Customer Onboarding Playbook
Project reporting is critical for onboarding customers successfully. Onboarding teams need a way to track metrics, milestones, and KPIs to ensure no customers slip through the cracks. Consistent reporting helps avoid fire drills and emergencies while keeping the project team, executive stakeholders, and customers in sync.
Why Does It Matter?
Customers aren’t known for their patience. If you miss deadlines or go over budget without keeping them informed, it could cost you their business. But you can’t keep them in the loop unless you’re tracking your progress. Standard project reporting processes and check-ins will ensure you keep your onboarding projects on track and your customers happy.
Who This Play Is For
This play is for teams who want to bake transparency and collaboration into every onboarding project. Run this play to help you create standard processes, check-ins, and reports to stay on top of project deadlines and deliverables.
Use This Play To…
- Define and standardize your onboarding metrics, milestones, and KPIs.
- Establish a meeting cadence for your project teams and executive stakeholders to keep everyone aligned and on the same page.
- Keep projects on task, on time, and on budget (the holy trinity of consulting).
What You’ll Need
Project reporting is a process that can be used by your entire organization, not just onboarding, so include stakeholders from across your business who are responsible for managing and delivering projects for customers. (You may or may not have a customer onboarding team or even a designated customer onboarding person. If you don’t, make sure to include the people who are responsible for engaging with your customers post-sale to help them succeed with your product or service.)
We recommend using Post-It® notes whenever you have to map a process as they allow you to add or move steps easily. Using one color for the steps and another for the challenges to the steps will raise up areas for improvement.
For more discussion-based working meetings, use a whiteboard. (Make sure to take a photo of it at the end of the meeting!)
Time to complete: 8 hours +
Depending on the complexity of your process and/or size of your organization, this play could take more or less time. But as with all things, if you take the time to do it right the first time, you won’t be sorry. (Each step can be split into its own session.)
Before You Start
While it’s possible to handle project reporting via manual systems, we recommend using a project management system that can help automate, track, and generate status reports and dashboards for your onboarding projects. This will help you achieve the transparency crucial to seamless collaboration and effective project management.
Before you begin this play, let’s review a common project management tool, the Status Stoplight. This is a way to categorize projects and tasks to proactively identify problems and find solutions. This categorization will also help you run efficient and focused project reporting meetings as you’ll be able to quickly identify the areas that need attention (yellow/red).
Green (On Track)
All systems go! This project or task is progressing smoothly and meeting all requirements, from budget to timeline.
Yellow (At Risk)
This project or task is in danger of missing a deadline, going over-budget, is over or under-staffed, etc. This is a warning sign to help you stay ahead of potential problems.
Red (Off Track)
This project or task has a problem that needs immediate attention and resolution.
Every company has different criteria for their Status Stoplight. Work with your team to decide how to apply this system to your projects and identify when specific tasks/projects will move from green to yellow to red and vice-versa.
Run the Play
Map & Evaluate Your Current Process
Estimated time: 1 hour
Before you meet with your stakeholders to run this play, make sure you’re all familiar with how you currently manage and track your onboarding projects. Answer the following questions to get a good sense of where you’re starting:
- Where do you keep a record of your project deliverables, milestones, and KPIs? (If you don’t have a project management system/tool in place, we’d suggest setting one up before you run this play—see note above in “Before You Start”.)
- How often do you evaluate a project’s status (e.g. do you use a red/yellow/green or a prioritized/in-progress/done system)?
- What metrics affect project status and how are they tracked? (This can include budget vs. spend, tasks (completed, due or overdue), percent completion, resourcing, etc.)
- What’s your escalation process to handle at risk and overdue projects? How do you communicate this information to your internal team and customers?
- Who are your internal executive stakeholders for onboarding projects? How often do you meet with them to share updates and strategize?
Define Your Metrics
Estimated time: 1 hour
Before you can decide what dashboards to build, how often to meet, and how you’ll solve project problems, you need to define how you’re measuring success.
With your stakeholders, decide what you’ll measure in each onboarding project. Common metrics and KPIs include:
- Budget vs spend (red/yellow/green)
- Tasks (e.g., how many, open tasks by project or person, overdue tasks, completed tasks)
- Red/yellow/green status for entire projects and individual tasks
- Resourcing and utilization (red/yellow/green)
- Goals for the current week and the next week
As you pick your metrics, don’t overcomplicate it and add everything all at once. Choose your top 3-4 metrics that are going to give you valuable insight into the health of your new customer projects.
