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Lisa Carroll

By: Lisa Carroll on September 15, 2023

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How Long Does Onboarding Take With A New Managed IT Support Provider?

Managed Services | IT Support

Whether you are considering working with a managed IT support provider for the first time or considering switching providers, you are likely wondering how long the process will take. It’s a big step and the uncertainty can be anxiety-provoking.

At Kelser, we understand. We hear this question a lot and we also know that sometimes the expectations don’t measure up to the reality. That’s why we are writing this article: we want business leaders like you to understand how long the process will take, what’s involved, and how you can help expedite things.

After reading this article, you’ll know what’s involved and equally important, you’ll know how long it will take, and you’ll know the factors you can control and those you can’t.

Kelser works with organizations like yours every day and we understand the uncertainty that onboarding with a new provider can generate. We are here to answer your questions so that you can approach the process with full confidence and understanding.

What Does IT Onboarding Mean?

This may be obvious, but we don’t like to assume that everyone comes to these articles with the same level of understanding.

IT onboarding is the period of time between when you sign an agreement with an IT provider and when they begin service. In other words, it is the time in which an external IT team prepares to provide your organization with support. 

The process can vary depending on the details of the agreement and the provider you select

In this article, we’ll focus on the onboarding process that you’ll most often encounter with a managed IT support services provider.

What Does IT Onboarding With A Managed IT Support Services Provider Involve?

Although there are several steps in the onboarding process, it happens relatively quickly.

1. Official Kickoff

After you sign an agreement, there is usually some type of official kickoff. This kickoff can be via email or a virtual or in-person meeting.

The purpose of the kickoff meeting is for your team and the provider's team to get to know each other, set expectations and discuss next steps.

The meeting will likely include a review of services to be provided, an overview of the onboarding timeline, a discussion of necessary knowledge transfer from your current provider, a summary of the roles and responsibilities outlined in the agreement, and a time for questions.

2. On-Site Discovery

While you likely have already given the provider an overview of your IT environment, once the agreement is signed an engineer from the provider will likely come to your site to become familiar with your technology infrastructure.

This process is designed to be a deeper dive into your IT structure and ensure that all of your devices and hardware are accounted for in the agreement.

The information collected during the on-site discovery visit is shared with the members of your external IT support team, so that everyone has the information they need to effectively provide proactive service for your organization

Related article: Your Onboarding Site Visit: The Purpose & Steps To Prepare

3. Knowledge Transfer

During this step, the new provider coordinates with your current provider to understand how your technology is currently handled and configured.

At this point, arrangements are also made to switch over administrative credentials and service to the new provider. At the same time, the new provider is setting up networks and servers, configuring platforms and remediating critical issues within your infrastructure.

4. Software Deployment

Since each provider has its own preferred software and management tools, the provider typically installs their own agents on your infrastructure to enable efficient management of your devices and hardware.

Most providers will do as much of this work as possible after hours to minimize disruption. Having said that, this is honestly the part of the process where users may encounter some disruption.

Make sure to ask the provider what steps they will make to minimize disruption and what users should do if they experience issues.

5. Onboarding Complete

At this point, the provider will typically contact you to let you know that the onboarding process is complete, and your users can begin contacting the new provider with questions and service requests.

Related article: What Is A Normal Response & Service Time? 5 Things To Know About SLAs

How Long Does Onboarding With A Managed IT Services Provider Take?

As a general rule, the entire onboarding process takes roughly 30 to 45 days once you sign your contract.

Honestly though, the timeline can often be shorter and sometimes it’s a little longer depending on several factors.

What Factors Can Affect The Onboarding Timeline?

While we’ve seen a wide range of factors affect the onboarding timeline, here are some of the most common ones we’ve encountered:

1. Current Environment

If your environment is complex, expect the onboarding process to take longer.

Some of the complexities that can affect onboarding timelines include:

    • number and location of facilities
    • number of users
    • specialized software
    • access restrictions
    • contractual or regulatory requirements
    • legacy software that is no longer supported, and
    • custom applications.

Just as with a home improvement project, the more work involved, the longer the project will take and the more you can expect to pay. Conversely, the less work involved, the less time it will take, and you may expect to pay less.

