18 April 2024

How to handle MSP Onboarding (Image by Freepik @nongsurachai)

The MSP onboarding checklist minimizes disruptions, sets clear expectations, and nurtures positive client relationships.

We know you are professional and capable, but new clients sometimes rush. This scenario could happen to us: A new client signs on the dotted line, and everyone’s thrilled, but things get… Chaotic.

Miscommunication happens, essential details fall through the cracks, and the “seamless transition” you promised starts feeling bumpy.

And checklists offer some seriously sweet benefits:

  • No fire drills: Things run smoothly, reducing stress for everyone. A solid onboarding process can reduce client onboarding issues.
  • Expectations are crystal clear: Both you and the client know what’s happening and when. This builds trust and avoids misunderstandings.
  • Happy clients = happy life: A smooth onboarding makes your clients feel valued and sets you up for a long-lasting, profitable partnership.

Then, it’s vital not to assume that clients fully grasp the scope of managed services. Sometimes, clients only see your service from your IT catalog.

Clarify what you offer and how it aligns with their business goals. This will prevent misunderstandings and ensure a smooth process.

If necessary, learn how to create an IT service catalog that aligns with your overall MSP service. 

Adapting your services to meet client needs rather than expecting their needs to align perfectly with your offerings fosters a client-centric approach​​.

Ready to see how a checklist works its magic? Let’s break it down step by step!

What Is The Onboarding Process for Managed Services?

Onboarding is the time after a client signs up before your services go live. It’s where we set the stage for a long, excellent partnership.

The onboarding process is more than a formal introduction or administrative task. It is your opportunity to deeply understand the client’s environment, expectations, and how your services will align with their objectives.

This stage involves everything from the initial agreement signing to the point where your services are fully operational. 

According to NinjaOne, on average, MSPs spend between 40 and 80 hours onboarding each new client, adjusting their approach based on each client’s unique needs and use cases​​.

The onboarding process for managed services is pivotal in establishing a robust, long-term relationship with your clients.

It involves several stages, each designed to ensure that your service aligns perfectly with the client’s expectations and needs, setting a solid foundation for mutual growth and satisfaction.

Why a Streamlined MSP Onboarding Process is Important

Okay, let’s be honest. Even the most organized IT pros can feel the pressure when a new client comes on board. So, here are several core reasons why a streamlined onboarding process is your best friend.

  • Efficiency = less stress: A good checklist keeps everything on track. It means less last-minute scrambling and more brainpower for the important stuff.
  • First impressions matter: A smooth onboarding shows new clients you’re professional and have their backs. This makes them feel valued and excited from the get-go.
  • Consistency and reliability: A standardized onboarding procedure guarantees that all clients experience the same meticulous service level, fostering trust and credibility. 
  • Cost efficiency: A well-orchestrated onboarding process is not only more expedient but also more cost-effective.
  • Scalability and growth: Automated and streamlined onboarding processes are scalable, enabling your MSP to accommodate new clients more swiftly and efficiently as your business grows. 

Components of an MSP Onboarding Checklist

A well-structured MSP onboarding process facilitates a smooth transition and lays the groundwork for a trusting and productive relationship. 

It involves meticulous planning, efficient use of technology, and a commitment to ongoing engagement and optimization to meet the client’s evolving needs. So, let’s break down the key stops along the way:

1. Kickoff Meetings and Questionnaires

Effective onboarding involves starting with a comprehensive client onboarding questionnaire to collect essential information and planning a kickoff meeting to align expectations and objectives.

This step sets a collaborative tone, ensuring that both parties are on the same page​​​​.

2. Data Import

Then, assigning an expert team member to execute the data import procedure is essential. It all starts with gathering the correct info. We need to know the client’s setup inside and out, like:

  • Inventory time: A detailed list of hardware (servers, workstations, etc.), software (anything they use day-to-day), and network stuff.
  • Access is key: We’ll need credentials and access to their systems to start our magic. Think logins, documentation, the whole shebang.
  • Security check: Understanding their current security measures is super important. This lets us identify potential risks and plan accordingly.

3. Set the Expectations

This is where we nail down those SLAs (Service Level Agreements) we discussed. Define what exactly is covered. Outline included services, response times, and how they can get in touch when they need support.

Be crystal clear about services not included. This avoids future confusion. Outline how often you’ll check in with the client, whether it’s weekly updates or monthly reports.

