboarding should also include a discussion of what happens if metrics get off-track — what steps will the provider take to remedy the situation?
- Continually communicating with your company: Continual communication is the key to success, and onboarding is no exception. This process is all about getting your team up to speed with managed services; as such, you should be able to connect with MSP support teams quickly and easily to answer any questions you may have.
- Considerate of key business needs: You’re paying an MSP to help you meet key business needs. As a result, the onboarding process should demonstrate a clear understanding of those business needs and include a plan to help your company achieve specific goals. For example, if your team is struggling to keep pace with patch management and software updating, your MSP should make it clear how it’s going to address this concern.
- Communicating plans: Managed service isn’t a static discipline. As tools and technologies change, MSPs must be prepared to change as well — and assure that they communicate these changes to their customers. As a result, the onboarding process should include a discussion of initial plans and future options, such as scaling up services or adding new solutions, that can help your company make the most of MSP investment.
- Collecting key data: Finally on the MSP new client onboarding checklist, your provider should describe how it’s going to collect and use key data to help improve your overall experience. From performance measurements to resource assessments to response times, data is critical to drive continual success.
Making Sure Your MSP Measures Up
Not all MPS are created equal. The MSP client onboarding process offers a way for your team to find best-fit providers upfront — if you know how to spot the signs of great service and recognize red flags. Start with our eight-point checklist to see if your potential provider makes the grade, or if you’d be better served by another MSP option.
Is your IT services provider meeting expectations, or did its onboarding process disappoint you? If your MSP doesn’t measure up, connect with MXOtech to see how we can help.