2. Necessary Updates

If your devices, networks, servers and firewalls are up-to-date, use current applications, and have all patches and updates installed, the transition will be easier (and quicker).

If your users have older devices (desktops, laptops, etc.), that will negatively impact the onboarding timeline. For example, devices that use Windows XP operating systems will likely need to be upgraded to minimize security risks as part of the onboarding process.

Related article: Why Do I Need To Patch & Update Business Software & Operating Systems?

3. Scheduling

At Kelser, we know that you are busy. We know that it isn’t convenient for us to show up unexpectedly during times of peak customer demand for your business. Scheduling is paramount and we aim to handle as much of the onboarding process as possible after hours for your convenience.

As a result, sometimes the most time-consuming part of the onboarding process can be scheduling a time that works for the customer to have the provider on-site.

IT providers most often don’t get full access to your facilities, so there needs to be someone from your staff who can escort the provider’s engineer(s) and provide access to the data closet, server room, or other key data storage areas.

4. Customer Timeline

In our work with clients, we’ve encountered customers who are hot to get the onboarding process started and others who for a variety of reasons may want to wait for a certain time of year when business slows down to make the switch.

Your priorities are an important consideration when planning the onboarding timeline.

Keep in mind that these are some of the most common factors that affect the onboarding timeline. There may be others that are specific to your environment. Ask the provider what to expect so there are no surprises.

What Can You Do To Expedite The Process?

We’ve discussed some of the most common factors that affect how long it takes for a new managed IT support services provider to onboard clients. At this point, you may be wondering if there are steps you can take to expedite the process.

Here are some relatively easy, but important things you can do:

1. Make Updates & Patches Are Installed

Updates and patches are developed to address efficiency and security issues. Make sure your equipment is running the latest versions of apps and software.

2. Understand Your Infrastructure

We know you aren’t an IT expert, but if possible, know the number, age, and location of your IT assets (including servers, workstations, and network equipment).

If you have a map of where each is located, this will help the provider streamline the onboarding process and provide a solid starting point for understanding the age of your infrastructure and any necessary updates.

3. Know How Many Licenses You Have & Use

In the normal course of business, there is often a seasonal ebb and flow of employees.

Maybe you add staff during a busy season and then staff down when things are quieter. Maybe your customer base has contracted in size, and you’ve adjusted staff to meet the decreased demand.

Experience has shown us that many times organizations are paying for more licenses than they need. Having an accurate license count will help your provider be able to prepare an accurate proposal as well as know what to expect before they begin the onboarding process.

4. Anticipate One-Time Upfront Costs

Whenever you change providers, it’s important to be prepared for some upfront costs. Maybe you need more access points. Maybe your server use has outgrown your bandwidth.

Having budgetary flexibility will help you prepare to begin onboarding as soon as possible with minimal delays.

What’s The Bottom Line?

After reading this article, you have a realistic understanding of the onboarding timeline. You know that it typically takes 30-45 days from contract signing to being fully onboarded with a new managed IT support services provider.

You also know some of the most common factors that affect the onboarding timeline. And, you are empowered with the knowledge you need to help streamline the onboarding timeline from your end.

At this point, you have all the information you need.

Whether you are making the decision to work with an external managed IT support services provider for the very first time or considering switching from your current provider to a new one, we understand it’s a big decision. Read this article to learn the 10 best questions to ask any IT provider.

Not sure managed IT support is right for you? Learn your options for IT support.

Leaning toward managed IT support, but still not sure? Find out the pros and cons of managed IT support, so you can decide whether it’s the best solution for you.

And, no matter what choice you make for IT support, be sure to explore your options. The last thing you want is to sign a long-term agreement and find out the provider isn’t the right fit for your organization.

We know there are many options out there, but if you have questions and want to talk to a human, click the button below and we’ll reach out to schedule a 15-minute call to learn about your business, your current technology situation, and your pain points to see if we are a good fit to work together.

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About Lisa Carroll

Lisa is Kelser's VP of Revenue who works at the intersection of business and technology to help Kelser’s clients jump on growth opportunities.

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