Onboarding Your Company to an IT Service Provider

Summary: Onboarding is a serious task that is completed after an IT service provider contract is signed. Lonnie Cherry and Steve Ripper from PCG IT discuss how their team onboards their new customers. Listen or read more to find out what to expect when your company brings on a new IT service provider.

Mike:  It is Tech Tuesday, and we’re all powered today by Portsmouth Computer Group with convenient locations and Portsmouth and Dover. Brand new locations open now in Manchester, up in Portland, Maine. PCGIT for world-class IT service and customer support, go to to see what they can do for you. My good friends, Lonnie Cherry, Steve Ripper are here in studio representing Portsmouth Computer Group. Gentlemen, welcome to the program again.

Lonnie Cherry: Thank you, Mike.

Steve Ripper: Good morning, Mike.

Lonnie: Good morning.

Mike:  Good to see you. Good to see you. Thank you for bringing the teeming rain out here.

Steve: Nice weather if you’re a duck.

Mike:  I mean, we get a nice weekend. We had a nice weekend.

Steve: We did.

Mike:  Hey Steve, you have $29,000, you go to game seven tomorrow?

Steve: I don’t, like a small car, I’m going to sell my car to go to one game. Lonnie, what did you say yesterday? How mad would you be if they lost that game, if you spent 30 grand?

Lonnie: I’d be so mad.

Mike:  I sold a ticket online for 30 grand. I’m not kidding.

Lonnie: I believe it. I definitely believe it.

Mike:  But I, you know, is that ticket going to go on sold, is someone going to actually spend 30 grand to go to game seven of these playoffs?

Lonnie: I’m sure they’ll find somebody that would pay that money.

Mike:  Don’t you think it’s ridiculous?

Steve: Oh yeah.

Mike:  I mean, if a person has $500 million, I guess 30,000 going to game seven is a dream in a lifetime, you know, to see the Bruins and possibly win a Stanley Cup, at the garden, which would be so —

Steve: I could find so many other things to do with $30,000. So many —

Mike:  I know, I know, we’ve got it on the radio. We got television. I mean . . . it’s going to be crazy going to Boston. Red Sox fans will be coming out, Bruins fans be going in. I mean, the city is not that big for everybody. What are the tech problems there? I would imagine. Hey, good to have you guys with us. We always talk a little bit about computers and businesses and networks and firewalls and today we’re going to talk about something which I have no idea. I thought there’s, I thought we were going on a cruise today. We’re talking about onboarding your company to an IT service provider or what to expect when you’re expecting better IT onboarding. Lonnie, what is that all about?

What is Onboarding with PCG IT Like?

Lonnie: That’s all about joining PCG‘s family. That’s basically the process in which we put our clients on when they sign a contract with us. And we need to get all our tools, all the documentation, everything we need to make you a valued PCG client.

Mike:  So, Steve, how fast can, you know if companies like what they hear today and likewise the PCG has to offer, how fast can they get a kind of a loaded onto the PCG family. How fast does that work?

Steve: So, it’s usually, you know, you’re looking at like a week or two to get ready for it where we’re going to talk and plan what’s going to happen. But the actual onboarding is like a day. It doesn’t take much longer than a day. For the actual, when we’re walking around meeting, touching your machines, your networking, your devices. That’s about a day maybe another day for configuring stuff, but it’s really the opportunity when we talk about onboarding, we’re talking about you moving from the way your IT is done now to actually a managed situation. So, we’re getting those managed agents onto your machines for that moment.

Mike:  So, when you are walking around observing the situation for the very first time, what are you guys looking for? What are you actually looking for in a company’s system?

Lonnie: Basically, we’re looking for a lot of different things. The way they do things, the way things are configured. What are they using for tools currently? Does it fall in line with the tools that we’re currently using? If it doesn’t, then we put in, we take off those tools and put on ours. One of the great parts about the onboarding processes is that we try to really work with the vendor that they previously had to make sure that the transition for the client is smooth, that they don’t have to worry about not having AV for 30 days, or not being behind a world-class firewall or something to that effect. We want to make sure that everything goes smoothly with the handoff that we have all the documentation, passwords and all that. And pretty much know what all the odd things about their network is that may come up while servicing the client.

