For you, a small-to-medium-sized business (SMB) person, partnering with a new IT company may be the biggest decision of the year. Or it may be one of the biggest decisions of your career. There is much to consider. One often overlooked item when considering a new IT service provider is the onboarding process — a critical moment that sets up (or derails) a successful business relationship.
What to expect when onboarding happens with Smart Dolphins IT Solutions
From day one, the relationship must be considered with due care and attention by both parties.
One of the most challenging times for an IT support business like ours is when we begin a new client relationship. Onboarding a new client in the managed service industry is a mission critical time to position new clients for IT success from day one. There are documents to sign, leadership teams to meet, tools, technologies, and services to deploy. And then of course, there is the client’s existing technology to consider.
During the onboarding process, we clearly identify all your support requirements and gather the information required for us to deliver our world-class managed IT services. The primary (but not all) steps of the onboarding process are as follows:
- Site survey
- Backup and disaster recovery requirements
- IT assessment
- IT planning
- Information gathering and team introductions
- Technology deployment
- Post implementation review
This critical process involves nearly every facet of your business. Here is why:
Consistency is nearly everything
Every single one of our clients has had their antivirus, antispam, and backup setup in the exact same way. Their networking equipment is imaged (for our remote team), and the network infrastructure is well-documented. Billing is setup correctly from the start — monthly billing, as you well know, can be the Achilles heel in an otherwise healthy relationship. Tools are deployed so that we may remotely support, monitor, and manage customer networks. By going through a well-defined process, we ensure that nothing is missed.
A first-class start matters to us as well
I only tolerate clichés because sometimes they serve the purpose of better illustrating a key point. However, to paraphrase a commonly heard one: there are rare occasions offered for a second chance to make a great first impression. There I said it.
Clichés exist for a reason — they are most often borne from a truism. So, saying that, our onboarding process provides us with a wonderful opportunity to make a lasting first impression with our new client. Done well, the onboarding process sets the tone for our future together. Therefore, we only bring on one new client at a time. During this critical period, we share the details about our new client with the entire internal team — imagine a room full of technical people who are equally concerned with how we will help this new client and make their life in IT a happy and productive one.
During the client kick-off meeting, we discuss our onboarding assessment with the POD so that everyone is in the know about our new client and their IT history. We share what we know about the business model, the people we will be liaising with, the company’s technology and their IT roadmap, if there is one in place (most often not). Do you currently have a well-prepared and comprehensive IT roadmap?
Mitigating problems; embracing change
Counter to that, a poor onboarding process delivers the opposite effect. It is exceedingly difficult to recover from a rocky start.
Full disclosure: we have not always prioritized the onboarding process. However, as technology continues to evolve (at a rapid rate), getting this right is foundational to our working relationship; we have evolved. Too many IT service providers cost themselves frustration, time, money and even clients when they set the new relationship off to a weak start by not prioritizing the onboarding process.
That said, every company will hit speed bumps during the first few months of a new relationship. We would not have had such an exceptional onboarding process today if we had not encountered challenges years ago. Those challenges provided us with the opportunity to grow by the lessons we learned from those early hiccups.
One thing that I love most about our company is that our entire POD’s persistent desire to improve. We hope you will love this trait too. Growing knowledge through education is a big part of our service both internally and externally — we also train others.
I know that Smart Dolphins IT Solutions has the best IT onboarding process in the market, and its value cannot be overstated. A thorough onboarding process is the key to protecting your SMB and solving problems if and when they may arise.
What is managed IT services?
Managed IT services is the practice of outsourcing the responsibility for planning and maintaining a range of processes and functions in order to improve operations. A managed IT service provider will charge a flat fee that reduces expenses over time. The model is replacing the break-fix or on-demand outsourcing version of support that has been in place for decades. This model of support is designed to reduce the need for ongoing ticket submission through proactive planning, monitoring, documenting and roadmapping.
Under the break-fix model, the client is the entity that owns or has direct oversight of the IT system being managed, whereas the managed IT provider is the service provider delivering the support. Or from our perspective, we become your IT department, and a natural extension of your business. The client and the MSP are bound by a contractual, service-level agreement that states the performance and quality metrics of their relationship. Smart Dolphins’ agreements are month-to-month.
Adopting managed services is an efficient way to stay up to date on technology, have access to evolving skills and address issues related to cost, quality of service and risk. Should you be considering whether a move to a new IT service provider is the right thing to do for your business, please feel free to contact us.