Track & Visualize Project Metrics with Dashboards
Estimated time: 1-2 hours
As you design your dashboards, set standards for what turns a project or individual task from green to yellow and from yellow to red. For example, if a task takes three days to complete and it’s due tomorrow but hasn’t been started, it would turn from green to yellow. If the task deadline is missed, it will turn from yellow to red.
We recommend building two types of dashboards:
Executive Stakeholder Dashboard
This dashboard should show high-level account, project, budget, and resource details.
Project Team Dashboard
This dashboard should show granular details for projects.
Design each type of dashboard using the metrics you identified in step two. Ask whoever is building your dashboards to automate red/yellow/green status updates wherever possible based on your standards and criteria.
Once you’ve designed your ideal dashboards, set a reporting meeting cadence where you’ll review them as a team. To keep the dashboards up-to-date before each meeting, set a recurring deadline for everyone to update their tasks. You should also decide who is responsible for monitoring, maintaining, and updating those dashboards. If you have a project management system in place, most of your project updates will happen automatically, but someone should still be monitoring for QA and escalation.
Make the Most of Of Your Status Meetings
Estimated time: 30 minutes
Project Team Meetings
For most teams, a once weekly project team status meeting works well. When you have a lot of projects running simultaneously, finding time to regroup, strategize, and problem solve ensures no task or project enters the dreaded red zone. Here’s how to make the most out of your meetings:
- With your stakeholders, decide how you’d like to run your project reporting meetings. There are several ways to organize your updates:
- By project
- By status (red/yellow/green)
- By delivery timeline
- Decide what works best for your team and set up a recurring meeting on the calendar.
- Assign a team member to prepare the weekly report and facilitate the meeting.
- Assign the same or another team member to take notes and to update projects and tasks and/or send out a meeting recap, if necessary.
- To make your meetings more efficient, skip reviewing any green project or task.
- Allow 30-45 minutes for team status meetings—if a topic comes up that is unrelated to status, ask the person to either schedule another meeting or update the project to share the information.
- Once you begin running these meetings, don’t let them remain static. Evaluate what works and doesn’t work for your team and iterate to improve the process. Project reporting should be simple, straightforward, and informative. If it’s not, find out why and how to fix it.
Executive Stakeholder Meetings
Your executive stakeholders may be able to keep up with what‘s happening via the project reporting dashboard you set up for them. Even so, it’s a good idea to keep them in the loop via regular status meetings—we recommend meeting biweekly to ensure your management team feels looped in.
Your executive stakeholders bought into onboarding as a strategic initiative to achieve their desired outcomes: efficiency, cost, better visibility/transparency into the customer base, and more. You need to meet with them regularly to help them understand how your onboarding projects are going and how they’re aligning with their strategic plans. Remember, different stakeholders may have different goals, so take that into account when designing your status reports.
In every meeting, be prepared to share high-level updates related to:
- Customer and employee sentiment
- Risks and red flags (are you delivering what you say you will?)
- Budget vs spend
- Top accounts report:
- Account manager
- Number of projects (and how many are on deck, started, or complete)
- Projects that are on time and on budget
- Level of onboarding
This is your opportunity to discuss strategic opportunities, ask questions, and proactively solve any problems or challenges. Make sure to keep them to the point and short, 20-30 minutes max.
Also, make sure to tie back your team’s efforts and wins to the executive stakeholders’ desired outcomes. You should be prepared to answer this key question: How is onboarding success impacting the company’s success?
Train Your Team & Set Expectations
Estimated time: 2+ hours to build out your training and communications. 30 minutes per live training session.
A huge part of successful onboarding is training and change management, and your internal processes are no exception. There are many different ways to provide training, so decide which methods work best for your team and focus on those. (Options include email, live training, recorded tutorial, FAQ, etc.)
The important thing is first to communicate:
- What’s changing
- What’s staying the same
- Expectations and desired outcomes
After you’ve shared that information with your organization (via email, on a call, live meeting, in a slide deck, etc.), follow up with training sessions, modules, and tutorials to help your team learn how to use your new onboarding forecast tools and processes.
Evaluate and repeat as necessary.
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Want to see more?
If you want to learn more about how TaskRay can help you get every customer off to a good start, sign up for our next overview webinar.