Mike:  And do you find that most of the time when you’re doing your walkthrough initially, that you find that many of the systems, whether it’s software or hardware, are not updated to where they should be, pretty much?

Steve: Yeah. Onboarding is the moment where it moves from talking about sales, so we’ve had Dave in here with many of these meetings, Mike. So, before the onboarding moment, there’s a lot of just discussion about the desire to have better IT, right? There’s more sales, there’s more, we can do this for you or we’re going to do this for you. But the onboarding part is literally when someone like myself or Lonnie, the engineer’s walking around actually touching the devices, and that’s the moment where we start to see, Whoa, what’s going on with that? Or we could do better there. We, of course, are planning on doing better, but that’s our moment where literally the magnifying glass comes out and we’re seeing that many of the machines don’t have updates. The firewall is several revisions passed.

Mike:  So those are some of the ‘whoa’ moments.

Steve: Oh, sure. Oh sure. Software, very out of date, machines that don’t have any antivirus at all. We knew that we wanted to get newer pieces of software, but these are the moments where we’re like this, this didn’t even have it. Sometimes we’ll come across the machine that had viruses. No one knew that they had viruses. They just thought of it as slow. This is our moment to go, Oh, that there’s a lot more going on here. And this is, this is where we’re going to do it, but it’s our first moment for really the engineers to roll their sleeves up and get to know the network.

What PCG IT Does

Mike:  Yeah. For people who are not familiar with our talks, maybe just tuning in for the first time, Portsmouth Computer Group, they can check it out, what does the company really do? I mean they manage computer systems, network systems for businesses pretty much. Upon —

Lonnie: Correct. Absolutely. We provide IT services for small to medium to large companies who just don’t want to pay a guy to sit in a chair all day long and do IT. You’re able to get different levels of IT service with our company at a month-to-month charge, I guess.

Steve: Yeah. And the new technologies to allow us to really kind of, it used to be that we would either take the phone call or we’d come once a week and that’s when you saw, so we were your on-call IT. But now with the new tools, with remote we can, pretty much, be the IT department for you whenever it is, to all week long, with remote access, with help tickets, with our help desk. So, again, when we’re talking about onboarding, that’s our moment to put the tools in place so that we’re on-call and ready for you at any given moment.

Lonnie: Many of the tools that we’ve talked about here on the program . . .

Mike:  When it comes down to companies wanting to do this, is this something that they naturally would want to do? Cause they don’t want to be burdened with the thought of doing all this themselves. I mean, you guys obviously provide a wonderful service at a decent rate and obviously, this is your business, but obviously they’re looking to you to make sure that their business is moving smoothly via the networks and via the computers and everything they need to make business great for them.

Steve: Yeah. Either they’re looking to not do it themselves anymore or it’s really just not getting done, Mike. Like it’s not at all. We’ll get calls from companies that maybe they started out with a company, person started a company, small business, two or three PCs, the Comcast modem and connecting up to the network. And then when they grew, business was good. They grew, suddenly it started to get beyond what they could manage, like they need help, right? So that’s where we, we need help where it’s getting beyond us, and that’s where we come in. We come and do that. And then that onboarding moment is when we’re starting to say, you have this stuff, we’re going to start to take control of it. This is how we manage it for you.

Mike:  But onboarding, when you go through this onboarding process with companies, that’s where you show everybody, these are the updates you need. These are the new services you need. This is the new hardware and software that will work better for you, be more efficient for you and will get you the results you need, right?

Lonnie: Yep, absolutely. And it also, it’s actually also for us, it allows us to get familiar with their network, allows us to be able to go in and document everything that they have so that if you get a another tech that’s not me at PCG, he knows exactly what your network’s like because that information is provided to them.

