Once you have found, assessed and chosen the best service provider to satisfy your business’s needs, it is important to get them up to speed about your organization’s goals and expectations as quickly as possible. Onboarding offers you the ideal solution for solidifying and ensuring a positive return on your investment when engaging a service provider.

The right onboarding approach sets you up to save even more valuable time, money, and human resources in the long run to ensure mutual understanding and a shared vision for success.

What does onboarding a service provider mean?

Onboarding your chosen service provider is a crucial part of the Service Transition phase of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) set of practices for IT service management.

At this point, it is vital that you set all the ground rules for what you expect from your service organization, as well as how you envision their services working throughout your organization. It is just as important to work out the details of severing your contract with your previous service provider during the onboarding process. Tending to this matter helps you avoid any potential lapses in service or penalties for early contract termination.

What is the best approach for onboarding your chosen service provider?

Effective onboarding ultimately serves to help your IT team and employee users become better acquainted with your new service provider. The onboarding process has a great deal to do with logistics and understanding the parameters of your service provider’s responsibilities.

Let’s take a look at what goes into planning and managing a high-impact onboarding program.

Lay out the basics: what, when, who, where and how? As you launch the onboarding program with your service provider, it is important to get down to the basics and understand the logistics of this service transition. Discuss what your service providers will be doing, when they are going to do it, who is going to do it, why they are going to do it, and how they are going to do it.

Set concrete milestones and go/no go points.  Setting definitive milestones and go/no go points is a particularly important step in the Service Transition phase if you are replacing an existing service. Here, you want to make sure you are performing a full change management process, and understanding that, if your new service provider hits a road bump, they have a certain amount of time to get it back up and running. Otherwise, you will need to revert back to your existing service to avoid experiencing any delays in production. You are not giving them 12 hours or three days to figure out what is wrong. They can take the issue back to the drawing board and come back to it. Make sure these expectations are clear from the outset to avoid any confusion.

Review the existing service provider’s contract. If you already have an existing vendor for the service in question, make sure to thoroughly review their contract, and determine what needs to happen with them. Understanding how the service is provided and will change are additional important considerations. If it is an apples-to-apples replacement, like fiber carriers, then that is relatively easy to manage. If you are transitioning from a coax service to a fiber service there are other changes that might need to take place to facilitate this change.

Determine how much advanced notice you need to give an existing service provider. As part of your review of your existing service provider’s contract, make sure to find out how much advanced notice you need to give them before severing your contract with them. You may need anywhere from 30-90 days, or sometimes longer, depending on your agreement. It is just as important to make sure your contract with your existing vendor is not set to roll over automatically, making you responsible for a full additional term and all the associated fees.

Learn the repercussions of severing your contract with an existing vendor before your agreed-upon term ends. Before you switch over from your existing service provider to your new service provider, it is important to learn whether there are any repercussions you may face and what they may be. If you are at 60 days out and you decide you want to make a change right away, but you have a 90-day notice contract, it should state in the contract what the negative consequences are. Most often, there is some type of financial penalty applied to early severance.

Explore any available month-to-month option. Some vendors may allow you to adjust your contract to a month-to-month term after your contract ends at the same rate you were paying at the end of your contract. ISP’s frequently allow you to go month-to-month at the end of your contract term at the same rates you were paying.

One scenario where a month-to-month contract would work out well is if your new service provider is having new fiber installed, and due to construction delays they won’t be able to hit the date you expect, you can then continue with your previous service provider on a month-to-month basis.

Final thoughts on onboarding service providers

Creating a clear path for transition from your previous service provider to the new one will help to streamline what can often be a somewhat complicated process since there is so much potential overlap, as well as the potential for a lapse in service. A tight onboarding strategy can guide you through it all with less stress, shorter downtime, and more effectiveness.

If you are preparing to onboard your new service provider, reach out to our team. We can answer any questions about the steps provided here and can offer even more insights and tips to make this important transition as smooth as possible.


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