Bringing on a new managed services client—onboarding—does not happen overnight. It is a process, not an event that requires a team effort by both the service provider and the client. But this initial stage of managed services is critical, and careful attention to the client’s IT needs and capabilities here will result in smoother sailing down the road.
Start With an Assessment
Let’s start at the beginning, before any proposals are made or contracts are signed. Each enterprise is unique, with distinct IT needs and capabilities. At Meridian, we specialize in managed services for small to mid-sized organizations. Meridan understands that no two enterprises are alike, and that there is no “one size fits all” IT solution or formula to follow. An objective, honest assessment of the clients IT needs—taken in context with the organization’s core mission—lays the foundation for the onboarding process. Whether the potential client becomes an actual client or not, the information garnered during the assessment phase remains in their possession for future managed services strategy.
The Go Forward Date
Should the assessment lead to a proposal, negotiations and a service level agreement (SLA), then we set a date to start the actual onboarding process. Here I emphasize the word “start”. This begins the go forward period that may last 90 to 120 days. A staff meeting is a good place to start as input and collaboration from all key areas of the enterprise such as business operations, customer service, sales and service, human resources, accounting, etc. is essential. Next the onboarding team starts the Documentation Phase. During this phase we gather the core information necessary for the engineers to support the network. Then we move on to the Deployment Phase where we roll out our remote monitoring and management tools. Once the Deployment Phase has been completed, Go Live is the next phase. Here, users can start submitting support request via phone, email, & chat with the 24/7 Help Desk Team.
Information is Key
There is no such thing as too much information during this phase of the onboarding period. First it gives the service provider a better overall view and understanding of the client’s operating procedures and core mission. Second, it will better enable our help desk to assist the client and quickly solve issues later on. No piece of information, no matter how seemingly insignificant should be ignored or kept from the service provider. There may be issues, for example, with an organization’s billing processes, such as using multiple hard copies of credit card charges in different departments that could lead to compliance issues at some later time. There are very good software based solutions to situations like this which can be implemented.
There may be issues with the client’s Line of business Application, Operating Systems that are no longer supported, Wireless Network, Remote Access, Backup and Disaster Recovery, Compliance with mandates such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Payment Card Industry (PCI)) security standards, or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). It is our job as a managed service provider to partner with the client and help them identify these and other issues while they are relatively small (and very solvable), rather than later when they can turn into big problems.
Solutions That Fit
No matter what the issue is – remote monitoring, compliance, mobility, data backup and recovery, hosted solutions, security, document management, workflow solutions, or business process applications (BPA), – the solution should be tailored to the needs and mission of the client, not the MSP. They should be brand neutral, aiming to serve the client’s mission, not sell goods and services.
After about 30 days, the client is ready for a first virtual chief information officer (VCIO) meeting. By now, their network has its own pulse and is well on its way to becoming a well-oiled machine.