Mike:  So, everybody knows that company’s story, whether it’s you or Steve or anybody else.

Lonnie: So, it’s a benefit to us. It actually helps us provide you even better service because now, if I’m your technician and I’m sick or on vacation, the next guy has all that information, just like I would have all that information and shows up pretty much just as knowledgeable as I am.

Mike:  And by the way, there’s no vacation for you. There’s no [crosstalk] . . .

Lonnie: I know, that’s not unusually.

Steve: No.

Mike:  You’re not been approved for vacation line. We’re sorry about that.

Steve: So, we always joke like Dave jokes. Dave jokes that if Vegas is open, we’re open. So, Vegas is always open, yes? So, we’re always open.

Mike:  You’re always open and do you get calls all the time?

Steve: All the time.

Lonnie: Yeah.

Mike:  So, you guys are basic . . . this is a service that I have to say that you’re in the kind of the service business where people, you know, if they’re running a business day or night and then something goes down overnight, I mean you’ve got to be called sometimes.

Lonnie: Absolutely.

Steve: Got a call on Christmas Eve one year.

Mike:  Did you really?

Steve: It was like four o’clock on Christmas Eve. I literally was like, so listen, here’s what you should do. You should probably turn the computer off, make a drink, go, go sledding, take your kid, do you have a kid, and really . . .

But I just think it’s Christmas, because it’s four o’clock on Christmas Eve, turn it off. Maybe we just turn it off.

Mike:  You know what, I have to share, I was living in a mobile home a couple of, few years ago, over a decade ago now, and the water heater cracked. And I had to call somebody. Because the winter, December, Christmas Eve, 24th and sure enough somebody came, I had to pay, but I, I needed to, had to be fixed. They have stuff that has nobody can call on Christmas Eve. I said, wow, thank my lucky stars for that. Interesting. But you guys are always doing a great job all the time. Onboarding, that’s a new term. I haven’t, I thought it was for cruise liners.

Steve: Yeah. I’m wondering if we should use that for marketing, like when you’re onboarding with us, you know, like you’re . . .

Mike:  We’re the captains.

Steve: I’m the morale officer and Dave can be the captain and we can just be like you’re on, you’re getting on the PCG ship.

Lonnie: Do you think they’d let us play the love boats and . . .

Steve: They might but . . .

Mike:  And Lonnie you say the bars are open. Any other final thoughts on onboarding? That’s kind of interesting. What’s the thing most of you had frequently asked question list there on the top, the most frequently asked question about onboarding or things that they think need to be done, I guess. What you know-

Steve: So, the big one, and you asked it, Mike, was how long is this going to take? How long is it going to take, is the number one question. Because they’ve already made the decision that they need IT help and then they’ve contacted us. So, so like I said, that sales process has already happened. They’ve already decided it. So, when you get to the onboarding part is that it’s like, it’s like how painful, it’s like a physical, right? Like we, that’s another way of thinking about it. If it’s not the cruise ship, it’s the, it’s the physical where, how long is this going to take doc? You know, like, so when Lonnie is walking around, you know, and, and so that answer is very much, how big is your network? If it’s four PCs and a firewall and a server, it’s going to take half a day. If you’ve got three locations and 150. [crosstalk] a little bit longer. So, so there’s that.

Mike:  That’s to be expected though.

Steve: Yeah. And we get that question, you know what, what? How do we get our trainings? So that’s the other part is like, are you going to train us on how to do this? And so of course there’s going to be a whole point where we’re like, this is how you put a ticket in. This is who you call. Because the person who, who’s running the company, the decision maker has already, like I said, has already had those questions. But the person sitting in accounting who sits it, doesn’t know any of that. We show up sometimes and they’re like, who are you? You know where the new IT guys, hi. You know, Hey, this is going [crosstalk] cookies.

Mike:  We come bearing gifts. Thanks to you, guys.