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5 Steps to Onboarding Success as a Managed Services Provider

Ryan ValleeBy Ryan Vallee

Managed IT services overall have experienced a growth surge as small and midsize businesses see the benefits of outsourcing some or all of their IT and security needs. So it’s no surprise that Techaisle research shows 71 percent of U.S. SMB-focused channel partners surveyed currently offering one or more managed-services solutions, with an additional 18 percent planning to within the year.

For MSPs, security services in particular represent a significant opportunity to expand their roles as trusted advisers while protecting customers and generating net new revenue. Yet no matter what type of services you deliver, simplifying the onboarding and implementation experience is critical.

The onboarding process often begins by understanding customers’ business needs and then reflecting these within the service-delivery platform. Sounds straightforward; however, customers often have unique requirements based on the nature of their organizations and current IT infrastructures. Customization requirements can transform onboarding and implementation into a complicated, multi-step process. 

Unexpected emergencies or new service requests can also interrupt onboarding and cause MSPs to fall back on manual processes to meet service plan criteria. This may also put service providers into a reactive role, making it difficult to completely fulfill clients’ service or security needs. Onboarding is also a significant business expense for MSPs – often representing the cost of one month’s services –s o there are clear advantages to an efficient and effective process.

And, when you add rising security threats from ransomware and other malicious malware, MSPs face significant challenges in securing their clients and also building profitable managed-services operations.

Challenges aside, the onboarding process sets the foundation for success between MSPs and their clients. While there’s no “typical” onboarding process, a best-practice approach rooted in efficiency and high value for the customer is usually built on discovery (for example, a network audit), advisory services and effective deployment of a plan that meets customer needs today and scales for the future.

Five tips for guiding the onboarding process:

  1. Put business goals first: Customers and their business goals take priority. It’s great to have technology tools and processes in place, but understanding business goals – customer acquisition, employee efficiency – can ensure the onboarding process is in line with what matters to clients’ bottom lines. For example, customers choosing a proactive service approach require patch testing and auto-approvals, server/workstation maintenance, predicative failure monitoring and monthly reporting summaries to prevent customer downtime and minimize fire drills. Lead with business goals and your processes should follow naturally.
  2. Create a standardized process: No one wants to undergo a 30 or 50 step onboarding process. Yet it’s important to ensure that appropriate security stages – monitoring, patching and maintenance, to name a few – are in place to protect you and your customer alike. Streamlining a multi-step onboarding process is key to getting customers configured easily. Regardless, any technician should be able to go to the customers’ deployment and understand what was done — and not find that steps 15 through 20 were skipped.
  3. Set expectations with customers: Many MSPs spend time talking with customers; however, a good percentage are not successful in completely understanding business needs, so no wonder they are challenged with delivering a package to fully meet requirements. Placing customers on specific service plans allows them to receive high-quality, high-value services according to a plan, and this also makes it easier for an MSP to communicate. Setting clear expectations and delivering to those expectations is a time-proven key to success.
  4. Make security a priority: In today’s threat landscape, the greatest challenge is ensuring that strong detection and protection are put in place. Ransomware, compromised passwords and data loss can cause irreparable damage for businesses. Security begins with questions. Customers should be made aware of security best practices and how adapting a multi-layered defense is the strongest approach to protecting their users, devices and data. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to security, but MSPs today have the solutions available and are in the best position to protect their customers from an ever growing and advanced threat landscape.
  5. Put reporting in place from Day 1: Continuing to prove the value of your managed services is critical. Start by showing a regular report of what has been accomplished (what you’ve patched, what malware you’ve caught). This gives your customer peace of mind, shows your effectiveness and can tie back to the business goals.

Establishing a smart onboarding process is all about mapping your service delivery to the customer’s business goals. MSPs will experience the benefits as they fulfill customer services more quickly, standardize services and reduce troubleshooting times. A smooth onboarding sets the foundation for up-sell opportunities, network optimization, project work, customer growth strategies and more. In other words, effective onboarding is the beginning of a beautiful relationship built on the business goals of MSPs and their customers.

AVG product management lead Ryan Vallee is a former MSP with a 14-year background in managed services. AVG is a leading provider of software services to secure devices, data and people. The company’s AVG Business portfolio, delivered through a global partner network, provides cloud security and remote monitoring and management (RMM) solutions that protect small and medium businesses around the world. For more information visit www.avg.com/service-provider-solutions.


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