MSP Onboarding Checklist (Image by Freepik @freeslab)

4. Leveraging Tools for Efficiency

Utilizing automated ITSM tools can significantly reduce incidents and downtime. These tools provide a centralized perspective for clients with complex or multi-location IT infrastructures.

Such technological support underscores the importance of understanding the client’s environment and customizing the onboarding process accordingly​​.

Ensure everything’s working smoothly. This way, we can proactively address issues before they cause headaches.

5. Provisioning and Deployment

The provisioning phase involves configuring and setting up the necessary services and systems, which requires thorough planning and execution to meet the client’s specific needs.

Following this, deploying your RMM agent and MSP tech stack should be executed precisely to ensure a smooth transition and optimal service delivery​​​​.

6. Bring a Friendly but Professional Relationship

The human element is just as important. So, introduce the client to their primary contacts for support. A friendly face and name they recognize goes a long way.

Make sure the client knows who to contact for different types of issues. This streamlines support and avoids confusion.

Steps to Create an MSP Onboarding Checklist

A checklist isn’t about making things more rigid. It’s about simplifying the complex, setting expectations, and building strong client relationships.

To create a successful MSP onboarding checklist, it’s essential to be deliberate and methodical. Here’s how you can break down the process into comprehensive steps.

1. Understanding Your Client’s Needs

The first step is getting to know your client’s needs and expectations.

This begins with a detailed onboarding questionnaire that gathers essential information about the client’s business, technology infrastructure, and goals.

This initial step sets the stage for tailored service delivery, ensuring that your efforts are aligned with your client’s objectives from the outset​​.

2. Setting Up Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

Next, you must establish clear and comprehensive Service Level Agreements (SLAs). These agreements should detail the services’ scope, expected performance levels, and response times.

From the client’s perspective, your MSP pricing is costly. So they want a lot of excellent services.

While this is natural, you need to provide clear and measurable fences. Otherwise, there is the potential for endless debate.

A fair and transparent SLA helps prevent misunderstandings and sets clear expectations for both parties, fostering trust​​​​.

3. Assigning Team Roles and Responsibilities

Assigning specific team members to manage the client’s account is crucial. These roles include account managers, project managers, technical leads, and support staff.

Each team member should clearly understand their responsibilities and how they contribute to the client’s success. This ensures a coordinated effort and efficient service delivery​​.

4. Deploying Technology and Tools

With the groundwork laid, the next step is deploying the necessary technology and tools.

This includes installing RMM agents, setting up monitoring and management systems, and configuring any additional software or hardware required by the client.

Ensuring these systems are correctly deployed and integrated is vital for effective service delivery and client satisfaction​​.

5. Start with a Template

No shame in getting started with a bit of help! There are great MSP onboarding templates out there.

The template gives you a solid foundation, but remember to tailor it to your MSP’s specific needs.  Think of it like getting a store-bought cake and adding your frosting & sprinkles.

6. Kickoff Meeting and Relationship Building

A well-conducted kickoff meeting is essential for establishing a solid working relationship. This meeting should review the project scope, timelines, and expectations.

It’s also an opportunity for team introductions and addressing any immediate questions or concerns the client may have. Building rapport and establishing open lines of communication are crucial during this phase​​.

7. Continuous Monitoring and Optimization

After the initial onboarding, continuous monitoring and optimization of the services provided are essential.

Regularly reviewing service performance, seeking client feedback, and making necessary adjustments ensures that the services evolve with the client’s needs, maximizing satisfaction and retention​​.

8. Documentation and Feedback

Finally, maintaining thorough documentation throughout the onboarding process and beyond is critical. This includes documenting configurations, settings, and any changes made during the service delivery.

Regular feedback sessions with the client can also provide valuable insights and opportunities for improvement, fostering a culture of continuous enhancement and collaboration​​​​.

9. Keep it Flexible

As your MSP grows and your client needs to evolve, your checklist should, too!  Review it regularly and make adjustments as needed.  Think of it as a living document, not something set in stone.


Kindly note each client brings unique needs and expectations. Your approach through comprehensive questionnaires and kickoff meetings will ensure services resonate with and address each client’s goals. 

This bespoke strategy elevates client satisfaction and cements our role as attentive, adaptive IT partners​​​​.

By regularly revisiting and refining your processes, you will stay ahead of the curve, ready to meet tomorrow’s challenges with confidence and skill​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​.

And in a landscape of constant change, your MSP onboarding checklist isn’t static. It’s a living document reflective of your commitment to growth, adaptation, and the relentless pursuit of excellence.