MSP Tips for Effective Meta Onboarding

Written by Robin Bond on November 26, 2021

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Did you miss IT Nation Connect 2021? Or perhaps you missed the live event and just caught the virtual sessions? 

IT Nation 2021 provided the MSP (managed service provider) community with discussion and education around pressing topics like cybersecurity and what’s coming up in 2022, along with networking opportunities for in-person attendees. (Remember the before-times when there was networking?) And this year’s event did not disappoint. 

Chase Doelling, Director of Strategic Partnerships at JumpCloud, was in the (literal) house with a live presentation. “Meta Onboarding: Get Technicians and Customers Online” illustrated a typical use case and best practices for MSPs who need to efficiently onboard both employees and customers without missing a beat. Read on for key takeaways that can supercharge your working relationship with customers and employees — from the start. 

Quick Onboarding of New Users: Critical for MSPs

Streamlined onboarding of new customers and employees is more consequential than ever to the success of MSPs, as well as new users. Consider the environment: 

  1. When you, the MSP, win new customers, you need to simultaneously bring on new IT admins to support those new customers. 
  2. Good employees are in short supply — especially in IT. Demand has gone through the roof since the pandemic spawned a new (permanent?) remote and hybrid workforce that requires more complex access and security measures. 
  3. User experience is everything. A negative onboarding experience can send new customers AND new employees running for the hills, resulting in: 
    – Rapid customer churn
    – A shortage of qualified IT admins to support new customers
    – Lost profit and added operational costs due to slow onboarding that takes up everyone’s time and slows time to market for your customers’ new projects

Avoid the pain: read on to learn what meta onboarding is, why every MSP needs it, and Doelling’s best practices for getting it right. 

What is Meta Onboarding, and Why Do MSPs Need It?  

Business growth is a good thing, right? For MSPs, it can also be a challenge, as every new customer needs a new IT admin to support them. Both customers and IT admins will need network access immediately and simultaneously, which can create an onboarding logjam.

Meta onboarding is a process by which MSPs can onboard new technicians and new clients at the same time. More than just a necessary part of bringing on new users, onboarding is the first chance your new users get to see you in action, and first impressions die hard. By showing up with an automated, well orchestrated onboarding process, MSPs can increase the odds that both customers and employees will want to stick around. 

1. New MSP Customers. According to customer service expert Lincoln Murphy, “the seeds of churn are planted early.” A new customer’s confidence in your digital competence starts with onboarding. Lincoln defines an onboarded customer as one who has (1) experienced “initial success” with your product and (2) has confidence in your ability to get stuff done because they’ve seen it firsthand. 

A new client’s first impression of you as an MSP can determine how long they stay with your company. How much did it cost you to win that customer? What will it cost if you lose their business? The costs can multiply quickly in the form of lost revenue, loss of future referral business, and even damage to your reputation.

2. New IT Employees. For new employees, the onboarding process is equally critical; it’s an “employee’s market” for IT professionals, and your approach to attracting, hiring, and retaining quality IT talent can be existential for your business. Studies show that 69% of employees at companies that deploy effective, user-focussed onboarding are likely to stay at least three years. A negative employee onboarding experience, on the other hand, can make your new hires twice as likely to start looking for other opportunities.   

Consider the (growing) cost to attract, hire, and retain an employee. Even bleaker, consider the cost of losing that employee and starting all over in your pursuit of qualified IT professionals.

3. The MSP’s Existing IT Admins. Don’t forget about your current IT team. Cumbersome, tedious onboarding processes impact them as well. When IT staff have the tools they need to execute new-user onboarding quickly and efficiently, they are freed up to work on more strategic tasks, which helps stave off IT burnout. 

Call it the hat-trick of great onboarding: by making your new customers, new employees, and existing employees happy, you improve the performance and potential of your MSP.

5 Best Practices for Meta Onboarding 

Cost and time are the enemies of good business — and effective onboarding. As Doelling reports, traditional onboarding protocols can take up to one hour per user.

Onboarding 12 new users equals 12-plus hours of IT’s precious time. Those are hours that you, your customer, and your IT teams could be spending on new customer projects, moving the wheels of progress forward for everyone.

But Doelling adds that you could — and CAN — accomplish the task in 20 minutes or less per user. The result? Reduced costs and increased profitability for your growing business. Following are five best practices for Meta Onboarding that create a mutually satisfying user-experience.

1. Focus on the user, not just the device 

Too often, MSPs focus solely on the security of the device. It’s a critical piece of equipment, especially for remote workers for whom a phone or laptop might be the only physical link to the mothership. But the focus should be on all the resources your new user needs to do their job, including devices, networks, and applications. 

2. Automate group access before individual access

Think about access in terms of groups. By automating your Standard Operating Authentication Processes (SOAP) around group access, you can add or remove individuals without changing your entire onboarding process every time. 

3. Apply the Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP)

Which resources do your new technicians and clients need access to? More importantly, which ones do they not need access to? The Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP) provides users access to just what they need to do their jobs, nothing more. 

4. Use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) helps protect data by adding additional layers of authentication that go beyond the password. Where possible, enable MFA on both critical and non-critical resources. 

5. Leverage Zero-Touch enrollment and deployment 

Traditional IT onboarding meant that device deployment was centralized. IT would receive new devices or pull them from storage (also riddled with peril), then configure, or wipe and configure, devices before shipping them to the new user. With Zero Touch enrollment and deployment, devices are drop-shipped directly to the new user. Onboarding is automated and managed remotely. Organizations mitigate the risk, complexity, and cost of creating identities in multiple systems and standalone devices.  

Better Onboarding through JumpCloud

Customers and employees are your MSP’s lifeblood. Start those relationships off right with a streamlined onboarding experience that’s user-focussed and user-friendly. Scale up your MSP with efficient onboarding. Empower your IT admins to safely and efficiently meta onboard users without touching their devices. To get started, set up a JumpCloud Free account in minutes to evaluate the entire platform with up to 10 users and 10 devices. Reach out to our partner team and enable your multi-tenant portal to access all the tools you need to meta onboard.

Robin Bond

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