This month, we take a deep dive into what the onboarding process looks like here at Sennen. We know that adopting a new system and different ways of working can be daunting. For that reason, we have put a lot of time and effort into developing a rigorous process that enables clients to come on board quickly, smoothly and with little disruption. Our Head of Delivery and Client Service, Beth Pescud, outlines the stages we take clients through once they have signed on the dotted line.
It’s a common frustration: a company spends a lot of time explaining their needs to a new supplier at an early stage of discussion but it all has to be repeated to a new set of people once they’ve signed up. That can be hours of ‘wasted’ time which busy people can’t afford to lose. When a new client signs up to the Sennen system, we want to make sure that all the learning captured during the sales discussions is not lost. As a tight-knit team, we have a process in place that means all knowledge is handed over from the sales team to the onboarding team, including project scope and timelines.
At this point, a client kick-off meeting is organised at which we present the plan for the system roll-out. By this stage, we already have a comprehensive understanding of what the client needs so we can be proactive, anticipate issues and make recommendations for system modifications.
We also work closely with the client at this early stage to nail down priorities, and external systems that we need to integrate with and agree on key contacts for delivery. We then develop a detailed and dynamic onboarding plan, which is available to all stakeholders. Onboarding forums and communications channels are set up, depending on the client’s preferences.
The plan isn’t fixed – we can flex it if the client’s needs change or if we need to work around other systems and providers. For example, our offshore product includes numerous integrations with on-site and third-party data sources. Sennen can plan the onboarding based on client priorities and the readiness of other systems and sources. This is particularly helpful when Sennen is deployed at a new wind farm because we can adapt the onboarding to when external systems go live.
For our infrastructure product, we can be similarly flexible. Some clients may want to focus initially on our contracts module as they want to have key contractual data in the system first. For others, getting up and running on our KPIs module is the priority so that a specific reporting cycle can be completed through Sennen. Having a modular structure allows us to onboard clients in this way rather than necessarily having to sign up to the whole system at once.
We have various ways of keeping onboarding on track and as painless as possible for the client. We use a simple onboarding tool, ClickUp, to track and manage onboarding tasks such as data collection, integration development and training. Clients can refer to this at any point to keep track of progress. The tool has a number of views which can act as status reports and a visual plan. An instant messaging channel is another useful tool which enables in-the-moment communication with key client team members so that questions are answered quickly.
After the onboarding process is complete, we use Freshdesk for raising support tickets and feature requests. It links directly to our internal support team and ensures that tickets are routed to the right place with the appropriate level of urgency.
We have found that having nominated ‘power users’ really helps embed the new system once it is up and running. A power user will be the first point of call within the client team. They will gather queries and support needs and feed them back to us at Sennen. We ensure that power users have a broad understanding of each part of the system, and how it is used and works. They are responsible for light-touch training and engagement and help identify training needs. They have access to additional system settings so they can do some initial troubleshooting. Power users may be asked to gather client feedback on planned features and help other users maintain good housekeeping.
As a client moves into system implementation, there are four broad groups of activity. The importance and order changes depending on client priorities:
1. System creation and cloud configuration: the client system is created and initialised.
2. Static data collection and configuration: data from the client is collected in order to build the foundation of the system and specific modules. Custom configuration to reflect the client’s operations is discussed and reflected in the platform.
3. Integration development: based on the planned scope with a client, integration development is kicked off. This may involve multiple integrations being concurrently developed and is largely based on the most logical approach from the client side.
4. Training and engagement activities: we train a small group of ‘power users’ to become Sennen champions within the client network. Following this, wider training is organised, usually in role-based groups, to ensure clients understand and are excited about the benefits of using our system. Sennen can also support a ‘train the trainer’ approach, in which the power users run the internal client training, with Sennen support.
For our infrastructure product, the main focus is the import of client data to feed the system’s powerful functionalities. By ensuring that clients have a good base of information within the system, it adds value for end users quickly. To enable this, Sennen and the client stakeholders collaborate to collect data in an importable format. In cases where this may be challenging, Sennen leverages our wealth of experience from similar situations to suggest alternatives.
For our offshore system, the integration development phase is critical. Integrations can be complex and require careful planning, particularly where they relate to other custom systems within the client’s ecosystem. For example, CMMS system integrations to feed the Sennen shift functionalities are often related to client-specific configurations. Sennen works with end users to understand the custom setup and how the client intends to use the system. We design the integration to fit these specifications and consistently validate throughout the development process.
Once onboarding is complete, we handover to our client service team which is responsible for understanding the specifics of each system and making sure that power users are well supported.
We pride ourselves on maintaining regular, proactive communication with our customers and each one is assigned an account manager who is the main contact point. They initiate brainstorming sessions with the client to gather feedback and new requirements. They test planned developments, as well as organise training and manage the pre-release of significant system upgrades.
We like to think of it as a partnership. Good dialogue means we have a detailed understanding of each customer’s needs and priorities which feeds into our internal discussions about new features and upgrades.
Clients can keep track of queries and system updates via Freshdesk – a cloud-based helpdesk software. Freshdesk has a simple user interface for raising support queries, configuration requests, and feature ideas. Tickets are routed to the correct team to respond and action accordingly. Users can also find release notes, help articles, and support definitions and processes on the Freshdesk portal. The release note forums can be ‘followed’ so that users receive product updates directly to their inbox. Clients also have 24/7 access to a phone line for critical queries which takes them directly to a member of the Sennen team.