The quick client onboarding checklist every business needs

Getting a client onboard shouldn't feel like rocket science. Here's a handy checklist that'll help you provide them with a smooth ride.
Kirthika Soundararajan
March 1, 2022
Main Illustration:
Krishna Kumar

The quick client onboarding checklist every business needs

Getting a client onboard shouldn't feel like rocket science. Here's a handy checklist that'll help you provide them with a smooth ride.
Kirthika Soundararajan
March 1, 2022
Main Illustration:
Krishna Kumar

In This Post

It’s done. All those meetings, walkthroughs, emails, and last-minute changes have led to this sweet, sweet moment: you have landed a client. They’ve inked the deal with you.

What now?

Celebrations, definitely. Landing clients is a big bridge to cross in business, after all. But what after that? 

The sales-to-service handoff, of course, and then the most crucial phase of your client relationship: onboarding. Client onboarding can make or break their experience with your brand and service. 

Onboarding is also the phase where you can prove to your client that they have made the right choice. The post-sale excitement needs to be carried forward to this part of the client journey. It’s all about creating and sustaining their interest in your offering. 

In the single-minded focus on nailing your client onboarding, it’s easy to slip up on the little but important things. This is especially true if you have multiple team members working on client onboarding—consistency in execution can get compromised.

So how do you make sure you have everything in order, and every client onboarding plays out as desired? You document your client onboarding process. And a significant portion of this documentation is an exhaustive onboarding checklist.

A client onboarding checklist is an excellent tool if you hope to bring consistency into your onboarding process and want to get our new team members up and running sooner. We’ve put together one you can use as-is or as a base to build your checklist on. We’ve organized the checklist under two broad categories based on the nature of the activities involved: administration and project execution activities.

The Client Onboarding Checklist

Administration-related activities

1. Welcoming the client

The first step towards making the transition from sales-to-service seamless is to make the client feel welcome. With a good onboarding process, the client won’t feel like there has been an internal handover at your end at all. There are two parts to welcoming a client. Add them as action items to your checklist:

  1. Client intake form to gather information about the client
  2. Welcome package including documents about yourself, your team, your processes sent

While you and your team may be raring to go, you need to get your legal and financial documents and records in order before kicking off your onboarding:

3. Legal

  1. NDA signed by the client
  2. Contract signed by the client
  3. Copies of NDA and contract saved and accessible to stakeholders concerned

4. Finance

  1. Tax documents and invoices sent to the client 
  2. Client added  to your accounting software

Project Execution

1. Scope, Requirements, Resources

The secret to setting yourself up for success when it comes to onboarding your clients is to get on the same page with them. Here is a list of items you need to check off to that end:

  1. Project goals understood and formally agreed upon by key stakeholders
  2. Scope and requirements frozen
  3. Solution and technical architecture align with the client’s goals and internal practices
  4. Received compliance clearance/signoffs from the customer’s infosec and IT teams
  5. Received client's formal/written commitment for resource(s) availability as per the scoping timelines

2. Value Realization

The best way to keep a client hooked and reassure them that they’re in good hands is to demonstrate value or ROI during the onboarding phase. Here are two items you need to add to your checklist that serve as guardrails in your onboarding project:

  1. Goals mapped to ROI
  2. Framework created to capture and showcase ROI at different onboarding stages
  3. Baseline scenario captured for all of the above

3. Stakeholder Engagement And Management

An important aspect of any project is solid and clear communication. Client onboarding is no different. Ensuring you and the client have agreed on cadences and communication channels will make the entire process friction-free.

  1. Defined path and cadence set up for engagement with each key stakeholder 
  2. Communication channels identified for each stakeholder type and group?
  3. Protocol laid out for conversations, clarifications, status updates, troubleshooting, and escalations
  4. Feedback mechanism built into communication and engagement strategy to ensure accountability from the client’s end

4. Methodology

The key to providing a consistent client onboarding experience is not reinventing the wheel each time. Outline your methodology to your team, and equip them with items in the checklist to help them adhere to the process. Here are some items to consider for this section of the checklist:

  1. Do you have a defined methodology for execution with timelines and milestones?
  2. Does it account for integrations, configurations, customizations, and setup?
  3. Does it include migrations?
  4. Does it account for training?
  5. UAT/any other testing?
  6. Do you have systems and tools to assign, track, communicate tasks and follow up on them?
  7. Do you have training and user education modules scoped and developed for different users?
  8. Do you have a roll-out and adoption plan in place?

5.  Documentation And Project-tracking

Documentation is your best friend when it comes to project tracking and staying on top of things.

  1. Do you have all the documents (SOW, scope and requirements document, project plan, project charter, kickoff deck, goal alignment, test plan, customer FAQs, etc.) saved centrally? Have you built versioning and visibility into the client-facing documents?
  2. Do you have ways to ensure visibility of the progress of tasks and risks, lags, deviations, and blockers?

Once you’ve completed an onboarding project, it helps to go back to this checklist and review it. Talk to the team, figure out what worked and what didn’t, what can be improved, and tweak the checklist based on the conversations.

More resources

  1. The Six Pillars of Effective Client Onboarding
  2. 7 Client Onboarding Best Practices
  3. A guide to client onboarding for marketing and content agencies

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Kirthika Soundararajan
Content Marketer @ Rocketlane

All things content at Rocketlane. I run on coffee and cat videos. Follow me on Twitter @kirthikasrajan

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